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November 18, 2010 5:39 PM   Subscribe

"The first grade boys are teasing me at lunch because I have a Star Wars water bottle. They say it's only for boys." (via)

A little Thursday evening heartwarmer for you. Make sure to read the comments.
posted by lholladay (106 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
Star Wars is for boys? First I've heard of it.
posted by Electrius at 5:46 PM on November 18, 2010


"If my daughter had dressed as Batman, no one would have thought twice about it. No one."

Well... There goes that theory.
posted by pokermonk at 5:48 PM on November 18, 2010 [12 favorites]


First graders are really into gender roles for some reason. I've busted a couple for making fun of boys with long hair even though they're in my class and I have long hair (I'm a guy). My kids learn early that any kind of ridicule won't be tolerated, and it means the principal and parents are going to be involved.

Also, girls who like Star Wars are AWESOME.
posted by Huck500 at 5:49 PM on November 18, 2010 [11 favorites]


Bullying about gender norms in first grade aside, the really interesting thing to me is that the mom turned to the internet to give her daughter support. Best part is that it worked, who knew strangers could solve self esteem woes in the first grade. If only I knew another website that worked like that.
posted by Felex at 5:50 PM on November 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


The prequels ARE for girls.

Also: AWWWWWWWE
posted by clarknova at 5:52 PM on November 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Looks like Im gonna have to go beat up some little kids, as Bad Santa has done before me.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 5:54 PM on November 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well... There goes that theory.

I don't think there's anything I can say about these two articles in comparison that won't be trollish, so I won't.

I'll just let you imagine the trollish things I'm thinking.
posted by codacorolla at 6:00 PM on November 18, 2010


You the general reader, not pokermonk specifically, I was going to mention the earlier thread if he didn't
posted by codacorolla at 6:01 PM on November 18, 2010


The prequels ARE for girls.

No they aren't, don't be mean. The prequels aren't for anyone.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:17 PM on November 18, 2010 [94 favorites]


I don't think there's anything I can say about these two articles in comparison that won't be trollish, so I won't.

I'll say it. In this case no adults are saying wearing pants or having a Star Wars bottle will turn her into a lesbian.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:19 PM on November 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Also, a distinct lack of, "But it exposes her to ridicule so you should discourage it in the interests of protecting her from ridicule instead of telling her to keep the bottle...what if the pictures of her with a Han Solo doll get out on the internet when she is in high school!?"
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:22 PM on November 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


My daughter (five) and I routinely watch 20-30 minutes of one of the six Star Wars films each night (either that or Fantastic Mr. Fox). We finished Return of the Jedi last night and tonight we watched The Empire Strikes Back until Luke meets up with Vader on Endor. She loves the shit out of Star Wars (especially Jar Jar). My wife will pause the the movie to quickly explain "Hey kid, you see how Leia is chained around the neck and wearing a metal bikini? Just so you know, that's never ok."

However, the kid is hyper-focused on gender roles. "Boys can't wear dresses, right? Boys can't have long hair, right?" Can girls be Jedi knights too?" She knows the mantra GirlsCanDoEverythingThatBoysCanDo, and she does a pretty damn good job of standing up for herself, but it's still frustrating to hear her recount other people telling her things like this.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 6:24 PM on November 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


Nobody has ever given either of my daughters anything but admiration for their Star Wars shirts or light sabers or whatever.

My older daughter has a favorite shirt that's brown with orange sketches of different video game controllers on it though, and once a kid who only had brothers said "but video games are for boys" and she said "I like video games" and he was like "oh! wow" and then they were really good friends after that. He just assumed girls didn't like what he liked, 'cause he hadn't really known any girls before that.
posted by padraigin at 6:24 PM on November 18, 2010 [5 favorites]


My kids learn early that any kind of ridicule won't be tolerated, and it means the principal and parents are going to be involved.

Because there's nothing like authoritarianism to teach a bully who's boss!
posted by layceepee at 6:26 PM on November 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Every. Single. Time. my three year old goes into the music store, he says (loudly!) "IS THAT A GIRL?!" about the male clerk with long hair. Every. Time.

Also, the 5 year old twins are pretty gender normative too. "DON'T CALL ME 'CUTE'!!! I'M A BOY!"

Basically IM(SomewhatWide)E, kids like to feel like they Know How Things Work and if something violates that they are either interested or judgemental, depending on personality type, but LOUD about it either way.
posted by DU at 6:29 PM on November 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


My neices love Star Wars. Also I have had it explained to me that the 6 episode Star Wars Lego game is pretty complicated and maybe they'll let me play something easier.
posted by ServSci at 6:29 PM on November 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


Because there's nothing like authoritarianism to teach a bully who's boss!

wtf?
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 6:30 PM on November 18, 2010 [25 favorites]


Do kids find someone who does something differently and start to beat it out of her, first with words and sneers?

Why, yes, since you asked. And the fun part is, nearly all of it takes place where parents and principals and teachers never, ever know about it.
posted by FelliniBlank at 6:31 PM on November 18, 2010 [10 favorites]


I'm not sure how things will be 10-15 years from now, but 10-15 years ago*, their was a young woman at our college's freshman orientation who was using an "Empire Strikes Back" lunch box as a purse.

To say that carrying Star Wars paraphernalia was repellent to the young men whom she may have been hoping to attract would be the most oppositely untrue statement ever made.

