Hating On Azealia Banks (Only Not Really)

I was reading about somebody I’d never heard of before (rapper Azealia Banks) in this post from Matt Walsh. Reading about the comments she made in an interview with the literary journal Playboy, I became highly agitated. I promptly fired off a Tweet in which I referred to Ms. Banks as ‘stupid’. I quickly fired off a reply to my own Tweet (is that legal?) in which I recanted that opinion, not wanting to be misunderstood by my roughly two Twitter followers.

I don’t know if Ms. Banks is truly as ignorant as her comments suggest. Maybe she doesn’t really mean any of them. Maybe they are just one link in an orchestrated chain of stunts intended to garner a piece of the collective mindshare, however brief:

Step 1: Rap about your clitoris

Step 2: Put naughty bits on public display

Step 3: Go on record with potentially* controversial, inflammatory statements

*Maybe not, see Matt’s post.

All of this got me thinking about Hate.

If there is a bad to contradict the good, a Satan to defy God- that thing/force/being/whatever would have to love Hate.

Hate would have to be at the top of its My Favorite Things list (followed closely by Fear).

It would have to revel in the way that all of us at one time or another indulge in Hate. It could rest assured that at any given moment, somebody somewhere hates the:

Crackers, Niggers, Spics, Chinks, Camel Jockeys, Cheeseheads (me neither; and surprisingly not a reference to those hailing from Wisconsin, but we can hate them too), Queers, Breeders, Cops, Thugs, Rich, Poor, Liberals, Conservatives, Prudes, Sluts, Atheists, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Humanists, Teenage Girls Who Work at Kmart, and Racist Conservative White People Who Live On Farms (I nicked those last two from Ms. Banks- Props.)

I’ve tried to be all-inclusive here, but I know I’ve missed some. Apologies if I missed yours. Just think of somebody you loathe, lump them in with a group and label them and we’re good.

And last but definitely not least- in fact, maybe most destructive of all- there’s self-hatred.

That may be Evil’s favorite. Because if I hate myself, I certainly feel unworthy of anybody’s love. And from there, it’s a small step to figuring that, if there even is a God, (s)He is utterly indifferent and couldn’t possibly give a rip about me or anybody else on this small rock. Embrace Hate and it’s not so hard to embrace the idea that if there is a God, we’re nothing more than an experiment gone horribly awry. A trifle (s)He long ago gave up on.

At the end of the day, one thing I know for certain: whoever you are, wherever you are, God did not put me here to hate you.

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New Book Coming From Marybeth Hicks

I just learned today that one of my favorite author/speaker/thinkers- the lovely Marybeth Hicks has a written a new book which will be available August 12:

Teachable Moments: Using Everyday Encounters with Media and Culture to Instill Conscience, Character, and Faith

teach

I pre-ordered today on Amazon. The subject matter is very near and dear to me, and I was bowled over by her Bringing Up Geeks, so I’m jazzed to read it. But truth be told, it could consist of Marybeth summarizing some of her favorite actuarial tables, and I’d still buy a copy. She’s just that awesome.

While She Lay Sleeping

What is it that is so intoxicatingly wonderful about gazing upon your child while she lies there sleeping?

No cynic, it’s not that. It’s not that they’re peacefully occupied…unconscious, and as such require nothing of you. OK, that part is rather nice, particularly after a Very Long Day.

But really, I find that just watching either of my girls while they’re in that blissful state pushes me in the other direction. Not to a selfish, but rather a selfless place. Where that blessed thing we’ve named Love is so utterly complete, I’m struck somehow both powerless and powerful with the certainty there is nothing in the world I would not do for her.

Girls Just Want To Bake Cupcakes (Not)

Awesome PigtailPals Gal Melissa Wardy trying to help LEGO do better: LEGO Friends: It is the song that never ends

..some critics are reportedly praising “the complexity of their sets and their overall message of empowerment.” I don’t know how empowered cupcake shops and brushing a poodle leave me feeling..

Certainly, nothing is stopping anybody from buying a boy-targeted LEGO set for their girl, and some people may be inclined to dismiss this conversation with just that thought. What’s troubling to me- that assumption that LEGO and other marketers are making is so prevalent that it begins to feel like a directive; telling young boys and girls what the world expects of them.

