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“Babies scare me more than anything. They’re tiny and fragile and impressionable—and someone else’s! As much as I hate borrowing stuff, that is how much I hate holding other people’s babies. It’s too much responsibility. Of course they are lovely and warm and adorable, and it’s so funny when they decide they like you and hold you in return, but I am frightened of doing something wrong that will alter them forever. Give them a weird look and they might be talking to their therapist about me fifty years later. […] It might not be a fear of kids themselves, as in truth I usually get along with them pretty well. They like my tattoos and my uncomplicated child/adult face. They identify with my orange shoes. I look like I would let them get away with stuff, and I do. My fear of having children is that, frankly, I just don’t want to love anyone that much. I have my own problems with love, and I have processed and played the same games for a lifetime, but what if I had to do that with someone I actually MADE?! (Or went all the way to China and adopted. This is not a joke—I have long thought I would adopt one of those baby girls from China, because really, who’s going to know the difference?)”—Comedian Margaret Cho on on (not) parenting.
What makes you beautiful
Scene: Chatting with my kids in the car when One Direction’s What Makes You Beautiful comes on the radio.
Me: Ugh. I hate this song.
My 8-year-old son: WHY?! I like this song!
Me: I just don’t like the lyrics. They make me grumpy.
My son (after listening intently for awhile): OhhhHHhhh. I know why. I don’t like this song either.
Me: Sweetie, it’s fine if you like it. You don’t have to dislike something just because I do.
My son: No. I don’t like it. The guy says “You don’t know you’re beautiful” and then “That’s what makes you beautiful,” which is… like… well, you know when my sister antagonizes me?
My son: I just get a little mad when she does that. But when I antagonize HER, she sometimes gets really upset. Because I’m older and antagonizing someone that doesn’t have as much power is kinda like bullying, right?
Me: It can be, yes.
My son: Well, it’s the same thing. The guy singing has the power.
Me: I think I get what you’re saying. But can you tell me more?
My son: The guy singing has the power, so it’s like bullying. He’s saying THAT’S what makes you beautiful. But it’s not his decision. He has the power, but he SHOULDN’T. Like, he shouldn’t get to decide if she’s beautiful or not. And especially saying she’s just beautiful because she doesn’t know it? That’s stupid. And mean. Besides, why does it even matter if HE thinks she’s beautiful? ‘Cause everyone is beautiful in different ways. So the whole song is kinda dumb.
Me: Do you realize that you just constructed a feminist critique of popular media?
My son: Huh?
Me: I just meant you’re awesome. That’s almost exactly why I dislike this song and it’s pretty cool you figured it out on your own.
My son: Oh. Yeah. Can you turn up the radio again? ~JJ
When I have a daughter,
When I have a daughter, I am going to teach her how to scream at the top of her lungs; she will know the power of her voice from the time she can form a sentence, but she will never scream without reason. I will teach my daughter that we do not kick and scream and yell unless we want someone to run - either towards us or away from. Yelling is a sign of danger, and we use it fucking wisely, my princess.
When I have a daughter, I will teach her the power of a smile and some eye contact; I will teach her to use her ‘wiles’ to her advantage if she has to, but to never allow them to come before her true power - her mind, her charm, her wit and her talent. Rather, I will teach her how to use her smile and her sparkling eyes to gain attention and to enhance the skills that will enrich her life.
When I have a daughter, I am going to teach her that she doesn’t owe shit to anyone; she doesn’t have to fuck the guy in the bar just because he got her a drink, she doesn’t have to agree to the date with the guy who’s been asking for weeks just because he has been ‘nice’ to her, and she sure as hell doesn’t owe respect to anyone who hasn’t first handed it to her on a silver platter. I will teach her that she is worth more than a fucking $6 vodka and coke - that she dictates her own worth and that worth is not absolute; if some nights she is indeed Vodka and Coke Girl, that’s okay as long as she’s okay.
When I have a daughter, I will teach her more than a school-master or mistress could even dream of, for I will teach her that her grades do not define her and that no matter what happens throughout her education, she is a complex and amazing human being who will be just goddamn fine.
My daughter will know that she is not her weight; she is not the clothes on her back; she is not her IQ or her GPA or her bank balance or the amount of people she chooses to sleep with. My daughter will know that as long as she follows her bliss, I will be proud of her.
When I have a daughter, I will teach her to treat her body like a palace - her own definition of a palace, that is. I will teach her that if anybody touches her without her permission, she must scream, and if screaming does not work she can cut their fucking hands off. My daughter will never be told that her choices are wrong; she will be guided and she will have support on every step of her journey, but she will never be punished for walking an unconventional path.
My daughter will not be ‘demure’, my daughter will not be quiet.
My daughter will know that what she has to say is important.
My daughter will respect others and never speak over them; however she will not allow herself to be spoken over, either.
If you want to see a change in the world, start with yourself and continue by teaching your children. Consider them the future and they will grow up to shape it.