Supporting Women in Challenging Female Socialization

 

Enjoying a huge blue cotton candy.
photo © Blibli

 

For a woman who understands how toxic and harmful female socialization and its effects are, interacting with women who won’t even try to challenge these things can sometimes be difficult.

Women who go out of their way to say how much they love wearing makeup, love wearing high heels, love shaving their armpits and their vulvas, love dieting… Obviously this solution can’t always apply to everyone in this situation, but my response to those claims comes down to existing as a female who does not adhere to what female socialization tells me I have to adhere to. Existing as a literal contradiction to what the women claim they love so much, and being the happiest while doing that.

I don’t shave. I have very short and colorful hair. I never wear makeup (and I never did). I wear comfortable shiny clothes. I don’t care about men at all, and I never talk to or about them. I eat whatever I want to eat and whenever I want to eat, which means I’m fat by society’s standards for women. And, most importantly, I put myself first. Always.

My happiness comes first. Period. That’s what I can give these women – seeing a female who puts herself first, who doesn’t adhere to the standards of others, and who is very happy with that and survives very well.

(Who are those “others”, anyway? Every single person in the world? That doesn’t make any sense. If I can’t listen to everyone, why not listen to no one? Why not always do exactly what I want to do?)

They will always make it an issue of survival. I’m not denying that it can be, but most of the times it really isn’t, at least not for those who absolutely need you to agree with them. For those it comes down to the fact that they know these things don’t make them happy, but just cannot see that there is another option.

And when someone presents them with another option they need to shut it down with all the force they can muster, because for them it means that the whole world will end. They cannot imagine that it won’t. That is what I am showing. That the world doesn’t end. That you can and will be happier.

Because while all of these women will claim that they need those things, that they cannot survive without them, none of them will actually confidently say, “I am 100% happy. I love who I am and the life I lead, 100%”. I can. I know that in part it means that I’m privileged, but ask them if they are happy outside of the things they absolutely have to do to survive, like work. Because that will always be possible. And that is what I am showing. By living it.

Abolishing capitalism and exploitation together, we need to ensure that we do it for the right reasons. For women and everyone else to be happy and free to be themselves, not for anyone to be able to “help others” or “be there for others”.

That will change nothing. Because it will only ever support and perpetuate the notion that power is a good thing, that someone telling you what to do and why to do it is a good thing. That’s why I will only ever advocate for showing others that there is a way out. For telling them that there is a way out. For people to stop telling others that there is no way out.

I would never advocate for telling others what to do or making them do things. And I would never advocate for listening to others who tell you what to do, or doing things they want to make you do.

You are the most important. That is the thing that gets lost even in radical feminism right now. Saying that liberal feminism is “choice feminism”, and that radical feminism somehow is the opposite, is a very bad idea and leads down a harmful and dangerous path.

Don’t ever do something that is not beneficial for you yourself. You as an individual, not as a pawn in this society in which power is the highest value.

Take power out of the equation completely. What would you do? Who would you be?

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My Child Belongs to Me: Dehumanization in Language

 

A child being hugged by an adult.
photo from https://pixabay.com/en/baby-child-father-hug-539969/

 

This article is part of the Children Are People column. Information about the column, and specifically about the comment policy, can be found in the introduction post.

 

One of the first issues we need to talk about when it comes to treating children like human beings is language.

A lot of our language is designed to literally dehumanize children. They are marked as property by the simplest terms that everyone uses.

This child is “mine”. The child “belongs” to the parents (or to another adult).

One of the problems when talking about children is that there is no second word for a child that means a person in a relationship to their parent or grandparent. There is just one word, “child” (or “grandchild”). This word can mean both a young human being and a daughter / son, or a granddaughter / grandson.

The relationship to a child can either be described with a gendered word or with a word that describes the entire group the person belongs to.

That is why, in addition to the phrases up there that would absolutely be abusive when used by adults in relationships with each other (“my wife is mine”, “my wife belongs to me”), there are other phrases that are also abusive when used in conjunction with the word child.

“My wife”, “my boss”, “my partner”, “my sibling”… All of these phrases denote relationships between people who, in addition to the function that is specified in this phrase, are also full and autonomous human beings with different descriptors.

A wife is also a woman and a person, a boss is either a woman or a man and definitely a person, the same as a partner or a sibling. But a child is a child. Even calling a child a person sounds weird. That’s exactly why I started this column called “Children Are People” – because it is not generally understood that they are.

