Sunday, December 30, 2012

Scocca on Toy Gender Apartheid

So, here's an awesome piece to make you feel shitty about whatever you bought your kids for Christmas. Tom Scocca has written an excellent screed about "Toy Apartheid" and the cultural enforcement of gender norms on young children. Here are a couple of highlights:
Christina Hoff Sommers—who has made a nice career in the Boys' Toys section of the opinion-having business by arguing over and over that men have been victimized by feminism—explained to the readers of The Atlantic's website how dangerous this intervention in the toy-marketing business really is. "[N]othing short of radical and sustained behavior modification" can change children's "elemental play preferences," she wrote. And:
The Swedes are treating gender-conforming children the way we once treated gender-variant children.
They are calling them special epithets and beating them up and sometimes killing them? (Also: "Once"? Do tell.) But no, sorry, what she means is that these scheming Nordic elites are trying to modify the poor children's natural behavior. Only they aren't even doing that, really. They're just putting some different photos in the toy ads.
Here, he responds to an anecdote Sommers tells about the time that her granddaughter, when given a toy train, placed it in a baby carriage and covered it with a blanket:
But as the sociologists say: so fucking what? What's the damage if little Eliza wants to rock Baby Train to sleep? Baby Train is snug and warm, and is also an inanimate object. Little Eliza is enjoying herself. Why does her grandmother have to be an asshole about it?
And here is, I think the correct response to anyone who uses anecdotes about children to justify gender conformity as "natural":
Children are stupid and rotten and conformist, and elevating their weakness to a point of pride is insane. Trying to make them to stop being that way isn't confusing or cruel; it's one of the basic duties of being a parent and adult. Any pundit who starts holding forth on the superior behavioral wisdom of small children deserves to be bitten by one.
I miss when he had a regular blog at Slate sooo much.

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