“This offends me!” Who cares? Nobody.

by Janelle Hanchett

I “offend” people, a lot.

I don’t give a shit, a lot.

I’m not a cold-hearted person. I’m actually quite sensitive. But when people write “This offends me” or “I’m offended by this,” the only thing I think to myself is “It is impossible for me to convey how little I care.” Not because I’m evil (though that may be true), but rather because I just don’t understand what the hell that’s got to do with me.

Recently I wrote a post referring to “childless” people. I used that word because I wanted to refer to people without children, and “people without children” is three words whereas “childless” is one. And since I’m into the whole brevity thing, I decided on the latter. If you hop over and read the comment thread, you’ll see numerous comments clarifying that “childless” is an offensive, politically incorrect term. The word is “childFREE.” ChildLESS implies a void.

See now this is precisely the moment where they lose me. Yes, of course “childless” implies a void. In English, when you add the word “less” to the end of another word, it means “without” that thing. Hence, without children, which is precisely what I’m trying to say. Forgive me, but I’m not going to INVENT some new word because you find the actual word unpalatable.

I know there are people suffering from infertility, and this word must pierce them, and that makes me feel sad, but can you imagine if we kept changing up English every seven minutes to accommodate every individual experience ever known to humankind? I didn’t set out to hurt people’s feelings. I was just writing. And I’m not particularly invested in the word “childless.” But the fact is I’m not responsible for crafting ideas that are pleasant and palatable and gentle on every version of human on earth today.

I will always hurt people, somehow, and they will always hurt me.

The reason some words are replaced by others (“humankind” for “mankind” or “artificial” or “human-made” for “manmade”) is that they are inaccurate.  They erase women. Women are also humans. And unless you know without a doubt that not a single female played a part in the creation of whatever’s in question, then you are misspeaking to call it “manmade.”

But I wasn’t misspeaking. I was merely pissing people off and hurting feelings.

And really, in the end, as harsh as this sounds, who gives a fuck about feelings?

You, your spouse, the people close to you. Feelings are super useful in indicating to us that something’s wrong, that we need to take some action. Internal unrest is a great indicator that our feet or mouths need to do something: Leave, tell the truth, clean up a past action or wrong. Talk about something. Call somebody. Click off this bitch’s webpage.

But people (whiners) of the fucking internet, your feelings are not sufficient evidence that the world should do something different.

In other words, it’s not our problem you’re “offended.”

Let’s think about this for a moment. You’re offended. You’ve taken offense. You announce that on a website or comment thread (or to a live human being) as if it means something, as if it’s some grand proclamation with relevance and importance, but all you’re really saying is this: “I don’t know you and you don’t know me, and we’ve had two totally different lives, but your existence is not validating mine, and that makes me sad, and therefore you should stop doing what you’re doing.”

Do you see how insane that is?

“I’ve had a unique experience of life and my feelings reflect that experience but you don’t, and so YOU’RE WRONG! Stop it! I’m hurt! Wahhhh!”

The problem is not that you’re “offended.” The problem is that you think the rest of the world should care, do something about it, change its behavior to accommodate your inner self.

I hate to break it to you, but your feelings are your own. They’re not mine. They’re not his or hers or theirs or the douchebag writing that article. They are YOURS. Own it, dude. Deal with it.

Every time I hear somebody say “I used to be an alcoholic but now I drink moderately” I want to bash them in the face and my heart sinks into my toes, because that ignorance furthers the plight of actual alcoholics, who of course can’t safely touch alcohol in any form. And there are people dying in the fucking gutters from this disease, and it sure isn’t helping to have people calling themselves alcoholics announcing that they’ve seen the light and “learned to drink reasonably.”

But I know that because I am an alcoholic, because I was dying in a gutter (well actually it was a beige Ford Taurus but who’s counting?). My feelings are hurt because I know – no, I’ve experienced something –this person has not. But that’s not their problem, is it? It’s mine. If I really want to be helpful, perhaps I attempt to explain my perspective, if the opportunity arises. But simply proclaiming “You offend me!” is about the most useless, narcissistic, entitled and meaningless statement ever.

Am I so important that the world should bow and shift and change because my inner self is wounded?

Poor inner child.

Grow the fuck up.

It must be frustrating to troll around the internet endlessly announcing the offense you take to this and that only to find a bunch of unfeeling bags looking at you like “Yes, and?”

But check it out: People find gay people “offensive.” People once found integrated schools “offensive.” People find people of other races, ethnicities and sexes “offensive.” People find breastfeeding in public “offensive.” People find uncovered heads “offensive.” I could go on all day.

Do you see my point here?

The fact that you find something “offensive” cannot possibly mean anything to anybody other than YOU, because if it did, if the world really had to respond to every offense ever taken by every person to ever walk this earth, well come on, you know that’s ridiculous. Nobody would be able to say or write or do anything. The world would turn into some giant vanilla ego-stroking orgy. And there’s no way that’s any fun.

