I was on the road this weekend and late to my Sunday writing. Today, rather than write a second post, I want to expand on a few of the themes from the week as I cover the topics, because I have some additional things to say.
Last Sunday, I began the week with a long discussion of Matt Walsh’s “Angel in the House.” Walsh writes at length about how awesome moms are, and links the survival of Western civilization to moms, while claiming that moms are under attack. He’s a would-be patriarch, trapping women through excessive praise. It’s seductive and dangerous.
That said, one also has to be careful not to demean women who choose to stay home with kids – so long as it’s a choice, and we recognize that men could make that choice too.
On Monday, Columbus Day, I offered a few thoughts on what one might tell one’s kids about Columbus. Suggestions for improvement include emphasizing greed (though I’m not sure that’s the right word, but certainly they were driven by a quest for profit), expanding on the links to African slavery, and saying a few more words about the complexity of indigenous peoples pre-Columbus.
Tuesday had the most read piece of the week, on Down Syndrome and Sweetness Porn. I wrote:
I get tired of the gushing over how kids with Down Syndrome are such cute, sweet, angelic, perfect, darlings. I get tired of the constant attempt to deny our difficulties by some of the most prominent voices in the Down Syndrome world.
Because it means that when you encounter problems, and you will encounter problems, the message is – deny! Deny that disability is real. Deny that you need accommodation. Deny that inclusion takes HARD WORK from everyone.
Also, people with Down Syndrome grow up. Kids are cute in general, no matter how many chromosomes they have. Adults with with Down Syndrome are adults and should not be treated like kids, should not be cooed over, but still need to be included, accommodated, engaged.
In my writing about Down Syndrome, I’m trying to play the long game here. And that’s why I write against positive stereotypes just as I do against negative ones.
I still feel these things are correct, but that doesn’t mean I reject the use of cuteness or sweetness to build connections. My son is cute! Denying it would be denying part of him. I love reading the blogs that focus on the awesome things their kids do. I just see “cute” as an entry point, not an end by itself. Because not everyone is cute and not everyone stays cute, and life isn’t always easy. We need to make sure these narratives have a place in the long game. The discussion on Facebook was especially thoughtful, for which I am grateful.
Wednesday shifted to another issue. I responded, as a male feminist, to a terrible “Dear Prudence” (A Slate advice-monger) column in which the author said she wasn’t blaming women for being raped, but then blamed women for being raped (due to drinking), and blamed feminism for telling women it was ok to drink (P.S. It’s ok to drink). At the end, she also gave credence to the myth that many men get falsely accused of rape when they just had sex with someone who was drunk.
My friend K. especially liked the final line of this paragraph:
Speaking of infantilizing women, are there women out there who do not know that getting drunk is risky? If so, why? Is it not something that is taught in schools? Is this something linked to our patriarchal system that embraces purity culture, pretending that women are not sexual beings, do not have desires, and never ever speaking about them? It’s not feminism that is derelict for telling women to get drunk, it’s patriarchy.
As with the previous post, it’s fine to suggest to women that it’s important to drink safely. This is a good message. It’s the way she infuses that message with an anti-feminist and pro-rapist sub-text that’s the problem here.
On Friday, news broke that the Saylor Family have begun a lawsuit in response to the death of their son, Ethan.
On Saturday, I quibbled with the binaries implied by IBM’s 1985 ad. What I like about this post is that I support IBMs’ agenda, but that once again it’s easy for all kinds of stereotypes to tie us up even when we are doing good work.
Tomorrow, I plan to write about the ethics of watching football, unless something else comes up first!
As always, thank you for reading, commenting, and sharing.