I was unsurprised a few days ago when Rush Limbaugh called a woman who uses birth control a slut, as this is hardly a new thing for him to harp on about. The response, while certainly appropriate to his comments, has been striking precisely because it is a new response to what had at first appeared to me to be the same old misogyny. Limbaugh called a woman who uses birth control a slut and suddenly everyone is paying attention, unlike all the other times he’s vilified women who want to control their reproductive lives.
The difference this time is that Limbaugh called a white professional woman a slut. Normally he restricts his comments to either insulting women in general or making it clear that the women he hates on are also marginalized along race and class lines. You know, those other women who use birth control. The bad ones. The ones that his listener base want to define themselves in opposition to, rather than the ones they want their daughters to identify with.
As much as I am delighted to see advertisers pulling away and networks dropping him, it’s very sad to me that this is not because Limbaugh hates women but because he has finally made clear to his audience that he includes white professional women in with all the other women that he hates.
I have recently been asked by a few different people about how parents can increase awesomeness around LGBT issues and be good allies to kids.
I know frankly zilch about parenting so my ideas are:
1) School board elections are really important, and calling your school board members all the time doesn’t hurt. The Anoka-Hennepin suicides might have been preventable with a better school board. These are tiny elections that not a lot of people pay attention to, so it’s relatively easy to affect the outcome.
2) Demand inclusive curriculum and comprehensive sex ed.
3) Letting your kids interact positively with a lot of different people is cool, and it’s probably for the best if you live in an integrated, diverse neighborhood.
5) Be aware that it may not be your kid who is having the issue and that it may be a kid whose parents are not supportive of them. This will still impact your child’s learning experience and it’s still okay to speak out. If you think something weird is going on, keep a record.
6) While it’s appropriate to help kids learn about formal versus informal events and dressing appropriately in general, the gender socialization that generally goes with this can be oppressive for kids who don’t have typical gender identities – your daughter may want pants, your son may want a dress or just something pretty. Kids may want to experiment with their hair or makeup. This may be passing or it may be long term, but either way, they’re just clothes. Focus on dressing appropriately for the weather, activities, and formal occasions.
7) There is lots of media out there, for adults and children. I know zilch about children’s books other than the legendary Heather Has Two Mommies, but I am sure the internet or your local independent bookseller can help you. For adults, I recommend the French movie La Vie En Rose.
8) Don’t be afraid to tell other people off, especially if they’re espousing views that are likely to result in more dead kids. People who like dead kids are creepy and you don’t need them to like you. This goes double for anyone who is an authority figure in your child’s life. Figure out who to complain to and complain like mad.
If you have other thoughts, please leave a comment. This is in no way meant to be an exhaustive list but more a place to start.