So if that’s true, if quite clearly the world can’t respond to every offended person on the planet, WHAT, dare I ask, makes you so fucking special?

Oh, yes. That’s right. You’re not. You’re only that special in your own head, and possibly your mom’s.

So once again, we’re back to “your problem.”

My problem.

So please, people of the interwebs getting offended all the time and sharing it with us (and then getting more offended because nobody cares), for the love of logic and effectiveness, move beyond your damn feelings for a minute and look at what’s causing them.

Tell me why I’m wrong.

Tell me what I’m not seeing.

Tell me what you’ve experienced that I have not, leading you to see the world differently, from a different place in a different way, and maybe, just maybe, even an asshole like me will take a moment to think about what you’re saying.

Because to begin with, you’re actually, finally, saying something.

So go you.

And now, a moment of silence in reverence for Stephen Fucking Fry. The man-god.fryII



  • Aislinn

    First of all, I am dealing with infertility and I didn’t think anything about your use of the word “childless.” I think that by being “offended” by other’s words allows them to have more power over you than they originally would. Since you didn’t use that word in a mean or hateful way, why would I allow it to be mean or hurtful to me? I hope that made sense.

    Secondly, I never understood people getting “offended” on the internet. Like you said, if we were worried about offending everyone, we wouldn’t be able to say anything because we’d be offending someone, somewhere. Unless someone has directly called me out, I don’t see the point in getting butthurt over words on a screen.

    But, the internet is serious business, you know.

    • Liz

      Well i am offended too, I’m offended by all the new words being added to what is already a ridiculously complex language, English. I’m offended that I just wrote a massive run on sentence and don’t know the proper way to fix it.

      Honestly people, get the f*** over it. If all you got out of the blog post was a complaint about one word in that blog, well then your life must be pretty damn good. I don’t always agree with everything that’s written but I love that it’s honest! And I love reading it, you crack me up 🙂

  • Jennifer B. / Brooklyn

    Actually, to me the term “child-free” implies that having children is a bad thing. People like to be free of bad elements; we say things like, “After a long struggle, I’m cancer-free!” or “I’m now, officially, lice-free!” Child-free? Really? You’re right – who the fuck cares. And I love Stephan Fry. If I were a good looking gay man, I’d go hunt him down. But I’m just a dumpy straight lady, who knows she offends more people than she can count on a daily basis.

    • Sochiana

      Well, you just got offended at the word childfree? Can’t have it both ways.

  • Hannah

    This is fantastic. My Dad has always said that people need to be offended once in a while, and I agree. People are often offended because something is outside their realm of understanding (or wanting to understand) or they are unwilling to open up their minds a bit.

  • Heather

    HOLY SHIT!!!! That is all…

  • Collie

    The whole time I was reading this, that Stephen Fry quote was going through my head. You know what else was going through my head? Hell fuckin’ yes, sista! Preach!

  • Heather

    okay…that isn’t all….” I am offended” is one of the most ignorant statements used. If something offends someone…it’s time to look within and fix why your so upset. The problem lies in you…not what was said! Plus…if you don’t like something, then move along to your happy place. Why take the time and comment that ” you are offended.” This is changing nothing.

  • Amanda Farough

    I’m slow-clapping you so hard right now.

    • peka

      Joining in on the slow clap!

    • Alycia

      Me too!!

      • Alycia C

        Slow clapping as well. Bravo! Thank you for bringing this “issue” to everyone’s attention. Tired of those thin skinned cry babies. If you don’t like it, don’t read it, delete it, turn off your internet service, etc… Do something other than state how offended you are. You will appear ridiculous.

  • Renee'

    In case you can’t see it, I am standing up, applauding. You say whatever you want. If someone doesn’t like it, tell them to get the hell off your blog! You own it and you do not have to put up with their negativity! Stick to your guns, lady!

  • jackie

    Hey J,
    I was so sad to reread all the comments on your childless parent post. It really really offended me (ha!) that people were essentially trolling your blog. I recently had enough out of people when our city (calgary) flooded and even our own family didn’t give a shit and didn’t help. So when a lady at starbucks told me i was in HER way WHILE she was on the telephone and proceeded to act like a cellphone asshold who quite obviously didn’t have kids, I totally freaking lost it. I followed her out and went up to the dude she was with and told HIM “you with her? Yeah. Just letting you know that your friend is SO important that she is doing something more important than the most important job of all, raising a child. She was rude and indecent and I would have thrown her out if I was serving coffee.” Yep, hand waving and all. Then I walked away and was so upset. I hate when shit gets to me. But you know what? I was offended, and I told her why. I didn’t just rant on the internet about how rude people are on their phones, yada yada. I wish I had done it a bit more civil, but sometimes people don’t listen unless you make a scene you know? People hurrah’ed me as I stomped away with my bigass stroller and the drink they made wrong for me (sigh, it never changes. I didn’t go back to get the right drink haha, can you imagine?). But yeah, I agree about saying or doing something of substance. And I was really sad so many people just basically acted like assholes on your blog like that. Wish I could get up in their faces with my jogging stroller lmao.

