Brainwashing My Kids

“Papa, you look like a girl,” laughed Cookie Monster.

“Why?” replied Hapa Papa. “Is it because I have Sasquatch in an Ergo*?”

“Yeah!”

I had to interject. “Remember, Cookie Monster, there are no boy clothes or girl clothes. Just clothes. Just like there are no boy things or girl things. Just things.”

“Oh, yeah!”

“Do you know what the only difference between girls and boys is?” I continue.

“What?”

“A boy has a penis and a girl has a vagina.” I pause, because technically, that is not always true. “Actually, sometimes, girls are born without penises but their brains feel like they are boys, so they don’t have penises but are still boys.”

“Some boys are born with penises but they are actually girls so they also are girls,” Hapa Papa continued, surprising me.

“How does that happen?” Cookie Monster giggled.

“Some people just change the way they dress for awhile, or they take special medicines to change their bodies,” I replied.

“People just want to be happy,” continued Hapa Papa.

And then I left to go write.

As I was driving, it occurred to me that if I were to post the interaction on Facebook, folks who disagreed with me would likely accuse me of brainwashing my children.

But you know what?

All parenting is brainwashing our children. ALL OF IT.

No matter what you do as a parent, you are brainwashing your children with how you think they should view, participate, and interact with the world.

Whether it is something as mundane as how to load the dishwasher or something more “radical” (but hopefully, just as mundane in the future) as normalizing transgendered people, we brainwash our kids by imprinting our values upon them.

That’s our job as parents.

Whether or not our kids choose to continue with these beliefs in the future, that is up to them as people.

And thus, Hapa Papa and I try to normalize things that we ourselves did not grow up learning. We don’t make a big deal out of it. We just point things out consistently and gently remind our kids every time they state something that is the current norm (eg: dancing is for girls or trains are for boys).

This is how Glow Worm dresses up as Elsa or a mermaid or wears heels and sparkly shoes and necklaces. Cookie Monster went through this phase as well and grew out of it. If Glow Worm never does, that is perfectly fine, too.

Or this is why, when Cookie Monster once asked me if two men could have a baby, I said something to the effect of a baby could have two daddies, but making a baby required a sperm and an egg. (Hey, biological fact is also important.) I’m not really sure what the conversation entailed due to the vagaries of time, but that was the gist.

After all, we offer them unfettered access to YouTube which reflects mainstream views about what is supposed to interest boys or girls. I know it is impossible for us to catch and “correct” them all. And even if we did, they exist in this world and this reality and they are not stupid.

My kids are bound to absorb the unconscious messages they receive from media, family, and friends.

But hopefully, with years of repetition, my children will grow up thinking that people and families come in all shapes and sizes, abilities, colors, talents, loves, and desires. Some families have two fathers. Some have more. Some have only one mother. Some have none. Some have brothers and sisters. Some do not.

It is really that simple.

And mostly, people just want to live, love, and be without explanation and fear. That people want to just be who they are, when and where they are.

Yes, yes. Of course not every body can be who they are, when and where they are, because pedophiles and bad people.

TRANSGENDERED PEOPLE ARE NOT PEDOPHILES.

Neither are gays, lesbians, etc. etc. ad nauseam.

If I were really worried about pedophiles and bad people, I would tell them to avoid middle-aged white men who are religious leaders. (Don’t get mad at me for stating facts. Get mad at the white men doing bad things.)

At any rate, I am hopeful, in the era of 45 (I refuse to call him President because it hurts my brain and I am still unwilling to acknowledge reality), that the more of us who teach our children that all peoples are deserving of the freedom to live and love how they choose, the less likely another 45 will come into being.

Incidentally, that’s also why I wanted more kids. The super conservatives are outbreeding us liberals. (Kidding!! Kidding! I wanted lots of kids because of other reasons – but this doesn’t hurt!)

How are you brainwashing your kids?

