Thursday, March 20, 2014

Let's Pretend We Don't Like Bullies

Here’s the problem. Unless you were the one being bullied, you probably do have to pretend. Yes, I said that. Now put down the pitch forks and follow me for a minute. In society the ‘bullies’ are unanimously the popular people while the bullied are the unpopular people. Do you know why that is? Because people like the popular people, thus making them popular, and people don’t like the unpopular people, thus making them unpopular. To ask society to dislike bullies is, in fact, asking it to do something no society in the history of the world has ever accomplished: dislike popular people. It’s like asking someone to invent a square circle, a purple shade of yellow, or dehydrated water. Popular people get to bully because they are well liked and their victims are not. It has not one lick to do with what the unpopular person wears, behaves like, looks like, etc (although any/all of those may very well have to do with *why* they are unpopular instead of simply not popular, it has absolutely NOTHING to do with why they are bullied). It has to do 100% with the fact that popular people have an underdeveloped sense of self paired with an insanely high sense of self-esteem. In other words, they have no idea who they are so they see anyone disagreeing with them as an attack but they also think they utterly deserve to be liked by everyone just because they are alive. This combination creates people who attack others to stabilize their own position in the ‘herd’. Since their peers 1) mostly suffer from the same problem and 2) are afraid the alpha personality will be turned towards them if they don’t toe the line, they spend their time catering to the popular people. This is not an age thing; it is not a school thing; it is not a culture thing. It’s a human thing. The majority of people, not kids, not girls, not men, not adults, but people, might think the concept of bullying is wrong, because *they* don’t want to be bullied, but when it comes to applying that belief, they are far more interested in what others might think of them to actually enforce anti-bullying. Of course people will change which side they are on, the self-assured 6 year old who could care less what the popular kid in class said about him may become the insecure 21 year old who is mortified that someone he barely knows might think him a ‘sissy’. The playground bully might become the secure college kid who is horrified by his past behavior. The thirty year old manager who can’t bare being proven wrong about anything and steals everyone else’s hard work, might become the 60 year old executive who now understands his self-worth isn’t predicated upon whether he’s perfect (although power being power that tends to happen the other way around). There might be slightly more 60 year olds than 16 years olds, slightly more 16 year olds than 6 year olds, and slightly more 106 year olds (comparatively speaking) than 60 year olds who has figured out how to be comfortable in themselves and only care about what those with importance in their life think. Because don’t get me wrong, carrying *only* about what *you* think is equally narcissistic as caring what *everyone* thinks. But eventually, hopefully, you learn it doesn’t matter if everyone finds you attractive, as long as your spouse does, don’t matter if everyone finds you smart, as long as your boss thinks you can do your job, doesn’t matter if everyone finds you friendly, as long as you’ve a friend, etc. Of course age does help maturity, but it does not grant maturity, and different people need wildly different lengths of time to reach comparable levels of maturity. But in the totality of humanity those that have figured this out are in the minority. You want to end school bullying in a month? Have every teacher and administrator tell every bully they see that bullying is not tolerated the first time they see it/it’s brought to their attention, the second time they see it haul the bully into the office, make them stay after school, write ‘I will not bully’ 1,000 times, and kick them out of all extracurricular activities for the rest of the year (this part is critical because it lowers their social standing and therefore their effectiveness as a bully). The third time they see it suspend the child and inform the parents that any further bullying will result in immediate, permanent expulsion and all records about the bullying turned over to the victim’s family in case the family wishes to pursue a restraining order, civil, or legal proceedings (because most bullying is de-facto criminal). A few things would happen, the schools would be populated by only well behaved students who don’t care what other’s thought and were just interested in learning (or at least those who are smart enough to shut up and act like it), every school would lose the bulk of their varsity sports teams, most of their rich kids whose parents donate all those pretty green things, all their clique leaders, most of the student government, and a great many of the most popular teachers’ favorite kids (the unpopular teachers tending to like those who are actually in school to learn not to win a popularity contest). Since no school would even consider shooting itself in the foot like that, no one is going to actually do anything about the bullying we see in schools. ‘We’ like the bullies too much, and the victims too little. Another way to effectively stop *physical* bullying is to offer a free self-defense course to everyone who is a victim of bullying (such is already offered by some pretty famous gyms and professional fighters and has done wonders for bully problems for the kids who complete the courses). It won’t stop the verbal attacks, it won’t depopulate the schools of all the popular kids, but it will keep those popular kids from laying a hand on the unpopular kids. Because people do not attack those whom they know will put them on their face in the middle of the cafeteria. But then, you’d also have to make self-defense legal in the schools, which right now it is not. In the vast majority of schools it doesn’t matter if four big football players are beating the snot out of one not-yet-hairy sophomore, if the sophomore throws even one punch back at his attackers he’ll be treated as equally ‘guilty’ of fighting and be expelled. Actually, real world scenarios show that the unpopular kid who defended himself from the bully is likely to receive a far harsher punishment than the popular bully. BECAUSE THE AUTHORITIES LIKE THE BULLY. Almost no one cares if a kid that no one likes get a bloody nose or a broken arm, or his property stolen or destroyed, as long as the popular kid can throw a football, look cute in a prom dress, makes a great picture with a pompom, has a parent who sits on the school board, or a father who plays golf with the principal. But they very much care if a broken arm keeps someone from throwing that football or if that black eye mars that pretty face. We, as a society, don’t care. Societies as a whole don’t care. Only popular people are worthy of the victim’s spotlight, so we’ll highlight a couple of ‘newsworthy’ bullying that falls into the greater PC political ideology of the day which hasn’t trickled fully into the mindset of all 10 year olds yet (or make one up if we can’t find any), utterly ignoring all the rest of the bullying that happens every day, and make some pretty noise about how we don’t like ‘bullying’ while doing our level best to keep the bullies in positions of power because they’re just so darn likeable! And the victims, well, nobody likes them anyway, they probably did something to deserve it, like get an A in a hard course, tell someone they shouldn’t be getting drunk underage, or *gasp* wear a slightly atypical accessory to school. Meanwhile, if you actually *do* hate bullies, not the vague concept of bullying, do something about it. First, REMOVE vulnerable children from environments where bullying is encouraged, first and foremost the public school system, until and unless they are sufficiently strong in mind and body to not care about being bullied. Second, teach your children self-defense and promise you will stand behind them if they beat the crap out of someone who hit them first (or, depending upon your temperament, put them in a submissive and thus humiliating but non-injurious hold maintaining until the bully backs down or authorities arrive), regardless of what the bully-loving authorities threaten, and teach them to be secure enough in their sense of self that they don’t care what something says about them. Thirdly, protect your children, if they are being bullied before number two is finished, take care of it. Go to the principal, remove your children from the situation, go to the other parents, go to the police, go to the police again, and again, and again, go to an ADA, call them 40 times every day, get a lawyer, move to another city, etc, etc, etc. DO NOT simply assume you’ve ‘done everything’ and there ‘isn’t anything’ you can do to make it stop and your kid just has to ‘put up with it’. And don’t tell your kid they should be the ones to change. They can’t do anything to stop the bullying by ‘changing’ something immaterial to the cause of the bully, which has absolutely nothing to do with what they are wearing, achieving, talking like, or looking like, and everything to do with the fact that they are unpopular. Which is a good thing, being unpopular means you’ve raised a kid who isn’t so insecure they feel necessary to bully *other* kids just to secure their social standing. If your kid is being bullied, congratulations, you haven’t raised a bully, now make sure it stops until they are ready and able to deal with it both physically and emotionally, or they may revert to said behavior to make the pain stop. Hint, if they come home crying they aren’t ready yet. If they come home rolling their eyes about what some idiot said today, they’ve got it handled. We can’t stop bullying, because the majority of the population, *ANY* population, will always support the bullies. It’s a fact of life. What we can do is give our children the tools to be survivors, not victims, and to protect them until that time. So instead of pretending society doesn’t like bullies, which is absurd as a square circle, let’s just focus on whether we as individuals are ready to grow past the immature reliance upon other’s for our sense of self-worth that makes bullies successful, and decide that we as individuals won’t put up with bullying or leave our kids to be victims. It won’t stop bullying, people who decide to actually make that decision will always be in the minority of the overall population, but it will help protect you and your children from bullies, which is as much as we can ever logically hope when confronted with the evils of society. Or, you can go on liking bullies, your kids might be one someday. I don’t care, because I could care less what a bully says, and I’ll make sure to protect my kids until they don’t either. And any bully stupid enough to physically attack me or mine, well, let’s just leave it at there will be professionals of one form or another involved.

