People love to invoke terrifying conversations that scar children for life whenever progressives are pushing for changes that will improve the lives of marginalized people. Over the course of my life, I’ve heard people object to same-sex marriage and same-sex parenting on the basis that they couldn’t explain it to their children.
This is manifestly bullshit. If your kid comes home from kindergarten and asks you where Heather’s daddy is and why she has two mommies, you say “There are all kinds of different families– some people have a mommy and a daddy, and some people have two mommies, and some people have two daddies, and some people have just one parent. People are all kinds of ways.” Done and done.
But there are some things I shouldn’t have to explain to my kids, because they shouldn’t be real. For example:
20 Things I Shouldn’t Have to Explain to My Kids
- Normalization of non-consensual touching. Obviously this includes rape, but more often, especially in children’s media, it’s smaller things like kissing someone or tapping their shoulder over their objections, that are overwhelmingly dismissed as “teasing” but obviously normalize a lack of bodily autonomy.
- Deportation of unaccompanied child refugees. Did you know that children as young as three years of age are expected to act as their own attorneys in deportation proceedings? Disgusting.
- Islamophobic violence. I don’t even know where to start on this one.
- Children dying of neglect or abuse, especially when the people who are supposed to protect children from harm in the worst case scenarios (cops, social workers, CPS, etc.) are aware of the situation and failed to act.
- The glass ceiling. We’ve had MANY talks about this one in the last several months.
- The “gay panic” legal defense. What. The. Actual. Fuck.
- Police murdering young people of color in the street with apparent impunity.
- Body shaming. Why is the episode of Phineas and Ferb about Candance body-swapping with Perry the Platypus called “Does This Duckbill Make Me Look Fat?”? How is that child-appropriate, Disney?
- Cartoon misogyny and gender policing in general. It is absurd that I have to point out to my children explicitly that non-femmefolk have eyelashes in real life.
- “Chief Wahoo”, “Chief Thunderthud”, and Tonto. None of that shit should have happened. None of that shit should be CONTINUING to happen.
- Blackface. We recently looked up some of Bojangles Robinson’s tap dancing on YouTube and inadvertently opened a whole can of horrible racist worms. Thanks, 20th-century America!
- Rooms full of old white men making decisions about children, women, and people of color.
- “Sundown Towns” and lynch law and slavery and the Back to Africa movement and everything else white supremacist society has cooked up to eliminate black people.
- Dr. Seuss’ political cartoons advocating the imprisonment of Japanese-Americans, and, in fact, Japanese and Japanese-American internment itself.
- Reservations, the Trail of Tears, extermination campaigns (aka “the Indian Wars”), Indian scalp bounties, buffalo culls, Philip “the only good Indian is a dead Indian” Sheridan, the Indian Removal Act, and the cultural holocaust (including residential schools and the Dawes Act). Not a complete list.
- Accidental shooting deaths of children. The NRA has successfully lobbied against parents receiving information about the dangers of guns at child well-visits, and apparently everyone is just okay with this even though TODDLERS continue to accidentally shoot themselves and their family members on a regular basis in this country. I cannot with this.
- The criminalization of abuse victims who act in self-defense. How am I supposed to raise kids who stick up for themselves enough but not “too much”?
- Companies paying millions of dollars to defend their right to destroy the planet on which all their employees and customers live. WHAT.
- The Flint water crisis. And, by the same token, Love Canal, Cancer Alley and whatever the next poisoned, neglected, and gaslit community is going to be.
- The pay gap, the second shift, and all that other bullshit that characterizes the price of living while female in this country of supposed liberty and justice.