“My woman”, “my man”, “my person”… All of these said unironically sound really abusive. Because they are. The same applies to “have”.

“I have a wife” is okay because, again, it applies only to the function of the woman / person who is a wife in the specific relation to her wife / husband. But “I have a child”? This is just as bad as “I have a woman”.

The word “child” is used as both the function of being someone’s progeny and as a general term for the group of young people who are not yet adults.

Which means that phrases “I have a child” or “my child” are abusive in the same way that the phrases “I have a woman / a man / a person” would be.

Because to own a person, to own another human being cannot ever not be abusive. The only way in which these phrases can be not abusive is when they are used to illustrate a function of the person, not the person themselves.

Being a child is not a function. It’s a phase in life and it should denote a young human being. But in our society it denotes something else entirely.

It denotes being powerless by virtue of existing as a child. It denotes not being an actual human being. It denotes not having any control over your life. It denotes not being taken seriously by anyone.

And used in conjunction with “have” or “my” it only ever denotes abuse. Because it means that a human being can be owned by someone else by virtue of being young.

It says that a human being can be stripped of their rights as a person, which is lawfully and socially accepted and expected.

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Too Few Males in My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic?

 

Rainbow Dash is giving the side-eye.
photo © Hasbro

 

I read an article entitled A Lack of Equality in Equestria – Representations of Masculinity in My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. It was indeed just as awful as I thought it would be. So here is my rebuttal.

The premise of that article is that Bronies, mainly adult males, had every right to take over My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Never mind the fact that they have ruined it for little girls and they continue to demand more and better representation for males on this show.

Never mind the fact that this show is the only show for girls (and for children in general, for that matter) that has this many female main characters who are not literal Barbies or kick-ass one dimensional “strong female characters”.

Never mind that the only reason it has been taken over by adult males is because they can’t stand girls having something, anything for themselves that doesn’t show them “their place”. Something that actually features a wide variety of fully fleshed-out three-dimensional female characters who don’t give a sh*t about gender.

Never mind all of that. Apparently males have every right to complain about the – actually quite many – male characters on this show being stereotypically masculine. (Since obviously female characters on all the other shows are never stereotypically feminine. No.) Which, interestingly enough, is not even true.

This author of the article seems to think that “geeky viewers of all ages” has to only mean males. I am a female in my thirties and, yes, I am a geek. You can stay away from me with Star Wars and The Big Lebowski, though. (Yes, I did watch both. No, I do not like them.) And I do like My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic quite a lot. Or at least I did, before Bronies came and ruined it with things like that article. Or like getting Discord as a stand-in for themselves (aka a horrible abuser that gets excused time and time again). Or the entire Derpy disaster. Or drawing heaps and heaps of p*rn so that even a Google search for the show is not safe anymore. Etc., etc.

I have no problem with adults watching this show. I don’t even have much of a problem with males in general watching it. As long as they recognize and accept that this is the one show that girls have where females can be themselves, can be characters that are layered and not just stereotypically feminine, characters that are very different from each other.

And, even more importantly, as long as they recognize and accept that this is the one show where it goes hand in hand with male characters and male fans taking a backseat.

Unfortunately, apparently they cannot do that. The article proves it.

The assumptions made about the male My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic characters are utterly false and laughable. The author says that they have watched the show repeatedly, and I don’t doubt that, but they do not have their facts straight. The comparisons that are drawn to two other shows, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Power Rangers, are absolutely ridiculous as well.

Apparently in those shows “an effort is made in the toys and cartoon to ensure their female characters, even if few and token, are clever, strong and sassy.”

And apparently it is in contrast to MLP: FiM where “males are often marginalized or given shallow stereotypical roles.”

I am not sure how “few and token” and “clever, strong and sassy” does not literally translate to “marginalized and given shallow stereotypical roles”. That is literally what females get to do now – kick ass for five minutes to classify as a “strong female character”, and never actually have a character, a personality.

Let’s look at those two shows in a little more detail, shall we? While I have not watched either of them in any incarnation, a Google search revealed that there are three females in the most recent (2012) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon. One whose main trait seems to be to always get kidnapped, one who seems to be just a love interest, and one who is essentially described as air-headed and who may or may not also be a love interest.

Wow. That’s not marginalized or shallow and stereotypical at all.

