ONLINE ARGUMENTS AND ISSUES OF GENDER IDENTITY (AGES 3 AND UNDER) – PART 1
I’m warning you now: I’ve bitten off more than I can chew here. For reasons that will rapidly become clear, this is a very one sided piece – the other parties, thankfully, are unable to present any form of counter argument.
It may even be slanderous. Or libelous. Whichever one’s the written down one.
Bear with me.
Just over two weeks ago as I write this, a chain of events took place – and took place online – that would eventually lead to something of personal tragedy:
I lost a “like” for my Facebook page.
To understand the reasons why I lost that “like”, we must first journey back. Back to the afternoon of Tuesday, May the 2nd – at around 1 pm.
So there I was, ignoring my 4 year old son whilst browsing my phone. In particular, I was doing my usual listless, dead eyed scroll through Facebook – just seeing what people are up to – whilst muttering “…tsk.” Or going, “…cunt.”
You know? Normal stuff.
And then, gentle reader, I chanced upon the following update (which – as will become clear later – I’ve completely made up. Oh, it’s true enough… But there’s a lot of paraphrasing going on. Ho ho! A LOT):
“Guys, this is so, so important: B O Y S A N D G I R L S S H O U L D B E R A I S E D T H E S A M E.”
[It even did that spacing between the CAPS stuff, which must be some weird internet thing.]
This was from a guy I’d worked with in another life, e.g. about a year and a half ago. We’ll call him “Clementine”. His name isn’t really Clementine. Not in real life. It’s a pseudonym, and one which I’ll employ here in the interests of clarity and good story telling.
SOME BRIEF, HIGHLY PREJUDICED NOTES ON “CLEMENTINE”
Clementine, or Clem, was and (for all I know) still IS an alright bloke. He’s a modern, hipster-ish, liberal young man of a similar age and – I imagine – similar upbringing to me. And he has a beard.
Now, I didn’t know Clem all that well. Yes, I knew him a bit, and we certainly got on alright. He worked with, and was friends with people I’d describe as friends. Well, one of them. A friend. In other words: He was ideal Facebook Pal material.
I assumed young Clem shared roughly similar politics to me: i.e. Kind of liberal, anti-arsehole, PC snowflake, etc. Turned out he was a good deal more left of centre than that. A good deal more hip.
A PREVIOUS BOUT OF ONLINE WARFARE
Last year, I’d locked horns with Old Clem over some shit – sorry, an opinion – he’d posted about the fucking Kardashians. Namely some photo Kim fucking Kardashian had stuck up of herself: She was in the nip and oiled up, possibly whilst holding a baby she was exploiting for hits. Or she was up the duff. One of those two.
She’d received a lot of “FUCK OFF KIM!” comments and a bashing in the media for it. Inspired by this, Clem went off on a moral / anti-sexist online crusade.
I forget the exact content of it all now, but it amounted to: “Don’t body shame Kim Kardashian. What she’s doing is empowering. Famous men don’t get the same abuse…” And so on.
MY STANCE ON KIM KARDASHIAN, ETC.
Now… I don’t much care for Kim fucking Kardashian, or any of her brood. My missus, perhaps due to an act of social conditioning somewhere along the line, likes to watch a lot their televisual output. Mainly, I’m told, “…for the outfits and that.” In fairness, my wife is rarely allowed to enjoy the experience in peace: I’ll sit there doing loud, theatrical sighs, or I’ll illustrate my disapproval by rolling around on the floor making a pained, “Uuuuunnnnnngh” sound.
Back to the issue at hand…
Seeing Clem’s stance re: the Kim Kardashian photo, I also went online and politely disagreed with him. I thought – and still think – that the Kardashian brood is a despicable money grabbing machine, dependent on courting bullshit for media coverage. Poor old Bruce Jenner even had to lop his wang off and pretend to be a transgender woman… All for the sake of ratings.
Anyway… The argument raged on and on, over many thousands of words, with more and more interested parties getting all entwined in the Facebook thread. Eventually – with no semblance of a victory for either side, or much mutual respect, understanding or empathy for any of the participants involved – the battle drew to a close.
I backed off from Clem, but became ever watchful of his ways from then on. His extra Hipstery, “Right On” ways.
Which brings us back ’round the the start:
THE POST CONTINUED – PART ONE
“Guys, this is so, so important: B O Y S A N D G I R L S S H O U L D B E R A I S E D T H E S A M E.”
Below that update was a post from one of Clementine’s friends, which he’d shared.
…It was a long old post. But not all funny and self deprecating. Not like your Pal Dadzilla.
Nope. This was from some bint who we’ll call here “Poppy”. I hope that’s a pseudonym, because I genuinely can’t remember her name.
Poppy is a vaguely new-agey Mummy Blogger, whom I believe is still in the larval, Facebook posting stage (yet to form her website wings). She has herself a young boy – 3 years old – who happens to share the same first name as my eldest. That won’t serve here though, so we’ll rename him “Pete”.
Allow me to paraphrase away and give you the gist of the post in question.
- Young Pete is a lovely, highly intelligent, playful and charismatic young man.
- Young Pete is allowed – nay, encouraged – to live a kind of ‘Swallows and Amazons’, idyllic childhood: full of exploring in the woods, hacking worms in half, and getting hands on with nature and that.
- Pete is – naturally – the most handsome and loving child a parent could want.
- Pete also likes dressing in girls clothes. He goes so far as to insist – no, demand, using the well thought out, reasoned language common to all 3 year olds – that this be the case
This isn’t just the odd item of ladies attire, say the odd pink top, or a girl’s shoe. Nope, this is full on dress up as Rapunzel, Disney Princess stuff.
