And, Baby Bangs? Just Wtf?

All together Now:

Ugly Baby:

dahliadrop2

 

Cute Baby:

 

dahliadrop 1

 

Ugly Baby & Cute Baby

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Ugly Baby & Cute Baby

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Ugly Baby & Cute Baby

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At least, I think this is what Baby Bangs is telling us with the production of fake hair for babies. Without fake hair, baby girls are UGLY.

And, seriously, who wants an ugly baby?

Not Baby Bangs, that’s for sure:

Our Philosophy
At Baby Bangs! we believe in the beauty of childhood. Our unique designs are sprinkled with MAGIC!~inspiring a world of whimsical wonder and mystical magical memorable moments for you and your baby girl to cherish Forever! For she is, and always will be, 
Your LiTTLe PRINCESS!

Babies can only live in a world of whimsical wonder and mystical magical memorable moments if they only look like girls. And, aren’t ugly.

Otherwise, their lives will suck.

Or, something.

 

<thank you to Sophia Greene for bringing this to my attention>

 

 

Girlie Glue: Because it’s never too early to be girly.

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I thought this was a late April Fool’s rocking up in my Twitter feed. But, no. It appears to be an actual product with an actual website so you can glue shit to your babies’ head so they don’t forget they are girls. Granted, I’ve always been under the impression that babies don’t actually know what “girl” is since they do precisely four things: eat, sleep, shit and cry. But, that’s totally irrelevant. Now, you can ensure that your baby and the world around them know you’ve bought into majorly damaging gendered stereotypes and glue ribbons and bows to your kid’s head. Just so no one destroys their identity by mistaking them for a boy.

Because that would fuck them up for life.

Gluing shit to your kids head, on the other hand, is totally normal.

And this does not fill me this confidence:

Girlie Glue is made with Agave nectar and other all natural Ingredients

It’s safe, 100% Honey-Free and washes away easily with water.

I don’t care that it washes out or that it’s “natural” (and let’s be totally realistic here, all sorts of shit you wouldn’t want near your kid are called natural). You are gluing shit to your babies head.

Actually gluing shit to your babies head.

So people know they are a girl.

I can’t even begin to describe how fucked up that is.

You have a baby. Not a dress-up dolly. It doesn’t matter if your baby is bald and someone in Tesco thinks they are a boy. It’s a baby. You need to cuddle them  – not dress them up like freaking Barbie.

Girls have their entire lives to be groomed into passing the patriarchal fuckability test. At least give them a few years before you start gluing shit to their heads. images 2 Unknown 1

 

High School Musical: Disney Goes Feminist

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Granted High School Musical 3 has a rather unnecessary number of shots of Sharpay Evans’ arse and there is a very clear evidence of bullying by the two main male leads: Troy Bolton and Chad Danforth who steal the clothes of two younger classmates and make them chase them through the school dressed only in towels. In HS-land this gets the bullied boys detention. In my-land, it gets the two bullies an in-school suspension and a ban from participation in after school activities because it constitutes sexual harassment. And, I can’t even begin to describe the horror which is the Tiki song in High School Musical 2: racism a go-go there.

There are also very few non-white actors in the films. The best friends of the two leads are both African-American but they both are stereotypes. Chad Danforth is basketball obsessed and a loyal friend. Taylor McKessie is bossy, demanding and over-organised. Her character is also incredibly intelligent and loyal to her best friend which is a departure from many portrayals of African-American characters in Disney films. But, they are still only supporting characters living stereotypes of what “good” African-American teenagers are interested in: boys do basketball and girls do smart & over-bossy. On the other hand, the main character Gabriella Montez is Hispanic-American, which is a major departure for mainstream Disney programs. Disney does feature non-white actors but only in supporting roles and frequently as crass stereotypes.

We can’t forget the issue of class as every single one of the characters lives in a huge house, including Gabriella Montez whose mother is a single parent. Poverty is never an issue. In fact, the characters can afford to just hop on planes and fly 1000 miles without so much blinking about the credit card charge. Obviously, abuse doesn’t exist and no one has any disabilities. It is the American Dream: a white heteronormative culture.

There are also serious problems with gender stereotyping. The mothers of all the teenagers are shown in kitchens only bringing in groceries, baking snacks, serving food, and interrupting private moments between teenagers. Fathers, on the other hand, are actively involved in coaching sports and being ‘cool’. The drama teacher is OTT in the ridiculous and Sharpay, well, Sharpay is a blond narcissistic ice queen who treats everyone like shit. Because, that is oh-so-original.