    • zeeFredFuchs

      I’ll take shit that didn’t happen for 500

  • Erika

    I just wanted to thank you for this. I am a nurse who had a really rough day today and this was what I needed to read.THis is the first time I’ve smiled or had any faith that the human condition is a redeemable plight in 12 hours. Thank you.

  • Cath


  • Sharon

    “Grow the fuck up.”

    I really think you should be a therapist.

    (slow clapping continued)

  • rbk

    ‘childless’ implies a societal judgement. that it is sad, or wrong, or irresponsible.. really not that big of a deal… ‘childfree’ to me implies the opposite.. that those with children are weighted down and not ‘free.’

    it isn’t just the word.. if it was no one would care. it is what is behind the word and what is in the heart and mind of the person who uses it. and to me, that is a big deal and should always be considered when speaking or writing. yeah everyone doesn’t want to feel bad that they might be behaving or talking like an insensitive asshole. what a burden! but i think we need to be more considerate of others these days, and not less.

  • Mommy Rotten

    I am offended that you used the word “vanilla” in a derogatory fashion to describe this hypothetical giant ego-stroking utopia. I happen to love vanilla and your vanilla bashing upsets me. WHAT DID VANILLA EVER DO TO YOU?!?

    Just kidding. This was a great post!

    • Stephanie

      Hee Hee. The people of Tahiti must be so offended…

  • Lana

    Ditto on the slow clap….standing on my feet…hootin & a hollerin even.

  • Felicia

    Yay!! This post made me think about when I’ve been offended because I didn’t give a single thought to “childless” being offensive b/c I DON’T HAVE TO READ WHAT YOU WRITE OR GIVE IT ANY VALUE IN MY LIFE IF I DON’T WANT TO. Yay!! Now to making sure I rethink why I’m offended in the future…

  • nikkiana

    I agree with you, but I believe you to be mistaken on the definition of the fake Internet word of childfree… Or maybe some of your readers are mistaken, but from my understanding childfree is a subtype of childless made up of people who don’t have children and do not want children, and childless is just people who don’t have any. Doesn’t have anything to do with people trying to be PC and not being able to handle their own personal lack of children…

  • Anna

    Thank you for saying this.. once again, you hit it right where I needed to hear it.

  • Jill

    Never stop writing… ever since I “discovered” you… I can’t wait for the next post. It is always great to have a little validation for the thoughts and feelings I have… Nice to know others feel the same!

  • AJ

    Why this is one of my favorite quotes: “Announcing ‘I’m offended’ is basically telling the world you can’t control your own emotions, so everyone else should do it for you.”

  • carolyn

    You absolutely make me smile- When people race past us on the highway ,I tell my husband -those are the more Important people-or so they think- more important places to go-more important people to see! We have gotten to a point where you have to care about yourself first- too many children raised to be princess’s and princes! They are so special- Why doesn’t anyone understand? Hold tight and worry about yourself first-but also teach your children compassion-realize some day in the near future you will need to depend on someone-It’s a lesson not being taught by anyone-I love your blog and have never been offended- I am an adult with compassion!

  • Brandon

    I might prefer dying in a gutter to a beige Taurus. I mean if I had a choice and all.

    You’re all allowed to be offended, but what does it change announcing that to the world? Kindly change the channel, stop reading, write your own blog, etc. You have the right to do all those things just like the person that offended you has the right to do so.

    Political correctness falls into this category also because it ultimately can be traced back to how someone reacted emotionally to something. Get over yourself and realize people are allowed to think differently and that may lead to some hurt feelings. You don’t choose/control what others get to say. You can only control how YOU react to it.

  • Rick Clark

    Those kvetching folks are mindfree.

  • Tiah

    First post I have read on here, but won’t be my last. That is awesome and so on point!

  • Liz

    I LOVE your blog. It’s seriously my new favorite blog, ever. Hands down. Every post makes me laugh out loud and hardly anything online does this to me. It’s great to know I’m not alone in my feelings being a wife and mother. Sometimes you just need to vent and I’m so glad that you do because it lets me relate to someone else. There are a lot of people out there reading your blog with no sense of humor, obviously. Screw ’em. Like you said, they’re not your target audience. I am. People like me are and we truly appreciate you. Keep up the great work.

  • jhanis

    Wow, people need to get some sense of humor. The post was hilarious! Tsk tsk tsk!

