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Musings on a the otherkin community,a memorial, & children - Synchronicity swirls and other foolishness

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August 22nd, 2016


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04:14 am - Musings on a the otherkin community,a memorial, & children
Last week, [personal profile] teaotter, [personal profile] amberite, and I went out to West Virginia to a memorial for [personal profile] helen99, someone I knew and very much liked in the otherkin community. I didn't know her well, but she was a kind, thoughtful, and generally awesome individual and I'm sad she's gone, but the memorial was very affecting and I was glad to have been there. As it true at all such occasions, this visit was also a time to reconnect with quite a number of wonderful people in that community who I haven't seen for 5 or so years and reminded me of how much I enjoy interacting with these people.

I also experienced another rarely indulged pleasure –observing truly excellent parenting. One of the unusual (and from my PoV quite comfortable) features of the otherkin community, or at least the sections I'm familiar with is that being childfree is exceedingly common, which is hardly surprising in a group of geeky, deeply eccentric, and often fairly gender non-conforming people. However, several of the people at the memorial (some of whom were part of the otherkin community, others not, but all quite geeky) had children. Most were excellent parents of the sort that I've seen before a number of times (but more rarely than I'd like).

Then there was Summer and Ashran, who were the sorts of amazing parents one might expect to read about in the rare YA novel where the protagonist has ludicrously wonderful parents (excellent examples being any of the YA novels by Madeleine L'Engle) – yes, they both (and especially Summer) seemed that good – kind, loving, endlessly patient, joyful, and deeply humane, and with 4 children, ranging in age from 5 months to 12 years. In addition to sometimes enjoying spending time around other people's children, I also very much enjoy (and am mildly in awe of) anyone who is a truly excellent parent. I react to it much as I would to seeing someone demonstrate any other impressive skill that I have neither the talent for nor any inclination to pursue. Watching Summer and Ashran with their children was especially impressive and wonderful.

On a related note, at one point, Summer mentioned that since most of the people she knew in the otherkin community didn't seem interested in having children, she was going to have to make up for that lack :) That comment got me thinking about the nature of the otherkin community. Like SF fandom and a number of other subcultures, the otherkin community is very much a subculture that people join as teens or adults rather than being born into. This is increasingly distinguishing it from the neopagan community, which as I have mentioned in the past, has, as a whole grown more mainstream as its expanded, and part of this process has involved making a place for individuals and families who are far more mainstream than most neopagans were 40 years ago.

By their nature, communities that survive far more recruiting people than by people being born into it have greater freedom to avoid mainstream norms, in part simply because (for both better and worse) raising children in a community automatically exposes the community to far more public scrutiny that it might otherwise attract. This suggests to me that while the otherkin community will definitely change over time, just as all subcultures do, the direction of that change need not be towards becoming more mainstream.

As a side-note, I and many other people I've known (including many like myself with parents who were not horrific, merely somewhat cold and brittle) have had to learn about love and trust in college and young adulthood, and it's sort of amazing to think of being 17 or 20 and already knowing these lessons.

Crossposted from dreamwidth, please comment on lj, I rarely check dreamwidth.
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Comments:


[User Picture]
From:benlehman
Date:August 22nd, 2016 05:47 pm (UTC)
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Huh. I'm not sure that I agree about the roots of childlessness in these communities, but I have to think about it.
[User Picture]
From:heron61
Date:August 22nd, 2016 08:35 pm (UTC)
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I'm definitely interested in your thoughts about this. Do you mean that you don't see the descriptors "geeky, deeply eccentric, and often fairly gender non-conforming" as being the cause?
[User Picture]
From:benlehman
Date:August 22nd, 2016 11:24 pm (UTC)
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No, I mean, I'm not sure I buy your reasoning for why such people don't generally have kids. I don't think it's cover as much as a rational resources decision.
[User Picture]
From:arethinn
Date:August 23rd, 2016 12:06 am (UTC)
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I'm not sure what you mean by "cover". For me it was that the idea of hving and caring for children is just wholly unappealing. (Resources kind of figures into it, as in "I don't want to spend my money that way", but it's not "I wish I could but can't afford to"; I actively do not want to.) Maybe it's not so much a cause/effect as that people who fit in these communities are more likely, for whatever reasons, to also be people who simply do not want to have children in the first place?
[User Picture]
From:heron61
Date:August 23rd, 2016 01:02 am (UTC)
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Like with arethinn, and with pretty much every other childfree member of the otherkin community I've talked to, greater resources (not merely financial, but emotional and otherwise) wouldn't change the choice, by it's very nature raising children changes lives in ways that are unavoidable (unless one if both exceedingly wealthy and exceedingly negligent and farms all such duties out to servants), and we simply have no interest in making these changes.

Of course, part of this is simply part of the larger culture dealing with the fact that for everyone with reach puberty in the US (and in most of the developed world) after the 1960s, having children is now ultimately a choice in a way that it wasn't before, and growing numbers of people are not making that choice for a wide variety of reasons.
[User Picture]
From:benlehman
Date:August 24th, 2016 05:16 pm (UTC)
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I'm pretty sure I'm not communicating this well. We can talk about it in person, if you like?
[User Picture]
From:queerbychoice
Date:August 22nd, 2016 08:29 pm (UTC)
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I had to learn about cruelty and distrust in college and young adulthood. It was a difficult thing to adjust to, because I grew up in an environment where everyone was basically good and basically trustworthy and not cruel. In some ways, it feels like having a safe childhood environment failed to prepare me for the real world.
[User Picture]
From:teaotter
Date:August 23rd, 2016 08:29 pm (UTC)
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Spotted today, and vaguely on-topic, this is a quote from The Tick:

"Everybody was a baby once, Arthur. Oh, sure, maybe not today, or even yesterday. But once. Babies, chum: tiny, dimpled, fleshy mirrors of our us-ness, that we parents hurl into the future, like leathery footballs of hope. And you've got to get a good spiral on that baby, or evil will make an interception."


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