Ok, there are two pressing—but completely unrelated—topics that I want to tackle this week: Thanksgiving and Matt Lauer. Forgive the disjointedness!
Thanksgiving: I love food. I love being with my family. I love Thanksgiving. I get to enjoy the company of my cousins, who I only get to see once or twice a year. I get to carbo-load HEAVY (gimme that stuffing, mashed potatoes, and biscuits, please). Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays. For those of you who don’t obsessively read social justice family blogs like me (lol), you may not realize that Thanksgiving—despite the warm and cozy and family-centered associations that I have with it—is not the most culturally sensitive (word choice—anti-oppressive? anti-racist?) holiday. It comes with a host of culturally appropriative and problematic narratives of pilgrims and ‘Indians.’ At only 16 months, A is too young to have gotten any messages about the ‘first Thanksgiving’, where ‘Indians’ and pilgrims came together to eat in peaceful harmony. Next year—or maybe the year after that—A is going to start hearing this narrative and being exposed to stereotypic and antiquated perceptions of Native Americans. And I need to think of a strategy to talk with him about that narrative that doesn’t engage in stereotyping or romanticizing or other-izing Native Americans.
How do we ditch the stereotyping of ‘Indians’ and erasure of Native American genocide that goes along with Thanksgiving, but still maintain the celebration of family and gratitude?
Matt Lauer: These men keep falling. The entertainment and news world is in a reckoning. And only the men who aren’t abusive assholes/sexual predators will be left standing, thank god. My thoughts turn, of course, to how to raise a son who doesn’t become an abusive asshole, no matter how powerful of a position he finds himself in. What did Matt Lauer’s and Harvey Weinstein’s parents do? I don’t mean to scapegoat parents for their sons’ actions exclusively—I think that is unfair to the parents (there’s a whole host of other socializing factors in a child’s life—school, media, peers, other family, etc.) and removes blame from the perpetrators themselves.
But I have to hold out hope that parents have a role in either fostering toxic masculinity in their sons or discouraging (destroying? Dismantling?) it. I’m hoping that all of this empathy-building and explicit conversations of (and displays of) emotions are developmentally appropriate ways to start preventing that toxic masculinity mindset. Obviously, I can’t tackle sexual harassment and predation with a 16-month-old. But the actions of Matt Lauer and other men are rooted in the whole jumbled-up, clusterfuck of normative masculinity and power. And preventing that starts in infancy.
Dang, I really, really hope A isn’t an asshole when he’s an adult.
My disjointed, but topical, thoughts for the week.