  • Leigh Ann


  • Tiffiny

    Not to be creepy, but we should be besties. I never did understand people being offended by internet posts…..or tv….or music……or chik filet’s opinion on religion or sexual orientation. If you don’t like it, change the channel, radio station,stop reading or don’t go there. Move the fuck on and find something important to be upset about, criminy!! Ok, sorry for ranting.

  • Peggy

    Perhaps I missed something, but that post was hilarious. What part of it could be offensive? Rock on with your bad self.

  • Breezy

    What a great post! In the future, every time someone comments, saying that they are offended, you should just reply with a link to this post.

  • C Smith

    Ok, I didn’t read the original post so I went back and read it. It was pretty funny and obviously intended to be humorous. But, OMG, the comments! I’ve been laughing so hard, I’m in tears. You can’t even make up shit this good. From the whole “you hate CHILDLESS people and must be jealous”,and the “people with kids act like they’re doing everyone a favor by continuing the species”, to the bashing you for being disorganized, and especially the whole, “leaving your dog outside makes you guilty of criminal animal neglect”.
    You should just concentrate on writing posts that incense people to the point that they become blabbering idiots, and then we can all sit back and enjoy the show.

  • Sam Kidd

    I love the hell out of you.:)

  • Kateri Von Steal


    People are INSANE.

    This post is gold, as was the “childless” post.

    I think America is slow clapping this post.

    You are a wonderful and amazing writer. With strength and honestly proverbial stage presence… this scares people.. and makes them lash out.

    Keep writing the truth!

  • Tory

    Your blog is my most favorite across the web–hands down. Last night, I experienced the absolute worst melt down in my 3 1/2 year old son on a 45 minute ride home in the car. I “needed” to read your work this morning. It feels so good to have my sometimes not-so-warm-and-fuzzy-mom-thoughts shared with someone else who is also a mom. You rock and I think you are amazing! You always say it just as I would if I had the talent & gift that you have with words.

  • Rebekah Costello

    Amen and amen. P.s: Stephen Fry is definitely a man-god. 🙂

  • Sarah Maren

    Gaddamnit woman! You’re my hero and I love you and I love Stephen Fry and thank you for saying it!

  • Cheryl S.


  • Prof. Woland

    Word. Could not agree more. It’s their fucking problem–not ours.

  • Axelle the french cook

    You should be french !! 😀

  • Jeffrey

    I recently wrote a piece which used the word “jig,” and everyone got up in arms about it. I don’t really understand that. “Jig” has three letters and is easier to type, and “African American” is many more letters and two whole words. Since they both convey the same thing, I’m not sure why anyone got offended.

    • renegademama

      Normally I don’t allow racial slurs on my blog, but I have let this one pass because I believe you are attempting to point out a flaw in my logic (however distastefully you have chosen to do so).

      You are talking about are racial slurs. I am not talking about racial slurs. Bigoted ignorant assholes use racial slurs. Clearly, my nod to brevity (seeking a shorter word) would not apply to racial slurs, unless you are a bigoted ignorant asshole.

      I think I’ll let you take it from there.

  • christie

    I am now hopelessly in love with you. Rock on.

  • Kathy G

    Go ahead and call me a breeder. It doesn’t bother me at all. I’m a pretty sucky one at that, only one live birth that made it to adulthood. I got attacked once for calling 3 year olds assholes (not to their face, haven’t met one that can read message boards yet). Well, they are. I think some people never go beyond that 3 year old emotional maturity. It’s the same people who whine about someone looking at them wrong. If you are going to read boards and blogs on the internet one must develop a tougher skin and get a grip. Stuff like that just makes me want to type childless childless childless three more times just to see them cry (ok, I have the emotional maturity of a mean 7th grader).

  • Sherry

    You. Are. My. Hero.


  • Dave K.