There was also a female turtle in an earlier cartoon. She was named after a work of art (Venus de Milo) instead of an artist like all the other turtles. In order to be an instant love interest for basically all the male turtles, she got an elaborate backstory so that she was not related to them.

She disappeared after one season and is now unmentionable and hated by everyone. Mostly the guys who wrote the show, for whom even one female hero was too much.

Also, she had boobs.

Yeah, so much for that.

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Periods, Self-Love and the Perpetuation of Power

 

Woman resting and doing self care.
photo from https://pixabay.com/en/woman-bed-female-attractive-506120/

 

Tumblr user Raychillster made a post that portrayed periods as a breather from life, as a sacred time that gives you the excuse to pamper yourself and come back to yourself: “[W]hen the first cramps hit and the first bit of blood drips, we seem to stop what we’re doing and come back home to ourselves. [W]e reconnect with our natural instinct to treat ourselves during this sacred time of cleanse.”

After a few positive comments, Cool-Daniela-Fan wrote as a response: “Are women’s lives so difficult pain is a relief because it makes resting a necessity no one is going to resent us for?”

At that point the original post already had about 6,000 notes, most of them positive. I want to take the opportunity to answer the above question and to analyze the greater societal implications of what this mindset means.

Women needing pain to be able to rest, to have an excuse to “pamper themselves”, is literally how this society works. It also ties in with a lot of other things, mainly the idea that women “want to” get hurt because it gives them the “permission” to actually think of themselves for a second, to do self care, to actually treat their body and their mind well.

This is evident in self-harm. My sister who cut herself always took great care of her wounds afterwards. I’m sure that’s something that most women do, as seen in eating disorders (binging and purging) and especially in bdsm where it even has a name – “aftercare”.

I was always wary of aftercare. Obviously because it is trauma bonding, but it’s actually even worse than that. It’s allowing women to finally have those few moments for themselves and to stop feeling guilty about asking for things and getting them from their partner.

And that’s what is so incredibly scary about all of this. Because, as a woman, you need to get hurt before there is even a possibility of thinking about yourself, about your needs, about what is good for you. There is no such thing as being able to say, “Hey, you know what? I need a break.” Women can’t allow themselves to do that if there isn’t something coming from the outside “allowing” them to do it.

No matter if it’s periods, self-harm, eating disorders, bdsm or anything else. All of it comes down to girls and women having been depersonalized so effectively and so early that they literally do not have the ability to just lie down and say, “F*ck the world and everything, I am the most important here, and right now I’m not doing anything.”

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What Is and Isn’t Emotional Abuse According to Buzzfeed

 

Allie and Ryan in Buzzfeed's video about emotional abuse.
photo © Buzzfeed

 

Buzzfeed made a video about emotional abuse. So far, so good.

I have seen it mentioned on tumblr with a comment saying that it was lesbophobic because they used a lesbian couple to show the emotional abuse in a video “spliced with an ultra happy heterosexual couple”.

I’m not going into how is the long-haired, makeup-wearing, ultra feminine abusive girlfriend “butch-coded”. What I want to talk about is how seeing these straight characters as happy is exactly the attitude that lets emotional abuse slip under the radar, and how it highlights the reason why I call all romantic relationships abusive.

Because the “ultra happy” heterosexual couple never has even one interaction that is not abusive. Except for most of the scenes together with the other couple, granted, but that is 100% due to the video concentrating solely on the very blatant abuse in the other couple.

First a little bit about the abuse doled out by the lesbian character, which Buzzfeed already broke down, and which is mostly completely obvious and in your face.

The interesting thing about all these abusive interactions is that if they weren’t pointed out and amped up in this video, they would be considered completely “normal” and “good” in a romantic relationship. Possibly with the exception of the “she’s late for everything but always blames me” part, which is indeed considered a red flag under any circumstances.

Everything else – jealousy, codependency, control, not liking the partner’s favorite things but still being expected and seeing it as necessary to take part in them – is completely expected in romantic relationships.

Even more than that, those things define romantic relationships.

But because they are specifically condensed here and the viewer’s attention is specifically turned towards them, they are seen as abusive. Which is dangerous in itself because while those things can sometimes be this clear-cut, “normal” romantic relationships are just as abusive. They contain these elements just as much, but in an “acceptable” way.

The epitome of that is when the main character, Brittney, says that she was “flirty” and that her girlfriend, Jane, therefore had the right to abuse her. Brittney’s friend, Allie, refutes that not by saying that Jane didn’t have any right to abuse her in any case, but by saying, “You were not flirty at all.”

