Thank Heaven For Little Girls?

I find beauty pageants disgusting. I don’t care if it’s Miss America or Toddlers and Tiaras. It’s gross. To parade yourself around and call it anything other than narcissism is delusional.

The only saving grace the Miss America pageant has is these girls are making their own decision to participate. They are doing themselves up the same way they would if they were going to a club. This is their decision. It’s the baby pageants that really get me.

There is no reason a five year old little girl should be in a mini skirt, wearing red lipstick, false eyelashes, with her hair curled. None. Why would you ever sexualize your child like that? It’s not pretty. You’re not trying to make your little girl “pretty” you’re trying to make her sexy—at five years old. And for what? So someone (usually a grown man) will put a crown on her head and tell you, you have a very attractive child. Congrats!

I know that Europe is way ahead of America when it comes to good ideas and taking care of their citizens but can we please catch up to this new thing that France is doing? See, France is outlawing baby beauty pageants.

“Centrist Senator Chantal Jouanno, author of a report “Against Hyper-Sexualisation: A New Fight For Equality” proposed an amendment, banning the underage contests, which was backed by 196 senators, with 146 voting against it.
Tough sanctions will now be handed out to anyone flouting the law.
Under the new law, organizers of pageants under the age of 16 may now face up to two years in prison if they fail to comply with the ban and a fine of up to €30,000 ($40,000).”

This is brilliant. I whole heartedly support this measure. This is a way to teach young girls that they are more than their bodies. It’s also a way to put sickos, who want to see little girls paraded around like prostitutes, behind bars. Bravo France! Viva La France!



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Why Autism Breaks my Heart

I’m not here to whine about life. I’m here to take action.

For at least half of American citizens, life is full of first world problems. Divorce and cancer may plague you, but that is about it. You might belong to a minority that is discriminated against. You might have made rather poor life decisions. You might also consider it “life sucks, and then you die.” Everyone seems to lament what they don’t have. Apparently the grass is always greener on the other side.

In my weekday job, I’m an Early Intervention Autism Specialist. I work with children with autism, aged 2-10. They often have other disorders, on top of their autism conditions. They also are often completely nonverbal. Parents of these children knew they were pregnant, or even pregnant with multiples- but didn’t know they were pregnant with autistic children. That is a condition that is not possible to prepare for. You don’t expect your child to look exactly like other kids but act completely in a world of their own.

A quote has been sticking with me lately. Anonymous said “What do parents with money and healthy children worry about?” I can work with these children daily, but I can’t imagine being a parent of these children. It is a completely different scenario to make life decisions for a non typical child versus treating that child.

Attempting to see life through the eyes of a severely autistic child is rather difficult. I often have to guess at the child’s needs. The most common reason for concern is lack of communication. If a person can not communicate their needs, then those needs will often not be met. In our modern age, we take communication for granted. Here I am, blogging away my troubles. Perhaps someone will even read this posting.

Imagine not being able to speak. Your thoughts are trapped in your mind. When you are hungry, you can yell and pull at the fridge until someone gives you food. When you have too many demands placed on you, can can attempt to yell and leave the situation- if others will let you. If you are in pain, maybe you will cry and cry until someone comes to your aid and properly diagnoses your ailments without your input.

In the psychological world, I am seen as typical. This means that I am not diagnosed as having any conditions. I would not trade being “typical” for anything. I can emotionally and logically process the world around me. I can communicate my needs. I do not irrationally fear or become anxious. I surely have emotional issues- but they are typical issues. My issues are so normal, they are not worth diagnosis or medicine.

Autism is sometimes elongated into standing for “Always Unique, Totally Interesting, Sometimes Mysterious”. Those with autism are definitely unique, interesting, and mysterious. I would love to see into the minds of my children.

Every day, I am a little more amazed by what I see from these kids- but also a bit more broken hearted. Parents of a high functioning child ask me “do you think she will every try to play with other kids again?” or I imagine the gibberish from a nonverbal child suddenly turning into English. It is impossible to not love these kids. Not only are they sweethearts and frankly rather cute, but I somehow mysteriously wonder if they hold the keys to the universe. To what is locked inside all of us. Why won’t their minds release the words, or the social skills, or just simply become typical?



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So Sexist It’s Comical

 

Gender roles are clearly established when it comes to children’s toys and clothing; blue for boys, pink for girls, GI Joe for Jack, Barbie for Jill. But, there had been an influx of children declaring this is not fair! There was the little girl throwing a tantrum about the colors in the toy aisle, then there was a little girl writing to Hasboro about the discrepancy in female characters in the game Guess Who, the dad who stood up for his three-year-old son’s right to wear a dress like his sister. However, big business isn’t taking notice.