 


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If You REALLY Wanted to Protect Your Daughters

img_8149Around the end of May, I was seeing a lot of hysteria on my FB feed from my religious friends (not all of them, mind you – nor even the majority of them – but ENOUGH of them) going out of their proverbial minds because OMG WE MUST PROTECT OUR DAUGHTERS FROM MEN WHO WILL PRETEND TO DRESS UP LIKE WOMEN JUST TO RAPE OUR DAUGHTERS OH NOEZ!

And really, I want to just go off on these normally nice people because FFS, you fucking hypocrites.

You say you want to “protect” our daughters? So you choose this ridiculous straw man to oppress people who just want to be left alone and pee and shit in peace without fear of assault? Because guess who has actual reason to fear assault in a bathroom (or really, ANYWHERE)?

That’s right. LGBT folks.

Not your daughter. (Unless, of course, your daughter is LGBT.)

To date, ZERO people have been raped or assaulted in a public restroom by a transgendered person. As for all the other people who have assaulted folks in a public restroom, THAT IS ALREADY ILLEGAL.

I’m pissed off because if you REALLY wanted to “protect” our daughters, you would care about equal rights, reproductive rights, consent, and dismantling patriarchy.

If you REALLY wanted to “protect” our daughters, you would be very careful about who your children (because let’s face it, our sons are also potential victims) hang around – especially since 93% of juvenile victims knew their perpetrator – of which 34% were family members.

If you REALLY wanted to “protect” our daughters, you would be terrified of white men over 30 (instead of any black male) because 57% of perpetrators are white and 50% are older than 30.

If you REALLY wanted to “protect” our daughters, you would teach your sons about consent and not give them a “pass” because boys are just being boys.

If you REALLY wanted to “protect” our daughters, you would not find it cute or tell the lie that if a boy hits a girl or annoys her or in anyway refuses to acknowledge her “No” on the playground that it’s because he likes her or he must find her pretty.

If you REALLY wanted to “protect” our daughters, you would demand that victims of rape are not asked about what they were wearing, how much they were drinking, or any aspect of their sexuality or character during a rape trial. Because THEY ARE NOT THE PERSON ON TRIAL. The RAPIST is.

If you REALLY wanted to “protect” our daughters, you would tell the fashion police at school to STFU because your daughter is not responsible for how your son thinks.

If you REALLY wanted to “protect” our daughters, you would teach your boys and girls not to slut shame.

If you REALLY wanted to “protect” our daughters, you would support Planned Parenthood for being one of the nation’s leading providers of low cost health care (reproductive or otherwise) and information to millions of women and men.

If you REALLY wanted to “protect” our daughters, you would believe your daughters when they tell you they were raped or sexually abused or assaulted. You would believe them even if their abusers were famous, rich, powerful, in politics, or in their faith community (particularly a leader).

If you REALLY wanted to “protect” our daughters, you would believe Amber Heard, Ke$ha, Dylan Farrow, and the 57 women who came forward after decades.

If you REALLY wanted to “protect” our daughters, you would support sex education and none of this abstinence only shit. Girls and boys deserve to know how their bodies work and function.

If you REALLY wanted to “protect” our daughters, you would arrest the johns and not the sex workers.

If you REALLY wanted to “protect” our daughters, you would make sure that entitled white athletes convicted of rape and sexual assault didn’t get 6 months for their convicted crime because they no longer can eat steak.

If you REALLY wanted to “protect” our daughters, you would do a lot more to defend and provide for the poor in terms of welfare and SNAP because the majority of people they provide for are children – and many of them are daughters.

If you REALLY wanted to “protect” our daughters, you would fight for equal pay for equal work.

If you REALLY wanted to “protect” our daughters, you would fight to end the “Second Shift.”

If you REALLY wanted to “protect” our daughters, you would value traditionally “women’s work” such as child-rearing, care-giving, cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, etc.

If you REALLY wanted to “protect” our daughters, you would stop it with the body shaming and allow your daughters to have the body that they have because it’s beautiful.

If you REALLY wanted to “protect” our daughters, you would do all these things and more.

But what you wouldn’t ever need to do, is worry about whether a transgendered person was using the “right” bathroom.

