Red Herrings, Derailing, Loki, and…Kittens?

or, How We Argue When We Argue About Adoption.

There’s a bit of a dust-up going on at the Psychology Today website about That Line in The Avengers and adoption stigma. It’s interesting because a spiky urchin could predict some of the arguments being made in the *comments. The things being said are predictable not only because they have been said to adoptees over and over again, but also because they have been said to every disenfranchised group imaginable, over and over again.

For purposes of argument, let’s pretend society has decided that the best way to deal with, say, kittens nobody wants is to kill them by smacking them with a mallet. Let us further pretend that we have dealt with such kittens this way for several decades now, and that a noisy minority has of late become uncomfortable with this particular solution to The Kitten Problem. (Is that a fair way to characterize adoption? Of course not. It just works as an illustration.)

I think the conversation might go something like this:


Q: Don’t like mallets? Well, what do you propose we do with all those kittens?

A: I don’t know. It’s a complicated question. Maybe it has no one right answer. I, a single cat, am almost certainly not qualified to answer it for all kittens and all cats. It’s true there are an awful lot of kittens being born out there who aren’t being properly looked after. It is still cruel to smack kittens with mallets.

Q: But things are so much better for kittens now! We used to burn them alive! Why don’t you talk about that instead?

A: Because the subject is hitting kittens with mallets, which continues to happen and continues to be wrong.

Q: The fact that your kitten bit the children is no reason to stop other people from taking in a kitten and raising it with love, is it? (aka the “bad adoption experience” argument.)

A: I do not own a kitten. My imaginary kitten has bitten no one. OR: My kitten, regardless of whether or not it ever bit anyone, has/n’t grown into a fine young cat in part because no one ever smacked it with a mallet/despite the fact someone smacked it with a mallet.  Whatever the case may be, the fact is I have no power to prevent you from taking in a kitten and treating it however you choose to treat it. Whatever the case may be, the subject of this argument is not cat bites, but mallets.

Q: If you really cared about kittens, you’d be giving half your income to the ASPCA and volunteering at your local shelter instead of complaining about mallets!

A: You have no way of knowing whether or not I am doing those things. My doing or not doing those things in no way affects my free speech rights. Nor does my doing or not doing those things change the fact that people are out there smacking kittens with mallets and thinking that’s OK because it is accepted practice. Indeed, if nobody complains, society will never stop smacking kittens with mallets, encouraging people to smack kittens with mallets because it’s considered an act of love, and claiming that it is in the best interest of kittens to be smacked with mallets.

Q: ZOMG I LOVE MY KITTEN! I have NEVER harmed it in any way. HOW DARE YOU suggest I would abuse my kitten?  You are MEAN! (aka the “I’m one of the good ones!” argument)

A: I didn’t say you had. I said a lot of people seem to think it’s OK to smack kittens with mallets, which is (for purposes of this illustration) true and somewhat understandable. But if this post is not about you, it’s not about you, and the same goes for all of my posts.

Q: Look, I’m not a kitten, but I got hit with a mallet playing Whack-A-Mole once. Doesn’t that prove I know what I’m talking about?

A: I’m sorry that happened to you. It must have hurt. But surely you’re not saying you know how kittens feel? I don’t think you do, because unlike kittens, you walk upright, use language, have opposable thumbs, and lack a tail.

Q: My auntsistercousinBFFwhoever has a kitten and it just loves being hit with a mallet. The mallet is its favorite toy! Doesn’t that prove you wrong? (The “One happy adoptee trumps all unhappy/angry/loud/rude adoptees” argument.)

A: The kitten never asked to be smacked with a mallet. Perhaps it has adjusted to this state of being because it knows it cannot otherwise receive care from your auntsistercousinBFFwhoever. It is nevertheless cruel to smack kittens with mallets (even, assuming they exist, masochist kittens). There’s a chance that the kitten in question genuinely does enjoy this form of attention above all other forms; but, being a kitten, it cannot tell anyone so, meaning its “enjoyment” is very possibly mere projection on the part of the auntsistercousinBFFwhoever who enjoys smacking his/er kitten with a mallet because s/he has been taught this is a good and loving thing to do to one’s kitten.

Q: You are a bitter, angry old cat! It’s cats like you who turn good people away from rescuing kittens!

A: People who do not want to own a kitten if it might grow up to hiss at them now and then should not own kittens.


*Yes, I commented there under a different name. I do that because I doubt anyone would take my comments seriously if they knew they were coming from Little Miss Pricklypants, not because I intend to post here anything anyone posted to me there or elsewhere, all GOTCHA! on the sly-like. That is not how this spiky urchin rolls.



Filed under Adopted And Happy!, AdoptoLand, General Ignoramitude, Srsly

20 responses to “Red Herrings, Derailing, Loki, and…Kittens?

  1. That was a bothersome part of the film for me. Your comments here are well said. Thanks.

  2. Thanks! I still haven’t seen the film, and will pass judgement once I have.

  3. On the one hand, there is a lot I like about Psychology Today, including their willingness to look at our evolutionary background and how that impacts our psychological needs today. On the other hand, they are known to occasionally publish pieces like Amy the Advice Goddess scolding ugly women for–wait for it–not being willing to mutilate and torture ourselves so that we will be pretty enough to merit male attention. Possibly they have more than one editor and they’re not speaking to one another.