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Word is "Of"

Every year about this time we have whole hoards of people who are so incredibly terrified and offended by other people’s religion they think the only proper response to seeing any reminder of that religion is to take away other’s First Amendment Rights. Now I’m not talking about the yearly atheist billboards in Time’s Square. While a little snarky perhaps, that’s them expressing their religious beliefs. That’s what the First Amendment is about. No I’m talking about incidents like what happened at Gitmo base this year. A small group of anonymous servicemen were so horrified to see a small nativity scene and a couple of banners that said ‘Merry Christmas’ and so terrified to speak out against this blatant ‘religious discrimination’ they had to go to the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (which isn’t a fan ‘of’ religious freedom but a proponent ‘from’ religious freedom) instead of whoever is ostensibly in charge of decorating the base around the holidays. The military, far more concerned with PC blatherings than servicemen’s rights or common sense, promptly removed all evidence that it was December from the base. That’s the problem with PCism. In PC land the automatic response to insanity is to treat it legitimately and to force reality to conform with insanity, as opposed to demanding that the insane conform to reality. See, if a sane person perceives they are facing discrimination then the logical course of action is to assert your own rights. But for those whose egotism reaches levels of insanity, the response to perceived discrimination is to take rights away from others until they have been brought down to your perceived level. This is what happens in PC land. Despite that the federally recognized holiday is ‘Christmas’, those who are egotistically insane prefer to take away the right of expression and religion from others as opposed to assert their own rights to expression and religion. For instance, the logical response to seeing decorations celebrating a holiday that you don’t celebrate isn’t anything other than ‘oh, look, decorations’. Now, if you feel *your* preferred holiday is being left out, the logical response is to correct that, not make sure everyone else is left out as well. It’s Christmas, so it makes perfect sense they have Christmas decorations up, it isn't establishing a religion no one is being forced at sword point into the chapel for Christmas Eve services, it's celebrating a national holiday put into place because the majority of the country celebrates it, but if someone felt left out over that, then the normal, sane response is to say ‘hey, would anyone mind if I put up some X decorations?’ Then, if by some wild stretch of the imagination, you are denied, then you are actually being excluded and could logically seek a way to be included that doesn’t exclude other’s rights. I’ve yet to find a celebrator of Christmas who objected to someone else also celebrating another holiday in the winter. After all there are several other holidays around the same time here in December. As I sit writing this tomorrow is Winter Solstice, a holy day for a couple of different religions. Chanukah is over already, but it was celebrated (in part) in early December. There’s Kwanzaa, it’s only been around about fifty years, but then so have Bat Mitzvahs, and it starts on December 26th this year (does it vary like Chanukah? I’m not sure). I’ve known people who celebrated ‘Christmakah’ or perhaps it was ‘Chanukamas’ I don’t remember. Even if you celebrate Christmas but do so only secularly, there is Santa and reindeer and snowmen. Regardless, there are at least a half dozen different options, and no one sane really cares what you choose to celebrate or decorate for. But a lot of people care very much if you try to keep them from celebrating or decorating. I don’t care if you celebrate secular Xmas, a traditional Christmas, a religious-only Christ’s Mass, or a Wiccan’s Winter Solstice. That’s the point of Freedom of Religion. See, it’s an ‘of’, not a ‘from’. You don’t have the right to never encounter another’s religion. If you feel so unconfident about your own religious convictions that you can’t stand seeing someone else’s then that’s *your* issue to deal with, not other people’s. Religion simply means ‘belief’, it can be a very formalized belief with detailed rituals dating back hundreds or thousands of years, like the Russian Orthodox Church, or it can be a very loosely defined collective like Pagans or Giaists It can be poly-deistic like Hinduism or mono-deistic like Islam. It can be hold to no supernatural forces like Humanism or to a world filled with the supernatural like Shamanism. It can follow demigods like Vodun or an omnipotent God like Judaism. It can reject all gods like Atheism or follow an all-consuming God like Christianity. It’s all still ‘religion’, and in America we have a right to practice it. We don’t have a right to force others to not practice or to never see other’s practice. It is impossible for Freedom OF Religion to coexist at the same time as Freedom FROM Religion, they are fully exclusionary. And, 9,999 times out of 10,000 when people say ‘freedom from religion’ what they mean is ‘only the Atheistic religion is worthy of freedom’. There are a lot more religions than Atheism, and *all* of them are granted freedom under our Constitution, not just Atheism. Don’t like it? Amend the Constitution to exclude Religious Freedom and enshrine Freedom from Religion (or be honest for once and admit what you actually want is a state-enforced and sponsored religion of Atheism). We have a whole Constitutional Amendment process just for such issues. Of course, that would be sane, and those seeking to suppress other’s rights have already fled sanity for insanity.