So if she had been flirty, the abuse would have been justified? I guess so, because that is literally what romantic relationships are, isn’t it? Control and power.

Now let’s actually break down the video, and specifically the interactions between the apparently “ultra happy” straight couple.

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Yelling Is Always Abuse

 

Upset child
photo from http://www.flickr.com/photos/26691915@N00/95786377

 

This article is part of the Children Are People column. Information about the column, and specifically about the comment policy, can be found in the introduction post.

 

Yelling at a child is never okay.

It is a direct use of power over the child. It is a direct method of saying, “look, I am bigger, I am louder, and you need to obey me”.

It can never be anything other than a tool for showing the child who is in power, and that power is the thing that is the most important and needs to be obeyed in the first place.

In order for raising your voice to be effective when you have to warn the child about an actual danger, it can never be used for anything other than the actual, physical danger.

If a child is yelled at every day because they did something “wrong” in the parent’s eyes, because they didn’t behave like an obedient thing but rather like a person with their own individual wants and likes, they will not react immediately to a parent or caregiver raising their voice.

They are already so used to the parent or caregiver always being loud, always yelling, that they will not recognize nuances in the type of raised voice. They will not know if it’s a scream because something life threatening is about to happen or just the usual yelling of the parent or caregiver taking their freedom away.

They will eventually react when the yelling, the abuse, gets too much. But if this one instance actually was a life threatening situation, if they run in front of a bus, these few seconds of hesitation, this failure to analyze if the raised voice actually means danger or just abuse, can be deadly.

Yelling can never be in any way good. I know it’s a sitcom trope to “yell at each other with love”, but it is always abuse. (Don’t get me started on The Big Bang Theory. Just don’t.)

We are always shown abuse as the only way to interact, both between romantic partners and between parents and children. Think about it. Can you think of one show, one movie, one book, one fanfiction where a romantic couple doesn’t fight or a child doesn’t get yelled at as a way to make them do things? And this behavior always equals abuse.

Look at what yelling means, especially to a child. It means that someone is raising their voice, is quite literally trying to overpower them, is showing them how powerless they are. The child cannot do anything to stop the yelling other than to submit.

Yelling is also physical abuse. The body reacts physically to loud sounds.

It can only ever be used as a way to make the child do something they don’t want to do. It cannot be used to make them stop doing something immediately dangerous – in those situations it might be necessary to raise your voice but it’s never necessary to yell.

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Carrie Fisher and How Our Society Sees Older Women

 

Leia in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
photo © Lucasfilm Ltd. and © Bad Robot Productions

 

“Carrie Fisher did not age well, while Harrison Ford didn’t change at all.”

The new Star Wars movie, The Force Awakens, not only sparked discussions about representation but also once again highlighted the double standard in Hollywood when it comes to the aging of female versus male actors.

Both Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford reprised their roles as Leia Organa and Han Solo respectively. Roles they first played nearly 40 years ago in Star Wars: A New Hope (1977).

I have not seen the movie yet, but I have read a lot about these issues on the Internet.

Let’s talk about the initial statement. I am sure other people have already done it, but I saw statements like this all over tumblr and the Internet in general one time too often in the last few weeks, and I need to say something.

I know Carrie Fisher herself said a lot on this topic already, including that she wants people to stop talking about her looks. So I am talking about Harrison Ford’s looks. And how nobody talks about him unless to point out how he apparently did “age well” as opposed to Carrie Fisher.

I am throwing in my two cents and pointing out the societal implications of the above statement and similar ones.

Not only they lack accuracy, they also reveal the media’s stance when it comes to women versus men in general.

It’s not just the fact that men are allowed to age while women are not, which definitely holds true and has been pointed out by Carrie Fisher herself as well. I also want to talk about the roles women are supposed to play and how women are supposed to look as opposed to men.

First off, the inaccuracy. Below there are two graphics I put together of Han and Leia in both the old series and the new movie. I tried to find shots as similar to one another as possible.

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It’s a Wonderful Life. Or Is It?

 

It's a Wonderful Life
image from It’s a Wonderful Life, produced by Liberty Films

 

The Christmas season is barely over. For a lot of people this time of the year means watching Christmas movies, especially the old classics. But what do these movies tell us? Most of them are only reiterations of what society is telling us every single day: that we should never think of ourselves but only of other people, especially when we are poor.

