If I, as a man, write about how I believe a woman should behave, whether in terms of morality or comportment, I will invariably be labeled as a chauvinist by some. (I will have been guilty, in their eyes, of chauvinistic views and actions of which I am totally unaware, having grown up as a male in a male dominated society.) It has already been made quite clear to me by numerous responses to any writing that touches upon women and their state in our world, that I have no business writing about such things and that, as a man, no matter how intelligent I may (or may not) be, I simply cannot speak with any validity on any matter relating to women. In short, empathy just ain't enough. I just don't get it, the critics say.
Yet...I speak. I don't have a daughter, but I like to think in terms of fatherhood: What would I want for her? How would I want her to act? What I find is that I would want her to act the same way I want my sons to act: like a gentleperson. I'd want her to be dignified, self-assured, polite/assertive, strong (both physically and mentally), confident and kind. In fact, there is not one thing I would approach, conceptually, differently in raising a daughter than in raising my sons, in essence. (I say "in essence" because, let's face it, each child of whatever sex requires a slightly different parental approach.)
That said, there is this video going around... As with most of these, I will not repost is because I don't believe in contributing to the easy viral success of anything I disagree with. The video consists of little girls speaking about feminism and cursing, letting the F-word fly in Scorsese-like barrages.
Let me make something clear: It is not the message in the video I have a problem with, it is the delivery.
First, I find it interesting that it is meant to break girls out of the box that they are in, but that every kid in the video uses very common expressions, hand motions and body language. The message then becomes: I am going to be bad and say things I am not supposed to, but I am still going to act like everyone else. I am going to seem different, but I am not going to be different. Whose fault? Probably the director's. It would have been nice to have seen one girl in that video who strikes me as truly different as a cookie-cutter version of a TV character. This turns out to be empty rebellion. (One can ride a Harley and get the word "DEATH" tattooed across his forehead, but a tough guy is as a tough guy does. The clothes and the ink do not make you a rebel, true rebellion does.)
Third, this growing reliance on the lesser-of-two evils argument is making me really weary. People use it everywhere. In this instance, it is: "What's worse? -- girls talking like this or the injustices they have to put up with?" The answer, of course, is "the injustices are worse." I get it. The idea here is supposed to be that it makes the viewer question why he finds it so necessary to control girls' language when there are more important things to worry about; it is meant to make us think about the danger of raising "proper" girls who do as they are told. But, what would I rather? Neither, how's that? Call me a perfectionist, but I would like to see strong, liberated, confident girls who also speak like gentlepeople.
Are we so desensitized that we aren't simply appalled that one in five women is sexually abused? -- that women make less in jobs than their male counterparts? -- that girls grow up with the onus of conforming to unrealistic and oppressive standards of "beauty"? If we need to be shocked by the F-word into seeing that these things are bad, we need something a little deeper than a viral video. If we want to change things, we need to raise our boys to truly see girls as equals and to treat them with respect (real respect, not condescending respect). But how can we teach respect if we try to sell it through videos that offer no respect for what most people consider basic politeness? -- videos that exploit little girls in order to champion their cause? It's a mixed message, at the least.
To me, the video is embarrassing, not because it used the shocking language but because looks like something the bad kid in a high school would have made. It is a video full of children made by adults who are childish.
And our kids lose their innocence earlier and earlier in life these days. Should we take it from them even earlier in order to fight out social battles? Categorically: no.
UPDATE: (Hat Tip: Callie Bisset) It should be noted that the group that made this video is a for-profit company, as stated on their own site, at the bottom. This only brings them further into the realm of child exploitation...