when the status quo frustrates.

What We Teach Our Kids

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

I have an adorable little nephew. Kid sister has spawned with her husband, and the random result was a little boy that has my sister’s nose and chin, and my brother-in-law’s everything else, only in miniature form. He’s cute, even though he also cements my desire to never have children*. Since it’s not my rugrat, no pictures will be forthcoming (sorry guys).

This kid has been interesting to watch, though. Not that he’s done anything especially newsworthy to anyone who isn’t his family (ah, look how he smiles, and gurgles and coos!), but how people react and change because of him. Kid sister has always been a little flighty- she never really was capable of focusing for more than ten minutes, she was bubbly and she had a sort of laissez-fare attitude towards safety**. Now, she seems to have become extremely cautious. She wouldn’t leave her kid with our mom for an evening out, she’s apparently memorized a whole host of books on child development, and she runs and worries over every little bump and fuss. I’m not saying this is necessarily a bad thing, especially the research and effort she put in the kid, just weird. I never believed that “Having children makes you more mature” – I’ve seen too many really immature parents- but apparently there is an anecdata point in my little sister.

Also, I find it interesting how at three months the kid has already been exposed to demonstrating that he is a “boy”. They dress him up in tough little clothes, and I hear how “strong” he is, even though he’s actually adorable more than strong. His parents don’t know what to make of me, I coo to him “Who’s going to grow up to be a radical feminist- you are, you are. Yes, you’ll respect women and I’ll let you cry” and they start freaking out (despite the fact that what the kid most likely hears is “abada da da da auntie’s playing with me *giggle*). I keep telling them I’m going to send him a pink onesie, though they know it’s a false threat (I hate pink- it’s more likely going to be purple).

Finally, the parents are not raising him any particular faith (yet- my guess is they’ll probably cave and end up taking them to church when he’s older) but my mom’s already singing him Bible songs. So far, he’s one of the random babies that hates being song to***, but my kept trying to with songs like “Jesus Loves You”. After listening to this song again, I wonder why we teach this song to anyone.

For those not familiar, this song reads as follows:

Jesus loves me! this I know,
For the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to Him belong;
they are weak but He is strong.

Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
The Bible tells me so.

There are more lyrics, but like most songs, it’s the first verse and chorus everyone remembers. Simple lyrics, simple melody, a staple of most churches to brainwash little children. Kids, believe this because we repeat it four times! What’s that you say? Generally when someone loves you they demonstrate it by being there for you and not being imaginary? Yeah, but, look- repetition! And, a book says it! What’s that? You have a book that also says that trains can talk and that sky is falling? Those books are just fiction. My book is right (despite having no evidence backing that one up) and also, remember, you’re really weak so you better cozy up to the strong guy. Seriously, this is actually a pretty twisted thing to teach young children. My only hope is, hey, my sisters and I all heard and sang the song and we came out okay- probably the little rugrat will too.

*Eww, eww, fluids. Yuck. Also, it was a hard pregnancy on Kid Sister and I like my sleep too much. Oh, and money.
** For example, jumping out of the barn on to the trampoline, lighting tons of stuff on fire, cutting everything she could get mother’s scissors around, you get the idea.
*** Though for whatever reason, seemed to enjoy my unique song “Eating Various Baby Body Parts”. The lyrics were pretty much as follows: “Look at little baby toes. Yummy, yummy baby toes. I’m going to gobble them up!” This was accompanied by me grabbing onto the body part in question, and then during the “gobble them up” part fake-eating them. Repeat for other parts like fingers, belly, knees and ears. The kid thought it was hilarious, judging by the way he giggled and moved around. So I guess my songs are only actively more disturbing.

In Honor of Halloween…

Friday, October 31st, 2008

…my historically favorite costumed superheroines. Well, sometimes supervillainesses; most of ‘em are ambiguous…or worse…at times.


Clockwise from top left: Lady Deathstrike, Emma Frost, Supergirl, Psylocke, Callisto, and Zarana.

Updated to add, thanks to Ginger’s reminder: My very first heroine, of the sword-and-sorcery variety (I was eight! Thanks, Dad).

Red Sonja

Additional note: Anybody who enjoyed the original Red Sonja character as conceived by Robert E. Howard should read his two novellas about Agnes de Chastillon, who is about 1000x awesomer than Red Sonja. However, read only the two Howard stories, “Sword Woman” and “Blades for France.” Do NOT read the story some other dude wrote about her. It’s incredibly stupid. One wouldn’t normally think of Howard as a feminist writer, especially given the time frame in which he wrote–Howard died in the mid-1930′s–but from a review of this work:

In the introduction to the original Zebra paperback of The Sword Woman (there was later a Pocketbooks edition), the late Leigh Bracket — one of the handful of women who achieved great success as pulp adventure writers — pointed out that the title story holds one of the most eloquent statements written on the subject of women’s freedom and individual pride. In this scene, a captain of mercenaries has turned down Agnes’ offer to ride with him as a soldier. He says, “Don thy petticoats as becomes a proper woman. Then, well — in your place I might be glad to have you ride with me!”

Livid, Agnes threatens him, saying:

“Ever the man in men! Let a woman know her proper place: let her milk and spin and sew and bear children, not look beyond her threshold or the command of her lord and master! Bah! I spit on you! There is no man alive who can face me with weapons and live, and before I die, I’ll prove it to the world. Women! Cows! Slaves! Whimpering, cringing serfs, crouching to blows, revenging themselves by — taking their own lives, as my sister urged me to do. Ha! You deny me a place among men? By God, I’ll live as I please and die as God wills, but if I’m not fit to be a man’s comrade, at least I’ll be no man’s mistress. So go ye to hell … and may the devil tear your heart!”

Intense, pointed, true — Agnes has sworn herself to celibacy, aware that even to share a bed with a man, in her society…is to be bridled. Howard captures the essence of a politic few men dare realize — a concept usually dismissed by men as the madness of man-hating lesbians, or whoever else can be blamed for men’s own limited comprehension. This aspect of Agnes’ character is important to both of the stories Howard wrote, so one would guess it a concept Howard was consciously exploring.

I also have to recommend Howard’s poetry; it’s beautiful, and haunting.