The rich people, they get away with being greedy (which is still not thinking of themselves, just of their wealth and of their power), they get away with not giving, they get away with just sitting on their wealth. After all, they could never give so much that it would be a real sacrifice for them. And if it’s not a sacrifice, they might as well not give at all, right?

But the poor and those who are living just about comfortably, they need to sacrifice. They need to give up a gift. They need to feed those who are even poorer than themselves. Not the billionaires who wouldn’t even notice giving enough money to literally feed every single poor person in the entire world. No, not them. We, little people. We need to do that.

Especially during the Christmas season, selflessness and sacrifice get advocated everywhere. Giving, giving, giving. Never think of yourself, only of others.

One of the best illustrations of this concept in many different ways is the movie It’s a Wonderful Life. In many families, including some of my own family, it’s still a staple to watch at Christmas.

It still is number one on the Movie Review Query Engine’s list of the best holiday movies, as well as on the AFI’s 100 Years…100 Cheers list. It is also found on virtually every IMDB list of the best movies ever.

It is still very much present and there are a lot of people who watch it every Christmas. These people most likely don’t see anything wrong with George Bailey, the main character, being a sexist, racist, angry, abusive man who only ever thinks about the deeds he will do, about being the best explorer, being powerful, being important.

His wish to be an explorer is never his personal wish to begin with. It’s not about finding happiness, finding personal satisfaction. No, he wants to do it to be “in the club”, to be “one of the great explorers”.

This is perfectly illustrated in the scene with Mary at the beginning when they are both still children and he brushes her off saying, “this is only for us explorers” (paraphrased). He doesn’t want to be an explorer because he is genuinely interested in it. Otherwise he would gladly share his interest with Mary. Instead he wants to safe guard it because it makes him “better”, it gives him power.

Already here we don’t know what his true interests are, what he truly would want to do if power was not in the equation. Would he still want to be an explorer? Maybe, but he would not go about it in this fashion.

Already as a child he does not have any self-esteem in the sense of knowing who he is and that he can do whatever he wants to do without having to strive for power. His perceived selfishness is solely born out of a sense of entitlement and self-loathing.

He feels entitled to everything from a young age. He is condescending from a young age. And the fact that circumstances – first his father’s death, then his brother’s wedding – prohibit him from ever actually becoming an explorer and he is frustrated about that, does not excuse this behavior in the slightest.

His violence and emotional abuse against Mary is not because he thinks he deserves her and is entitled to what he can get. It’s because he thinks he deserves a better life. Since she is the only thing he gets and she practically offers herself on a golden platter, he takes her, but never stops reminding her that this life is not what he wanted.

George is the one who sacrifices everything he wants to do for others, while Mary doesn’t seem to sacrifice anything since, according to the narrative, all she wanted in the first place was to do everything for George. Obviously this translates to her giving up any chance at finding out what she actually wants to do, but the movie doesn’t care about that.

When George finds Mary in the alternate reality where George never existed, she is very clearly shown as being in an undesirable position. An unmarried librarian, who wasted her potential that should have been brought out by catering to a man 24/7 and having as many children as possible.

If she’s happier this way or not, we are never told. My opinion is that since in this timeline she could decide for herself, she very clearly is. But again, she didn’t fulfill her role as a “good woman”, so in the narrative of the movie, she very obviously isn’t.

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Children Don’t Have Gender Identity

 

Gendered children
photo from https://www.flickr.com/photos/merille/4584940915

 

This article is part of the Children Are People column. Information about the column, and specifically about the comment policy, can be found in the introduction post.

 

A child doesn’t have a gender identity. A child has a personality. This personality is systematically destroyed, actively and purposefully taken away, and replaced with a gender identity.

I have talked before about different types of parenting that are encouraged or discouraged in this society.

Every single type of parenting has to have the end goal of taking away a child’s personality and replacing it with a gender identity.

There are some people who advocate for gender-neutral parenting. Those people see children as “blank slates”. They want to give children all the opportunities to play with toys, wear clothes and show behaviors that are deemed “for girls” as well as those “for boys”, so that when they are an “appropriate age”, mostly about 3 or 4, they can choose for themselves if they want to be a girl or a boy.

Nobody ever says that a child has a personality at birth. Nobody ever says that giving children only things out of one box and policing their behavior based on what is deemed “appropriate” for that box, and keeping all the things from the other box from them, is abuse.

