If I had a penny for every time someone said people should have the number of children they can support in response to a poor person asking for help, I’d be far less financially precarious. Not too long ago in a tweet I can no longer find, people piled on a man who wanted to get into a relationship even though he was currently unemployed. We need to talk about why we imagine that there are certain life experiences that are only open to people in certain income brackets and why that needs to stop.
No children for the poor
I’m not afraid to admit, I was once numbered among the people who say things like, “Why don’t they just have children they can support?” or “Why have children if you can’t support them?” The argument can be made that these sentiments are not said maliciously. One can even argue that it’s just practical, and reasonable. The problem is those are sentiments that punch down instead of up. It’s equivalent to kicking a man who’s down. The truth is those parents likely care about their children more than some strangers who just read that story do. Most parents would be tormented by the fact that they are unable to meet their needs. They don’t need us suggesting that they are some kind of failure who could not plan ahead for their children.
If our concern is for the children, then we need to ask why there are no structures to ensure children’s needs are met. In any decently run society, there will be programs in place to meet children’s needs. It’s far easier to criticize parents who are trying their best than it is to assign blame to the people in positions of authority who could easily remedy the problem but refuse to do it. Punching down is far easier than punching up.
No cookie for broke men
There’s a widespread belief, courtesy of patriarchy that what men bring to the table is money. That’s the full extent of their contribution which is why people have no problem piling on an unemployed man who wants to date. No cookie for broke men is basically a proverb at this point. To reduce men or anyone to their ability to provide financially is to deny their humanity.
People deserve love because of who they are, not because of how much money they have. In a capitalist society in which most people will be on the economic fringes to suggest that love and romance are only for the monied is exceedingly cruel. The only time it’s okay to uphold the no cookie for broke men mantra is when dealing with men who insist on clinging to patriarchy. If a man insists that he is the head of the relationship and he subscribes to gender roles and refuses to do housework while expecting the woman’s submission, then let the games begin. If you insist on living by the patriarchal sword then you will die by it. No cookie for broke men.
Certain things are human experiences that should not be determined by the market and that includes whether or not people get to have families of their own and whether they get into romantic relationships. It’s bad enough that poor people are denied so much in this society, we can’t gatekeep things that should be universal human experiences too.
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