Yet, High School Musical is probably one of the most feminist films Disney has ever produced. The main character Gabriella is a “good” girl who wears virginal outfits. But, she’s also intelligent, loyal and prone to speeches on everyone working together. She changes everyone for the better by encouraging them to be true to themselves. She’s also true to herself valuing her education over her boyfriend. Gabriella isn’t mean and she doesn’t take shit from anyone. Yes, there is an unnecessary amount of twaddle about boyfriends and girlfriends and loving one another forever but Gabriella is an inspiring female character. The value placed on friendships between the teenage girls is so very, very different. With the exception of Sharpay, the girls support one another through their dreams, their hobbies and their lives.  They work together for each other and they talk about the importance of valuing yourself as an individual over any potential relationship.

It’s not a perfect feminist film but it’s a start. And, in a complete departure from normal Disney narratives, the boy follows the girl to university.

 

<this rant is brought to you by my daughters who’ve been watching the trilogy together>

 

Vulvas, gender and the real price of being female

In my living room right now are two little girls playing Monopoly. So far this morning they’ve discussed the following: the existence of God, what happens to your vagina when you give birth, and whether or not they are talking about vaginas and vulvas. Granted, I could have done without the 6:30 am wake up call asking me where I fit on the vagina/vulva debate.

<note for children who may be reading this: it is always too early to wake up to discussions on mislabelling of body parts within a patriarchal culture.>

The first debate could have been any child, but the second is a conversation that little girls have constantly because they are taught from birth that having a vulva isn’t something to be proud of – and if you don’t believe me, just look at the sheer number of threads on Mumsnet by women worried about what to call their daughter’s vulva: a foofoo, front bottom, or flower being continual suggestions. Can we just look at how stupid the term front bottom actually is? We never tell boys they have front bottoms – it’s only girls who are told their reproductive organs are dirty and probably full of pooh from birth. And, flower, besides being linguistically stupid, isn’t a “nice euphemism”. It’s a ridiculous term which makes it difficult for small children to explain if someone is hurting them. After all, the statement “he hurt my flower” could mean anything.

Children need to know basic biology . They need to understand how human reproduction works – and it isn’t like flowers do it – regardless of what you learned from Grease 2. It isn’t basic biology which is harmful to children, contrary to this rather ridiculous article in Slate.  It is the coercive gender roles we assign to male and female which harm children, as Glosswitch so eloquently writes. It is the idea that male children are A and female children are B which damages our children. It is telling boys they can be as violent as they want without repercussions and teaching girls that they are responsible for becoming a victim of male violence. That is harmful; not labelling an infant male or female (unless the child is intersex which, whilst rare, has not been handled appropriately by the medical profession).

When I gave birth to my daughters, I didn’t think they could only be nurses or that they could be whatever they wanted to be. When i gave birth to two girls, I thought about the likelihood they would become a victim of male violence.

When I gave birth, I thought about the increased risk they would live with for being born female:

  • child sexual abuse
  • rape as a teenager
  • rape as an adult
  • sexual harassment in the street, school and workplace
  • their increased risk for contracting STDs through PIV
  • their increased risk of contracting STDs from a male partner ejaculating in their mouth or eyes (as is increasingly common via porn)
  • the fact that most UTI in women are a direct consequence of PIV since men don’t tend to wash their penis after urinating (or hands for that matter)
  • the risk of unwanted pregnancy (and having no access to birth control or abortion)
  • the increased risk of domestic violence, stalking and harassment
  • the increased risk of being killed for being female

I also thought about the “privileges” of being female:

  • earning less than men for doing the same work
  • being fired for being pregnant
  • being forced out of the workplace because of childcare commitments
  • living in poverty because of piss poor pensions
  • living in poverty because they are raising children whilst the father makes no financial contribution
  • being less likely to work in senior management or on a board of a FTSE 500 company

And a 1000 other things which women are punished with for the crime of being born female in male supremacist culture. These punishments are not because we have vaginas, rather its because of the gender coercively assigned to biology which creates women as an inferior class. Gender needs to be abolished – not the biological reality of women’s bodies.

Our girls should be playing monopoly and discussing their bodies without feeling ashamed – but perhaps not at 6:30 in the morning.

 

Glosswitch’s response: Boy or Girl? Why not have a stereotype instead is a must read.