Not to trivialize the other thing of the same name, but trust me, it gets better.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 6:40 PM on November 18, 2010 [5 favorites]


* That's actually playing fast and loose with my own age but I was trying to do the parallel structure based on the age of first graders.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 6:42 PM on November 18, 2010


also with the spelling of my homophones apparently
posted by MCMikeNamara at 6:43 PM on November 18, 2010


Well, it's not entirely the little boys' faults, or even their parents' faults, for thinking Star Wars is for boys. I think that Star Wars is generally marketed to boys. If all the boys ever knew of Star Wars products was from what they saw in the aisle at Target, then I understand why they would think this way.

We have a whole mindset to change, a mindset that spans generations and every corner of our society, because as it stands -- some toys are marketed for boys, some are marketed for girls.

I'm not making excuses for the boys, but empirically, I see where it's coming from. Hasbro.

However, the fact that the boys thought that it was okay to mock or belittle Katie for any reason, that's all on them and their parents. Jerks.
posted by jabberjaw at 6:43 PM on November 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


Boys can't wear dresses, right? Boys can't have long hair, right?" Can girls be Jedi knights too?

Perhaps the best reason to show the prequels (and the extended universe) to a child I've ever heard.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 6:44 PM on November 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


"If my daughter had dressed as Batman, no one would have thought twice about it. No one."

My Batman/4 year old/gender related story, in which , to my horror, my child denies the Batman. I've not yet come to terms with the fact that she could do such a thing.
posted by Artw at 6:47 PM on November 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


I wonder how much this stuff has changed over the last 20 years or so.

In first grade, I love love loved my plastic K-mart shoes--first, Super Mario Bros., then the TMNT. They were, of course, from the boys' section. While I got teased about other things (mostly for being generically "weird," and mostly by other girls), the shoes were never mentioned. In fact, I remember when one of the adorable little bad-ass spiked hair boys, Kris Mitchell, complimented them and made my tiny six-year-old heart go aflutter.

Toys and clothes were pretty gendered then, but nothing like they are now.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:56 PM on November 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Pardon my strident shrillness here, but the "It's OK, Katie,when you're older, guys will think your Star Wars water bottle is TEH HAWTNESSSSSSSS" theme coming up in the blog comments is not only fucking creepy considering the context but is part of the root problem.

Yes, Katie, someday your nerdy tastes will win you the social approval and sexual attention of males (or females, or whoever), which is, after all, the brass ring in the great merry-go-round of life!

On preview: that's not aimed at you, McMikeNamara, honest.
posted by FelliniBlank at 6:56 PM on November 18, 2010 [11 favorites]


... the kid is hyper-focused on gender roles. "Boys can't wear dresses, right? Boys can't have long hair, right?" Can girls be Jedi knights too?"

My daughter has been yon a princess kick since forever, so when she saw A New Hope her mother and I stressed that, see? A princess can kick ass too, she doesn't have to be dragon-bait*.

*Yeah, Leia isn't the best example of this, but we fortify the lesson with Nausicaa and The Paper-Bag Princess.
posted by lekvar at 6:57 PM on November 18, 2010


Because there's nothing like authoritarianism to teach a bully who's boss!

wtf?


No, layceepee is right. It's a central irony to some people's reaction to bullying is to model the behaviour they want to stop. You want empathetic kids who are curious about each other rather than apprehensive and interest-normative? You have to model that to them. If you model triumph of power, how you can you be surprised when the kids find power in forming homogenous mobs?
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 6:59 PM on November 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


We have a whole mindset to change, a mindset that spans generations and every corner of our society, because as it stands -- some toys are marketed for boys, some are marketed for girls.

Well, yeah. I don't think anyone was saying "THOSE FIRST-GRADERS ARE EVIL" but rather "Oh, fuck. Do we really have to keep doing this?"
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:59 PM on November 18, 2010


No, layceepee is right. It's a central irony to some people's reaction to bullying is to model the behaviour they want to stop. You want empathetic kids who are curious about each other rather than apprehensive and interest-normative? You have to model that to them. If you model triumph of power, how you can you be surprised when the kids find power in forming homogenous mobs?

Ok but this is real life, the alternative to calling the principal is nothing happens.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:02 PM on November 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Toys and clothes were pretty gendered then, but nothing like they are now.

I've got a decade or so on PhoBWan, but I have to concur, my grade school comrades were not exactly touchy-feely new age males, but there were always a few girls who played kickball with the boys rater than hang out with the girls and i remember it wasn't all that big a deal to us.
posted by jonmc at 7:03 PM on November 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think that calling the principal is not modeling "triumph of power" but rather modeling "people need to take the consequences for their actions."

I mean, what, if someone breaks into your house, do you go talk it out with them? No! You call the police. Or the Batman. Whichever.
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:04 PM on November 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


@DarkHorseComics: We're gonna make sure this little girl gets a whole box of #StarWars comics.
posted by kipmanley at 7:04 PM on November 18, 2010 [18 favorites]


I mean, the whole "I don't call the principal because I want to foster negotiation skills" parents always seemed to be parents who had kids who were horrible targets of bullying because the bullies knew they could act without consequences.
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:06 PM on November 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


However, the fact that the boys thought that it was okay to mock or belittle Katie for any reason, that's all on them and their parents. Jerks.

I wouldn't be so harsh without knowing the full story - I mean, these are first graders. Even the author is aware:

The confusing part for me is that I know these first grade boys. I can't simply see them as random mean boys bullying my baby. They are good kids individually, and Katie often plays happily with them.

But when you put the boys together in a pack, maybe they start to feel vulnerable and insecure, which causes them to do unkind things, such as tease my daughter for carrying a Star Wars water bottle.

Maybe they do it to get laughs out of each other. Maybe they do it because if they are busy teasing Katie, nobody will tease one of them. Maybe they do it because they want her attention and have limited social skills at this age.


We all act dumb. It doesn't mean that we are jerks or that our parents failed at parenting.