    Now it offends me that you are not offended by those that are offended by what you say. I think the offense should be punishable by making you and the offended watch all the episodes ever made of “Married With Children”. Maybe then you (the non-offended)and the offended will finally agree that childless is a blessing in some ways.( it’s just a word) I agree, I could care less if you or anyone is offended by words that they don’t like. I don’t like a lot of things but I don’t whine and cry about them, that’s life, suck it up and go on. If you need validation by announcing to the world that you are offended then maybe you need to shut the phone off, throw the television out the door, toss the radios out the window, chop down your mailbox, post trespass warning on the 12 foot high security fence you need to build around your house and then go hide in your basement or attic for the rest of your miserable lonely life.
    Words are words, for healing or hurting, they are what they are and nobody has the capacity to memorize every little PC word that ought to be excised from the human vocablulary. I personally am offended by the idea and usage of the term “Politically Correct”. ( but why should you care?) All those PC words need to written down on a pieace of paper and burned to never more be uttered by the whiners of the world. Quit using it as a crutch or weapon of intimidation. Get a life and get over it.
    “Do no harm” should be in the forefront of any action, word or deed before we commit it to the world, realizing that once done or said it cannot be taken back or erased from the minds of those it was directed at. They may forgive us but deep inside you and I know they will never forget it (as you yourself don’t forget those instances directed at you) and they will always be waiting for it to happen again. It will forever color their perception of you (and you of them) no matter how loudly and heartfelt the professing of regret is made.
    Getting over it is life and all of us have to deal with those little bumps in our lives because we are all imperfect and prone to the selfish me-me attitude.
    Don’t you think talking, writing blogs, and communicating back and forth and debating our ideas is better than not doing it and then having someone (maybe even yourself) ‘go postal’ and do the craziness that can never be erased or taken back that we see so much in todays news around the world.
    ( I don’t want to hear anything from a past, present or future postal worker on that term because I don’t care if you are offended. Get over it and try to understand the meaning behind this blog not the buzz words needed to get an emotional response from you)

    Oh, and by the way… Have a nice day and be offendedless for ever more.

  • Avitable

    Well said.

  • A Pleasant House

    Ya know how once in a blue moon you see or read or hear something that’s such a thing of beauty you almost throw-up- but in good way? This is it and now I must ƒorward this to all of the fucking baby ass whiners I know.

  • TJ

    This is exactly what the world needs – and perhaps a cold hard slap in the face with a baseball bat – to wake them up to the fact they are actually not the centre of the universe & not entitled to have the rest of the population pander to their selfish whims and desires.
    I think you hit the nail on the head describing the behaviour as narcissistic. It’s the height of arrogance to believe your own feelings take precedence over others.

  • Nicole

    Bravo!! Ya know, I get offended easily, but not by typical things. And certainly not by anything I’ve read here. I usually get offended by really rude or inconsiderate behaviour in public. But reading this honestly has me thinking about why I get offended about anything at all. Keep going – this is great stuff!

  • Kathy K

    I’m someone who actually has a legitimate reason to be offended by what people say. Not offended with you, but I have to deal with the mental illness stigma every day. I hear some incredibly stupid and judgemental things come out of people’s mouths about me. If I were to get offended by every dumb and judgey thing a person has said about me, this medical condition that affects my ability to hold a job or that I take medication for it, I wouldn’t have time to do positive things with my life like write or volunteer. I try and handle it with grace and humor and sometimes just plain ignoring some of the stuff I hear, but there are days I want to find some of these people and smack some sense into them. Fortunately for them, I choose to journal and then the urge to hit them passes.

    If you’re getting butthurt over a suffix, please get over yourself because I can’t muster up any sympathy for your being offended over that. Not when I’ve heard worse directed towards me over a medical condition I have.

    BTW, I loved this post soooo much.

  • Lisa

    I don’t entirely agree with this post. I think positive social change is effected by individuals who are offended by other’s attitudes and actions. Are you offended that on average women working full time make 77 cents for every dollar that men make? I am. Be that as it may, let the flaming begin. If I remember, I’ll come back here and finish making my point.

    • renegademama

      I don’t take “offense” to sexism or bigotry or any other form of social inequality. It doesn’t “hurt my feelings.” I may feel sad when I think about it, but what drives me to want change has shit to do with my “feelings.” It’s the maintenance of human rights. Period. It’s logical. All social inequality can be traced back to material benefit to some party. It’s politics. Money. It’s structural, systematic. Feelings have nothing to do with any of it.

      And I don’t think emotion is the ultimate drive behind social change. Emotion doesn’t do shit. In fact, if I had to argue one way or the other, I’d say that emotion works AGAINST social change. Sentimentalism, for example. Consider sentimental slavery movies. A bunch of white people go to the movies and they feel really, really bad. They shed a tear or two. They talk about how “sad” slavery was all the way back to their homes. They lie their heads down at night feeling satisfied with themselves for caring, for being good liberals, for thinking about racism in America. As if they’ve DONE something by merely feeling bad. Ah, but you ask those same people to take a look at the ways they BENEFIT from white supremacy (white privilege) – from the very legacy of slavery – and suddenly the whole story changes. Suddenly nobody gives a shit. So yeah, “feeling bad” is one of the primary ways we delude ourselves into thinking we’re actually doing something. When actually, we’re just feeling. And unless feeling is backed by ACTION, it doesn’t mean anything, which was the entire point of this post. I also wrote that internal unrest is a great indicator that something’s wrong and needs to change. So if somebody observes a social inequality, feels bad about it then CHANGES THEIR LIVES or does something to fix it, cool. But walking around whining how “sad” racism is (for example) while reaping the benefits of the very structures you claim to despise is ridiculous, though an extremely effective method of maintaining the status quo. And don’t even get me started on white guilt.