 

We Are Not Things

A few weekends ago, my friend and I went to go see Mad Max: Fury Road and my brain exploded from the sheer spectacle, non-stop thrill, and unspoken weight of the movie. I admit, I only went because I was so intrigued from all the hype about it being a “feminist” movie. I hadn’t seen the original trilogy and I don’t plan to because I’m lazy and because seriously, how can any of them compete?

I have not been able to get the movie out of my head. (Mild Spoilers ahead.)

Fury Road is set in a post-apocalyptic world where water and gasoline are scarce commodities. Immortan Joe is a cult-leader/warlord who rules over his “people” with an iron fist by severely rationing out water. He has an army of Warboys, young men who believe dying in battle is the key to entering Valhalla. He also has a harem of sex slaves he uses for breeding and future milk producers.

The movie is centered around the flight of these women, aided in their escape by Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron). In one of the rare semi-still moments of the movie, Immortan Joe runs to the women’s quarters/prison, only to find graffiti reading, “We are not things” and “Who killed the world?”

I can’t get that phrase out of my head.

We are not things.

I can’t even remember if anyone ever says that outright, but throughout the movie, you get the point. Not only in reference to the self-liberated, pregnant women who are valuable commodities, vital for their wombs and milk, but the Warboys as well who are disposable cannon fodder. Even Max is a thing – a living blood bag.

We are not things.

I heard it as a battle cry. A desperate plea. A demand. A fact. A declaration.

We are not things.

Yesterday, I ran across a vile article, 8 Steps to Confront Your Wife’s Sexual Refusal (h/t Pastor Ken Fong) from an anonymous white man who calls himself a Christian.

Here’s the tl;dr version: The guy equates a wife’s refusal to have sex with sexual immorality. Furthermore, continued refusal on the wife’s part is tantamount to religious apostasy. The way to “confront” her is to stop being “nice” to her and no longer take her out on dates and treat her with basic human decency because she’s probably really mad at him now. And finally, he recommends changing bank account passwords and ATM codes and cutting off all money if she continues to refuse.

This is classic abusive behavior and incredibly dangerous.

Women, if a man does this to you – if anyone does this to you – RUN. This person does not care about you as a person, with your own wants and desires and thoughts and personhood. This person only treats you as a possession; an entitlement.

I just. How is this real? How can someone believe this load of shit and call it Christian?

And yet, we get milder versions of this nonsense everyday from churches that tell us women aren’t fit to be leaders (except over other women and children). Most definitely, this is part and parcel to all body policing of our daughters, telling them what to wear and how to wear it. (I wrote a post about this last week.)

Or if you want to be more extreme, the folks of the Modesty Culture and Quiverfull Movement. Really, if you follow the “benign” misogynistic teaching to its logical conclusion, you end up with the entitlement of Rape Culture and the idiot who wrote the above article.

In fact, I see pornography and Modesty Culture as two sides of the same coin. After all, in both viewpoints, we women are just things.

We are just holes (although, perhaps the Christians only allow women to be the one hole).

We are just vessels.

We are just a means to slake a man’s lust and desires. (Oh, those poor, poor, uncontrollable men with their lusts and desires!)

Where are the Christians decrying this type of dangerous teaching? I find it highly hypocritical when Christians call upon Muslims to denounce a few extremists who want to destroy America/Christianity/Women when they brush off the extremism in our own midst. Or even worse, when Christians boost that insidious evil and vomit it out of their own pulpits.

No wonder Christians are hemorrhaging members. Short of a few vocal pastors (again, I credit Pastor Ken Fong and author, Rachel Held Evans), I mostly only see silence or a few minor protestations followed by lots of nonsense about God’s mercy and forgiveness and other blather reinforcing and justifying bad behavior.

No wonder we are seen as hypocrites; immoral.

Why does it even need to be said?

Women are not things.

We are not things.

We Are Not Things.

WE ARE NOT THINGS.

courtesy of unwinnable.com

courtesy of unwinnable.com

If you or someone you know are being raped, abused (sexual or otherwise), please please please call or contact RAINN (Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network) at 1-800-656-HOPE.