Or maybe they are jerks and so are the parents. Thing is, we don't know.
posted by bitteroldman at 7:06 PM on November 18, 2010 [5 favorites]


No, layceepee is right. It's a central irony to some people's reaction to bullying is to model the behaviour they want to stop. You want empathetic kids who are curious about each other rather than apprehensive and interest-normative? You have to model that to them. If you model triumph of power, how you can you be surprised when the kids find power in forming homogenous mobs?

Ok but this is real life, the alternative to calling the principal is nothing happens.


When I was a child, my dad once asked me "how can you hit your brother like that?" I felt so bad about it— It left an indelible memory compared with the usual punishments.

Every situation is particular, but my memories of my upbringing suggest that the most effective parenting were appeals to my sense of justice rather than my fear of punishment.
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 7:10 PM on November 18, 2010


Right, but Huck500 just said that principal and parents are involved, not that the bullying children are immediately sent to death row.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:12 PM on November 18, 2010 [5 favorites]


I did not comment because she's gotten a gazillion already and...because I kinda hate Star Wars (ducks). Now if it was Star Trek....

Still, I support any little girl's right to geek out over the space opera franchise of her choosing. Perhaps stories like Katie's will make space opera-writing types think, "Woah, if we wrote a few kickass girl characters we could capture the girl-geek market!! TO OUR LAPTOPS!"

/sighs wistfully
posted by emjaybee at 7:19 PM on November 18, 2010 [6 favorites]


Also, don't take this the wrong way, but is this really bullying?

Is there a difference between being a bully and being a bunch of 6-year-old boys being mean to a 6 year old girl? Don't get me wrong. It sucks, and I would be pretty steamed if my kid were being mean to someone else, especially if he/she were doing it as part of a group... but people can do mean things without being "bullies".

People in groups do stupid things to people who are on the outside. It doesn't mean that they're bullies, does it?

I fear that if we start to tag everything as "bullying", we either are going to dilute and desensitize our reactions to it in the future, or any anti-bullying regulations that a school decides to adopt will become so draconian that teachers, parents and kids will be paranoid to say anything or do anything slightly on the rowdy side.

I'm glad that Katie has a supportive mom. I am glad that she is happy again. And I think what Katie's mom did for her is what we as a society need to do - teach our kids self esteem. Teaching them to love who they are. Teach them that they are OK to be who they are.

But we shouldn't teach them this by stigmatizing 6 year old boys.
posted by bitteroldman at 7:19 PM on November 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


People in groups do stupid things to people who are on the outside. It doesn't mean that they're bullies, does it?

Actually, it does! Also the phrase "being assholes" is generally frowned upon in grade school, so "bullying" provides a useful substitute.

6 year old boys can be bullies. Girls too! And the original blogger even said, she didn't hate those kids, but they were acting in a way that hurt her daughter, who certainly had done nothing to provoke such behavior. Which is kind of the definition of bullying.
posted by emjaybee at 7:22 PM on November 18, 2010 [12 favorites]


It's authoritarian to not allow teasing in your classroom? And it's not like saying "No teasing is allowed in this class" precludes modeling conflict resolution, good behavior, problem-solving, etc.
posted by rtha at 7:25 PM on November 18, 2010


I think that calling the principal is not modeling "triumph of power" but rather modeling "people need to take the consequences for their actions."

The problem is that making fun of people should not have "consequences". People on metafilter make fun of, e.g., American conservatives all the time. Sometimes it's astute criticism, but sometimes it really is stupid and mob-like. The failure in both cases is a failure to understand the other, the consider the individual in preference to the social norm. The "consequences" are realizing that you've hurt someone's feelings.

The consequences are not "you will be punished by the adults," and I don't think they ought to be. How are these instincts going to change with those kinds of "consequences"?

I don't know anyone who has never been a bully in one situation or another. Did you really transform most in response to punishment? I'm curious.

Also, a child is not like an adult criminal. Besides having very little experience to understand the effect of bullying on others, the child is in the most plastic state and I think every effort should be made to transform behaviour. That might mean involving authority figures, but not necessarily in the castigatory way that seemed to be implied by Huck500.
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 7:26 PM on November 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


But we shouldn't teach them this by stigmatizing 6 year old boys.

Yes. Those poor six year old boys. Life will be so hard for them. Won't someone think of the six year old boys?











giant hamburger.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:27 PM on November 18, 2010 [2 favorites]



Also, don't take this the wrong way, but is this really bullying?


Personally I never encountered a lone Nelson Muntz type bully, I'm sure they are out there, they just don't go after someone who tended to be bigger than most. Most of the bullying I encountered was much more the group of otherwise normal kids who are mean in a pack type.

They could find anything to make fun of you for, once I got ridiculed because I explained about the longest field goal in NFL history which I had read about in the Guinness Book of Records. The kids told me everything in the book was just made up and Tom Dempsey never existed. The point is if they want to make fun of you they will pick something at random and do it, the Star Wars bottle isn't necessarily the real issue.

If you have one asshole kid being violent, it's easy to solve. Taking on a classroom of social assholes is a bigger problem, that doesn't get addressed as well as it should. So yeah, I can understand how you wouldn't want to go all authoritarian...but kids need to be warned that even non-violent type bullying has consequences. No matter how much education and conflict resolution you do, the problem will still come up.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:31 PM on November 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


@Sidhedevil: "I mean, what, if someone breaks into your house, do you go talk it out with them? No! You call the police. Or the Batman. Whichever."

Actually, you shoot them, then call the police.
posted by TSOL at 7:33 PM on November 18, 2010


Batman does not shoot people.
posted by Artw at 7:34 PM on November 18, 2010 [5 favorites]


but not necessarily in the castigatory way that seemed to be implied by Huck500.