Friday, November 09, 2012

This is my response to a friend's blogpost, it's not here as a separatge blog post, but just because it was too long to post as a direct apply. If you want the background here check out: http://www.evolutionaryparenting.com/big-boys-dont-cry-what-not-to-say-to-a-crying-child/ (Please excuse the format and typos, this blog is very mobile-unfriendly) I think you're fundamentally overlooking some situations here, perhaps because you've never incountered them, perhaps because you're so shy of duplicating mistakes of the past that you're too shy. First off, I think it's rarely the tears, or even the inconsolible sobbing, that parents are objecting to. It's the screaming, wailing, and bemoaning. There is a difference between crying because you are upset/hurt/emotional/joyful and throwing a fit. I'm willing to bet that when you 'freely express' your emotions you don't do so while shrieking at the top of your lungs and kicking, stomping, or throwing things. I'm sure some jerk out there has said 'if you don't stop crying I'll give you something to cry about' in reference to the tears coming from his child's eyes, but everytime I have heard it said what they mean is 'if you don't stop this fit I'll give you something to cry about'. You might not agree with the implied 'how' of that sentence, but teaching our children to constrain emotional outbursts to appropriate levels *is* our job as parents as we help tham mature. If you get fired from work it's one thing to quietly cry while packing up, but you start screaming obscenities at your boss and throwing office furniture around and you'll be lucky if all that happens is being escorted from the building. There is a huge difference between a 2-6 year old throwing a temper tantrum and sitting in a parent's lap sobbing quietly. The same thing applies to 'big boys/girls don't cry'. The vast majority of the time what is meant is 'big boys/girls do not throw fits'. Tell 'em off for poor/confusing word choice, I'm with you there, they *shouldn't* be using 'cry' when what they mean is 'fit' or 'temper tantrum' or 'screaming' etc. And just because *you* found these statements unhelpful as a child doesn't mean everyone did. My Dad always aid 'i've had bigger cuts on my eye!', which is synonmous with your 'that's nothing to cry about' line. Sure, I found it annoying, but it also qued me, even as a small child to stop and consider 'is my response proportional?' Which is absolutely another thing it's important to teach children. Irrational fear of what *might* happen (pain at the dentist in your example) or an unproportional response to minor emotional/physical trauma is not something we want to encourage in our children. Do you find it appropriate for an adult to break into inconsolable sobbing when they don't get their way? Or shrieking for ten minutes because they stubbed their toe? Children have to be taught what is a proportional response, it's not inborn. Why do some children shriek for ten minutes after a shot and others let out one painful wail and then rub the offending leg with a frown? Because some parents (usually by doing so themself) let their children carry on like it's the end of the world and others teach that such a little hurt only merits a little reaction. When I started nannying this 3 year old I got to watch her mom and she interact for most of a day first. The little girl fell, just a trip, and started wailing and crying like someone was beating her. The mom rushes over and makes a big fuss about it for five minutes, all the while the child's throwing a fit over a little scuff and eventually is carried inside to sit and snuggle on mom's lap for ten minutes before the tears finally stopped. The next day I'm taking the kid for a walk, she trips and falls and I see her face screw up in the precursor of anothing shrieking crying jag. I quickly righted her, brushed her knees off said 'you okay? Yep, no blood, you're fine' and started walking again. The girl stopped midwail, got a shocked look on her face, sniffed, and trotted after me. It took only twice more before her standard response to a fall was to pop up, proclaim 'I okay' and go back to playing. Her mother was flabbergasted when she saw it the first time. Now that is a very extreme example because in that instance the kid didn't really *want* to have that kind of reaction, she was just mimicking what she thought mom wanted and was quick to give it up once she realized it wasn't necessary, but even if a kid does want to carry on so it's our job as parents to teach them what is an appropriate response to the minor bumps and bruises (both physical and emotional) that come with life. Furthermore I think you overlook that kids *will* you crying to manipulate a situation. Not all kids, and I'm not refering to a 8 month old here or anything, but kids want what they want, and it doesn't take them long to learn some grown ups are a sucker for tears. There was a 3 child family I babysat for frequently for a couple of years. The baby of the family was several years behind her two older sisters and was, very definately, the baby of the family. She was only about 2 when I started babysitting and was as cute as could be, and had her parents wrapped around her little finger. Everytime they starlted getting her in trouble there went that little lip, her eyes would well up and then came as pitiful of a whining sob you ever did hear. Full blown pitiful crying in one second flat. The parents would sweep her up, totally forget about whatever she had just done, and assure her 'it's okay' while the older sisters looked on in frustrated offense. Second time I babysat them I see Baby steal a toy from the middle sister and then, angry at being told to give it back, throw it at her sister. I stormed over, face stern after a firm 'no!' to chastise the baby when she burst into wailing, helpless tears, arms upheld in mute appeal to be picked up. The older sister rolls her eyes, expecting, I'm sure, that the baby will escape a scolding again. I picked her up, gave her a stern face and said 'you're still in trouble' she paused, looked at me in consideration, and redoubled her efforts to appear like a helplessly pitiful toddler martyr. 'Oh stop, you're not allowed to throw toys'. She stopped, looked at me with a startled face and then said very serious 'but you don't understand tone: "it's okay Merca, it's okay." (Merca being what she called me). She was explaining to me that once she cried 'it's okay' and she wasn't in trouble anymore. It's by far one of the cutest things one of my babysitter-kids has ever done. But it was also one of the most devious. She tried it a couple more times on me before she figured I really wasn't going to let her get away with anything and everything just because she cried and she stopped and was remarkably better behaved once she believed I'd actually get her in trouble. ('Trouble' in this case having to sit with me while her sisters played) she wasn't crying because she was upset or bhecause she needed to release emotions, she was crying because she knew it would get her out of trouble. Being told to 'stopt it' was exactly what she needed to hear to nip inappropriate behavior in the bud. In conclusion, I think you need to rethink your adament denouncement of telling a child to not cry. Sometimes crying is accompanied by other behavior that should be stopped, such as screaming, stomping, throwing, yelling, etc, in other words: a temper tantrum. And children should be encouraged by their parents and caregivers to control such outbursts. Sometimes crying *is* the inappropriate behavior of a budding manipulator who has figured out a quick way to get what they want (Hollywood doesn't have a monopoly on crying on demand), which is definately not something we want to encourage. Saying, in general, that we should let our kids cry and not 'bottle up' their emotions is, in the real world, a lot different than saying you should always let them express those emotions in whatever form they choose or use form of emotional expression for whatever they choose.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Ask Them What They Mean By Choice