This isn’t a “prank”. It’s just another part of the spectrum of male violence

An 18 year old called Jacob Dowdle has been expelled from school after shoving a creme pie in a teachers face. The expulsion came 2 days later after a video of the incident was posted online. The police have also questioned Dowdle about the incident. Dowdle threw a pie in a teacher’s face and was expelled (on the last day of classes) but will be allowed to sit his A-levels. I’d have thought a fairly normal response from a school to a student being an ass (and I checked with the teenager – she agrees with me on this and, by definition, this is  weird because she’s a teenager) but a bunch of people have started a petition because “boys will be boys” and holding them accountable is just mean.

Granted, Dowdle’s attack isn’t the worst thing a student can do to a teacher but it is being minimised and dismissed as irrelevant. We’re supposed to pretend that Dowdle’s behaviour is normal because he’s a “kid” and kids do stupid thing. Well, kids do do stupid things. Problem is, Dowdle isn’t a kid – at 18 years old he’s an adult. He has the right to vote, to drive and to drink alcohol and yet we think he shouldn’t be held accountable for harming his teacher. Dowdle made a choice and he needs to face the consequences of that decision. He isn’t being sent to prison for 20 years or banned from taking his A levels. He’s not being allowed to return to a school where he assaulted a teacher – not banned for life from having an education. Banning him from a building is hardly going to ruin his life.

The “boys will be boys” rhetoric is very dangerous. It is used constantly to minimise inappropriate behaviour in young boys. Instead of raising our boys to be thoughtful, considerate and to understand that there are consequences to their actions, we tell them that it was just a “prank” and that everyone will get over it. Well, I don’t want to get over it. I don’t want to live in a culture where an 18 year old is allowed to vote but not held accountable for his actions. I don’t want my children to attend schools where the teachers are having to worry about whether or not a male student will behave like a jackass. I want my children to attend schools where sexual violence is non-existent and bullying is dealt with appropriately.

I’m sick to death of the “boys will be boys” bullshit and I am so fucking bored of this idea that boys aren’t responsible for their own behaviour. That men can’t be held responsible for their actions.  Ched Evans doesn’t think he’s a rapist because he’s spent his whole life being told that he can do whatever he wants to whoever he wants whenever he wants. His fans believe they have the right to be as abusive and nasty as they want because they are men and men get to be assholes. Elliot Rodger killed 6 people because he believed he had the right to kill them. And, men rape and abuse women every single day because they believe they have the right. Dowdle’s action are part of the spectrum of male violence and he is being forgiven for his actions just as every other man is.

This school has made it very clear to their students that they will not tolerate the “boys will be boys” bullshit. Frankly, I’d like to write them a thank you letter.

<thank you to Karen Ingala Smith for tweeting this article out and raising her concerns this morning>

 

 

 

FFS: School Uniforms DON’T improve children’s learning or behaviour.

It doesn’t matter if you stick a bunch of preschoolers in ties or teenagers in bright orange prison jumpsuits, dressing children the same doesn’t make them better learners. It doesn’t make them behave better. Children learn best in safe environments where they are respected and where the staff and management respect one another. I know I’ve ranted about this before [and all over MN] but I have NEVER seen any research-based evidence that says uniform increases student outcomes or changes their behaviour positively. I have seen lots of studies which imply this [and media coverage which swears blind that this is the case] but in these studies the inclusion or formalising of school uniforms has always been part of a wide-ranging number of changes to the schools including a new management team and a new behavioural contract policy.

This article in the BBC just made me want to rip my hair out. Now, I don’t necessarily agree that teenagers calling their teachers by their first names is a good thing. That’s the type of behaviour that comes after positive relationships already exist between the students and staff [and I frigging loathe the diminutive “Miss” for women teachers. Totally demeaning that shit is]. But, this pretence that British children learn better wearing ties and shorts in the winter is just nincompoopery. American, Canadian and German children don’t wear uniforms and their children aren’t running about like Barbarians blowing up schools and assassinating their teachers. Violence does occur but that is reflected, particularly in the US, in the exclusion of poor, ethnic minority students into sinkhole schools and gang culture. It’s about poverty and racism. Children aren’t stupid. They can tell when their school is funded properly or when they are being dumped somewhere with teachers who don’t care and they respond accordingly.

Could we just stop with this freaking cognitive dissonance about ties making kids learn better. It just seriously farks me off.