And so is giving them things out of both boxes but still demanding that they know the rules of gender and either “choose a side” later on, or identify as one of the myriad of newly invented “gender identities” like “genderfluid” or “non-binary”.

What all of these gender identities have in common is that they still adhere to the rules of gender in general, even when some of them state that they want to destroy (binary) gender roles.

They still want to keep gender as a set of categories with which to identify every single human being as girl/woman or boy/man or a third category of their choosing.

That third category can never in any way infringe on the first two categories. Every single child needs to be indoctrinated into what it entails to be a girl or a boy, even if they can say that they are neither a girl nor a boy.

That is one of the first ways to introduce children to their place in the power hierarchy. For the vast majority of children it is the first time they are in contact with another set of power structures other than the child/parent power dynamics they have been experiencing from birth.

Having to have a gender identity from birth tells them from the moment they are told to not touch something, because that is not “right” for the half of the population they belong to, that there is such a thing as power differentials in general population too.

Even before that, when they are infants, they already get indoctrinated into being a member of one group or the other.

“Is it a girl or a boy?” or, since the male is more important and on top of the power hierarchy, “is it a boy or a girl?” is the first question any parents get asked even before the child is born. And after that the question continues if the child is not (yet) very clearly marked as one of the two genders.

“Is it a boy or a girl?” asks if it is a child that needs to be treated as a human being on top of the power hierarchy, as a person who will grow up as a member of the dominant group in society, or if it is a child that needs to be treated as an object on the bottom of the power hierarchy, as a thing that will grow up as a member of the subordinate group in society.

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A Kiss Doesn’t Defeat Winter: Tiffany and the Wintersmith

 

Tiffany and Wintersmith
image from http://www.deviantart.com/art/Tiffany-and-Wintersmith-276342849 – fanart by http://ardariel.deviantart.com

 

Tiffany Aching kissed the winter. Well, the Wintersmith.

What does that mean?

It means, first and foremost, that apparently conflicts between “boys” and “girls” (even when the “boy” is an elemental and has no idea how to be a human being) absolutely have to be resolved by the “girl” making herself sexually available and confusing the “boy” with her sexual wiles and her femininity.

That is her “power”. That’s what she has, all she has, but it’s also the best thing she can have and the one thing that will always defeat “boys”. Which means that in the end males get what they want and females are supposed to give.

Doesn’t really sound that fair to me. But hey, it’s not Winter’s fault, right? He just killed a few people and who even cares? He’s not evil and it was all the fault of a thirteen-year-old girl anyways, wasn’t it?

Even more than other Discworld books by Terry Pratchett, and even more than the previous two Tiffany books, The Wee Free Men and A Hat Full of Sky, Wintersmith brings home the “universal truth”: girls and boys are completely, naturally and inherently different.

Girls are there to serve and to rein in the boys who can do basically whatever they want. Because they’re boys. Even when they are the winter itself. Doesn’t matter. Because gender reigns supreme and we all need to bow to it. (The fourth Tiffany Aching book, I Shall Wear Midnight, continues this trend.)

Winter somehow inherently knows that “he” is a “boy”. Because “he” inherently knows that Tiffany (as well as the Summer Lady) is a “girl”. How and why “he” knows that doesn’t get explained. It’s just what it is. Because “girls” and “boys” right?

And he goes and does all the things a boy, a man is supposed to do. Which means building a big house and preparing it to hold the girl prisoner in it. Because that’s what it is, isn’t it? Men and women, boys and girls. That’s how it works.

The boy wants too much, too fast and then the girl gives him a little bit, like Tiffany kissing the Wintersmith. And then it’s all good, because the boy understands where he went wrong and stops.

In reality it doesn’t work that way. Because all the boy learns is that he gets what he wants when he just uses enough force. And the only thing he has to want, to accumulate is power. Power over a girl, a woman, first and foremost.

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Power in Different Types of Parenting

 

Parenting
photo from https://pixabay.com/en/child-girl-cap-view-winter-cold-561229/

 

This article is part of the Children Are People column. Information about the column, and specifically about the comment policy, can be found in the introduction post.

 

There are a lot of different types of parenting. In general, parents who are “firm but loving” get the most support from our society, while parents who are “too brutal”, “neglectful” or “indulgent” get the least.

The “too brutal” parents have to be very physically cruel for our society to see the situation as abuse. Most times, parents explaining, “you don’t know my kid” or “I can spank them, it’s fine”, get let off the hook completely.