How the hell is involving parents and the principal castigatory? You don't want to know if your child is teasing a boy for having long hair? The principal talks to the child and tells them that teasing is not acceptable. The parents do the same.

And saying that this wasn't bullying is ludicrous. If the child is afraid to take a thermos to school, there's something wrong.

The idea that you can create a generation of hyper-empathic children by letting them observe empathic adults and then leaving them to their own devices is naive. Get a teaching credential, spend a few years in a classroom, and let us know how it goes.
posted by Huck500 at 7:39 PM on November 18, 2010 [10 favorites]


I was thinking this was front page material, but since it's already on topic, here, read this, it's pretty gut wrenching:

Memoirs of a Bullied Kid
posted by fungible at 7:43 PM on November 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


"Hey kid, you see how Leia is chained around the neck and wearing a metal bikini? Just so you know, that's never ok."

But... but...

Howabout just the metal bikini? Is that okay? Please?
posted by Ghidorah at 7:47 PM on November 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Memoirs of a Bullied Kid

Yeah, that's why there'll be consequences for teasing in my classroom even if it makes me a damned nazi. Sorry.
posted by Huck500 at 7:50 PM on November 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


Memoirs of a Bullied Kid

Yeah.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:51 PM on November 18, 2010


I cling to some faint hope that this is not bullying based on bullies' adherence to normative gender roles — a practice I find to be wrong-headed and repellent in the extreme; and is instead found to be a simple case of bullying based on an aversion to Star Wars fans — a practice with which it is quite hard to find fault. [winking emoticon].
posted by jjjjjjjijjjjjjj at 7:54 PM on November 18, 2010


6 year old boys can be bullies... Girls too!

I completely agree with you. I just don't know if these particular boys are bullies.
From the article, they made fun of her at lunch, probably because they saw her water bottle. We don't know if they made fun of her in class, on the school bus or anywhere else. To me, a bully hates you for you and will torment you whenever he/she gets a chance. They don't hate her for being her. They just don't understand that she likes Star Wars. And this is how they are reacting to not understanding.

To me, being a bully is so much darker than this. It has nothing to do with understanding or not understanding. It has everything to do with hate and anger and a need to lash out.

...but they were acting in a way that hurt her daughter, who certainly had done nothing to provoke such behavior. Which is kind of the definition of bullying

Again I agree with you, but does bullying make you a bully?

I guess to me, the word "bully" is so loaded I am always relucant to use it. If people at work laugh at me because of my pants or my lunch or whatever, and I feel bad about it, are they bullies or just stupid jerks? If a bunch of women come up to me at a club and laugh in my face because of the way I look or dance are they bullies or are they just under the influence of some sort of jerkish groupthink?
posted by bitteroldman at 7:57 PM on November 18, 2010


Howabout just the metal bikini? Is that okay? Please?

Hey, you can wear what you want, this is America, buddy.
posted by emjaybee at 8:03 PM on November 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


I should also give kudos to the author, who never accused these boys of being "bullies".
She just referred to the bullying to which her daughter was victim of.
And it is clear that she doesn't hate these boys either.

She seems like a great mom and a great person.
posted by bitteroldman at 8:03 PM on November 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


From Memoirs of a Bullied Kid:
And so, I will ask you now to not hate the bullies. Experience tells me that hating them, or being angry with them, will always make it worse. Instead, put your arm around them. Love them. Tell them that they are valuable. Tell them that you expect great things from them. They will stop the bullying. They will stop, because they will start to love themselves. And people who love themselves don't bully others.

And with the bullies, it's really that simple. If they actually believe that somebody loves them and believes in them, they will love themselves, they will become better people, and many will even become saviors to the bullied.

If you are a parent to a child who is less than kind to other kids, I'd very much suggest you read my post from last week, You just broke your child. Congratulations. In fact, every parent should read it. As much as we may not want to mentally go there, a lot of the problem may lie in us. If the problem doesn't, the solution does. We all must understand that we have the obligation, as parents, to help our kids love themselves.
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 8:06 PM on November 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


I had this exact same thing happen to me when I was in 1st grade. Only it was a lunchbox. And it was in 1978. So glad to see things have improved in 32 years.
posted by Biblio at 8:09 PM on November 18, 2010


When I was six, I got my ears pierced. One got infected and so I had to take it out. When I went to school the next day, one girl told me I was gay, and the rest of the kids ganged up and chanted gay-gay-gay, and gay kids couldn't be in Suntanning Club at lunchtime (which was essentially a reason for six year old girls to take up all the playground equipment by lying on it).

I didn't know what gay meant, and was too afraid to ask.
posted by avocet at 8:32 PM on November 18, 2010


Sure you can talk to them. Especially if you're as awesome as Studs Terkel.
posted by bagelche at 9:11 PM on November 18, 2010


Not minutes ago someone posted a link the the best bathing suit of all time. For girls!
posted by Windigo at 9:21 PM on November 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Posted on my Facebook, that is.
posted by Windigo at 9:22 PM on November 18, 2010


there were always a few girls who played kickball with the boys rater than hang out with the girls and i remember it wasn't all that big a deal to us.

Yup. That was me. More specifically, we played A-Team, but, y'know, A-Team, kickball...whatever. I do, however, remember being highly irritated that they made me be the girl journalist all the time... I wanted to be Hannibal, damn it.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 9:25 PM on November 18, 2010


From the Memoirs of a Bullied Kid:
The school bus driver didn't help me. In fact, never once did a single person ever help me. Never once did a single kind soul put their arm around me and show me love. Never once did a teacher comfort me when they witnessed it. Never once did a classmate speak up when they heard it. Never once did anybody do anything.

