Hugging Is Bad, Mmkay? Parenting, ‘Everyday Feminism’ Style

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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.”)

Sigh.

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.

 

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How To Use Social Justice And Identity Politics To Ruin Your Unborn Child

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No, your child’s life does not depend on you teaching them to be an insufferable social justice activist or an artificially frail victim-in-waiting

Imagine being married to the kind of spouse who writes an open letter to her husband and publishes it in Everyday Feminism, insisting that she take the lead in all parenting decisions as you raise a mixed race child together because she is black while you are white.

Imagine being publicly instructed that it is your solemn duty to raise a social justice warrior child, the newest member of the Cult of Social Justice and Identity Politics, whether they want to follow down that dismal path or not.

Well, the poor husband of Adiba Nelson doesn’t have to imagine, for he is living the nightmare. For a start, Nelson addresses him as though she were an android, which cannot be pleasant (unless he happens to be one, too):

Husband, for the last few years, we’ve been very firm in our decision to not have a child of our own.

You have two sons from your previous marriage, I have my daughter, and that has seemed like plenty. I’ve been so firm in this decision that I’ve gone as far as telling friends that they’re wise to only have one, or none at all.

Then about two months ago, we had a change of heart, and lo and behold, we’re taking steps to prepare for pregnancy.

And so the scene is set.

However, there is no blood test you can take or vaginal swab I can provide that can prepare you, White husband, to raise our Black child.

Yes, our Black child. Because even though our child will technically be biracial, having a biracial child who is half Black means you have a black child (by social, legal, and sometimes medical standards), and that comes with a whole new set of rules.

While your oldest White child may be targeted for his mental illness, statistically speaking, our Black daughter is 2.5 times more likely to be killed by police. So yes, there are some things you need to know before we embark on this journey.

Because in the words of Aladdin, you are about to enter a whole new world.

A whole new world, yes. A whole new world of pained continual racial awareness at all times and a laser-like focus on what divides rather than unites us; a whole new world of corrosive victimhood culture, combined with an infantilising trend among adults to affirm one another (and their children) well in excess of their merits, setting them up for future failure.

And then comes the agenda:

1. We’re Raising a Social Justice Activist

Today, more than ever in our lifetime, this is crucial. Not just to the world that our child will grow up in, but also, to our child’s survival.

The world at large will see our child as Black when it comes to crime, academia, housing, and everything else, but it will question their loyalty to their Jewish heritage when they stand up for the rights of people that look like me.

It’s crucial that we remind our child that one identity and experience does not negate the other, but that as a Black individual living in this country, it’s our collective responsibility to ensure that everyone is entitled to (and receives) fair and just treatment.

By that same token, we also need to teach them how to leverage their access to Whiteness and all of the privileges that come with it to help achieve this goal.

We need to gird them with the confidence, wherewithal, and history of both our heritages so that they can not only speak out against all the -isms with knowledge, but also with empathy.

It’s critical to our child that they understand that while they are in fact, Jewish, Puerto Rican, Panamanian, and African American, the beautiful bouncy curls and caramel colored skin that earned them oohs and aahs as children can also earn them an all expenses paid trip to Rikers Island, or worse, the morgue.

We are raising a social justice activist. Their life depends on it.

Their life really does not depend on becoming a Social Justice Warrior; this cannot be emphasised enough. Using this kind of overwrought language may help to imbue the Cult of Social Justice and Identity Politics with a nobility that it would otherwise lack, but it does not make the statement true. In fact, while nobody should discourage political activism, it is probably true that becoming a social justice activist and involving oneself in various conflicts with an often militarised police force actually increases rather than lowers mortal risk.

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2. I Need You to Follow My Parenting Lead in Public

Black people are exonerated at an exponentially higher rate than other races (four times more than Latinx folks and 1.2 times more than White folks), which means that our child is more likely to be arrested, tried, and convicted for something they didn’t do – simply because of the color of their skin and the kink in their hair.

So if we’re out and about and I scold our child for touching things, or I preface every outing with “when we go in the store, you stay right by my side, and you don’t touch anything,” it’s not me being mean.

It’s me educating our child (as subtly as possible) in the ways of the world, so that we aren’t one day paying for court appeal after court appeal.

Adiba Nelson might call it “educating our child in the ways of the world”. Others might view it as constricting their curiosity and imbuing them with a paranoia and vulnerability which they ought never to possess, certainly not at such a formative age.

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3. If We Have a Daughter, Fill Up Her Cup of Self-Worth on the Daily

Yes, to the point of obnoxiously overflowing. I really mean that. Obnoxiously. Overflowing.

As Black women, our styles, beauty regimen, body shape, and facial features have historically been mocked, shunned, and in the case of Sarah Baartman, even put on display in a traveling circus.