Thankfully, arguments against corporal punishment are widely accepted in activist circles now, but most activists still only see physical punishment as “valid abuse”. All other types of invasions on bodily autonomy, like pulling or carrying a kid without their consent, are basically still accepted.

Other than that, there are only two parenting methods that are considered either “abusive” or just plain “spoiling”. Neglect and indulgence.

These two methods lead to what in our society is seen as disorders (which means a child still has a personality), like oppositional defiant disorder.

Most parents get told that if their children are defiant, they are either neglecting their children or, more often, “spoiling” their children, being “indulgent”.

Defiance, when it comes to children, always means that children don’t do what they are told. Which means they have still kept some of their personality and they object to being abused.

But nobody asks why is it even in the picture.

How is it possible to be defiant against someone who doesn’t in some way have power over you?

Why is it necessary to ask permission as a human being from another human being to do simple things such as eat the foods you want to eat and wear the things you want to wear?

Why do parents have power over children in the first place?

Continue reading “Power in Different Types of Parenting”

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Children Are People: Introduction

 

Parenting
photo from https://pixabay.com/en/family-father-mother-child-girl-469583/

 

I’m starting an advice column about how to treat children like people.

I am a preschool teacher with more than a decade of experience in working with children from as young as six months old to teenagers.

This column is here to give concrete, tangible advice about what to do in specific situations as well as general advice on how to treat children like human beings and how to not abuse them.

This column is not for discussions, so I won’t reply to comments. If you have a specific situation you want help with, you can leave a comment. Depending on time and availability, I will write a new article in response.

I will not acknowledge hateful or hurtful comments, especially comments that condone and praise child abuse.

What is child abuse?

I don’t think you will get one coherent answer to that question when you ask different people because everyone has different opinions about that.

I’ll give you my definition, the one I’ll work with in this column. Abuse is anything done to another human being out of the desire to make them think or act a specific way that the abuser predetermined.

As such, abuse can be emotional, psychological, physical or verbal. All of these types of abuse are equally abuse and I will not make a difference between them. All of these types of abuse are condoned and even encouraged as “good parenting” right now. Making children act and think a specific way that the parent deems “right” is in fact the number one goal of parenting.

I, together with my wife, want to change this goal. It is solely based on power, on the desire to make another person do what you want them to do, think what you want them to think. That is the root of all problems we have in our society right now.

The way we raise children is not determined by what is best for them, by what will bring them the most happiness, but by how to best form them into functioning members of society.

With that in mind, there are two main ways in which parents raise children.

Girls are raised with the goal of them internalizing that they need to listen to more powerful people (which is everyone, especially parents and males), to always do what others say, to be submissive and nice, to look pretty, and to always disregard their needs and put others first.

Boys are raised with the goal of them internalizing that they need to listen to more powerful people (parents and other adults, mostly males) but also that they will become one of those more powerful people in the future. That they need to do what others say when the others are in a position of power, but otherwise they need to tell others what to do, to be dominant and emotionless (anger is not considered an emotion), to not care about their looks but to care about the looks of girls and women, and to always put their need for power first and disregard others.

Both boys and girls are raised with the set of clothes, actions, thought patterns that are predetermined for them specifically. Both will get abused when they want to do the things that are predetermined for the other gender. The application of gender to children is determined by their genitals at birth, or even before birth, and it’s enforced by parents, caretakers and society as a whole through media, interactions, laws, etc.

Gender is abuse. Plain and simple. It is one of the most prevalent ways in which power is enforced both on a societal level and on a personal level by parents and caretakers themselves.

In order to treat children as people, as human beings, gender needs to be taken out of the equation. We need to stop telling children that something is not for them because of their genitals. We need to stop abusing them into believing that power is the most important value and that gender is inevitable and innate. Both statements are not true. Both concepts can be abolished.

This column is my way of getting word out there that if we want ourselves and everyone else to be happy, we need to start with how we treat and raise children. And we need to start concretely, by changing our behavior every single time we interact with them. Because right now every single person has internalized these toxic messages about power and gender to a point that perpetuating them seems normal and inevitable.

It is not. Another way is possible. And I, together with my wife, am going to pave that way.

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Sexy Lamp: Blindspot vs Memento

 

Blindspot vs Memento
photo © Summit Entertainment and © NBC

 

(This article contains spoilers.)

