Sunday, March 4, 2012

The myriad ways in which I would fuck up a child.

KS and I had an interesting discussion about this once a while ago, and I've wanted to explore it in more depth. 

1. Mommy, what's race?
A social construction based on ill-conceived notions of biological difference. Race doesn't actually exist, but the significance Western societies have placed on race for the last 4 or 5 centuries means that people's lives are still significantly affected by these categories White folks made up. 

Well what makes people different races?
Race is most often attributed to physical features, like the color of your skin, the structure of your face, or the texture of your hair. But it's silly because no "Black" people actually have black skin--there are some Black people with skin the color of honey, some with skin the color of chocolate, some with skin the color of soil, and some with skin the color of sand. We're a rainbow, but they call us all Black. Your great-great-great-grandmother was a woman with brown skin, blonde hair, and blue eyes--that doesn't make her any less of a Black woman than me.

Is it important to you that you're Black?
Very much so. 

But I thought you said race didn't exist. It seems silly to care so much about something made up.
Well, just because it was made up doesn't mean it doesn't affect your daily life. Like, your teacher made up rules for her classroom. You still have to follow them, right, even though they were made up. And it's nice having a community of people you can relate to--there are certain kinds of food or music or movies or just general culture that other Black people are more likely to have experienced than people of other races.
 So do all people of one race have the same culture? 
Well, no. People of the same race can come from very different cultures, if they're from different parts of the country or different parts of the world, or depending on how much money their family had growing up.
But then how do you feel connected to them? I don't understand.
 It's okay, my child, no one does.
2. Mommy, am I a boy or a girl?
I can't tell you that. Only you can tell yourself. Do you feel like a boy or do you feel like a girl? Or do you not feel like either? You don't HAVE to be a boy OR a girl--you can be whatever you want.
What are boys and girls supposed to feel like? What does it feel like to not feel like a boy or a girl?
Boys and girls and people can all feel however they want to feel. There's no way boys are allowed to feel that girls aren't, or the other way around.
 So is there any difference between being a boy and being a girl?
Most people raise boys and girls differently, but there aren't any inherent differences between boys and girls, except that MOST little boys have penises and MOST little girls have vaginas.
My teacher yelled at me when I used those words at school. She said to tell you that those words are for children. 
That's because your teacher thinks children are idiots. Most people do. They're wrong. I think it's absolutely pointless to not teach you about your own body and other people's bodies with the right terms. I'll write a note to your teacher.
Wait, but Mommy, you said MOST little boys have penises and MOST little girls have vaginas. So there are some boys with vaginas and some girls with penises?
Yes. And some of those little boys will grow up to be women, and some of the little girls will grow up to be men, and some of them will just stay exactly how they are. 
But at school there are bathrooms for boys and for girls. I don't know if I feel like a little boy or if I feel like a little girl. How do I know which bathroom to use?? 
Gendered bathrooms are cisgenderist and heteronormative. You should be able to use whatever bathroom you want.
But girls aren't allowed in the boys' bathroom and boys aren't allowed in the girls' bathroom! What about the little girls with penises? Which bathrooms do they use? 
Your school discriminates against them and makes them deny themselves every time they have to pee.
3. Mommy, what's sex?
Sex is a thing that happens between two or more people who may or may not love each other and may or may not be married (if they're even allowed to get married) and those people might be a man and a woman, or they could be a woman and a woman, or a man and a man, or they could not identify according to the gender binary, and there might be more than two of them. Sex often involves something called "penetration," which could be when a man puts his penis into a woman's vagina, or into her anus, or into the anus of another man. There is also oral sex, where a person uses their mouth and tongue to please another person, either by licking the vagina or licking and sucking on the penis. Sex sometimes makes babies, because when men have sex they make something called sperm, which are little swimmy things that look like tadpoles, which can join with a woman's egg inside of her to make a baby. But lots of times people have sex just because it's fun, which is perfectly fine as long as you're being safe. There are gross diseases that you can get from having sex if you're not safe, and you always have to be careful about making babies when you don't want them yet. The most important thing about sex, that needs to always be true no matter what kind of people are having sex or how many of them are there, is that the people having sex always have to both want to be having sex, or it's a very very bad and scary thing called rape.
4. Mommy, what's a church? My friend Bobby said he has to go there on Sunday mornings. We only go out to breakfast on Sunday mornings!
Churches are buildings for people who are religious. Religious people usually believe in a God, which is a being that created all of the people and the things in the world. That God is usually a man and he usually makes all sorts of rules that religious people have to follow. He usually says that if people follow his rules, he will reward them after they die, and punish all the people who don't believe in him or follow his rules?
Oh no! Are we going to get punished?
No, because religion is another made up thing. I don't think God exists, and things that don't exist can't hurt me.
How do you know he doesn't exist?
Well, I guess I don't. I can't see any evidence that he exists, but I can't see any evidence that he doesn't, either. It just seems silly to me to live my life according to something I can't see even the effects of. And a lot of the rules God makes in the Bible, or the gods of other religions make in their holy books, make me really angry. They say a lot of bad things about a lot of different kinds of people just because of the kinds of people they are, which is hatred and discrimination. People use their religion all the time to take rights away from people or to hurt or even kill them. I don't think religions are good things.
So are Bobby and his family bad people for going to church?
Not necessarily. People can pick and choose the parts of a religion that they want to practice and the parts that they don't. So if they still make good decisions and don't discriminate against people or want their rights to be taken away, they can still be good people even if they're religious.  
etc., etc.

...My hypothetical child wouldn't be able to interact with people of hir own age group until college at the earliest. I imagine intense bullying, innumerable parent-teacher conferences about what's going on at home, possible suspensions for screaming "fuck the gender binary" or regularly using the "wrong" restroom. I would encourage them to explore crushes on children all along the gender spectrum, which could be dangerous. I would have to homeschool hir if I wanted to avoid having to counter-teach and make hir unlearn the socialization of the school and hir peers. The world would actively work to destroy my hypothetical child. I couldn't bear to witness that.

No comments:

Post a Comment