When we’ve been nothing but ourselves, we’ve been told it is not good enough, not pretty enough, not right enough – simply not enough.

However, when these same looks, regimens, and shapes are worn, relished and co-opted by other races, it becomes socially acceptable, the hot new fad, and all the rage. But you know this. This is nothing new to you. What you may not know is how to counter this.

Well, I’ll tell you.

To proactively counter this, from minute one of her girlhood, she needs to hear the words “hello beautiful girl,” and every day from that day forward (unless she tells us otherwise).

From the moment we teach her her first anything – rolling over, holding her head up, tracking with her eyes – she needs to be told how fiercely intelligent and unstoppable she is.

Because what could go wrong with filling a child with so much unearned positive affirmation that entering adulthood (or, god forbid, the corporate workplace) is set up to become a traumatic event due to lack of continual praise?

What if Adiba Nelson’s daughter isn’t “fiercely intelligent and unstoppable”? That is not to speculate that she will be ugly and dim (though both are a possibility). But she may be dreamy and artistic, have street smarts rather than book smarts or be known for her empathy and sensitivity rather than as an indefatigable warrior queen. All parents probably project something of themselves onto their young or unborn children, but Nelson seems to have predetermined that her child must become SJW 2.0 or else consider her life a failure.

And what’s all this about the husband having to defer to the wife when it comes to parenting techniques? As the social justice warriors would say: Um, doesn’t that, like, totally reinforce existing harmful gender role stereotypes?

Nelson then leaves her husband with this motivating pep talk:

Husband, being the father of a Black child will not be easy, because by nature (and history), it forces us to confront the fact that the world we thought we knew is not the world we know at all.

There will be times you will feel a rage you didn’t know existed because of someone’s “innocent” microaggression towards our child. However, those moments will be countered with earth-shattering bliss as you watch our child break through every ceiling with ease.

And when those moments come, I’ll turn to you, give you some dap and whisper in your ear, “Congratulations, husband. We did that.”

But today, as we prepare ourselves to bring a beautiful Black child into this world, I only have one thing to say to you.

You got this.

How incredibly condescending. How arrogant, to assume that a fully grown man and existing parent of two children (not to mention somebody Nelson presumably loves and respects enough to have willingly married) requires public guidance and cajoling in the art of raising their new daughter, simply because she will emerge into the world with slightly darker skin than his own.

What chance does this child stand if it isn’t merely exposed to infantilising victimhood culture through the education system but is marinated in that culture from birth at home? How much harm stands to be done to this child as she is raised to view the world entirely through the intersectional prisms (or should that be prisons?) of race and gender theory?

Thank heavens that I didn’t have to put up with any of this nonsense growing up as a biracial child myself. Thanks heavens that I was raised to relate to people as fellow humans rather than members of separately siloed racial identity groups, and not to see colour (I know, I know, how triggering to hear such a thought expressed today).

I fear for the child that Adiba Nelson and “husband” are about to raise together. But then I remember that children do love to rebel against the faith and values of their parents, and that gives me hope. May Adiba Jr. grow up to be a huge ideological frustration to her mother and a thorn in the side of the social justice and identity politics movement.

 

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Social Justice Commandments: Being A Good Parent Perpetuates Unfair Privilege

Bedtime Story

The warped philosophy of social justice decrees that good parents are part of the problem, not the solution

For more evidence of the sickness at the heart of our universities, I present the professor from Warwick University – my alma mater – who thinks that parents who read to their children are gifting them with unfair privilege over other kids whose parents are too busy watching Britain’s Celebrity Animals Bake-Off On Ice to lavish their own children with similar attention.

From the ABC summary of the segment on Australian radio:

[Professor Adam] Swift in particular has been conflicted for some time over the curious situation that arises when a parent wants to do the best for her child but in the process makes the playing field for others even more lopsided.

‘I got interested in this question because I was interested in equality of opportunity,’ he says.

‘I had done some work on social mobility and the evidence is overwhelmingly that the reason why children born to different families have very different chances in life is because of what happens in those families.’

Once he got thinking, Swift could see that the issue stretches well beyond the fact that some families can afford private schooling, nannies, tutors, and houses in good suburbs. Functional family interactions—from going to the cricket to reading bedtime stories—form a largely unseen but palpable fault line between families. The consequence is a gap in social mobility and equality that can last for generations.

Already this sounds ominous. And though Swift gets his mention of “equality of opportunity” in nice and early, the draconian means by which he wants to achieve this equality are quite something to behold:

‘What we realised we needed was a way of thinking about what it was we wanted to allow parents to do for their children, and what it was that we didn’t need to allow parents to do for their children, if allowing those activities would create unfairnesses for other people’s children’.