Today marks the anniversary of Roe v Wade, a time when 9 men fabricated a constitutional 'right' where none existed, and still doesn't through a straight forward reading of the Constitution, to kill another human being because of where he currently presided. This was not an issue that We The People had a say on, in fact there has never been a majority of Americans who agree with the unfettered abortion access that Roe v Wade and later v Dalton forced upon our society. Pro-abortionists know this. They know the majority of Americans don't like the idea of killing other human beings. So they have built their 'right' around an elaborately concocted game of creative symantics. They don't finish sentences; instead of pro-choice to kill your offspring they are just 'pro-choice'. You can be pro-choice about a lot of things. Pro-choice for school options, pro-choice for gun ownership, pro-choice for states to control welfare or not. But in other causes people aren't afraid to stand up and say what 'choice' they think should be availible. They reinvent words; in the 70's the term 'pregnancy' was redefined by the medical community to begin at implantation instead of conception so that products that cause early term abortions could be marketed as 'contraceptives'. They lie about the order of things, calling it a 'reproductive freedom' or a 'reproductive choice', when reproduction has already taken place and choice happens before action. But mostly they just do everything they can to avoid the clinical term 'abortion' much less what abortion really means.
I'm about 8 weeks pregnant. I have reproduced 3 times. I have 3 offsprings. All of my offspring are human, they have human DNA, they are members of the human species, and they are distinct and unique individuals who did not exist before their conceptions, currently exist, and will never exist again upon their deaths (in their full physical beings). As a placental mamal I have a biological duty to care for my offspring until they can be born, as a human being, made in the likeness of my Creator I have an ethical obligation to not kill another human being who is not offering me mortal harm. As a member of a civilized society I have a societal obligation to care for my children until they are of legal age, or until another can be found to care for them. And as a Christian I have the moral obligation to protect and raise my offspring in a proper manner. The only thing I don't have is the legal obligation to care for my youngest child. In fact that 'pro-choice' crowd thinks I should have the legal option to kill my youngest offspring because he is currently in my womb, exactly the place he is biologically supposed to be.
And not only that but they are advocating for my 'right' to kill very young offspring in the most horrific wa imaginable. We haven't agreed with drawing and quarting as a valid means of execution for even the worst criminals for hundreds of years, yet pro-legal-abortionists think I should be able to tear my baby limb from limb just because he is in my womb. We would be beyond horrified, riot in the street if the state executed a serial killer by immersion in a burning acid, yet pro-abortionists think I should have that right too. And if a murder was due to be executed by stabbing his head with scissors and sucking out his brain, or crushing his head between a jagged vise, everyone in the country would be clammoring for a stay of execution, yet the pro-abortionists think that's fine and dandy if the victim is an innocent child.
They are not 'pro-choice', they fight at every turn informed consent laws that wish to make sure women have real choice; they fight to close down pregnancy centers who offer support and help, because they lead women away from abortion. They are pro-abortion. They are pro-murder-your-unborn-child-in-as-henious-a-way-as-can-be-found-if-thats-what-you-want.
My 8 week old baby has human dna, a beating heat, human blood, human tissue, eyes, hands, fingers. It also, at 8 weeks, has just completed growing the only things needed to feel pain: nerve pathways, nerve endings, and a working hypothalamus. It has not yet higher order brain operations, neither did you at that age, but it does have everything it needs to feel pain. So when a pro-abortionists talks about how most abortions are early term, they are still refering to most abortions happening to innocent human beings who will feel excutiating pain, pain beyond their ability to understand, just pain, and then death.

You can't be 'pro-choice' without being 'pro-abortion'. That's like saying you could be pro-choice to rape and not be pro-rape. We aren't talking about ice cream flavors, sports teams, or even politicians. This isn't a debate any thinking human can be neutral in. You either think it's ok to kill innocent human beings, or you don't.

I don't. No human has the moral or ethical or biological right to kill an innocent member of the human race, much less a member of their own family. And I don't think they should have the legal right to do it either.
I am pro-choice for reproduction, no women should be forced to reproduce, nor should any man. Do whatever you wish to avoid reproduction and I'll be happy to fight for that right. I'm pro-choice for adoption, no parent should be forced to care for a child they can not, they should have a right to turn that child over to another who can care for it. But I'm not pro-choice for abandoning your child, no parent should have the right to simply abandon their unwanted or can't-be-cared-for child where someone else can't care for it, like in a dumpster. And I'm not pro-choice to kill your child. No parent should have that choice, no matter how old their child is. I can't kill my 3 year old kid, I can't kill my 21 month old toddler (and let me tell you, she's far more a 'drain' on my bodily autonomy than my 8 week old!) And I damn well shouldn't be able to kill my 8 week old fetus either.

If you think it should be legally acceptable to kill your own offspring, say that, at least then you're being honest. Because clinging to a 'pro-choice' or bogus 'reproductive freedom' lable just makes you for murder AND dishonest.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Disney Princesses

(So I wrote this way back in Jan and forgot it was on my computer waiting to be uploaded to my blog. Enjoy.)

