I don’t parent online. I don’t share anything about my child on the Internet, nor do I belong to any Facebook groups related to parenting. When a local mommy group informed me that I’d have to download the Meetup app in order to stay abreast of meetings and events, I ditched the mommy group. I already write about parenting online. I don’t need to live my relationship with my child through the Internet. You see, parenting writing has taught me that there is a huge disconnect between real-world parenting and the theoretical debates we have about parenting online.
For instance, contrary to popular belief, the huge majority of children in this country have yet to question their sexual identity. Boys, in large part, continue to enjoy sports and toy guns. And many, many children still walk home alone from school or the bus stop. Yes, there is a growing number of transgender kids, boys in dresses, and conflict-resolution preschool studies going on in this world. Yes, they should be confronted. But they should not be seen as the overall culture’s definition of “normal” attitudes or behaviors.
Take, for instance, nutball freelance feminist Jody Allard’s insistence that her two sons are an inherent part of “rape culture” by virtue of being male. In the real world, 98 percent of mothers of boys would balk at considering their sons to be latent rapists. The other two percent, the ones cheering on Allard through clicks and shares, are probably just jealous they didn’t have girls. As Ben Sasse would say, #liveyourpassion and let’s all move on, shall we? Sometimes the problem is that we don’t move on. Instead, we latch on and give these idiots way more attention than they truly deserve.
Allard gained notoriety last year after her rape culture piece for the Washington Post, in her words, “went semi-viral.” Apparently, the diseased words didn’t go viral enough for the Post; her follow-up piece wound up as clickbait for a site called “Role Reboot” that attacks gender norms with the belief that there is “no normal.” According to Alexa, the average visitor to Role Reboot sticks around for a minute to browse approximately one page on the site. Its global ranking is near 350,000 while the Washington Posts’s is 187. The numbers mean that most of Allard’s readers got sick the first time around, now they’re immune for good and thankfully the disease is dying, albeit perhaps more slowly than we’d prefer.
The Internet is a healthy reminder that countercultures will always exist. In a way, they act as healthy reminders of how truly destructive bad ideas can be. Allard is no exception to this rule. In her follow-up at Role Reboot, she demeans one son for secretly hating her after catching wind of her claims in the Washington Post. One wonders if this is the same son who is also plagued with suicidal depression. That doesn’t matter to Allard, though, who quickly goes from berating her child for disagreeing with her about his underlying urge to rape women, to dishing about Internet dating. As Iron Ladies founder Leslie Loftis observed of Allard here at PJ Media last year:
She sees her boys as a means to her ends, not full humans with aspirations or autonomy.
That is, perhaps, the scariest thing of all when it comes to parenting online and, perhaps, why it is a subculture that should be avoided. When you begin to write about the intimate details of your child’s life, when your darkest personal musings about your child become fodder to generate a paycheck, you begin to lose touch with the fact that they are living, breathing human beings, not just characters you’ve created out of your imagination.
Plenty of mommy bloggers have told horror stories about getting carried away with their blogging to the point that they lived alternate social media lives in order to gain followers and earn cash. Allard simply takes this sad reality to a deeper and even more disturbing level. Most mommy bloggers crack when they can’t force their kids to smile for free stuff anymore. Allard seems determined to drive her children into suicidal madness just to keep the money rolling in.
The Allard incident should be a reminder to parents not to believe everything they read. In a parenting world where everything is becoming increasingly political, we’re all better off disconnecting from the insane ideas about kids we encounter online and reconnecting with the actual kids who are living under our very own roofs. That is the best, and perhaps the only way to truly squelch the Allard-esque absurdities threatening parent-child relationships today.