This issue really hits home with me, as my 10-yr old daughter has absolutely zero interest in the types of things LEGO thinks she does. In fact, if the toy aisle looks like somebody ran Pepto-Bismol through the overhead sprinkler system, it’s a pretty sure bet she won’t be strolling down it.

I’m guessing there are others like her, and forward-thinking companies could profit by figuring that out.

Annie Fox on Girl Friendships

Annie Fox is one of those people who seems to have dedicated her  life to helping kids. Her writing is always down-to-earth, approachable, and full of tips and ideas that parents can actually put into practice. I guess everybody has their own recommended reading list; my reading list for parents would definitely include Annie’s Teaching Kids To Be Good People. She’s working on a new book that explores the always interesting world of girl friendships. As one of our daughters gets ready to enter the 5th grade this fall, I can’t wait to read it. Here’s a taste of the book and the kind of advice Annie excels at:

Girls’ Friendship Issues Are… HUGE

Your Teen’s Right To Privacy?

The key is to foster a relationship in which your teen knows she can talk to you about anything, even things that are difficult. When you respond to unsettling information calmly and demonstrate the maturity you want your teen to emulate, you create the environment for transparency. Trust is earned and rewarded with freedom, responsibility and yes — privacy. But it’s not an entitlement until that teen is on her own and living as an independent adult.

 Absolutely awesome parenting and culture thinker/author/speaker Marybeth Hicks, answering a reader’s question re a teen daughter’s ‘right’ to privacy as it relates to texting.

We have a friend- a wonderful, loving Mom who has let her kids know that she can and will look at anything- texts, diary, digital or otherwise- if she feels she needs to. It’s simply an understanding they have in their home.

I also read somebody online recently who drew a distinction between their child’s communications in the digital/online world, and those in a private, honest-to-goodness-paper diary. While that person had no qualms about monitoring anything their child might send out into the world via phone or computer, they felt a diary should indeed be a truly private place for the child’s thoughts. Her rationale was- digital communications are inherently public the moment they’re sent,  and can result in a whole bunch of unintended consequences most kids don’t fully grasp.

I’ll admit I’m still thinking through this one. It’s not a huge issue for us yet, as both our daughters are too young for phones. Our oldest has an iPod touch, but texting to anybody other than Mom, Dad, or Grandpa is NOT ALLOWED.

I’m really liking the last two sentences in that quote above though, and the whole idea of the kid-specific approach. They’ll have my trust unless and until there’s a reason I feel I can’t. If that time comes, I’ll have to put their safety above all other concerns.

Objectification For The Win?

Excellent article from Anita Finlay re Dove’s admirable efforts to demonstrate how women view their physical appearance, and in many cases apparently, are quite inaccurate when they do so.

She also discusses some of the recent debate over whether a performer like Beyonce is helping or hurting- is this a victory of sorts for women (and our young girls)? Is Beyonce an example of a woman ‘taking charge of her sexuality’, or is she only a willing participant in the same ‘ol?

This is what women are bombarded with every day.  How many young girls are influenced when they see ensembles like this from one of our most talented and popular female artists? Beyoncé is a gifted performer and by all accounts, a lovely and generous person.  She is more than enough without dressing like a pole dancer.  Beyoncé may convince herself and us that she is merely celebrating her sexuality in these outfits but it is hard to see how this is not as much for the purpose of industry as artistry.

Whatever media depictions are currently at work socially or politically, to be infested with a particular type of thinking on a daily basis is to become brainwashed by it.

And that is exactly why our family is very selective of the media we allow in our home. With our girls now 9 and 3, this makes sense to a lot of people. But the argument you hear at times is that it becomes more difficult, if not impossible as they grow. They are exposed to things you can’t control (when outside of the home apparently). I acknowledge this, and agree it is mostly unavoidable. But along the lines of Ms. Finlay’s quote above, it’s not so much the occasional exposure I’m worried about or intend to guard against, it’s the frequency.