I’m getting caught up on some blog ideas I wanted to post during Christmas when I was just too busy to do so. Over the season I read three different blogs on how horrible Disney princesses were as role models for our daughters to watch/enjoy/look up to. (I’m guessing someone was getting too many princess gifts from relatives) First I want to note that I’m not a ‘pink’ girl. I don’t do princess. My mother used to complain that, even as a young child, I refused to let her dress me in “cute girl clothes”. I never had a roomful of Barbies, never dressed up like Cinderella, Belle, or Sleeping Beauty. And I preferred to watch National Geographic’s and the Discovery Channel to cartoons, Disney or otherwise, when I was a child. So this isn’t from someone who is just overlooking faults because I like them.
It’s no surprise feminists dislike Disney princesses, and their reasons seem fairly consistent: the females need a man to complete them, they fall in love too quickly, they are ‘loved’ for their looks, they are weak, submissive, painfully willing to overlook negatives in their men folk, etc. They all get it, Sleeping Beauty falls in love after a single short interlude and needs a man to kiss her to save her (Snow White ditto), Ariel gives up everything to chase a man she’s only seen before and he falls in love with her because she’s beautiful, Cinderella likewise falls in love in a few hours, needing a man to save her from her abusive situation, and Belle stays with a man despite the fact that he’s abusive….
Which is, I suppose, all well and good if your knowledge on human behavior doesn’t extend past the 1970’s.
But, no offense to both friends and family who share such views (okay, maybe some teasing, but no offense meant) I’d rather my children recognize social interactions didn’t spring into existence fully formed as they are in our current generation. I think it’s good and proper to teach children history, even in the passive sense of books and movies. I think all works need to be looked at in the sense of the time they are placed or written. I don’t think Huckleberry Finn should be edited to say ‘slave’ or ‘African American’ instead of the ‘N’ word for the modern audience, or that The Whipping Boy should be banned because it depicts child abuse. And I don’t think children are too stupid to understand complex concepts such as societal changes if they are explained to them. In fact I think they can and will find great enrichment in considering not only other cultures but other times.
Let’s take Beauty and the Beast, it seems to be the Disney heroine that gets picked on the most because the modern feminist sees Belle as staying with an abusive partner.
Given the guns and clothing Beauty and the Beast is probably set in the mid 1700’s in France. A time and place where peasants still had few legal rights, and even fewer consistently enforced, especially when they were up against a noble. There was no standardized legal system and nobles taxed their towns and farmers into poverty while they indulged in excess at Versailles. Women were under the lordship of their fathers or husbands, and arranged marriages were still common, although the lower classes did sometimes marry for love (considered trite by the upper class, which arranged marriages for money and social power). Books were becoming more popular but literacy among the lower class was still rare. War was common and the kings of France were generally considered to be more interested in their mistresses and parties than ruling.
So here we have Belle, daughter of a struggling inventor. They appear to own their own farm, but they are clearly peasants, not aristocrats. Belle is a wonderfully brave, progressive, and strong woman given this. She reads for one, a rarity for the time and place. She shuns the advances of the catch of the town, a brutish man who is only interested in her for her looks.
Meanwhile her father trespasses onto a royal’s property and gets tossed in his dungeon. Neither a harsh nor unexpected punishment, the Beast would have been within his rights to mount her father’s head on the spike of his gate. Then Belle, instead of staying home worrying while a group of the local men go looking for her father, goes out to seek for him herself. She then trespasses onto the property as well, finding her father in the dungeon.
Now at this point in time the Prince would be just as within his rights to toss her in there with her father. Instead he graciously, if somewhat moodily, allows her to take her father’s place. Allows her to serve her father’s sentence, also, not a horribly unusual concept for the time. Children could be sold to pay off debts, servants sent to prison in their master’s steed, peasants conscripted by their lords to fill their needs as servants or vassals. It’s an odd concept now, because our legal system is based on personal responsibility, the person who does the crime does the time, but even now the concept of a loved one confessing to try to save another isn’t unheard of.
So now, instead of making Belle stay in the dungeon the Beast gives to her a private chamber, says the servants will see to her, and tells her to come to dinner, in essence marking her more of a guest held in ransom than a jailed prisoner. A very noble and gentle gesture when, at the time, no one would have said boo if he’d taken her forcibly to his bed.
She then turns down his dinner invite and, instead of breaking down her door and having her beat for insubordination he asks, repeatedly, for her to reconsider. Later that same night he finds her trespassing in his private chambers and, again instead of striking her or having her beat for disobeying his one direct order to her, he shouts at her to get out.