READER QUESTION: WHAT’S WRONG WITH THAT?
Nothing… In an ideal world. But they live in Jarrow, which is a right shit hole.
This leads us to:
THE POST CONTINUED – PART TWO: THE TORTURED PROTAGONIST
- Despite the heart breaking personal cost to herself, the mother – Poppy – felt obliged to bend to cultural whim and inform young master Pete that: “People – less informed and well cultured people – might make fun of you.”
- Pete: “But why Mummy? They’re only clothes.”
- Poppy: [Nods sagely, wipes away tear] “…You’re right son. Let’s pop on a dress and get out there to our local shopping precinct / park.”
This, naturally – and in my view, inevitably – led to the inciting incident.
THE POST CONTINUED – PART THREE: TERRIBLE PERSECUTION
Once out in public, Poppy’s bright and incredibly insightful child – not subject to YOUR rules about clothing – was immediately set upon and made fun of by a roving gang of “much older” children. They were 5 years old.
Effectively, this mob of feral pre-school kids would’ve gone, “Here!? Are ye wearing a fuckin’ DRESS?” Whilst smoking snouts.
…There may have been two or three other instances of this kind of thing, e.g. Being pointed at in ASDA, that kind of deal. I skimmed ahead.
THE POST CONTINUED – PART FOUR: AN IMPASSIONED PLEA FOR THE DEATH OF ALL GENDER
Inspired by the horror of seeing her darling and insightful 3 year old boy being set upon – technically assaulted – by sub-working class youths, Poppy felt obliged to kick things up a notch. As such, she launched the following manifesto:
- Children and parents should receive special training in tolerance, especially in relation to fluidity in gender specific clothing
- GENDER IS A MYTH ANYWAY! IT’S LONG SINCE TIME THAT WE GOT RID OF IT ALTOGETHER!
- DEATH TO ALL GENDER!!!
…Again, I’m paraphrasing like mad, but that was – overall – the gist of it.
The post had attracted a number of likes – easily comparable to some of my earlier stuff about being covered in shit. It was also followed by a universal chorus of approval from like minded people. Poppy was in their view, 100% correct in her decision, and furthermore, she might just be the greatest hero to emerge in the modern age.
Clem, inspired and presumably moved by this – being a new parent himself – did his bit. He shared the post that was, you’ll remember, “so, so important.”
MY INITIAL REACTION TO THE POST
Well, I admit that I felt kind of sorry for her. Who wouldn’t?
I actually have first hand experience of this kind of thing.
FIRST HAND / ANECDOTAL EXPERIENCE OF GENDER BASED BULLYING.
Back around the start of the Summer Holidays last year, I wrote about a really shit time I had in the park. You might remember. The place was rammed with lots of rough as fuck families, in amongst the disgusting, liberal, PC elite of Gosforth. Click on that link for more detail, but basically a weird, effeminate, and possibly autistic kid got bullied by some fat pikey kids: Just for being weird, effeminate and possibly autistic.
I also have a second bit of evidence, but it involves my extended family so I’m like, not allowed to talk about it and that. Like.
WHAT’S MY POINT?
That total wave of unfettered support in the post Clem had shared had irritated me. There was no dissent present in the ranks. None at all.
Surely nobody wants to live in a world devoid of gender, just on account of some pikeys and their fucking detestable kids?
The thing that got me was that Poppy, whatever her view and despite being by and large correct (up to a point), she still had a job to do as a Mum. The most important responsibility of any parent: The simple avoidance of risk.
Boys dressed as girls and vice versa shouldn’t be an issue, and indeed wouldn’t be – if we lived in some kind of bohemian, hippy commune. Or a bio-dome. But we don’t, and they certainly don’t: They live in Jarrow, which is – again – a shit hole.
EDITED SEGMENT – NOW 100% FREE OF SLIGHT RACISM!
Frankly, if you allow your little boy to dress in anything other than a tracksuit in places like that, then you’re asking for trouble. Even jeans and, perhaps, a well ironed shirt would invite hate crime for looking a bit lower middle class. In that setting, having your 3 year old son wander about in a pink, frilly dress is tantamount – tantamount I say – to dressing the kid in a suit made entirely of krill, and then dunking him in a tank full of, say, Squid. Like a Krill tea bag. If you’re going to dip your little boy in and out of a tank full of Squid whilst wearing a Krill suit, well… Don’t be alarmed if some of the more ignorant Squid stop and stare, or pass comment.
Mind, that only applies if your child insisted on wearing the Krill suit. Not you forcing the Krill suit on your son, just because you fancy an argument with a stranger. Or a squid.
END OF EDITED SEGMENT!! (APART FROM TWO OR THREE OTHER LINES)
Point being, allowing that to happen – wearing the dress, not the Krill suit – and then to be amazed that people could be harsh and cruel about it… Well, it just seemed incredibly naive. Also, I didn’t buy the whole thing about a 3 year old insisting on wearing anything, let alone a dress. MY 3 year old – back when he was 3, and not 4 – couldn’t give a shit about clothes, regardless of the gender. AND he can barely talk.
…Ergo, it was bullshit. All of it.
I went online and said so, under Clem’s post.
END OF PART ONE
Not tired of this racist, genderist, sexist and class-ist stuff yet? Good. Well stand by for part two, in which I flesh out the terrible conflict that ensued.
Let me know what you think in the comments and that if you want. If not, then don’t.
University educated (in media, so nothing useful); former propagandist for Hewlett Packard; now redundant, scrap heaped dole scum / full time mum of two.