Saturday, August 14, 2010

Stuff I think about differently now; children, feminism and more

You know... there's lots of things I don't talk about here... More than I ever originally intended.   But you know, gotta protect the ego, don't want to start spouting off "half-cocked" on things I am just sorting out for myself, and you know, it's not terribly safe to share vulnerabilities on the internets either.  And most importantly, don't want to cause harm to anyone through shit I'm still ignorant about. But I have actually changed quite a bit, evolved for the better, I hope, in the last few years.

You can see some of the change in the numbers on my tags... Once upon a time posts on feminism way out numbered any others. Now, quite a few other categories have grown while that one has stayed relatively the same.

Oh, I still self-identify as a feminist. It's just... not that important to me anymore. And by "it" I mean, not feminisms or doing stuff I would classify as feminist but the label itself. Like the trying to convince people about how they *really are* feminists? I just don't care about that at all anymore. Far too many women who have rejected Feminism as a label do too much good work for womankind for me to ignore, and far too many Feminists have done too much goddamn harm for me to ignore that either. And that makes me... apathetic about the label (though I still use it for simplicity's sake as a general rule).

And that's not all! Once upon a time not that long ago really, I didn't give much thought to my own ableism, internalized misogyny, cissexism, accepted tropes of violence in media, or, as started my thinking about all this: my own bigotry towards children. Yep, I'm that asshole who was totally willing to side eye your kid for having a fit, like kids sometimes do, and consequently probably make that fit worse.

Reading mai'a's and bfp's and other's work on kids and mamihood were pivotal to changing that (even when, as a currently child free person half the time I didn't/don't entirely get what they're talking about). Also pivotal, and probably my real "click" moment in this particular evolution of thought was this post by Arwyn.  (And in continued evolution, most recently I'm starting to try and really figure out how to think of things like motherhood and mamihood in a way that is not so cis-centric as most discussions I've seen are and as my own understanding of these concepts is, being cis myself).

And so, basically, like, now I think this shit is so unbelievably important, way more important than Feminism (long dedicated to figuring out how to give women like *me* a way out of motherhood and housewifery) tends to give it credit for. As others have said (though I can't remember who right now, share in comments if you know) if we center the needs of children, we'll be working on the needs of everyone, and working at the root of a lot of the trauma and violence most of us have experienced in our own lives. If you center the needs of all children you have to figure out early on how to help children with disabilities, trans children, gender queer children, children of color, immigrant children...  (Just like how, imo, if we center the needs of trans women, we will in fact be working most effectively towards the needs of all women...)

And to change the oppressed nature of children, as a class, would mean rethinking totally the way we relate to each other, the kind of power relations between people that we accept in general, I think.  Because, if you think about it, when do we learn that others have power over us? As children. When do we learn to accept that some people are allowed to compromise our bodily autonomy? As children.  When do we learn to accept authoritarian relationships between people as normal?  As children...

I remember a post from a long time ago that Renee at Womanist Musings wrote about her sons and the way we assume we can just hug a child or ruffle their hair without permission, and how she always asks first if they wanted a hug, or to be touched at all, because this is one of those ways we reinforce the notion that some people don't have the right to controlling what happens to their body, and that's not a message she ever wants them to receive from her as a parent.

Thing is, that notion then gets transferred to all other people who do not have as much power in our society (like children... which is in part why/how children are an oppressed class, which apparently is news to many). The less a person is valued, socially, the more people seem to believe they have access to those person's bodies. Which is why trans women still are writing posts like this.  And why disabled people are still having to tell us TAB people not to just grab their wheelchairs without permission, etc.  (When really, this should be obvious, shouldn't it?!?!)

So anyway, these are things that I have learned in the last couple years.  Things I'm not super firm in, things I'm not sure I'm the best person to even talk about them!  But things that have been a part of my evolution and that I have never written about here before...which I want to do more.