Belle, “promise or no promise” then steals a horse (a death penalty offense at the time) and runs away. Legally it’s no different than a prisoner escaping jail or a legal indentured servant/slave running away. Yet, even after this grievous sin the Prince protects her from the wolves, not only putting his royal person in danger for her safety but actually acquiring injury. She get’s scolded, rightfully so, for his injury and her transgression and she bravely, if somewhat disrespectfully, sticks up for herself and calls him on his temper (something that historically would have gotten her in a lot of trouble, you didn’t speak to royalty like that!)
Just a few days later the Beast, after seeing that Belle’s father is sick and lost in the woods, releases her from her own bond and let’s her go, despite his growing attachment for her. Then we see the local stud trying to coheres her into marriage by threatening her father with commitment to a sanitarium, which, given his current sickly condition would certainly be a death sentence. She refuses again his marriage proposal, showing that while she may be willing to serve an indefinite jail term for her father, she’s distinctly not willing to enter into a likely abusive marriage even to save her father’s life (see that as good or ill it certainly counters feminist’s primary objection to Belle).
When the villagers attack his castle the Prince finds himself in a fight with Gaston, Belle’s would be suitor. Of course the Beast overpowers him easily, after being roused from his depression by Belle’s arrival, but, when the killing blow is ready to fall, the Prince hears Gaston’s cries for mercy and leaves him alive (until the craven gets unintentionally knocked off the tower after stabbing the Beast in the back). Put that largess against the rule of Louis XV, who rarely pardoned criminals destined to die, and whose courts put even petty criminals to death in gruesome, torturous, public means.
Finally we see the happy couple in a celebratory dance, with the understanding that they married (Belle is wearing a crown in the last picture). So let’s talk about that for a moment. We consider marriage to be the end, the culmination of a relationship. You met, get to know each other, flirt, fall in love, get married. But then marriage was very much the beginning of the relationship (with the exception of some lower class that did marry for love). We say ‘we’re just as in love as the day we wed’, but in a society that arranges marriages one may be meeting one’s spouse for the first time day of (or only know them a short time previously) the marriage. You are expected to fall into love after the marriage as you get to know each other. Belle and the Prince share an immediate ‘spark’, completely in line with the time the Prince likes the way Belle looks and acts on first blush, enough to build a lifelong marriage on. While we have this abysmal divorce rate, history and other cultures teach us that almost any two reasonable people can make a marriage work. Love is a choice and an action, we choose to love after we’ve seen abundant evidence that there is physical attraction, mutual interest, and common ground, which leads, unfortunately, to the notion that, if those prerequisites fade or change, then love (and therefore marriage which in this culture is the culmination of love) can be lost. But in most of history something else was considered a prerequisite for marriage, good breeding, a dowry, social standing, or just the relative ages of the two to be married, then the choice to love and its subsequent actions, were based on the prerequisite of marriage and the social requirement to remain in that marriage. People made it work.
So, let’s recap: Belle is hardly a simpering example of feminine weakness. Instead she displays courage and strength, intelligence beyond normal, deep respect and empathy for her father, she’s disrespectful of royalty, but then the peasants of France were, despite the consequences, prone to riot and disrespect. And finally she’s willing to happily base a marriage on more than most women of the time would have obtained, a previously known mutual attraction to a wealthy, kind, and merciful Prince.
So, let’s recap: the Beast/Prince is anything but abusive, showing remarkable restraint, grace, and mercy. For royalty he’s remarkable sympathetic and lacks the violent, self-indulgent, ego-centric character of most upper class at the time (characteristics, ironically, that the at-best-middle-class Gaston that Belle rejects portrays), and is prone to listening and taking the advice of his servants.
I don’t like Disney in general for several reasons, and strongly prefer their older work to most of their newer stuff, but (with the exception of Ariel who is a bad role model regardless of how you look at it, runs away from home, makes deals with evil sorcerers, seeks a romantic interest outside of her own species, etc) how is this a bad role model for young girls?
For goodness sakes people, ultimately it’s fantasy but they’re set in what? Snow White’s about the 1100’s, Sleeping Beauty is a bit later, maybe 12-1300’s given the armor of the knights we see, Cinderella is maybe 1500’s, Beauty and the Beast is in the 1700’s, Hercules (Meg counts as the ‘princess’ in that movie) is in maybe 800-500 B.C., Aladdin is probably set in the 1100-1300 era, Robin Hood is in the late 12th century, you get the point. Use it as a good teaching moment on history and multiculturalism and let the kids enjoy their princesses and princes, Disney or otherwise.
But then maybe I’m just old fashioned.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Sometimes, kids hurt themselves

