Now the act of hugging is oppressive
If you are not already taking these important measures to ensure that your child turns into a psychologically frail victim-in-waiting and/or a raging second generation Social Justice Warrior, completely unable to function in the real world, then you should check your privilege and begin immediately:
Two of my good friends had their first baby late this past year.
From the get-go, Baby was a cuddly little girl. (Or, as her two moms say, “We assume she’s a girl, but we won’t know for sure until she tells us herself.”)
She was all about being held and being rocked – and crying her head off the moment anybody dared to put her down. She wanted contact with all the people ever.
But in the past couple of months, it seems she’s had a serious change of heart.
When some of us were over for a visit, Baby suddenly wanted none of it. Passed from one person to the next, she wailed like a banshee until finally given back to one of her moms, where she instantly quieted.
“Don’t take it personally,” Mama said to everyone, bouncing Baby. “She’s just entering that stage where she’s developing some healthy stranger danger.”
And so the new process emerged: One of us would attempt to hold Baby every once in a while. And if she cried for more than 20 seconds, we’d hand her back to one of her moms.
If Baby didn’t want to be held by certain people, Baby didn’t have to be held by certain people.
It was as simple as that – and something her moms are determined to keep in place as Baby gets older.
It took the brilliant minds at Everyday Feminism to make us realise just how tyrannical and oppressive the act of hugging really is:
We as a culture simply need to stop drilling into our own heads that there are only a select few ways to show love for another human being.
Families don’t need hugs in order to count as families, friendships don’t need high fives to pledge loyalty, and romantic relationships don’t need sex to be considered serious.
Are these things nice to give and receive? Sure. But only if both parties actually want them.
Such things only hold so much affection weight because we’ve given them that weight ourselves.
To someone who doesn’t want it, an affectionate action is rendered meaningless at best and damaging at worst.
Forcing hugging on a child tells them that 1) they’re expected to show affection toward this person, and 2) that this is exactly how they must show that affection.
Instead of being a hug tyrant, allow your child to be creative in how they show affection. Let them draw a picture or share a piece of their favorite food or read to you from their library book.
Those gestures count just as much as a hug. And your child needs to be validated in that fact.
In other news, parents should avoid unintentionally oppressing their children by bending over backwards to indulge an excuse their every passing whim and misbehaviour:
Don’t force them to eat everything on their plate, and remember that them needing to go to the bathroom as you leave the house, or saying they’re not cold and don’t need a jacket, are all examples of kids listening to their bodies.
That might be frustrating as a parent, but we should still do our best to respect that.
Yet parents should also take time to scare their children witless by discussing the “terrible things in the world” with them at every opportunity, even when they are patently too young to understand:
War, slavery, and corruption are all topics of conversation I’ve discussed with my five-year-old. Why? Because it is contextually important and sadly still relevant to our day-to-day life.
We watched the Disney/Pixar DVD with Frozen Fever on it, and the first short film up was John Henry. As a story about an African American folk hero, it got us started on talking about slavery.
We don’t idly consume media in our house.
If the book, movie or song is about a concept, person, or event that my daughter doesn’t understand yet, then we unpack it. Which can be a brutal process.
Trying to explain the concept of slavery to a five-year-old is no easy task. However, it needed to be done so that she could understand the context of the film (and the world she lives in).
I’m all for encouraging curiosity and a desire for knowledge in children, as well as a sense of justice and the instinct to consider the needs of people who are less fortunate. I’m pretty sure that this just used to be called “good parenting”, and didn’t require an army of online social justice activists churning out earnest articles to encourage.
But if these educational top-ups for a five-year-old child can be described as a “brutal process” then it is safe to say that you are probably going too far. It should be possible to watch Aladdin with your kid without first making them sit through a 30-minute lecture on classism and forced marriages.
And seriously: so now hugs are tyrannical?
On this current trajectory I give Western civilisation another twenty-five, thirty years, tops.
Postscript: For a more scholarly critique of hugging, see The Oatmeal.
Top Image: WikiHow
Support Semi-Partisan Politics with a one-time or recurring donation:
Agree with this article? Violently disagree? Scroll down to leave a comment.