      The stupidest invention of all time. “Wah, I feel so GUILTY for shit I didn’t do.” And somehow, by feeling “guilty” for things that occurred before i existed, I’ve convinced myself I’m doing my part to better the world! I’m going to buy my kid a black doll and some African folktales and call it good. Go me!

      (Sorry, clearly this is an area I’m interested in.)

    • Heather

      Lisa…being “offended” about something does nothing! Absolutely NOTHING! It is a feeling. A thought. ACTION is what makes changes.

    • Edith Aint

      The wage gap is a myth. Women make less money because they have safer jobs and work fewer hours. I, as a woman, am offended by other women (and feminized men) spreading feminist propaganda. Women in the Western world currently have more legal rights than men. Sorry for the late reply though, I hope the past 5 years have better educated you. 🙂

  • lisaeggs

    So glad you are getting the last word on this. It felt unfinished. That post was completely misread by many. I loved it, I love this blog, and I hope you’re having a great summer! xoxoxo p.s. YES, Stephen Fry. YES.

  • Sarah

    I have kids and it was spot on. Funny. true. Why are people who can get this worked up over what was obviously meant to be funny reading your blog anyway? If they are OFFENDED, then it’s time for them to find their niche cuz this is not it…mmkay?

  • Rach @ Mrs-Adventure

    Standing Ovation – right now – in my kitchen :o). Thank you so much for writing this, it’s like you plucked every word right out of my head. But I didn’t have to proof read or type it. Weird eh? That I am.

  • patrick

    What a great blog and follow up post. Thank you for clarifying the difference between PC language and language that is meant to be hateful and hurtful. I believe people often mistake being politically correct with using words that convey hatred of a whole class of people. Using the N word is disrespectful and conveys hatred whether or not it is your intention or not. After reading your blog, I did an informal unscientific survey of my friends who do not have children. Interestingly the vast majority said they could care less but if they had to choose most said they would find childfree more offensive than childless. One comment that was prevalent was that childfree is a term that could be perceived as being negative against children. As one of my friends said “we are not childfree we have lots of nieces and nephews who spend time with us. Do to circumstances we do not have our own children so we are childless but certainly not free of children.” Much has been written about the powerful effect that words can have, both positive and negative. I would respectfully disagree that the most useless phrase is “You offend me.” I think we should tell people when and why they offend us. To me the most useless phrase is “I feel so bad for you” or “I am so sorry for what happened to you”. When I was 11 I was molested by a Catholic priest. Recently I have been asked to share my story. Inevitability two things will happen after I give a talk. I always describe myself as a victim of the priest and the institution. Someone will always stand up and tell me that I should not describe myself as a victim that I am a survivor. My response is: “when I was 18 I was driving my car much to fast on an icy road. I lost control and smashed into a tree. My car was destroyed and my body damaged. I survived that. At 11 I was a victim of a heinous crime. I have never used it as a crutch or an excuse for my actions, but I was a victim so please do not try and trivialize what happened to me by claiming otherwise”. The second and I fine more offensive is when someone will say how sorry they are for what happened to me. My response to that is simply to ask: “that’s nice what actions have you taken or are willing to take to ensure that people are not victimized again in any way”.

  • John Counsel

    Don’t like what I say or write? Offended?

    Your problem, not mine. Just don’t trot out whinings about PC and other forms of emotional blackmail. They won’t work.

    Instead, try extracting your head from your fundamental orifice and breathe fresh air deeply.

    Otherwise, leave it where it is — but please, stop breathing so deeply. It’s affecting your thinking.

  • Motherof1andexhausted

    Wow. I have three responses. Some readers reproached you for being spoiled, self indulgent so to speak.

    1-EVERYONE, childless or childfull, is allowed to vent and bitch. And as far as I know, EVERYONE does. Duh.

    Some readers were offended to be seen as carefree and fun when they have to deal with a lot and lead boring lives.

    2- with all the racist, misogynistic and xenophobic stuff on the Internet, THIS offends you?

    3- as unpleasant as this whole process has been, J., just know that all publicity is good publicity. So I guess, thanks for spreading the word about this awesome blog!

    You are a lovely, real and witty modern mama. We are a lot of people out there to love you. Ignore the haters, write without censuring yourself and enjoy your summer!


    I just read this blog after being humored by the comments on the CHILDLESS blog, too funny indeed. I could only think of one things as I read through these angry words. It seems as though this was clearly written towards the “offended” people that commented on that previous blog, and yet, that whole blog itself was written because you were offended by what a childless person wrote. Kind of ironic, isn’t it 😉

  • Meredith

    If people are pissed off, you’re doing something right. -Me.