Part of the answer is a teacher doing more than simply telling the bullies to stop. The answer is a warm hand on her pupil's shoulder, a listening ear, warm words of importance, and then finding a reason for the child to come back the next day, and the next, until that child knows that his presence is cherished.
I'm personally an example of what happens when people don't do anything -- you never completely get over the feeling that your presence ISN'T cherished. You never completely trust that your friends wouldn't really notice if you suddenly disappeared one day.

I have friends -- loyal, kind, supportive, wonderful friends -- and yet I still to this very day sometimes feel that if i just walked away from my life, it would take a long time for anyone to even notice I was gone. I believe so little in myself -- even today -- that I don't think anyone really notices me. Even though I know this is completely untrue -- a part of me doesn't quite BELIEVE it's untrue; because if it WERE true, if I DID matter, then why the FUCKING HELL didn't anyone do anything back when I was a kid?...

That is how pervasive, damaging, and far-reaching bullying can be. Even if it's "just words and teasing."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:32 PM on November 18, 2010 [24 favorites]


Well, it's not entirely the little boys' faults, or even their parents' faults, for thinking Star Wars is for boys. I think that Star Wars is generally marketed to boys.

you think it's the marketing? i've seen it quite a few times, but giving myself the time it takes to type this, i can't think of more than four female speaking roles over the course of the first three movies, including the 'many buttholes died to bring us this information' chick and the one announcing 'the moon with the rebel base will be in range in x minutes' (if that was indeed a female--and the two might be the same one).
posted by fallacy of the beard at 9:51 PM on November 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


I hope Leia ends up as a role model for my daughters. The series doesn’t even get to Empire without her taking charge of the death star prison break.
posted by pickinganameismuchharderthanihadanticipated at 10:02 PM on November 18, 2010


The mother is talking about a a daughter. I've known two families with boys who liked pink, Barbie, etc., and in both cases suffered physical violence in addition to taunting and teasing.

I'm not saying such violence is confined to boys, I'm not saying physical violence is more "scarring" than verbal or emotional abuse, etc. But in light of this story and my friends' experiences, I want to do further reading on differing responses to nonheteronormativity in a 2x2 matrix of boy/girl interactions at that age (how boys treat boys, girls treat boys, and so on.)
posted by quarantine at 10:19 PM on November 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


My little girl is gonna play hardball, right with the boys, as softball ruins baseball reflexes. Unless she choses to play Field Hockey, in which case I will wear a skirt in solidarity.

Serious, she's only one year old, and she 1) loves her some duplo blocks and 2) likes pretending to talk on the phone in a chatty-chatty voice, just like her Grandma, with something she made with duplo. Yes, she does girly things, but she's not above getting her fingers dirty to achieve her goals.

Yes, I understand this will all fall to hell once she discovers Sweet Valley High novels. Doesn't mean I won't hide Pratchett's Tiffany Aching novels in places other parents hide porn. Oh, no, you weren't meant to read that, whatever you do, don't read anymore of them! (Heh heh heh.)

And, finally, my Dad's advice to me was "Make like a shadow" - hide, and they'll leave you alone. No they fucking won't. My advice will be "Shine like a star" - They will hate you no matter what you do or how you do it, and their hate is worthless. Do what you do to please yourself, and only take pleasure in goals met, promises kept, and something well learned.
posted by Slap*Happy at 10:29 PM on November 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


tonight we watched The Empire Strikes Back until Luke meets up with Vader on Endor

No, you didn't.
posted by hippybear at 11:57 PM on November 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


The school bus driver didn't help me. In fact, never once did a single person ever help me.

I was in 1st grade when I beat someone up for the first time. I remember his name: Dougie. He was making fun of a girl that I was friends with because she was black. I don't know why I felt it was wrong, or felt it was wrong so strongly as to attack him, but afterward—after beating him up, after I had to go to the principal, after my parents were called in to school from work, after we had a nice long chat about how it's wrong to hit people—after all that on the ride home… and I remember this exactly: we had stopped at a red light, and my mother turned to me and told me what a good thing it was that I had done that day. It's the responsibility of the strong to protect the weak. This can mean parents and teachers as much as it can mean other children.

I know this isn't exactly a shining example of love and tolerance, MLK-style, but when I think about bullies, I cannot help but think about this incident. I mean, it's like some kind of reflex now. The event so affected me and stays with me to this day. Bullies come in all shapes and sizes: as adults, they're the guy that cut you in line, the asshole that comes in to the coffee shop every day to give you a hard time, the group of jerks that have to make abusive comments when you walk by because they're safe in a pack… they all need to be confronted and beaten the hell up.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 12:34 AM on November 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


Man, kids suck. And then they grow into ADULTS.
posted by tehloki at 1:33 AM on November 19, 2010


I recently read Delusions of Gender: The Real Science Behind Sex Differences by Cordelia Fine (more) and she points out that even young children strongly police gender roles when they're in groups. They'll play with the "wrong" toys alone, but make sure they stick to the "right" ones if there are other kids around.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 2:15 AM on November 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


Also, don't take this the wrong way, but is this really bullying?

I don't see it as bullying either -- more like six year old kids repeating the stuff that's been handed down to them about gender roles. "Star Wars isn't a girls movie -- it's about robots and spaceships and guns, so it's a BOY'S movie."

