Sunday, February 11, 2007

Taking a Stand Against Taking a Stand

Posted by Anonymous. (If you'd like to share a post here, anonymously or otherwise, e-mail Her Bad Mother at


In a few weeks a friend of mine is going to prison. On purpose. She took part in a protest at the School of the Americas and out of 20,000 plus people she just had to be one of the 16 people that went through a hole in the fence and trespassed onto government property.

Why? She says it is a step in the direction of peace, she says she did it to spread love, she said she had to take a stand.

I say this. Fuck that. No one has heard of the god damn place, and you have 3 young children that are freaked out because their mom is going to prison. You have a husband that you did not discuss this with and are now informing him that you have arranged for strange women to MOVE INTO your house while you are gone to help him out and be there with the children because you are a stay at home mom who home schools. He is angry, your kids are scared and quite honestly I am very disappointed in you and more angry than I may have a right to be.

How can you leave you children for something that will not even make a difference? How can you make those sorts of life altering decisions and not share them with your husband? What the fuck is wrong with you?

Every email and post is about you, how you feel, how you have been chosen to do this by god, how you are going to make things better. Let me tell you sister, when you have kids it stops being about you. Period. I know you want to change the world, God knows so do I. If you feel like you have been called to be an instrument of peace do that, go to the protest, keep your happy ass on the right side of the fence, home school your children about the great people before us that gave their lives for peace, teach them about Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Theresa, Gandhi. Do not dare send me another message about holding your family in the light and by the way can you stop your life and drive my kids to where they need to be because you will be taking a writing class in prison, and plan to make this into a book.


SUEB0B said...

I can see both sides of this. A lot of people HAVE heard of School of the Americas. I think your friend is very brave, but definitely should have come to an agreement with her family BEFORE she chose to do this. Once you become a wife and mom, you need to consider your family and involve them in your decisions.

But you can't say that she wasn't acting in the tradition of Gandhi. He did plenty of things that were illegal, dangerous and seemingly like shouting at the wind. But he started a revolution, and he won.

I think your friend's children will grow up to be proud of her. I know I would be, if I were her child. It may take a few years or decades, but I think they will come to understand her decision.

Anonymous said...

wow....yeah. I don't know that small children can understand being abandonded for a greater cause when their lives weren't at stake. I don't know that they will grow up to be proud of that. I'm still mad my mom spent so much time at church meetings instead of with me...

Heather said...

I've certainly heard of the School of the Americas (and don't think I'm the only one). While I see how it would be hard on her family, I admire her convictions. Nonviolent protest has brought about some of the biggest changes in history - ask Ghandi in India during the salt marches, ask Rosa Parks, or Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

While the issue here may not seem as obvious as colonialism, segregation, or racism, it is serious, significant, and could well be an incredible chance for her children to learn about values (or at least the ones their mum has).

Maybe her kids' lives weren't at stake, but other peoples' kids were and have been by people trained there. Maybe looking into why this cause is so important to her could give you a sense of why she'd do it.

Just my two cents, feel free to disregard them.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you that we should stand up for what is right, I agree that Ghandi did great things, what I don't understand is why she is willing to throw away her marriage, and disrupt her children to the point they are having nightmares, I think that is selfish. Going to protest is one thing, going to prison is another thing. If her kids were older, if her husband supported this and knew the consequences, maybe.
When you have young children at home they should come first, everyone that was arrested KNEW that their actions would not close the school.

We should all work for peace, but not at the expense of our families, shouldn't peace and safety start at home?

Beth said...

I once read that Grannies are the ones meant to risk arrest in protests. Mamas are needed at home and behind the lines, so to speak. I love this idea.

As for whether her kids will understand - it could and probably will go both ways. After all, this whole thing more than likely fits an old pattern/cycle. She's just continuing it because it's all she can do. Now it will be up to the children to break the pattern or pass it to their kids for breaking.

Anonymous said...

The deal is, if all the peace & civil rights activists had stayed home with thier toddlers, no progress would've been made. I can't bring myself to risk leaving my kids to change the world, but I think it's beautiful that somebody is doing it. I think it's beautiful that some "STRANGE WOMAN" [sic] is supporting her by making sure her kids are loved and cared for. And while her kids will suffer the loss of their mom for a while, much much worse things are happening to kids all over the world. Their mom is alive and well and bravely trying to fix the world for them.
But yeah, she REALLY needed to discuss her actions and the ramifications with her family first.

Anonymous said...

this reminds me of the controversy around Veronica Guerin and the guilt people laid on her for taking a stand when she had a family at home.

my question is...would this discussion even be happening if it was her husband who was going to jail? she's arranged for child care and schooling. she is doing the responsible thing.

you've said that "when you have kids, it stops being about [her]". she may agree with you. maybe this is about making sure her kids inherit a better world.

kittenpie said...

You know, if she had talked to her husband and children in advance to prepare them for this, I would be all in support. Even if it wasn't to ask permission, but to explain why she felt she needed to do this and let them know what it all meant to her and to their lives for the time she would be in jail (probably not that long, after all, wouldn't you think?). But it sounds like she just handled it poorly in terms of the fact that no one with a family is an island.

ewe are here said...

I can understand participating in a peaceful protest. But, I think you're right. Why did she feel the need to take it that extra step and go through the fence. She knew what the consequences of that action would be. Why was participating in the protest not enough when so much was at stake for her family? And to not even discuss it with them first and just assume they'd be ok with her surprise arrangements...