The test they devised was based on what they term ‘familial relationship goods’; those unique and identifiable things that arise within the family unit and contribute to the flourishing of family members.

For Swift, there’s one particular choice that fails the test.

‘Private schooling cannot be justified by appeal to these familial relationship goods,’ he says. ‘It’s just not the case that in order for a family to realise these intimate, loving, authoritative, affectionate, love-based relationships you need to be able to send your child to an elite private school.’

Note what Swift has done here. First of all, he posits a dystopian world where “we” have any right to “allow” parents to do certain things or raise their children in certain ways, the corollary to which is that these mystical external authority figures also have the power to prohibit parents from engaging in certain everyday activities.

But worse, he has made an arbitrary judgement with relationship to these “familial relationship goods”. You might think that it is up to individual parents and families to decide what is good for their young ones, or what is most needed to ensure that they thrive and become well-rounded, successful people. But you would be wrong. Because Adam Swift has a definitive list of all the things needed to create a well-behaved, social justice loving adult, and private schooling ain’t on the list.

And that’s when it gets really crazy:

In contrast, reading stories at bedtime, argues Swift, gives rise to acceptable familial relationship goods, even though this also bestows advantage.

‘The evidence shows that the difference between those who get bedtime stories and those who don’t—the difference in their life chances—is bigger than the difference between those who get elite private schooling and those that don’t,’ he says.

This devilish twist of evidence surely leads to a further conclusion—that perhaps in the interests of levelling the playing field, bedtime stories should also be restricted. In Swift’s mind this is where the evaluation of familial relationship goods goes up a notch.

‘You have to allow parents to engage in bedtime stories activities, in fact we encourage them because those are the kinds of interactions between parents and children that do indeed foster and produce these [desired] familial relationship goods.’

How gracious of Swift, allowing parents to continue to read to their children at bedtime, even though the unfair privilege they bestow by doing so eats away at his enlightened, equality-loving soul.

Swift continues:

‘We could prevent elite private schooling without any real hit to healthy family relationships, whereas if we say that you can’t read bedtime stories to your kids because it’s not fair that some kids get them and others don’t, then that would be too big a hit at the core of family life.’

So should parents snuggling up for one last story before lights out be even a little concerned about the advantage they might be conferring?

‘I don’t think parents reading their children bedtime stories should constantly have in their minds the way that they are unfairly disadvantaging other people’s children, but I think they should have that thought occasionally,’ quips Swift.

So by all means continue to read to your children, if you must. But you should feel very guilty while you do so, and chastise yourself once little Timmy has fallen asleep, while meditating on the various ways he will grow up to oppress those unfortunate children whose parents did not read to them.

Which, of course, is the one thing missing from Adam Swift’s “analysis” – any thought or mention of the parents who do not read to their children. As with everything else in the victimhood-soaked world of social justice, where everything must be viewed through a lens of privilege and oppression, only those who work hard and do the right thing are subject to criticism. Those who do the wrong thing, by contrast, are continually excused and stripped of any agency for their own actions – a condescending behaviour which actually does more to dehumanise them than any “harm” they incur from the privileged.

In the entire segment, Swift has no words of reproach for those parents who do not read to their children at bedtime. He neither suggests that this might be through their own fault, or that they need to anything to rectify the situation. It is simply taken as a given that they will continue to be bad parents, helpless to modify their behaviour, and that the only thing society can do in response is to worsen the overall standard of parenting in order to prevent the worst parents from feeling bad or experiencing the consequences of their own actions.

And this, right here, is at the root of our society’s decay. We now simply accept and nod our heads while academics airily consider how best to bring everyone down to the same, lower level of attainment rather than striving to confer as many of the benefits currently enjoyed by the rich (or those with good parents) on all. The insidious Cult of Social Justice and Identity Politics has done its work well, because many of us now look at inequality and feel the instinct to tear the successful down (or at least actively thwart their rise) rather than building others up.

Fortunately, Adam Swift is not about to be given wide-ranging power over how people raise their children. But it is worth noting the type of outcomes which one might get when beady-eyed authoritarianism (where external authority figures “allow” graciously parents to do things) meets the warped Social Justice view of inequality.

For so long as these ideas remain abstract discussions between philosophers, there is limited real-world harm. But when more young people who have percolated in this environment all through university start entering the job market and getting themselves elected to local and national government, we will have a real problem on our hands.

In Britain, the Labour Party is already very hostile to the idea of private schools, while many in the Conservative Party are themselves quite paternalistic and keen for the state to regulate behaviour. And while neither party has not yet succeeded in shoehorning government fully into the parent-child relationship (except for Scotland, where the SNP is making a game attempt at taking over from parents), it may well be only a matter of time.

 

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