Probably less that these boys are deliberately trying to be hurtful to this kid -- but the 'boys do x and girls do y' thing has always been pretty common among kids who are learning to negotiate their gender identity. The little girl finds it hurtful because it clashes with her idea of what it meant to be a little girl, and it's tragic because she's modifying her sense of what's socially acceptable in order to fit these gender roles, but all of them are simply modelling the attitudes and mores of the wider society.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:29 AM on November 19, 2010


Or what TheophileEscargot said, more eloquently and concisely.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:31 AM on November 19, 2010


Batman does not shoot people.

If he's not home when somebody breaks into his house, does Alfred shoot people?


I thought this entire gender-enforcement thing had died a richly-deserved death. Then my first-grader got remarks because of her Ortiz T-shirt. It was blue, when obviously I should have bought a pink one. That was followed by lessons in Correct Thought prompted by her Spider-Man lunchbox. I suspect a lot of it is an expression of envy.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:51 AM on November 19, 2010


First graders are really into gender roles for some reason.

It's not only gender roles, it's a need to classify people and insist on strict rules to be followed by them according to the box they're in. I distinctly remember being draconian, to the point of being anxious about it. So "this table is for kids, this table is for grown ups". "Boys wear pants, girls wear dresses" - despite the fact that I wore pants 99 percent of the time.

And this attitude is fostered by how stories depict the world to kids. It's like stories, objects, depictions marketed towards kids feed us codes instead of multifaceted descriptions, and kids enjoy those codes, feel more secure for having a shorthand. Like the dress thing.

I remember an animation series about a little Viking boy, and the massive argument that ensued when the majority of our class insisted that the kid is a GIRL because clearly he is depicted wearing a SKIRT. This, despite the kid's father's constant referral to him as "my son".
posted by Omnomnom at 5:17 AM on November 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


You should have heard the uproar that ensued in my college Intro to Poetry course this semester when I remarked in passing that we don't actually know the sex or gender of either of these people.
posted by FelliniBlank at 5:30 AM on November 19, 2010


Hm. I guess the person on the left in The Kiss could be a female wrestler? Look at that neck!
posted by Omnomnom at 5:43 AM on November 19, 2010


i'm accepting donations to buy me this. it is a worthy cause, and i will send those donating $20 or more a picture of me wearing it.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 5:47 AM on November 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Little kids' clothes etc are so strongly gendered that during my daughter's first week of preschool, her teacher forgot she was a girl. She had recently asked us to cut her hair into a mohawk like her big brother's, and she always wears jeans and t-shirts handed down from her brothers (she has access to girl-type clothes and almost universally rejects them). On the one hand, I can't really blame the teacher--most times little girls are wearing on their bodies somewhere between 6 and 10 explicit markers of gender. So a kid who has none of those must be a boy, right? On the other hand--there are only 10 kids in the class. And it's not like the teacher hadn't met her before.
posted by not that girl at 6:11 AM on November 19, 2010


The boy jedi wore dresses. Just sayin'
posted by digitalprimate at 6:28 AM on November 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


I do, however, remember being highly irritated that they made me be the girl journalist all the time... I wanted to be Hannibal, damn it.

I ain't flyin' on no plane, bitter-girl!
posted by grubi at 6:33 AM on November 19, 2010


It got so bad, and my despair grew so deep, that by the middle of sixth grade the only thing I could do was wish that John and Mike would die. I would pray nightly for something, anything, anybody to come and kill them. I would fantasize about gruesome car accidents, fire-filled buildings, and random violence coming to my aid. I would not have cried one tear had those two boys ended up covered in dirt, resting eternally in pine boxes. In fact, I would have been happy. Very, very happy.
I had a incredibly similar experience to SDL. And since I was a fat girl I was subject to bullying from boys and girls. Strangely the boys were worse. I used to wish they'd die with every fiber of my being.

Then, the summer between 9th and 10th grade, one of them did, from brain cancer. I laughed when I heard about it. I felt vindicated.

And almost 20 years later I still don't feel guilty about laughing.

Bullying changes who you are as a person. You can only brush off so much cruelty before it eats away at your insides. I'm an introvert who still fears getting close to people and probably won't have kids because I'm too scared I won't be able to protect them from shit like this.

I wonder who I might be if I hadn't been mercilessly bullied.
posted by elsietheeel at 6:50 AM on November 19, 2010 [7 favorites]


Obligatory.
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:12 AM on November 19, 2010


Constant teasing can result in this girl's self esteem, self worth, and cause fear and can cause depression. It happened to me and you know, by the time I was in 7th grade I had pretty strong suicidal thoughts because of it (along with the home conflict).

How about kids start to be responsible for being assholes and knock it off? Some people can brush off sticks and stones thinking while others take teasing to heart and it can have tragic results.

@elsietheel--I'm with you except now I'm pretty "FU" about people and tell them so. But from grammar school through early college--not so much. It's been a long road to get to the FU part of my life nearing 40. 40 years is a long time to feel worthless because other people are assholes to you and no one stops them.

Anyway, my goal is to teach my son to be open with me about people teasing, bullying, etc before it gest to erode his self worth or worse. And if he thinks it's funny or cool to bully, he's got another thing coming.
posted by stormpooper at 7:24 AM on November 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Boys can't wear dresses, right? Boys can't have long hair, right?" Can girls be Jedi knights too?

Perhaps the best reason to show the prequels (and the extended universe) to a child I've ever heard.


Eh, the EU stuff is pretty good in that regard but Leia is a way better role model than Padme, and all the female jedi in the prequels are just token background characters who mostly suck and die like all the other background jedi.

What does Padme do? Marry a douchebag who admits slaughtering woman and children to her, later he violently assaults her out of jealousy while she is pregnant, she dies of a broken heart because it turns out the guy who earlier told her about slaughtering woman and children is evil.

