Things That Are Not Radical Acts

July 20, 2010

her bad superheroI had it in mind that I was going to write about it, that thing that happened last week , that thing that was really just so horrible and awful and unpleasant – in a First World Problems! kind of way, sure, but still – that thing that left me feeling so rattled and uncertain and bad. I was going to write about how it all happened – what was said and how I cried and what more was said and how much more I cried and then how I sat, alone, in a room with no clocks, my passport seized, and freaked the hell out – and about how I wondered what it said about the State of the Momosphere in North America circa 2010 that someone could be stopped and interrogated for claiming to be a ‘mom blogger’ – not even mommy blogger! I only said mom! and blogger! – (because I am so not exaggerating when I say that I spent all that time defending the fact that I make a living writing about motherhood and that I often go to conferences – yes, even at places like Yahoo! – to discuss doing so and they reviewed my blog right there and demanded that I explain to them what the hell it was and how it earned me money and I sniffled and gurgled and mumbled stuff about ad networks and marketing and GM Canada and it was only when I pointed to a post that thanked GM Canada for sponsoring an adventure and then another one that they finally relented and let me go) (which, thanks GM!) – and! or! — DEEP BREATH — whether it even meant anything at all, and how maybe this has nothing at all to do with mommyblogging being a radical act and more to do with how there happens to be random Internet-ignorant doofuses (doofii?) working at Homeland Security! Or something! So!

I was going to write something about all that. But now I’m not. Because, I haven’t even written about it – apart from saying that it happened and that I was scared and that I didn’t know what to make of it – and already there is murmuring and grumbling about who the hell cares and she probably deserved it and it probably had nothing to do with mom blogging and she wouldn’t last five minutes in Saudi Arabia! (Which, no, I wouldn’t, not least because I am not Maureen Dowd and am totally not up for experiencing misogynist subjugation just for the hell of it and, also, I already said that) and I’m just so totally not up for that, because, why? Why should I be? I’m not. And even though I’m kind of sort of simmering with the idea that this, this sort of thing – the presumption that ‘motherhood’ and ‘professional’ are two words that should spring off of each other like water on hot oil – and that sort of thing – the some-time compulsion within our community to sneer and to doubt – are evidence of the radicalness of what we do – living our motherhood publicly, and demanding respect for it – is as bright and hard-edged as it was five years ago when this fine lady declared it so, I’m too tired to let it come to boil. Not now, anyway.

This is cowardly, maybe. To avoid discussion – to avoid starting a discussion – just because it threatens to get difficult, just because one’s feelings might get hurt – isn’t that the very antithesis of what it means to be radical in a discursive space? It is this, without question, but I might object, in my own defense, that wandering into discursive territory that I know or suspect will be be hostile only wears me down, leaves me less able, or less willing, to engage in those discussions that are productive and stimulating and interesting and – maybe – radical. (By which I do not mean, those discussions in which everyone agrees with me. It’s never interesting – although it is, I’ll admit, gratifying – when everyone simply agrees with you. I was an academic – a student, a teacher, a wave-my-Communist-Manifesto-around-the-pub-table argument-pursuer – for too long to be averse to discursive friction.) (How many times in this paragraph can I use the word ‘discursive’?) (Why am I avoiding the subject at hand?)

And so this is the path I take today, the path of least (discursive!) resistance, and I walk it with headphones plugged into my ears and shades drawn over my eyes, and if anyone stops me, I will brandish my iPhone and holler, over the music blaring in my ears, WANNA SEE PICTURES OF MY BABIES???…

early summer 10 120

… and as those people move aside, I will just keep walking.

And I will feel guilty.

(So guilty, in fact, that now that I’ve come to the end of this post I feel reluctant to close comments, because I know that you would understand and I wouldn’t just brush you aside on this path that we’re on and I know that although you are always happy to see pictures of my children, you understand that there is so much more than that going on here, so why would I want to shut you out?

Lo, I have talked myself into a corner. That happens sometimes.

I’m going to leave comments open. You’ll be civil and kind, right? And we won’t debate whether or not I was silly or ridiculous or ego-inflated to have been been upset by my brush with Homeland Security? We’ll just walk and we’ll talk about the issues and the questions and the unbearable lightness of being mom bloggers, and radicals, and the beauty of my children. And it will be good. Right? So why IS this all so hard sometimes?)


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    { 77 comments }

    Anna July 27, 2010 at 10:22 am

    I’m an Italian-Canadian living in Italy, all my family lives in Canada. My son was born in Ethiopia and retained Italian citizenship after his adoption; he is on my Italian passport. Canada’s Immigration Dept. recommends that if one parent is travelling alone with their child, they should have a letter stating that the other parent has agreed to have the child travel.

    The first time I travelled to Canada with my son, we were asked for the letter at every customs clearance but no one stopped us.

    The second time I travelled to Canada WITH THE LETTER, Immigration Canada STOPPED ME, photocopied all my documents and the letter and sent me off.

    The third time I travelled to Canada with my son and the letter, they scanned the letter and my passport.

    Note, the letter needs to be notarized or the signatures certified by an oaths officer or police. I always had this done.

    I understand security measures, but I wonder if I would be stopped or any questions asked if I wasn’t white and my son black?

    caramama July 30, 2010 at 4:37 pm

    Just don’t show any idiotic Homeland Security officers or boarder patrol officers your new business cards. The ones that say “spy.” I’m guessing they can’t take good jokes either.

    So sorry you had to go through this experience. Sounds like a bunch of sorry, misogynistic guys power tripping.
    .-= caramama´s last blog ..Not Just Any Name =-.

    Jaque August 4, 2010 at 3:33 pm

    An old college friend of mine tests explosives for the US government. He was held by Homeland Security for 2 days, on more than one occasion, even after showing his government ID. They are complete fools, it makes me embarrassed to live here.

    I am so sorry.

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