Sometimes I wonder if my view about the serious nature of our society’s continued devaluation of children is unrealistic. Maybe I really should be like everyone else and just live as if it is one of those things that everyone knows about but no one talks about. I’m serious. This is not sarcasm. It would make my life so much easier if I could somehow convince myself that the things I’ve seen and the things I’ve learned are of no importance. Then I could be that happy, positive-type person that everyone else seems to be striving for.
So I second guess posts like the one I made yesterday. Does it matter that Hollywood will always promote the social norm that parents can do whatever they want and children don’t matter? From the reviews of the film, it doesn’t seem to matter. It seems that we are all very happy with the idea that children should be forced to accept family members into their lives regardless of their own pain.
And then I get bored, spend time on YouTube (something I rarely do) and find something like this:
It’s an older video, obviously, but nonetheless relevant.
This is what happens because we really do not truly care about anyone who suffers, particularly who suffer at the hands of those more powerful than them. It’s a weird hierarchy that lands the perpetrator in the seat of sympathy time and again. And it doesn’t matter where we are from or what we believe, all nations, all belief systems, or non-belief systems, harbor the same opinions.
As I mentioned yesterday, this is a social norm. It affects anyone who does not hold some sort of power. Children are the most powerless, so they are the most abused by our social norm. Within children, there are gender and racial divides that allow us to tolerate the sexual predation of a black girl while finding it appalling when it happens to a white girl, and usually ignoring it when it happens to any boy. But in all cases never really doing anything to stop it from happening again, especially if it was done by a parent, or some other relative.
We as a society have accepted the norm that parents are given carte blanche to do whatever they want to their children. Oh, there are a few who are against it, but that pits them against nearly every society on the planet so it is barely a drop in the ocean.
We as a society have agreed to ignore children, all children. We dismiss them and their needs because, for the vast majority of parents, children are just a showpiece. I mean, ask yourself why you had children in the first place. Not many of us gave it any thought. And having a copy of ourselves (actual reason given to me by many) or wanting to love someone, are not thoughtful reasons.
I was told, from the time I was a little girl, that I would grow up and have children. This is the only purpose god made me for and to avoid this would make me miserable. The only way a woman could be happy was to marry and serve her husband and raise a family. Everything else was against god’s plan. And we all know what happens when you go against god’s plan:
Isn’t religion so positive and uplifting?
Most people have children because it is expected of them. The pressure is on from childhood. Ask anyone you know who is single and/or childless and just spent the holiday with family. They likely got an annoying earful about their refusal to give into that particular social norm. Childless people are a threat to the status quo and are probably only viewed as one step above children by most.
As a result of society’s dismissal of children, we ignore those who tell us that some other person, adult or other child, is abusing them. And when they are finally listened to, and proved right, crap like what’s described in the video happens. The child rapist gets let off with a slap, and the child gets swept under the rug, told to shut up and deal with it themselves. No one has time for them. The courts never order a child rapist to pay for a lifetime of therapy it will take to recover from the trauma. Our society does not help them. In the US, where healthcare is another enforced social hierarchy, the few insurance companies that will cover psychologist visits give the insured only eight visits a year. That is definitely not enough to take care of any sort of trauma at all.
Our social norms are agreed upon rules that we all live by in order to keep order around us. Most of us are raised to conform to them regardless of whether they are right or wrong. We might pay lip-service to the idea that they are bad, but we do nothing. This is because there are so few people who would actually stand together and do something that it’s like a beaver building a dam to hold back a tsunami.
It never works. It never changes. Because most people are OK, obviously, with the idea that we as parents can hold all the power and do what we want, all we have to do is say “sorry” and that makes everything OK.
Again, I do not believe that this was ever Mr Rogers’ message. It was only the message of the film. But it is society’s message, and while Mr Rogers worked to elevate the worth of the child, he was just one beaver, building a little stick dam to fight back the onslaught of billions of other people who cannot, or will not, fathom the idea of change.