Leia is a much stronger character in just about every way.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:40 AM on November 19, 2010 [4 favorites]


Regarding the Memoirs of a Bullied Kid link. Yeah, that hits close to home. Except for one thing. I truly, honestly do not believe that bullies are insecure, or that they just need love, or that they are hurting too. In the majority, they are not deeply damaged children who only know how to lash out. They are normal. They think it's funny. It has no emotional weight to them at all. They don't even think about it.
posted by Nothing at 7:48 AM on November 19, 2010 [4 favorites]


Leia is a much stronger character in just about every way.

Yeah, that's true, but it was still pretty excellent of Padme to give Katie some personal encouragement.
posted by Balonious Assault at 8:13 AM on November 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


Someone should just take the boys aside and point out that they're violating the Third Commandment.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 8:46 AM on November 19, 2010


Serious, she's only one year old, and she 1) loves her some duplo blocks and 2) likes pretending to talk on the phone in a chatty-chatty voice, just like her Grandma, with something she made with duplo. Yes, she does girly things, but she's not above getting her fingers dirty to achieve her goals.

Just be ready for the day she comes home from creche at three, upset because a bunch of the little girls in her creche started telling her "You're not a girl, girl's don't play in the sandpit."

Three, for fuck's sake.

(Fortunately Daddy was able to make that one better, but it's an ongoing struggle...)
posted by rodgerd at 10:21 AM on November 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


esprit de l'escalier, I think your optimism about human nature is lovely, I really do.

The thing is that I am an adult mocking other adults. I also almost invariably snark up the hierarchy--my mocking James Frey or Barack Obama or Rush Limbaugh isn't reinforcing my social superiority over them, but rather trying to deflate a bit of their social superiority over me.

One girl being mocked by a group of boys is having her social inferiority to them reinforced. Which is bullying.

And I think the person who wrote the Memoirs of a Bullied Kid that you quote is wrong about the general experience of bullying, whether or not he or she is spot-on about his or her own experience of bullying. Heck, I know someone who self-identifies as black and who is a Confederate Army re-enactor, but I would hardly use him as an example of how black people in general respond to the cult of the Confederacy.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:36 AM on November 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


OK, back home and have Delusions of Gender to hand. There's an interesting experiment described in Chapter 21 p228:
In one study, three- to five-year-old pre-schoolers in two child-care classrooms were randomly assigned to the Blue group or the Red group. Over a three-week period all the children wore a red or blue T-shirt every day... In one classroom...the colour groups were not mentioned again. But in the other classroom, the teachers made constant use of the two categories. Children's cubbies were decorated with blue and red labels, at the door they were told to line up with Blues on this side and Reds on that side, and they were regularly referred to by group label ("Good morning, Blues and Reds"). At the end of the three weeks, the experimenters canvassed each child's opinion on a number of matters... The children, for example, preferred toys they were told were liked by their own group and expressed a greater desire to play with other Red (or Blue) children. While some forms of favouritism were common to all the children, more was seen in kids from the classroom in which teachers had made a bigger deal out of the Red versus Blue dichotomy.

Just imagine how powerfully exactly the same psychological mechanisms can drive in-group pride and out-group prejudice when it comes to gender. In a young child's world, gender is the social category that stands out above all others, right from the start...
posted by TheophileEscargot at 10:57 AM on November 19, 2010 [5 favorites]


Sidhedevil - interestingly, you may have shed light on why some kids bully. When you mock people to bring them closer to your level, how do you know that little kids aren't doing the same thing? Is it hard to believe that the boys that made fun of Katie were actually envious of her possession of a Star Wars mug? By mocking her, in the only way they know how - reinforcing bad gender roles - maybe they were doing the exact thing you do by mocking famous people.
posted by jabberjaw at 11:22 AM on November 19, 2010


The harmful effects of bullying can lead to suicide. Please take it seriously, and do something about it if it happens to someone you know.
posted by Brocktoon at 11:50 AM on November 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


I went to visit my first grade daughter in school today, and here's a story she had hanging out in the hallway: "When I was a Turkeyosaurus, somebody captured me. I ran away and ate them. My name is Rexie. On Thanksgiving I will eat the guy that is a scaredy cat. I will go into the town and eat the guy that is a scaredy cat. The end." The girl is crazy into dinosaurs (and the Mario Brothers. And to a lesser extent, Star Wars). The number one thing she wanted for her sixth birthday was a pink dinosaur nightgown. I searched for months , online and off, and couldn't find a single one available for purchase. Did find about a bajillion types of boy dino pjs, of course. Luckily, thanks to the awesome guys at wearscience, I was able to custom print an oversize pink T-shirt for her to wear as a night gown.

Anyway, to heck with gender norms, especially with kids.
posted by ewagoner at 12:09 PM on November 19, 2010


By mocking her, in the only way they know how - reinforcing bad gender roles - maybe they were doing the exact thing you do by mocking famous people.

OH NO I AM BULLYING RUSH LIMBAUGH!

Sorry, but I think that's arrant bullshit. Is it possible that the boys were mocking her because they were jealous? Certainly. Is that the same thing as using satire as a weapon to deflate the powerful? Absolutely not.

However, El Rushbo is welcome to call the principal on me anytime.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:56 PM on November 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


The thing is that I am an adult mocking other adults. I also almost invariably snark up the hierarchy--my mocking James Frey or Barack Obama or Rush Limbaugh isn't reinforcing my social superiority over them, but rather trying to deflate a bit of their social superiority over me.

That's pretty much exactly the motivation behind picking on kids that do well in school.
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 4:24 PM on November 19, 2010


The thing is that I am an adult mocking other adults. I also almost invariably snark up the hierarchy--my mocking James Frey or Barack Obama or Rush Limbaugh isn't reinforcing my social superiority over them, but rather trying to deflate a bit of their social superiority over me.