It's a decision I personally wouldn't understand if I were her child or spouse, but every family is different.

Anonymous said...

For what it's worth - I agree with you totally. I see her actions as selfish, not noble. From what you describe, she's courting fame.

m said...

I think your friend sounds brave, strong and an excellent role model for her children. (How old are they anyway? I think there is a difference between leaving a four year old and a nursing toddler.) I think it's fabulous that she's looking outside the navel of motherhood (which I'm often guilty of) and thinking globally and locally while raising her family.

Yes, I think she should have talked about this with her family beforehand, and that she didn't perhaps reveals some other motivation behind the stay in prison?

How long is she in prison for? I don't know if it was you as annonymous who said she was throwing away her marriage, but is that true? Is their marriage in such a state that this would cause it to disintigrate?

How your friend handled it isn't how I would, but I think perhaps there might be going on more than that what appears.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you that considering her family's needs should come first. Her brave actions have serious consequences for her husband and children. They need to be on board for something this serious or she needs to take a step back until they can get on board fully.

However, playing devil's advocate I would like to raise this question:

What if this had been a father and not a mother? Would your anger be so strong? Do we expect mothers to sacrifice their own individuality and beliefs more then fathers?

Anonymous said...

I cannot *believe* how many of the comments here state that this woman is "brave" or "strong". Are you kidding me?!?! I would be hard pressed to think of anything more selfish or stupid a mother (or any parent) could do. And I *do not* understand how anyone can condone or simply "write off" this type of behavior. I totally understand being angry at someone who's done something like this, and can't help but wonder whether or not some of those who've commented here have recently OD'd on prescription narcotics! Did the subject of this entry find it and post ten comments in defense of herself?! Seriously??! I don't understand it at all! (But that's obvious, I guess.)
I'm also not saying that everyone who gets in a position like this is *always* totally crazy and *always* totally stupid -- if a person without a family and a spouse and children to care for was on his/her way to prison, I don't think I would *understand* it, but I know my reaction would not be this strong -- but the fact is, she *does* have a family. She *does* have a spouse, and they *do* have children. And when someone has children, this sort of selfish stunt should not even be considered without the possible repercussions at the forefront of that parent's mind. It also doesn't matter whether that parent is a mother or a father. Can anyone honestly say that if is was a father that had done this to his wife and kids, instead of a mother doing this to her husband and kids, that no one would have a thing to say? I didn't think so.

Amber said...

Well said.

We have choices to make as ADULTS. Should we take a stand for what we beleive in? Yes. We should. But we can find ways to do this that do not hurt our children. Again, we CAN find ways of doing it without HURTING our CHILDREN. Her heart might have been in the right place...but her head might have been up her ass.


Anonymous said...

I found *her* blog, the subject of this post. She's going to be in jail for what? 60 days? 90 days? And it seemed to me that it was her *mother* who was going to be staying with the husband and kids, her mother and a friend, not a stranger. So I think it's always best to realize that there are two sides to every story.

Anonymous said...

While it is true that there are indeed two sides to every story, it is not, in my opinion, unreasonable to take issue with the fact that this woman did not discuss her decision with her family beforehand, and seemingly did not take into consideration possible effects on her kids (if that is indeed what exactly happened).

Whether or not the jail sentence is 60-90 days, or 60-90 years, the fact remains that if this was a selfish choice made on the spur of the moment, then it's not fair that this woman's kids and spouse are left to deal with the consequences. Even if it may be for "only" two months. It also is not, in my opinion, wrong for someone who knows a person in a situation like this, to have something to say about it, even if that thing might be negative. God forbid someone refuse to present a condoning and accepting face when that's not really how they feel!

*I will, however, concede that if it is in fact true that it will be the children's *grandmother* caring for the children while the mother is in prison, and not a stranger (though I suppose there are some grandchildren who don't know their grandparents well) that the true story is indeed a bit different than the one presented here.

Also, I feel strongly that people should stand up for what they believe in, and am proud to live in a time and place where I not only have that right, but so do those who hold opinions with which I do not agree. However, I do not understand congratulating someone who has put aside something that should be exponentially more important (for however "small" amount of time) in the name of "making a point" or "standing up for what one believes in." You can do that without landing jail time. That's all I'm sayin' (however long-winded what I have to say may be).

penelopeto said...

i think her kids will be very proud of her in a few years. hopefully her husband already is. the shameful part is that people were arrested in the first place.

my sister went to jail for blocking a logging road in clayoquat sound. our family was proud and supportive and rallied behind her, not against her.

and i would hardly say that 2-3 months is the same as 60-90 years. how do you feel about parents that take 2-3 week vacations away from their children? is that acceptable because the husband gave the ok for that one?

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised how negative the response is, when you consider that parents who leave permanently due to divorce are often commended for doing what feels right to them. Just as with a non-custodial divorced parent, this woman will still be available to her kids by phone during the time she's in prison (which is a fairly short time). She is coming back. And her kids need to know that prison doesn't equal bad, and that government doesn't equal good. Seeing your parents stand up for their beliefs is scary but a necessary part of learning to stand up for your own.
I agree it's not considerate of her kids' feelings. Nor is it considerate to fall out of love with one's spouse. Nor is it considerate to travel on business. But life requires things of you which are not always compatible. I don't think it is acceptable to allow familyhood to rob you of all your other convictions and opinions.
Full disclosure: my cousin was also arrested at this protest and damn I'm proud of him.