So... does anybody else find it totally bizarre that children aren’t allowed to see female nipples, but they are allowed to see movies based on the ‘gender war’?
Think about it. Babies tend to suck on nipples. They see them all the time. Heck, unless you were delivered via C-section, you’ve seen more intimate female anatomy before you were one day old than you ever will again.
I’d give you a moment to scrub that mental image out of your mind, but you’ve probably already forgotten it anyway. Babies are good at that.
Now, I understand that there are very good reasons not to show naked people onscreen. As a devout Christian, I believe strongly in the sanctity of all things sexual. But I do find it a little bit weird that nudity is considered damaging to children; if anything, they’re probably LESS likely to associate it with sexuality than adults are.
Inappropriate? Sure, by the standards of my culture. Damaging? I'm not so sure.
Now let’s talk about the gender war.
Say a child is watching a movie in which a little girl is not allowed on the soccer team because she’s a girl. Throughout the film, she has to struggle, first to get on the team, then to earn respect or even a modicum of civility from her male teammates.
What kind of message does that send?
It tells girls that they’re at an inherent disadvantage, doomed to struggle for kindness and equality, simply because they’re female. It tells them the world is male-dominated, that men are uncaring and bigoted, and that if they want to get what they want in life, malekind is their opponent.
It tells boys that including girls in ‘male’ activities is noble, but abnormal. Or worse, it may tell them that for a female to enter their circles, she must first defeat them, making her participation a failure on their part.
If she wants to be worthy of inclusion in their activities, she must first prove herself to be better than them, which might not sit well with them.
And it tells both of them that there are "male" and "female" activities - which usually comes with the added messages that for females to participate in "male" activities is abnormal and requires them to rise above their gender's norms, while participating in "female" activities is embarrassing and degrading, which implies that femininity is inherently inferior.
The fact that it's realistic makes it all the more insidious.
It has been said, when discussing the difference between sex and violence on TV, that violence is more acceptable because it’s less connected to the real world, easier to identify as fiction, and less likely to be imitated.
But if sex is easily connected to the real world, is more possible to imitate than violence, and carries a higher risk of being imitated, where does gender discrimination land on that spectrum?
It’s true that stories like this have a purpose. There was likely a time when such tales were a source of encouragement to those who were fighting for change.
But while discrimination isn’t entirely eliminated, showing ‘gender war’ movies to kids seems like a pretty good way to teach them the very same patterns of behaviour that we want to eliminate.
Boys exclude and look down on girls, and girls treat boys as their opponents instead of their allies. This is what such stories train them to do.
I’m not suggesting we forget the past, or the struggles that created the relative equality we now enjoy. But if we must keep reviving the ghosts of outdated gender rules, do we really need to show them to our kids when they’re young enough to believe in them?
If we didn’t keep the ‘gender war’ at the top of kids’ minds, would they even know about it to the degree that they do?
If we want to send an 'empowering' message to young girls, why not portray female success as something normal and accepted, rather than something difficult and controversial that the world doesn't want them to have?
So, am I out to lunch on this? Or does all this seem as twisted to you as it does to me? I’d love to read your opinions, so please leave a comment and share this with your friends.