If the studies are right about repetition, I think it makes sense to keep that exposure to a minimum. Further, as parents, we set the standard. The world is the world and yes, we must exist in it, but I’m not required to implicitly endorse it by putting out the welcome mat.

Dove’s “Real Beauty Sketches” vs. Beyoncé and Big Media – Objectification Wins Every Time

Start ‘Em Young

Pigtail Pals‘ Melissa Wardy writing about actress Gwyneth Paltrow’s endorsement of a line of swimwear marketed for preschoolers:

Pay special attention to what the child is doing in the ad: she is wearing a bikini that for an adult woman would be considered sexy, sitting still and paging through a fashion magazine, she looks to be four or five.

See, if the data wasn’t already there, we could agree to disagree on this. You could say ‘oh what’s the harm? it’s cute!’; I could say: no, it’s really pretty stupid.. as Melissa points out, a kid can’t be a kid at the beach or pool dressed in that thing.. Better she sit there, looking cute, just like Mom. But the data is there. The eating disorders, the compulsion to obsess about body image (as early as 4). I’m curious if at least some of the potential buyers for this type of thing are the same folks who feel the subculture on display in Toddlers in Tiaras is A-OK, and the routine I wrote about in an earlier post– where the tots are performing some really suggestive ‘dance’ moves to a suggestive, adult-themed dance track- is also cute, and perfectly harmless.

As for the magazine she’s holding..

What do we know about fashion magazines and their direct impact on women’s body image?

If we’re paying any attention at all, we know lots. Apparently there’s a lot of people still not paying attention. I ask you: what better way is there for a (very) young lady to spend the carefree  hours of her youth than staring at images designed to make her feel like she doesn’t measure up?

This specific kind of swimsuit limits how a child can experience playing in the water/beach and reinforces the message it is more important what your body looks like to others than what you can do with it.

I’ll say it- I do think there’s a sizable number of people who believe that message. For them, their child’s appearance is a much bigger deal than that child’s character, or even anything the child might accomplish or stand for. It seems ridiculous; anybody with half a functioning bean should know better, right?

As for Melissa’s comments regarding the rest of the page she links to, well, the publication is a rag. They deliver shallow, vapid crap for people who aren’t interested in much else I guess.

I’m thinking business is booming.

Maybe Lady Gwyneth has simply never considered this point of view. I’d love to hear her address these concerns.

Coming Soon: The Victoria’s Secret Infant Collection

“Shopping at VS used to be an adult rite of passage. When that happens in 3rd grade, where do you go from there?

When girls start to focus on sexy and the value of sex and an adult woman’s sex appeal, childhood ends. There used to be a clearer distinction between the two that was more age appropriate. Now it starts about second or third grade.

I was developing my sexuality in fourth grade. I had a MAJOR crush on a boy in my class and Johnny Depp. It never occurred to me to shop at VS or that I needed hot panties. At that age, I was lucky if I brushed my hair.”

Great stuff from Pigtail Pal Melissa Wardy as usual.

Something in this post that caught my attention was the prude label thing..

It’s a fairly aged variation on a dismissive tactic that’s designed to bring a conversation/debate to a halt. I’ve noticed it’s usually employed by people who are too close-minded and/or lazy to consider a viewpoint that is not their own. Kinda like me labeling you a ‘tree hugger’ because you’ve brought up an environmental concern in my presence.

Since I don’t want to be either close-minded or lazy, I have to consider that for some, it’s important that a 9-year old wear ‘sexy’ underwear. It’s an opinion, for sure.

But then, to me, if you haven’t taken the time to read at least some of the research on these topics (sexualization, age compression), your opinion on this is borderline irrelevant.

I have preschool and elementary school-age daughters. I’ve met some mothers who I believe wouldn’t have a problem with the decision made by the VS-shopping mom referenced in Melissa’s post.

I think some of these moms- sharing a few traits in common with the stereotypical Dad who needs his son to succeed in sporting endeavors at any cost- believe a woman’s highest achievement in life is to be desired and/or envied by others.

Maybe this mom is like that.

Or maybe she just personally hates ‘ugly underwear’ that much and is oblivious to the other factors involved.

Either way, it’s safe to conclude that at least a few of our parenting priorities differ.