  • Sanne

    Bravo! Offended? Yes, simply don’t read… or watch some Bob Newhart to get the message down: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sAQGY0rVWHI
    We don’t want to go through life feeling offended, do we?? Then just STOP IT!!! 🙂

  • Sarah MacLaughlin

    Rock on sister. Our world is so emotionally unintelligent it’s not funny. Your post, however, was. Very.

  • S. Rae

    i think we are long lost friends! that or you’re a hero!! 🙂 you rock!

  • Brc

    You should head on over to grist.org and search for their “GINK” series (green inclined no kids), which is a series of really smart, thoughtful pieces on what it means to be childless by choice, and watch the butthurt fly.

  • Absence of alternatives

    For every offense taken, there is always another counter-offense taken. Something like, “I am offended that YOU are offended!” Agree with one of the PPs (previous posters. I am old school. Do people still use that term and OP for Original Poster?) that Child-FREE in itself is offensive. Smoke-free. Toxin-free. I have been getting this feeling that some people are offended by other people having kids, or at least, bringing their kids to places such as airplanes. Some of these people feel like those who have kids are being selfish, using up the earth’s limited resources, tax dollars, etc. Though I can see their argument to some extent, I also would like to remind people that these pesky kids will grow up one day and enter the workforce. When you and I are old, they will be the doctors, nurses, caretakers, etc. that are necessary to keep prolonging our lives.

    I am rambling now because my kids are bothering me. My apology is none of this makes sense…

    • Deb Porter

      Well said!

  • Ali

    Well, I had fertility issues and now am lucky to have a child, and do you know what offends me?!?!? (not that it matter, of course….)
    People trying to Orwellicise language so that shitty things like infertility and disability and, I don’t know, death get sanitised into “child-free”, “differently-abled” and “passed on to another realm”.
    Because screwing with language like that is usually about giving other people a leave pass to feel more comfortable, not actually the person who is infertile/disabled/bereaved.
    If my daughter hasn’t been born I would be stridently “childless” not sloppily “childfree”.
    (But if childfree makes anyone feel better, they should GO FOR IT, just don’t act like its the law to call it that).

    • Deb Porter

      I was in the same boat as you were and could not agree more. It took 8 yeas and a lot of work for me to even have one but it’s ridiculous to change words and Orwellicise (good word BTW) this. I was childless until I finally wasn’t…. it’s what it was. It’s time to stop walking on eggshells around one another… let’s call things by their correct name and those that are “offended” will just have to deal.

  • Daniel

    I agree with everything except for your “mankind, humankind” spiel. If you define man, it means people, a huMAN. It’s just a shortened word of human. Humanity, mankind, man. If you think that “man-made” means no woman took part in it, you’re an idiot. Because man-made just means human-made. Made by a person.

    And also, possibly, I’m the idiot, because I don’t know how a comment section works.

    • Edith Aint

      Exactly. The old word for a male human was “werman”; werman and woman, all human.

      Woman = womb man. Whether it functions or not, most women are born with a womb. Sorry if that offends you.

      Werman = war man. Because we always draft the boys and men to go fight our stupid wars. Women have the right to join the United States military, while men are required to sign up for the Selective Service just to get a damn driver’s license. Women have no such responsibility.

      Human = whole man. All men. All humans. The whole human species.

      Bonus! Whore = beloved. In the ancient Indo-European languages, the word “whore” was a compliment, not an insult. Oh how the times change….

      Shall I explain the dastardly “c-word” next????

    • Vox

      I came to the comment section to say exactly this. Like many words, “man” has more than one definition. It can mean “male”, but it is also a contraction of the word “human”. It’s unfortunate that the people who invented language neglected to put the all-important apostrophe in front so that there would be no confusion. Perhaps they were too busy leading hard-ass lives full of struggle and sacrifice to ever think someday people would have nothing more pressing to do than pick apart words like “mankind” and “man-made” and accuse those words of cancelling women.

      I’m thrilled I ran across this blog, though, even 10 years later. I found it because I am so frustrated at the moronic wusses who are constantly offended by everything. Especially, as Bugs Bunny famously said, “Pronoun trouble!” It’s a great piece, and a great site. I’ll be exploring more of it.

  • JGer

    I know this article is old, but I just had to say that it very accurately sums up how I feel about the epidemic of offended people today. Thanks!

  • d.s.

    It’s hard walk through the world today and NOT offend someone just by merely existing. After all, small minds are easily offended.

    Regarding the word, “childless”… I don’t have any children and I feel no offense if someone wants to refer to me as childless… whether innocently OR with judgment… because someone else’s opinion on my life doesn’t matter to me.

    So call me CHILDLESS till the cows (or kids-for many of you) come home! Scream it from the mountaintops! Post it on the inter-webs! You won’t offend me in the least… and I hope all you parents out there can reciprocate that graciousness and not be offended when I refer to you as “breeders.”