That's pretty much exactly the motivation behind picking on kids that do well in school.


Yes, similarly if I assassinated the president that would be just like when I shot a rubber band at the teacher behind her back.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:40 PM on November 19, 2010


OK, last post about this...

I had parent-teacher conferences this week. A parent told me that her daughter is teasing the autistic boy in my class by telling him that she's his girlfriend and then breaking up with him, over and over, among other things. She's smart, so she's done this out at recess and basically where I won't see it.

What's the solution here? My autistic child is a really interesting, brilliant person with a lot to offer the class, and that's how I treat him in front of the other children. At this point, when the boy does something like knowing pretty much where every country on the map is, the other children say something like, "Tom (not his real name) knows everything, doesn't he?"

Somehow this girl is still treating him like crap. So I should just let it go, or should I tell her it's not acceptable and there will be consequences if it continues?

She's going to miss out on recess if it doesn't stop... or maybe I should just let her continue to tease this boy so I'm not an authoritarian douche.

Again, if you haven't been in charge of a group of children, how do you have an opinion on this? Children don't conform to an ideal, they're like any other group of humans, all different.
posted by Huck500 at 5:27 PM on November 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


What does Padme do? Marry a douchebag who admits slaughtering woman and children to her, later he violently assaults her out of jealousy while she is pregnant, she dies of a broken heart because it turns out the guy who earlier told her about slaughtering woman and children is evil.
I have decided that the doctor who said Padme died of a broken heart just did not understand about the Force and was talking out of his ass. Anakin and Padme had forged a Force-bond that linked their life energy. When Anakin was fatally wounded, he instinctively drew on the bond and healed himself by draining away Padme's life force. Anakin killed Padme (presumably inadvertently) in the process of saving his own life. The possibility of this sort of vampiric life-theft may well be why Jedi were discouraged from love affairs.
posted by Karmakaze at 7:22 PM on November 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, this charge of authoritarianism... what does it mean? I understand the sarcasm of the statement Because there's nothing like authoritarianism to teach a bully who's boss! if by authoritarianism one means hitting a kid to teach him/her that violence is bad, or shaming and belittling a child to demonstrate that ridiculing other children is bad, or indicating that the child should/shouldn't do something just because "I'm bigger and I say so."

But I don't understand how involving parents and the principal is the same as bullying behavior if this means having discussions about why abusive behavior is unacceptable, and introducing consequences if explanation and persuasion aren't enough. ("If you insist on beating up another kid every recess now that we've talked about how this is a bad thing, then you don't get to join the other kids for recess until that behavior changes," for example.)

If this is authoritarian and thus bad, what is the better, non-authoritarian way to do it?
posted by taz at 3:18 AM on November 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, this charge of authoritarianism... what does it mean? I understand the sarcasm of the statement Because there's nothing like authoritarianism to teach a bully who's boss! if by authoritarianism one means hitting a kid to teach him/her that violence is bad, or shaming and belittling a child to demonstrate that ridiculing other children is bad, or indicating that the child should/shouldn't do something just because "I'm bigger and I say so."

That's what I had in mind.
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 11:17 PM on November 21, 2010


My daughter dressed as Batman
posted by Artw at 4:21 PM on December 8, 2010


I have decided that the director and scriptwriter who said Padme died of a broken heart just did not understand about movies and was talking out of his ass.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:27 PM on December 8, 2010


Follow-up on this story, from CNN.

'The Force' is with you, Katie
Back in Evanston, Carrie Goldman was feeling good. Since she had written about the water bottle incident, other parents at Katie's school had talked to their kids. School leaders were supportive, and working on an anti-bullying program.

Something else was happening, too: Traffic on Goldman's blog was exploding.

Some 1,200 people had left messages there for Katie. Readers were coming from Yates' blog, where more than 3,000 more comments stacked up. There were links from "Star Wars" message boards, parenting blogs, tech sites. A Twitter hashtag, #maytheforcebewithkatie, streaked across social media.

Guys and gals of all ages wrote about how they'd been bullied, and how life had gotten so much better since then. They shared that they loved "Star Wars," that they wore glasses, that they were adopted -- just like Luke, just like Leia, just like Katie.

ThinkGeek, a nerdy online retailer, sent Katie a lightsaber. Artist Scott Zirkel sent a cartoon of Katie as a Jedi, glasses and all. A first-grade class in California sent letters to Katie as a show of support.

Taber and the rest of the cast of "Star Wars: The Clone Wars," sent "Star Wars" merch. Ashley Eckstein, who voices the female Jedi Ahsoka Tano, sent Her Universe clothes tailored for girls. Tom Kane, who voices Yoda, escorted the Goldmans to a screening near their home.

The thousands of comments left online will be bound into a book for Katie to read whenever she needs it. To keep a sense of normality at home, the family reads just a few every night.

Katie, and her parents, have learned that the universe is so much bigger than the first grade.

"You realize how, if you want someone who has something in common, all you have to do is reach out," Goldman said. "It feels really, really good. What we want is for it to feel good for other people."

Katie is donating many of the books and toys to other kids.
:)
posted by zarq at 3:48 PM on December 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


Who the hell is cutting onions? *sniff*
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 4:37 PM on December 9, 2010


The follow-up blog post, Adopted by the Geeks and Nerds, is great too. It looks like Katie has a whole army of geeks and nerds who have her back, and a ton of new Star Wars swag, but best of all she has a one heck of a wonderful mom.
posted by Balonious Assault at 4:39 PM on December 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


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