    • I don’t regularly read the site, so I can’t really comment. I also very much mistrust the words “evolutionary” and “psychology” when they are placed close together, because that always seems to equate to “Men get to fuck around, women get to put up with it.”

      But I sure do wonder what it is a man has to change or sacrifice in order to “land a woman.” I think it was Gloria Steinem who said she had never known a man to ask how he should balance work and family.

      How sad is it that this (1971) is still relevant?

  4. Chad Rancher

    How about the “I paid good money to get that kitten. And I have the receipt to prove it. I am the kitten’s rightful and real OWNER. Ignore the cat who gave birth to MY kitten. The natural/first/original cat didn’t want the kitten anyway. THAT kitten would have died anyway, if I didn’t adopt/rescue her. I know what’s in the best interests of my kitten; the kitten doesn’t need to know about her biological/first family and whether or not she has kitten siblings. Her records were altered so she never has to search for THAT other family. I am the only family she knows and I know what is best for her. That includes the use of a mallet from time to time, just to remind her how much I love her. She is growing up and thriving because of all I have done for her. She is, indeed, a grateful kitten…”
    “And, if she doesn’t continue to act grateful, she will be deported like all the other illegal alien cats who lurk around our borders…”

  5. The Psychology Today discussion is, ironically, textbook as far as adoptee experience. Call people out on adoptee discrimination, get told to shut up. Refuse to shut up, get personally attacked. Continue to refuse to shut up, get told you don’t know what you’re talking about, you’re just angry, you had a bad adoption experience, ad nauseum – anything to invalidate.

  6. Yes! Yes! Yesss! (-: Every time the media says “adoption,” all the same ding dong damnit bells ring.

    Would you mind if I linked to your post within this post?

  7. Dawidge

    Let’s not forget the institutions that receive tax breaks because they are doing a public service by selling the privilege of “whacking a kitten with a mallet” to other people. After all, this allows them to go around and find even more kittens in need of whacking. Not only that, but the fees these people pay for the opportunity to whack a kitten are ALSO tax deductible.

    It’s all for the good of society that these kittens get whacked, after all.

    • Well, I don’t want MY tax dollars going to let Welfare queens who shouldn’t have spread their hind legs in the first place keep their kittens. Anyone who helps Kittens Like That find Good Christian Mallet-Smackin’ Homes far away from their constantly-in-heat mothers deserves a tax break by me!

  8. Tina

    I didn’t even bother to read the comments for that article. I couldn’t get past the article. I mean other than a throw away line about what if there were adopted kids in the audience, where was he concern for adoptees. It was the usual what if adopted parents get their poor feeling hurt. Look I am an AP and I get tired of people going on and on about ME. Its not about me, I signed on for this gig. Its about the one that did not.

    • This really does happen over and over again. That movie The Orphan? I don’t remember a single adoptee getting upset about it, but a lot of APs online went apeshit.

      Meanwhile, many of the adoptees who did find the line in The Avengers hurtful have been dismissed as hypersensitive or lacking a sense of humor.

      There are some pretty good comments over there. I don’t have anything to say that someone else hasn’t said better, but I’m keeping up with the comments.

  9. Prrrrr!!!!!! Nice kitty! Nice linky thingies! A little bit of privilege goes a long way unless you’re a kitten and have none.Well it’s all smoke and mirrors and can be taken away in a moment if kitties are bad kitties, as they so often are these days.Equal Rights for Kittens and end discrimination!! Now!!

  10. I’m shocked-shocked!- at the lack of gratitude I’m seeing from malleted kittens around here. Don’t you know you could all be thrown together in a big hole to rot slowly instead of quickly and humanely malleted? I’ve seen these holes personally and believe you me being malleted is nothing! Nothing! Why, being malleted is actually the very beginning of all good things to come, which you would realize if you would stop being such angry, maladjusted whiner kitties with flat heads.

  11. [hiss] 😉

    How could I forget the old “Have you ever been inside an orphanage? Well I have!” tactic. It always makes the Pirates of Penzance play in my head:

    General: I ask you, have you ever known what it is to be an orphan?
    [Pirate] King: Often!
    General: Yes, orphan. Have you ever known what it is to be one?
    King: I say, often.
    Pirates (disgusted): Often, often, often. (Turning away)

  12. Mei-Ling

    The kitten analogies… oh god.

    *dies of laughter*

  13. My personal favorite, after the incensed AP makes fun of my name, because the is soooooooooooo original and reduces me to tears every.single.time.That is why I weep all day long, is then they turn the “abandoned card” on me, no wonder your own mother didn’t want you. You know, I went to a very nice school, with very kind kids when I was young. I am fortunate enough to report I have never experienced a single incident of school-yard bullying about my adoptee status.

    In fact the only people who have bullied my about my adoptee status are aps or the stripe of adoptee who find it helpful to refer to fellow adoptees as “woundies” They themselves adopting the bully point of view.

    • I’m sorry, Joy. )-:

      I got some teasing as a kid, but nothing hurt worse than the time a few years back when I was sad because it was my birthday and a first mother on a certain forum told me she could see why my mother gave me up.

      • Right? OH you know when people say such cunty things like that I feel embarrassed for them, those are the words of desperation because no decent human being ever says that to anyone and they are by default implicating themselves of doing the same thing, that abandoning their child was a personal rejection. We didn’t have large over-bearing personalities at 15 minutes of age. Lol, those beauties came later, it is on them.

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