So it started over at Free Range Kids the other day with a dad frustrated that his kid's school had roped off a 3 foot dirt incline because someone had fallen, then it's over at The Stir, a mom with an accident prone 4 year old afraid of a DCFS visit over a black eye. And, I'll admit, I've been a little nervous that some moron would call DCFS upon seeing summer bruises on my son, because, as I'm sure we can all attest to, such moronic busy-bodies exist. How is it that we as a society have come so far from normal that bumps and bruises are 'troubling' and not a normal part of growing up? Bruises, scrapes, cuts, strawberries, splinters, knots, and the occassional black eye, broken bone, or stitches is just proof of a full and outgoing childhood. When I occassionally meet grown ups who have never had a broken bone or stitches I am baffled. How did they reach adulthood without passing through those necessities of play? My brother broke his arm in a pillow fight. I broke my wrist falling from a bike (as well as a toe playing a massive water fight at camp, a couple of fingers in random events, my nose during a baseball game, and my foot in track, I've had more than the average number of broken bones I admit, but still, not abnormally so). My brother got his first stitches after a bike crash when he was about 6. My first batch waited until a bad spill involving a barbed wire fence in 4th grade. But those are major injuries, that I hope my too little ones wait a few years for, but the standard 'ok who's bleeding on my floor' cuts from thorns or rocks and the standard bruises from running into stuff start about the same time they start walking. How could they not?
Kids are not china dolls, they aren't butterflies, and they have these wonderful things called bones that do an awesome job of protecting the delicate bits. Now I'm all for helmets on bikes, anything you can go faster than you can run on common sense should dictate some form of protection. But let's start remembering that those bruises, scrapes, and so forth are badges of growth and not to be ashamed of or hidden. Mentally tell those idiots who think kids should be raised in giant bubbles to go jump off a cliff in one, and stop worrying what might happen if one of them sees evidence of kids being kids.
Go collect some bruises with your kids, I bet you'll have fun doing it. :)

