Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Why Take Offense?

I have always been bugged by the fact that our culture seems to take offense at the slightest hint of a possible transgression. This became glaringly obvious on my yahoo mom's board this week. Apparently a woman whom I've never met is facing the possibility of having a child with Down's Syndrome. One part of her post went something like this: "I don't know what to do if... God forbid, I get the news that he/she may have DS... " I cannot imagine what she must be going through. She was hurting and wrote a message to the board with the title "HELP... I need hope!"

Now, I don't know about you but if a random stranger needed hope, would you give them a slap in the face instead?

That's the written equivalent of what happened on the board. What I like to call "online cat fights" break out every now and then. It's bound to happen- we're a group of women with kids (mostly stay at home moms) who get stressed and are running on less sleep than Gitmo detainees. Sometimes it's easy to read a message that someone posts and take something the wrong way.

Apparently this woman's use of the term "God forbid" deeply offended a woman who has a child with Down's. The reply to the original post was not nice. Not in the least.

So the original poster writes back and apologizes. Not what she expected to have to do, I'm sure, but she was very kind and seemed really hurt that she had offended anyone, stating that it was never her intention to do so.

You would think that would be the end of it, right?

Nope. Another bloody poster writes and again reiterates the fact that the whole "God forbid" phrase was offensive, and "What did you mean by 'God forbid' anyway?"

OK... I don't get involved in these things on a public forum. I wrote the original poster and (dare I say it?) hopefully gave her some hope. But this is what I really, REALLY wanted to say to the respondents:

"I find it sad that 2 words have caused so much pain for many women who are obviously already experiencing enough of it. 'God forbid,' a term used loosely and without malice, was taken far too literally and with much anger and offense. The original poster already apologized and explained herself. So let's move on. One of my catch phrases is 'fuck a duck,' but so far I have not literally been tempted to do the horizontal mambo with any feathered fowl.

"I don't think any of us in our first trimester of pregnancy wants a special needs child. Not to say a child with special needs isn't a blessing and a gift- they are. But it can be an unexpected shock and takes a lot of planning and effort. Some people accept it with joy, some grieve. It's not for you to judge another's reaction.

"For the sake of peace, kill this thread

"-Jen, who thinks that when someone begs for hope on this board, she should be able to get it"

And if you happen to come upon this post and are offended...?

Go fuck a duck.


Anonymous said...

I think that you should totally post that!!!! Go Jen!

Love you!

PG said...

I hope you do post that.

But in fairness to the mom with a Down's kid, I've heard that a lot of women are pressured by their doctors to abort a Down's pregnancy, and she may have been genuinely hurt by what she perceived as a suggestion that bearing a Down's child isn't part of God's plan or something. The second woman clearly was just piling on for the drama and oppotunity to feel superior, though.

I do have a question though: given that the testing that reveals Down's poses a slight risk to the fetus, and that nothing can be done about Down's (i.e. there's no in-utero surgery or any other medical assistance available), does it make sense for women who are anti-abortion even to have the test? This was something that kind of puzzled me about Gov. Palin's story: why would you test for incurable conditions that you can do nothing about if you already know that you wouldn't terminate the pregnancy? If it's that doctors are pushing these tests on women, I wish the guidelines for OBGYN practice would be changed.

Jen said...

PG- You posted some thoughtful comments. Wish you were on my mom's board! :-)

There is a lot of misunderstanding about Down's, from what I have read. Most DS children are capable of living lives just like anyone else. So that whole fear of having a DS child isn't based on the reality of today.

When I was pregnant both times I had an ultrasound, and I had to ask myself 'what would I do if the u/s showed a possible problem?' I am grateful for having options, and I don't judge anyone who feels that abortion is their only answer, but I think I would have had the baby.

I agree- it seems hypocritical when you *know* you wouldn't abort to have the risky tests done. Then again, maybe many women/families feel that if the test is done and a miscarriage occurs (or doesn't occur and they have a child with special needs), it's God's will either way.

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