STFU Parents: When Parents Attack: How Real Life Drama Translates On Social Media

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Last week, the internet chimed its boxing match bell as a story circulated about a mother who punched a (childless) woman in the face at a Nordstrom Rack parking lot. The punches didn’t come out of nowhere, of course; the mother felt that she was rudely approached by the other woman, who’d asked her to quiet her screaming child in the store and then told the mother to “go to hell” after receiving a negative response, and thus, the mother transitioned from “angry mom of screaming toddler” to “violent mom of screaming toddler” as she threw punches in the parking lot. I’m sure in her head, despite knowing what she was doing was wrong, the mom felt justified. Some people, especially in America, believe that the logical reaction to being verbally assaulted (or even just given a dirty look) is to physically assault someone’s face. It’s the “she was asking for it” mentality. So long as someone else says or does something offensive, punches and beatdowns are the appropriate response. Obviously.

This real life, abusive behavior has its origins in youthful shit talking. I remember being in high school in the ’90s and getting acquainted with the new-ish expression “excuse you.” Whether a person’s actions in the school hallway warranted saying “excuse me” or not, certain lovable gals would toss a hostile “Excuse you!!!” your way, creating a dynamic best described as “girl-on-girl drama.” Issuing a single “excuse you” to the wrong person might lead to a full-on brawl, with hair and purses flying all around and students circling like vultures, wanting to be a part of the action themselves, craving any signs of weakness from either party until a teacher broke up the fight.

This is pretty much how life still plays out today, except now there are YouTube videos of mothers hitting their daughters’ enemies on school property that will live on forever in internet infamy. Back in the day, if a fight broke out — whether at a high school school or a Nordstrom Rack parking lot — the only people who knew about it, and especially the only people who saw it, were those fortunate enough to be in attendance. Today, the internet will be alerted, which means that technically everyone, globally, can witness two grown women acting like assholes via surveillance cameras, not to mention the zillion news outlets that pick up the story. And there’s nothing more sensational than a mother nearly knocking another woman’s tooth out after being asked to quiet her tantrum-having child. I can practically hear the cat fight sound effects in my head just thinking about it. Reee-eeer!! Hiss.

With that in mind, partly what’s interesting about the Nordstrom Rack story is that most people tend to talk a lot of trash without arriving at the beatdown stage. Clearly, the woman who asked the mother to silence her child falls into that camp. Who knows how much shit this woman has spewed without getting smacked in the face while holding a bag of discounted clothing? This is because, A) She rightfully didn’t expect to be physically assaulted, which is a crime, and B) People say or imply that they’re going to “smack someone” all the time, but most people don’t actually follow through on their threats. I know this to be true because I’ve received hundreds of STFU, Parents submissions that qualify as totally insane, but the vast majority of them are essentially re-tellings of incidents that could’ve escalated to violence and didn’t.

And yet, from reading these submissions, it’s evident that plenty of people (like prideful mothers and fathers) are really just a hair trigger away from beating someone’s face in, a la Nordstrom Rack Mom (as I affectionately call her). We live in a society that encourages and glorifies violence, and for some people — nay, many people — that concept extends to violence in the name of parenting insults. If a mama bear or a papa bear feels threatened, insulted, or slighted in any way, the chances of an attack are not “slim.” They’re possible, if not plausible. And parental rage is celebrated just as much as other types of violence, with some parents convinced that committing an act of violence is a sign of a “fierce mama” and a “protective papa.” These self-congratulatory rationalizations often turn into Facebook rants worthy of psychoanalysis, and today I wanted to share several examples for you to behold. Remember, folks: Before you make a potentially rude request about a screaming child in the checkout line, consider who you might be talking to. That parent may be far more vicious and unstable than you think. And he or she is damn proud of it.


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