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Intentionally Misunderstanding

I was over at www.myobsaidwhat.com the other day, a place for women to submit some of the more 'winning' quotes from OBs, L&D nurses, nurses, midwives, and the occassional anestisiologist or pediatricians concerning infertility, pregnancy, miscarriage, birth, post-partum, breastfeeding, or early parenting. Despite what the occassional troll has to say MOBSW doesn't demonize the medical community, nor even OBs (who the majority of quotes come from), but it does allow a place for women to vent on those members of the profession(s) who *should* be demonized. But it's also a place to see one of, what I believe to be, the hallmarks of the politically correct era, intentional misunderstanding. Now I'm not talking about the submitters, it's a little hard to misconstrue an OB saying 'oh stop yelling, you obviously know how to open your legs' while he forces a woman's legs apart while she's yelling 'stop! That hurts, stop!' (Somehow it's not molestation/abuse if your attacker is in a white coat).
No, I'm refering to the occassional doctors, nurses, and laymen who intentionally misunderstand a comment made so they can be righteously offended by something a commenter has said. Usually it crops up on an especially horrific quote where the ob/rn/midwife/other is being even more inhuman than usual so there are lots of comments along the lines of 'what a complete &*!@! Doctors like this should lose their license and get tossed in a jailcell with a 400lb man named bubba!' (I'm not specifically quoting anyone here) And after a few dozen women have expressed their extreme displeasure at OBs LIKE THIS ONE, some OB (thankfully the sight almost never draws she-who-should-not-be-named...if you don't know who I'm talking about consider yourself lucky) comes on and chews us out because 'not all OBs are like this and I am always very respectful to my patients, they all love me, etc'.
We all know there are wonderful, respectful, and caring OBs/etc out there, that's why we said 'like this' rancid goat when we were commenting.
Now surely professionally aren't the only ones who do this. Sometimes it's a layman who has taken offense. These usually come in references to forced c-sections, inductions, or breastfeeding quotes. Some jerk OB is overheard saying 'there's nothing wrong with this baby, I just need to leave by 5 tonight.' As they are wheeling away mom for an 'emergency' c-section, usually after poor mom has been told she *must* have a c-section *now* or she's putting her baby's life in peril. So, of course, there are a bunch of comments along the line of 'this is why our c-section rate is so high, doctors should have to document a real, medical need for the c-section along with collaborative proof and insurance/people should refuse to pay for unneeded c-sections.' And then someone will come back with 'i'm so tired of everyone being so judgemental against women who have had c-sections! My c-section saved my son's life!'
the problem is hardly limited to such situations. Regardless of what you read, listen to, or who you converse with today it seems almost impossible to get through a full day without someon taking something out of context just so they can be offended. I know, I know, to the cuurent PC mentality nothing is more sacred than being victimized. Victimhood is to be claimed whenever and wherever possible, and if it isn't possible victims are free to re-interpret anything said to them to support their inherient victimhood status (unless you are a white married Christian male, then you can only be an offender, and anything said towards you that is offensive is either your fault for misinterpreting what your victim actually said, or you deserved because whoever said it was just defending themselves.). I get that, as much as I hate PC bs, I do understand the mindset (however insane, yes, go ahead and feel offended if you think PC-ism isn't insane) that mindset is.
What I don't understand is why the people who are misquoted/understood *on purpose* seem to fall all over themselves apologizing. Why do people bow down and take such nonsense? I mean, I assume most of the time people know what they said, and most people I've met (there are exceptions) rarely go around being offensive. So I've got to assume that 99% of the time they meant what they said and were only intending to offend...the specific group they described. So why in the world do they go tripping over their words to apologize to someone *not* within the specific group they were talking about.
If I say 'i think all people named Alyssa are jerks!' Then someone named Alyssa is free to feel offened, and if they could show to me they aren't a jerk I would be proven wrong and should (and would) stand up and apologize. But if someone named Alyma came back with 'well *my* name starts with an 'A' and I'm not a jerk, you are being a judgemental bigot by assuming all people with 'A' names are jerks'. They don't have any standing to object, I wasn't talking about them, in fact I especially excluded them by defining those named 'Alyssa'. Not only do I not feel obliged to apologize to Alyma, I'm far more likely to amend my original statement to include 'and apparently one person named 'Alyma' can't tell the difference between a 6 letter name and a 5 letter name.' And I'm not overly sarcastic or anything, but someone trying to make me into an offender just so they can be a victim isn't getting any sympathy from me. So why the heck are they getting it from so many others?