    Hmmm… perhaps there are whiners on all sides of the fence, eh?

    • Vox

      I think “breeders” is a scoff, though. It’s specifically meant to be derogatory toward parents. “Childless” doesn’t seem to have that judgmental nuance to me. It just conveys the idea of not having a child. Like a crustless pie simply doesn’t have a crust.

  • Ben

    Great post, I think that earnest intent is a much better thing to pay attention to than the specific words used.

    By the way, the words “mankind,” “manmade” and “manslaughter” draw on an older meaning of the word/prefix “man” which referred to people in general, of either gender: http://etymonline.com/index.php?allowed_in_frame=0&search=man&searchmode=none

    So even those words were not intended to be offensive or to overlap women. They do still imply “man” as people rather than literally “adult males.” Not to say they shouldn’t be updated with modern usage in relation to other words, but I would still say that honest intent in using those words in the sense of “people” shouldn’t necessarily be taken as offensive by default. Again, I’d say it depends on the context and intent more than the actual word used.

  • Maddie

    I know this post is old but I just wanted to express how much I LOVEEEEEEEEEE THIS. I feel like someone in the crowd, clapping and cheering in the stands over your speech! Lol

  • Sarah

    I love you, I just found you and I love that you say what you mean. This is your blog to share what you want, I say what I want to screw anyone that don’t agree, walk away, close the page or just ignore me. FINE BUT YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT I’M SAYING.

  • RolandSelene

    I am offended by this article! My b*tthurt is all I have, I am entitled to be offended over the littlest things and my feelings should be catered to at all times. This article belittles my offended feelings.

  • Wilf

    First of all, “man” as in “made by man” refers to mankind, ie humanity, us, men and women. Secondly, childless simply means without children, far less loaded than “child free”, which, surely suggests that having children means being child bound.

  • Gaby R.

    “I don’t know you and you don’t know me, and we’ve had two totally different lives, but your existence is not validating mine, and that makes me sad, and therefore you should stop doing what you’re doing.”


    Although, in some cases, I don’t think it makes them “sad.” I think it makes them feel insecure and to wonder if they’re doing it wrong. But it’s easier to believe one is right (when you have little self-esteem), and demand the other person conform to your lifestyle and views.


  • Wownames

    I am “actually quite offended (TM)”, or A.Q.O., not at the content of this article – it is after all, just an idea – but how it, and alot of others, put forth badly-thought-out notions as if they are the only way to proceed. What am I talking about? The writer says that one’s feelings are one’s own – but that’s not true. We influence each other in myriad ways. If that weren’t the case, I suggest humanity would barely function. There would be no point discussing anything because everyone would think they’re right and no-one would learn anything. Add to that this idea that “I can say what I want, piss people off, not give a shit, and no-one has the right to feel anything about it”; that’s just a cop out. It’s the absence of responsibility, and even that wouldn’t be so bad if it worked, but it doesn’t other than to make loudmouths feel less bad about being loudmouths. I’m offended that poor quality ideas like this gain such currency. Be a loudmouth if you like, but don’t get all bent out of shape when others do the same. Don’t dish it out if you can’t take it. This article, a case in point, is an artefact of a previous offence. That’s the situation, shit’s complicated, so deal with that if you can.

    Naturally I shall judge any offended replies (and by that I mean anything that doesn’t recognise the essential correctness of what I am saying, and that changes the bearer’s minds instantly round to my way of thinking) as an offence, thus proving my point; silence will be interpreted as agreement; and as always, explicit acts of worship upon myself shall be duly rewarded. Huh. I actually feel better. I actually don’t feel offended any more. I pushed through and came out the other side. You can too.

  • Chris

    I want to thank you so much for doing such a great job of putting this into words. I can’t tell you how many times I have come back to re-read this and it still gives me goosebumps! I have shared it over and over with anyone who will agree to read it. Thank you!

  • shujin51

    People get offended by many things. If we need to care about all of them, our life would be pointless. I wouldnt give a fuck about other people. I like to say the words “retarded”, “stupid”, etc. Feel offended? Sry get over it. I dont give a damn about some strangers on the internet. They cant sue me neither can they do anything to stop me.

  • Deb Porter

    I loved this piece! I loved what you said and I loved that some people MIGHT just be offended by it. When I was growing up I was taught that my feelings were my own purview and that unless someone was being DELIBERATELY and over the top TRYING to hurt me, that my feelings about everything else was my own problem. I had to deal with it because out in the real world life it not always going to be bunnies and flowers and rainbows. It was not always going to be nice and palatable (I do love that word). I would have to be able to deal with it. But of course I was raised in a different time. When did we stop teaching our children to be responsible for themselves?? Thank you so much for writing this piece. You said it all better than I could have and with any luck (or perhaps we need more fortitude) we can get back to those more sensible attitudes.