Double Standard and Harassment

Ms. Melissa Atkins Wardy writes at length on her blog Pigtail Pal & Ballcap Buddies about attitudes towards boys and girls and how it connects with street harassment. She starts by describing a threatening incident that her daughter’s friend went through, and connects it to the culture at large:

“The way the incident happened, there was something about her that this guy felt made it worth his while to engage with her in a very threatening manner. In this encounter, she wasn’t simply walking by on a sidewalk and he chose to cat call her. In this instance he put himself in her path, stopping her in her tracks thereby treating her as an object to be moved or disrupted, as opposed to an autonomous human being with thoughts, feelings, and purpose. […]

“From infancy boys are taught to be rowdy rock ‘n roll bad boys who are little masters of the universe and tiny stud muffins.

“From infancy girls are taught to be sweet and pretty, things to be adored and kept beautiful while pleasing everyone around with the sweet prettiness.

“These messages are all over media, apparel, toys, and are relayed by people who interact with our children. […]

“Unless taught by his family, a boy is less likely to learn from our culture that girls and women are worthy of respect and equality or that aggression does not make you a man.

“Unless taught by her family, a girl is less likely learn to offer herself as a whole person rather than a sexual object or that she can be many things without needing the approval of men. […]

“By the time they are teens most boys will have seen very little media that respects women and most girls will have seen very little media in which women ask for or take respect. Then we consider all of the advertising they have seen up to this point, the vast majority of which shows women as objects to be used for male sexual desire. […]

“So when I […] think about my friend’s daughter being harassed while she is out for walk I, [sic] also think about how this fits into the big picture in how we raise or children and what messages we choose to accept or reject. I think about how I try to teach parents to see the forest through the trees, and that while one gendered item or media component may seem trivial, it all adds up to a deep, dark forest we have to shepherd our children through. We also have to teach them how to find their own way, because we won’t always be by their sides.” [emphasis added]

(Quoted at length to fully reproduce the point.)

Kudos. Because patterns of behavior matter, and patterns of abusive behavior need to be nipped in the bud.

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How the Internet Makes Being An Introvert Easier

In an article about disclosure when writing online, author Roxane Gay includes the following explanation of what being an introvert online means to her:

“For me, one of the biggest draws of the Internet has always been how I can be alone and yet find connection with other people. I am an introvert. I can fake extroversion, but it is exhausting. I prefer quiet, even when I am happily around other people. I spend an inordinate amount of time in my head. Online, I can be in my head and with interesting people. I can be alone but feel less lonely.”

A fantastic explanation! Because, in general, introverts do not hate people (that’s misanthropy), nor do they fear social encounters (that’s shyness). Because introverts are not bogeymen.

Even a Seven-Year-Old Knows: Lego Needs to Do Better

Seven-year-old Charlotte Benjamin wrote a letter to Lego, telling them they need to add more Lego girls:

Charlotte's Lego letter / SocImages

SocImages.

“My name is Charlotte. I am 7 years old and I love legos but I don’t like that there are more Lego boy people and barely any Lego girls.

Today I went to a store and saw legos in two sections the girls pink and the boys blue. All the girls did was sit at home, go to the beach, and shop, and they had no jobs but the boys went on adventures, worked, saved people, and had jobs, even swam with sharks.

I want you to make more Lego girl people and let them go on adventures and have fun ok!?!”

Image via Sociological Images.

Because aren’t girls people, too?

The Power of Everyday Ideas

System amoebae quotes video game writer Mikko Rautalahti’s blog post on misogynism in the game industry. Her take on why we should care about anti-women attitudes:

“The politicians and game makers and artists and teachers and police officers and fighters and parents and decision-makers of tomorrow are today’s social media junkies. They are the ones reblogging their asses off on tumblr, the ones getting into arguments on games forums, the ones reading about high profile arguments in the media, the ones retweeting comments from celebrities they love, the ones currently struggling to navigate what is right and wrong and what a better world might look like. To underestimate the power that ideas and opinions and discussion and debate online have is to completely miss the point about how we as individuals and communities and societies develop our moral and ethical codes and learn our behaviours.”

“We aren’t static but dynamic, constantly in flux, always learning, always reshaping ourselves to our surroundings, adapting to situations and environments. We have to take responsibility for the things we say and do because they all impact on the way others experience life, they all play a role in shaping not only ourselves but others as well, and as an extension of that they shape society and culture as a whole. Being the one to stand up and say, “no, don’t do that, don’t be an arsehole, be a better person” isn’t just important in misogynist gaming circles, and it isn’t just important in the halls of political power either. It’s important in every interaction, because it’s what makes us today and it’s what makes us tomorrow. Misunderstanding that is dangerous.”

Because we are human beings, social by nature, and because we have intelligence, ethics and morals.

Intense World Theory and Autism

Wondrously intriguing look at autism through neuroscience in an article by Maia Szalavitz in Matter. According to researchers Henry and Kamila Markram, who developed the so-called intense world theory:

“The behavior that results is not due to cognitive deficits—the prevailing view in autism research circles today—but the opposite, they say. Rather than being oblivious, autistic people take in too much and learn too fast. While they may appear bereft of emotion, the Markrams insist they are actually overwhelmed not only by their own emotions, but by the emotions of others.

“Consequently, the brain architecture of autism is not just defined by its weaknesses, but also by its inherent strengths. The developmental disorder now believed to affect around 1 percent of the population is not characterized by lack of empathy, the Markrams claim. Social difficulties and odd behavior result from trying to cope with a world that’s just too much.”

The Markrams also theorize potential solutions, starting at a very young age:

“If autistic babies tune out when overwhelmed, their social and language difficulties may arise not from damaged brain regions, but because critical data is drowned out by noise or missed due to attempts to escape at a time when the brain actually needs this input.

“The intense world could also account for the tragic similarities between autistic children and abused and neglected infants. Severely maltreated children often rock, avoid eye contact, and have social problems—just like autistic children. These parallels led to decades of blaming the parents of autistic children, including the infamous ‘refrigerator mother.’ But if those behaviors are coping mechanisms, autistic people might engage in them not because of maltreatment, but because ordinary experience is overwhelming or even traumatic.

“The Markrams teased out further implications: Social problems may not be a defining or even fixed feature of autism. Early intervention to reduce or moderate the intensity of an autistic child’s environment might allow their talents to be protected while their autism-related disabilities are mitigated or, possibly, avoided.”

The human brain is so fascinating!