At the same time, I don’t want to live in fear. I don’t want to walk out in the world with a closed and suspicious heart because I’m more aware of and feeling the reality of the Black experience of racism. It’s like in the past I used to feel like I had to acknowledge racism out of a sense of forced loyalty, and primarily from a White or Mixed perspective. It’s not that I never saw racism before, and I certainly had my own racism to work through. But I definitely saw it through the privilege of my mixedness. Though I understood that racism was alive and well and more subtle, I was also acutely aware that any kind of racial experience I had would be far different than a dark skinned Black woman who wasn’t socialized to talk like a White person. Not to mention the experience of Black men. But to walk with Black people is to have my eyes opened. And it’s something I can’t unlearn, nor do I want to. I want to live in reality. This is where I’m at in the fluidity.
Parents are more likely to make strict rules (about, e.g., TV-watching) and be intimately involved in the academic performance of their first children, according to survey data. They’re also more likely to punish their first child’s bad grades. Hotz and Pantano say moms and dads start tough and go soft to establish a “reputation” within their household for being strict—a reputation they hope will trickle down to the younger siblings who will be too respectful to misbehave later on.
I am not worried that Rihanna is more sexual than society (or myself) finds acceptable, or that she is breaking some code, but instead that she is acting out male dominated sexuality without true integration of her own desires. When I wrote ‘the girl who goes back to the boy who abused her’, it was this that I meant: when women are disconnected from exploring their desires and replace those with constantly acting out a fantasy of male desire, they become hungry for, above all, male lust. Desiring male lust becomes a paltry substitute for desire itself. How many girls have I known who, from a young age, sculpted their entire identity around obtaining and keeping the sexual advances of men, often regardless of how desirable those men actually were to the woman, or how the man treated them? So many. Too many. In place of a multi-faceted woman there becomes a one dimensional sex object. To break free of that can be the work of a lifetime.
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Evolutionary psychologists have also begun exploring this way of thinking. Peter Gray, a research professor at Boston College who studies children’s natural ways of learning, argues that human cognitive machinery is fundamentally incompatible with conventional schooling. Gray points out that young children, motivated by curiosity and playfulness, teach themselves a tremendous amount about the world. And yet when they reach school age, we supplant that innate drive to learn with an imposed curriculum. “We’re teaching the child that his questions don’t matter, that what matters are the questions of the curriculum. That’s just not the way natural selection designed us to learn. It designed us to solve problems and figure things out that are part of our real lives.”
So what can we do? In order to change the way we view women culturally, we need to change the way we view women individually. We need to call bullshit on attempts to end domestic violence and misogyny towards women by only talking to our daughters. We need to talk to our sons and our brothers about respecting women and respecting themselves.
Nice is a simple world. So simple, its powerful meaning often goes unnoticed. Growing up, “Because Nice Matters” was our family motto. My mom plastered the phrase all around the house, and now I have done the same. Being nice does matter. We need to make kindness a conscious lesson. We need to compliment our daughters when they demonstrate kindness. In a world that values looks, achievements, accomplishments and awards, let your home value kindness.
People who would consider it a bizarre breach of conduct to expect anyone to give them a haircut or a can of soda at no cost will ask you, with a straight face and a clear conscience, whether you wouldn’t be willing to write an essay or draw an illustration for them for nothing. They often start by telling you how much they admire your work, although not enough, evidently, to pay one cent for it. “Unfortunately we don’t have the budget to offer compensation to our contributors…” is how the pertinent line usually starts. But just as often, they simply omit any mention of payment.