I recently received a comment on tumblr concerning my article Could Jane be a John?: Blindspot 1×01 Review, saying that there is a movie, Memento, that has the same premise as Blindspot. Since I have watched that movie, I drew the following comparisons between the two. I didn’t watch the rest of Blindspot, so this response still only pertains to the first episode.

The only things that these two premises have in common are tattoos on the body (that don’t even serve the same purpose) and some kind of memory loss.

There is absolutely no point in the movie where the main character, Leonard Shelby, a male, is in any way treated like an object. He is neither stuffed in a bag naked nor in any other way abused by others to be an asset, a resource. He is the protagonist from the first to the last moment. There is never anyone treating him like anything but a human being.

Yes, he’s manipulated and made fun of for his disability, he’s used by at least one person as a means to an end, but that never in any way ever takes away his agency, his humanity.

Actually, it turns out in the end that he himself caused the death of his wife – she let him kill her because she was so desperate to prove a point that she didn’t stop him. So, if anyone is an object in this movie, a plot point, a means to an end, it’s the main character’s wife, fridged as usual for manpain, and not Leonard himself.

This movie is a very good parallel that I didn’t think of while writing the previous article. Because while the premises seem similar in the ways I’ve outlined above, they are in fact completely opposite and the execution is likewise completely opposite.

As a male, the main character of Memento does everything on his own. He is in control of what we are shown. His eyes are the ones we as an audience look through. He is the one who tells his own story. Yes, as I’ve said before, in the end we realize that this story was never actually the truth, but it was still absolutely always his story, as a human being, albeit a manipulated and abused one.

He’s also absolutely never put in a bag, which proves my point that you could not do that to a male.

Continue reading “Sexy Lamp: Blindspot vs Memento”

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Relationships Between Females: Supergirl 1×01 Review

 

Supergirl 1x01
photo © 2015 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All rights reserved. © DC Comics

 

Let me start with a question: When was the last time you saw a woman come down on a rope from a helicopter to save her sister – a superhero who just fought a bad guy? And all of this without any male involvement anywhere?

Because, you know, I don’t think I’ve ever seen that. Yes, Birds of Prey was a nice show about female superheroes but it got cancelled very early and there was definitely male involvement there (though it was refreshingly little). Other than that, I can’t remember one single instance in which anything similar ever happened.

The point is, Supergirl, flawed as it is (and it is very flawed, I will get to that) shows us something that we don’t normally see on TV: a familial (or any, actually) relationship between women that does not in any way revolve around guys or even include them.

Sure, Kara already has a male love interest (one of those aforementioned flaws), but so far, the relationship between her and Alex was never about a man. To quote the Bechdel-Wallace test: There are two women in this show, they interact and they never talk about a man. (If you don’t count the bad guy, and they don’t talk about him specifically, they talk about the bad guys in general and how Kara can fight them.)

Which is a super low bar that most movies and shows still do not reach, and Supergirl passes it with flying colors. Not only with the relationship between Kara and Alex, but also with the one between Kara and both her biological and adoptive mother, and between Kara and Cat.

That in and of itself would be a very good reason for me to watch the show. Yes, the relationship(s) between Kara and her mother(s) were pretty much only hinted on (in still really moving scenes, but very short ones – I hope we’ll see more of that) and the relationship between Kara and Cat is very typically that of an employer with her boss, meaning Cat is most of the times mean and borderline abusive and Kara tries to appease her. But the relationship between Kara and Alex is so far one of the best sister relationships I’ve ever seen on TV.

And it might just be the first positive sister relationship between adult adoptive sisters where one of them was adopted as a teenager. From what we see in that relationship, they get along very well, they help each other, listen to each other. They genuinely seem to like spending time together.

The one “fight” they had was resolved very quickly by the guilty party apologizing. Alex did lie but she did not lie to hurt Kara, she lied to have her own thing, to be special too. She was jealous, but for what we see from their relationship, she never let Kara feel that, she never took it out on her.

And when it all comes out, she goes on to save Kara’s life, and explains and apologizes as soon as she gets the chance.

The writers had the chance to make this into an abusive relationship, into a relationship in which the sisters fight and scream at each other and then make up dramatically. That is what we normally see after all. But they didn’t. And I am so happy about that, because we need far more positive female-female relationships.

Which is what the Bechdel-Wallace test is all about – not just determining if there are female characters present, but mainly criticizing that positive female-female relationships on screen are very few and far apart.

Continue reading “Relationships Between Females: Supergirl 1×01 Review”

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