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Monday, August 15, 2011

Slippery slopes

It's funny, the connections that one can make from seemingly unrelated discussions. I read an interesting article on the usually-sarcastic but sometimes-dead-on website Cracked.com this morning, about some extreme policies in place at various public schools. It's an entertaining read in its own right, and one might think that it would be an excellent springboard for a little homeschooling soapboxing.

The Six Dumbest Things Schools are Doing in the Name of Safety

But I find myself thinking in a different direction, based on this one passage that beautifully nails the idea of the slippery-slope, panic-based, black-and-white-thinking argument:

If allowing children to be photographed playing soccer or doing a drama club performance of Fiddler on the Roof is enough to turn on pedophiles, then we probably just have to accept that fact. The next step is just throwing a tarp over the students any time they're in public for fear that someone nearby is getting aroused.

Throwing a tarp over them? Gee, that sounds familiar. Like, maybe one of my other favored soapboxes: breastfeeding support/awareness/rights...

Are we really so mired in fear that we cannot see this kind of thinking for what it is? Hiding a shameless activity (whether it be children playing or infants eating) because of the possibility that someone, somewhere, is getting perverse pleasure from viewing the event, is to acknowledge that the activity is shameful. It's pure "s/he was asking for it", blame-the-victim mentality. It's offensive and unfair and absurd.

I have an ex-friend who was extremely bold in her negative judgment of many of my actions. You know the kind, someone who will criticize you based on their values, "for your own good". One of her most biting comments was her accusation that by posting images of my pregnant belly on the Internet, I was inviting sexual deviants to use them for nefarious purposes.

Yup. Apparently I was guilty of child abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, perversion, you name it...because maybe someone somewhere might see a photo of my swollen abdomen and think, "oh God YES!!!"

Guess what? Their problem, not mine.

There is a line between exhibitionism and fetishism, and people seem increasingly unable to discern it. If I'm posing in a lascivious fashion with a sultry look on my face and obviously revealing clothing...yeah, maybe I am asking for it. But if I'm just sitting on a park bench wearing my flip-flops and someone with a foot fetish gets all hot and bothered at the sight of my naked piggies...that's on them, not on me. And I'm sure as hell not going to shun open-toed shoes--or worse, attack those people who choose to wear them--because of a pretty unlikely "what if?".

Let's stop overthinking these things, could we? Maybe a mother nursing her child is exactly that, and not an exhibitionist. Maybe someone who casually observes her is just a passing pedestrian and not a predator. Maybe someone who takes photographs of children just loves photography. Or that child. If you haven't been following the news from across the pond, it may surprise you to know that there is a push in England to ban all public phototography of children...even your own. Everyone, it seems, is guilty until proven innocent. Oh wait, I haven't seen much in the way of the opportunity to "prove". Just guilty.

A friend of mine was accosted by a neighbor a while back. Her "crime"? She and her daughter were on a walk...part of a homeschool activity...and were taking photographs of various features of their environment: trees, wildflowers, etc. The neighbor saw this young mother and child on a stroll in a residential neighborhood and freaked out that they were *casing the area*.

Seriously?

Have we become so isolated and paranoid that we are instantly suspicious when we see anyone actually out on the streets? Come on, people...broad daylight. "Seen and not heard" is becoming less of a throwback and more of a social expectation, as we allow fear to convince us that everyone is out to get us. This xenophobia is robbing us of community and turning us into a society of individuals. Very frightened, mistrustful individuals.

1 comment:

  1. Amen! I said to a friend of mine last week, on her comment about girls in bikini's, that people freak out too much. And while I am creeped out by the over-sexualization of girls especially, some things are just innocent. I got told last year that I shouldn't let my daughter take off her bathing suit at the beach, because of child pornographers. She was 3. She didn't want to get her bathing suit wet, and no amount of convincing that that was the whole idea BEHIND a bathing suit would convince her otherwise. I didn't really see the big deal. And I don't want my daughter to grow up ashamed of her body based on the small population of people who "might" get off on that. Really, I have no control over that. When/if they approach my child, thats another matter. But to temper EVERYONE'S behaviour, just on the off chance that some sicko is watching? Hey, if that's there thing...then yes its creepy- but I can't do anything about it. I really like your flip-flop analogy. Basically, everything you said was spot on.

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