Marvel Comics is having a big year. The Avengers II is coming out, Iron Man III, huge influx in interest in comics—both male and female. It’s only natural that they would want to capitalize on this. Marvel has been ahead of the social curve—usually. They had the first comic hero gay wedding, they created a deaf superhero so that a little boy would feel good about his hearing aid–  I’m a huge Marvel fan…but they screwed the pooch on this one.

The shirts for the Avengers franchise have “boys and girls” versions. The boy version is blue and says “Be A Hero”. How cute is that? I can picture my little nephew running around in that pretending to be The Hulk or Captain America. You know what I can’t see? I can’t see my niece running around in her version of the shit that says, “I Need A Hero”. That’s right, my niece can run around screaming like a damsel in distress while my nephew can run up and save her—clearly the girl always needs saving. Nonsense! Marvel…why? Why did you have to do this? We had such a good thing going! And why is the girl’s shirt eight dollars more expensive? Not only do I need a hero I need to pay more to declare it? Screw you! I’m frugal and therefore I am the hero of my bank account…I don’t need a hero I am a hero!

Strike one Marvel…you’ve got two more—don’t screw it up.



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Not Your Life, Not Your Soul

I’ve talked about this before—this being the religious rights of young children and infants. Circumcision, where it is not medically necessary (in most cases, it is not), should not be practiced upon infants or upon children too young to give informed consent (if you’re too young to have a say in which parent should have custody of you in a divorce, you’re too young to consent to minor elective surgery).

And I have mentioned that infant baptism is creepy as hell. And please do not misunderstand my meaning—if you are fifteen or twenty and you decide that you are a Christian and want to dedicate yourself to whichever denomination of that faith, more power to you. Get baptized. If you decide on Judaism or Islam, then, by all means, get circumcised. At such a time as you are capable of making that decision for yourself.

I understand the mechanics of baptism—which, depending upon the denomination or the family, ranges from a pledge by the family to raise the infant as a Christian to claiming the child’s soul for the Christian God to divinely cleansing the infant of spiritual evil (sin) believed to be inherent to all humans. As with all religious rites, some members of faith communities treat these as expected social events and give them no more thought than one would a bridal shower, while others hold baptism and other early religious rites as being of vital spiritual importance—as well as mandatory.

Please stop it. Like the title says—it’s not your life. It’s not your soul. This extends beyond infancy and early childhood. If you are a Christian and your thirteen-year-old wants to start reading about Theravada Buddhism or another denomination of Christianity or otherwise does not believe what you do—that’s normal.

Adolescence is a standard time for children to begin striking out on their own in small ways—questioning the political views of their parents, seeking alternative activities ( Like the cliche: “But you love football.” “No, dad. You love football! I like ballet!”), discovering where they fit in socially, and very likely reconsidering their religious beliefs. Atheists may take up an interest in Jesus. Reform Jews may look into Orthodox Judaism. Agnostics may start reading about contemporary Paganism.

It’s called being in high school. Students are more open about it in larger schools, when greater diversity makes them feel more comfortable being honest with themselves (my school had about a dozen Pagan students and you were likely to have an openly LGBT classmate in every class, especially by senior year—but, in college, I met people who never met a non-Christian until high school).

It’s also called growing up.

If you’re a Methodist and you are worried that your child may leave the church because he or she is reading about Buddhism in his or her free time, relax. Sometimes, students just read about their friends’ beliefs, or for school projects. And sometimes looking at other faiths can help you to put your own into perspective—and to strengthen your preexisting beliefs. Faith is not worth anything if it cannot be challenged.

Now, in some religions (namely, the Abrahamic religions), being outside of the faith is believed to have severe consequences—beyond simply making one’s parents uncomfortable. I’m a Pagan. Specifically, an eclectic Revivalist. If my child became a Buddhist or an atheist or a Christian, my response would be mild, mostly silent, disappointment. I would much prefer that to a child who did sports, dangerous drugs, or worse, was an otherkin. That’s it. I would never raise my child to be a member of my faith. I would not withhold affection or financial support or dangle incentives in the hopes of getting a hollow admission of adherence.

Why? Because, in any religion, accepting a label and having genuine belief and devotion are radically different. Going through the motions without true belief is completely meaningless.

You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink. Your children are not equines—in this metaphor, you can recommend your favorite drinking spots and watch them figure it out for themselves. That way, if they choose the same one that you chose, whether they are in middle school or college or later in adulthood, it will actually mean something.

(Christians are certainly taking notice of drops in church attendance and religious adherence among their children who go to college and, for the first time, find that they have a choice. Give them a choice earlier on, and they’re more likely to make one that will make you happy. Even if they make another choice, it will still be their choice.)



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