And what’s more, I just don’t see how that planned disposable thong diaper is going to.. contain.

“Why Are We Rushing Childhood? The Victoria’s Secret Edition”

In Praise Of Geeks

How important is it your kid is considered ‘cool’?

Is it more important than raising him/her in a way that’s true to your values?

OK, that’s a setup for sure. Most people- I hope- would say nay to the second question. Yet why do our actions often suggest otherwise?

As I wrote in a prior post, I don’t tend to keep a lot of books that I read. Some time ago I stopped purchasing most books, instead borrowing a copy from the library, and it’s now a habit. Thank you wonderful, wonderful MeLCat system (and fellow taxpayers).

I’m sure I started borrowing primarily to save some dough, but I also love the whole concept of the public library. No matter who you are, get a card/account and you have access to a world of knowledge you can’t possibly exhaust in a lifetime. Further, I started to realize that I wasn’t likely to reread many of the titles, so why keep them around, taking up space and gathering dust?

But there are the exceptions. There are those books that you fall so hard for you have to keep a copy close by so you can revisit them again. And again..

This blog focuses on my parenting journey, so I’m going to praise another great parenting book: Marybeth Hicks’s Bringing Up Geeks.

I’ve been reading this over the month of November 2012, and I find myself quoting from it, and referencing many of Marybeth’s ideas as I talk with friends about raising our kids in today’s world. I’ve just finished it, so I’ll be returning it to my local library and subsequently purchasing a copy to have on hand as a reference as we try to raise two geeks of our own.

The title and geek label will throw a lot of people at first; too many negative connotations I guess. But ‘geek’ in this context stands for Genuine Enthusiastic Empowered Kids. Or, not the kids you see shuffling aimlessly through the mall, looking awfully bored and jaded; usually in a group, gazing half-heartedly at the commercialism that surrounds them while they talk to (or probably text) somebody on the other end of their cell (not anybody in the group they’re walking in…modern multitasking I suppose).

I first heard about this book in an interview with Marybeth on Dr. Laura Markham’s podcast/radio show:

http://www.ahaparenting.com/radio-shows/bringing-up-geeks

The interview with Marybeth begins at around 14:30.

I was impressed enough to play it back for my wife. Marybeth talked about her own journey raising her children; rejecting much of the prevailing thinking about what’s cool or normal in adolescent culture and instead doing what she and her husband felt was right. At one point during the interview she recalled a time when they had to say no to a particular movie one of the kids wanted to see. The words she used to explain the decision to their child? “That movie isn’t good enough for you”. We loved that.

I’m sure Marybeth wouldn’t claim to have all the answers, but the book lays out pretty clearly how she and her husband have raised their kids. As I read it, I kept thinking that the type of kids she calls geeks are the type of kids I like being around. They’re interested in life, engaged. They usually have a hobby or two they’re passionate about, and in time, they learn that they need not apologize for being who they are. They are, in fact, the truly cool ones.

I would say it was a case of preaching to the choir because we see eye-to-eye on so many things, but Marybeth isn’t preachy. She’s the witty, articulate, entirely-relatable person you know or wish you knew right there in your own hometown. I didn’t find her tone condescending, self-righteous, holier-than-thou, or any other knee-jerk label some might apply. She simply describes what worked for their family, and the reasoning behind the decisions they made.

A note here: I’ve recently become a member on the Goodreads site, and I was reading a review of Geeks there by a fellow member. While the vast majority of the reviews were quite positive, this particular lady wasn’t as pleased, and referred to the author as an ‘uber-theist’. I find that amusing. Marybeth does address matters of faith, starting on page 275 (it’s a 304-page book), but I guess that was a bit too much God-stuff for that particular reviewer. Still- I’m of the opinion that a diehard atheist could come away from this book a firm believer (in the GEEK way). The parenting style Marybeth espouses- and the fruits of that style- have little or nothing to do with any spiritual or political bent.

I’ve been wanting to contact Marybeth to find out if she ever speaks on this topic publicly. I would love to hear more, and to find out what else she’s learned since writing this book. But mainly, I want others to hear what she has to say.

I think our world would most certainly benefit if we raised more GEEKS.