Sunday, August 15, 2010

Move Along, Nothing to See Here . . .

That's what police officers say to the looky-loos who want to cluster around the scene of an accident or crime.  And actually there's quite a lot to see, isn't there? But it's "Move along, nothing to see here."

One of the classes I teach is Criminal Law, and one of the subjects we cover is rape law.  Every semester, every time we get to rape law, and we talk about the gendered nature of the crime, some student stands up and says, "It happens to men, too!"

Yes, yes it does.  And outside of prison it happens in such small numbers that we're likely to make a Movie of the Week out of a true-life episode.  When it happens to a man, it's a story.  When it happens to a woman, it's a statistic.

But the student who stands up to say "it happens to men, too" isn't really concerned about the social issue of men who are raped.  It's a way to say DON'T see it as a gender issue, DON'T consider it a women's issue.  Move along, there's nothing to see here.

We do the same thing when we talk about race.  "It happens to white people, too."  "Everyone is going to be teased about something."  Move along, there's nothing to see here.

And we do it when we talk about difficult issues in adoption for our kids.  "Would you rather have grown up in an orphanage?"  Mei-Ling has a great post about that shut-it-down question posed by adoptive parents to adult adoptees:

The question referring to orphanages isn’t being used as a honest  true attempt to discuss the realities of orphanages.

It is being used in an inappropriate context to maneuver the adult adoptee into saying what the asker wants to hear – what the asker expects to hear.

It is used as a silencing attempt, a passive-aggressive way to convey: “Be grateful you are even alive and have a family that loves you. You wouldn’t have even gotten that if you’d stayed behind, and because you are adopted, this family is a privilege.”
You're sometimes sad about your adoption?  You're an "angry adoptee?"  "Would you have rather been raised in an orphanage?"  Move along, there's nothing to see here.


SustainableFamilies said...

Malinda, you are so wonderful. You might not be able to tell from all of my ramblings, but I am actually not anti-adoption.

Crazy huh?

If every possible effort has been made to help a child stay with their first family and it can't be done, I am pro-adoption over orphanage care.

All the same, any time an adoption happens, it means we have failed. We have failed to meet the needs of the child by helping their families needs be met. We must continue to find new innovative ways to help children born to mothers in duress of circumstance or crisis situations get the financial resources and therapeutic resources to be the mothers their children need.

Because even if it is "better than an orphanage", the tragedy involved makes that sometimes a mute point.

Like if you get in a car crash and you live but you're paralyzed from the waist down. Like if you went to war and saw horrible things that will never fully leave your mind, and you live. But you're not sure if you're the lucky one for doing so.

Bringing up the, "But your tragedy doesn't matter because you could have had it worse" is cruel and demeaning.

If someones mother dies do you say, "Well you're so lucky, she could have been kidnapped and tortured for 10 years. You're lucky she's died instead of that happening."

Like, what?

Or what about someones child is sick in the hospital and it's unknown if they'll get better. Who would say, "Well you are SO lucky that you even got to have a child at all. Some people never even get to have children. So just remember you're the one who is lucky."

No one should ever bury their child. No one EVER should be expected to be GRATEFUL if they have to bury a child.

No one should ever have to feel grateful about losing their first mother.

Wendy said...

Exellent post Malinda.

Mei Ling said...

"Bringing up the, "But your tragedy doesn't matter because you could have had it worse" is cruel and demeaning."

I once told my 'friend' D that my mom and brother's relationship is lethal and it made me feel like crap because of the emotional consequential ripple effects.

His response: You do realize some families are physically abusive, right?

And I said "Yeah, but uh... that doesn't make me feel any better."

"You could have had it worse" <- then what do you say when the worst DOES happen?

Von said...

And then there's the question about whether you're rather be raised as an adoptee or a 'normal child'