Friday, October 11, 2013

Counterculture as an identity

Counterculture as an identity == Hobo Mama

I've been thinking a lot about being countercultural and what that means. I've decided I don't want being countercultural to be my identity, and I'll explain why.

Humans are social creatures, meaning that we live in social groups and communicate a lot (a lot! talking, texting, body language, written language — we are so much more openly and complexly communicative than any other species). We want to get along with the other members of our social group(s), and this is where culture comes in. Each group sets up rules about what meets the criteria of the group, i.e., culture.

What does my group eat? What does my group wear? Where and how do we live? What do we do for work and play? What language do we speak? What gods do we worship?

It all becomes enshrined in an (admittedly ever-morphing) concept called culture.

As crunchy-granola, earth-goddess, attachment-parenting, hippie types, we often feel we're working, quite consciously, against our dominant culture.

You put your baby to sleep in a mini-jail? My baby sleeps snuggled against my warm body.

You feed your baby with a rubber teat? I feed my baby from my own breasts.

You push your child around in a wheeled chair? I carry my baby in my arms.

And, yes: We're different. We know it. And we take a certain pride in it, and that's ok — to a point.

But … but … here's where it gets tricky, and why I think it's better not to have this us/them dichotomy in our identities.

If we consider ourselves countercultural, if what we do is a reaction to what the mainstream-ers do, then what happens when the conventional crowd listens to us?

Breastfeeding (initiation, at least) is becoming more popular. Does that mean we have to stop?

Babywearing is become, dare I say, trendy. Oh, noes!

Cloth diapers are on the rise, too. Do we fluffy-bum-enthusiasts want to be associated with the masses?

See what I mean? If we have a competition mindset, then we feel uneasy, even threatened, when our lifestyle is seemingly being taken over and adopted by others who didn't come to it philosophically but only because it had become more normal.

I'd rather choose my parenting practices because they're best for my child, for me, and for the planet. {Tweet this!}

That way, I can be an enthusiastic advocate for anyone who wants to try breastfeeding — or keep it up.

I can show a "mainstream" parent some other (and maybe better) baby carriers without sounding like I'm criticizing what they're using.

I can share my tips on cosleeping or gentle discipline to a receptive audience who asked for them, instead of lecturing what I perceive are hostile minds.

I don't think as humans, as biological, evolutionary beings, that we need to throw out culture with the bathwater. We can be a little bit odd — a little more like a former culture perhaps than the current one — but still welcome and connect with the others who are more in tune with the way of the world.

Let's parent positively, not out of fear, and let others see that positivity as we share in our human-like communicative ways!

Photo credit: Brad / Calciphus


lisa c. baker said...

So...basically what you're saying is you DON'T want to be like this guy?

;) Nice post!

Lauren Wayne said...

@lisa c. baker: Haha! I love that show. "Thanks for ruining shell art!"

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