We were all children once. Many of us suffered at the hands of the adults (and society) that held power over us, as children. Many of us are still hurting, even though we no longer are children and we are enjoying privileges granted to us based on age alone.
Why then, do so many project that…
It’s time to share this again. From Anji, Shut Up, Sit Down
As a child:
- I am not legally allowed to vote, even though government makes decisions about me and people like me.
- If I need a caregiver, he or she will not be my peer.
- It is often considered acceptable, appropriate and even desirable for my caregiver to physically assault me if I do not please them.
- In many places I can legally be physically disciplined in my place of education.
- If I am hit, even once, by a loved one, that is not normally legally considered abuse.
- It is likely that I am smaller than the person assaulting me, and that I will be unable to defend myself.
- If I am behaving in a way others do not like (or my caregiver has decided they no longer wish to be in a certain place), it is considered acceptable to physically pick me up and forcibly remove me from the area/situation.
- If I am routinely yelled at, criticized, and belittled in my own home, this might not generally be recognised as abusive behaviour.
- My physical and emotional needs are often not treated as reasonable and important.
- If I am angry or upset, this is often not taken seriously and I am often condescended and patronised.
- I am almost always dependent on others for my economic support.
- I do not get to make choices about family finances, when to spend money and on what.
- If I am allowed to earn money at all, it will be at a lower rate than adults doing exactly the same work.
- I am routinely ignored or told to be quiet.
- If I am the only child in a group of people, I will often be shut out of the conversation or patronised.
- It is considered acceptable to talk over me or to interrupt me while I am speaking.
- When I display age-appropriate behaviour, other people find it unacceptable.
- I cannot be ‘noisier/more active than average’ in a public place without people questioning my right to be in that place.
- If I am ‘noisier/more active than average’ in a public place I risk myself and my caregiver being thrown out.
- I cannot speak in public to a group of people without putting people my age on trial.
- I do not have free choice with my language. If I use ‘unacceptable’ words I will often be punished.
- If I am suffering from mental health problems, I am often dismissed and have them put down to my age.
- Adults often feel they have the right to harass me.
- Adults feel it is their right to talk to me even after I make it clear I do not wish to talk to them.
- Adults feel it is their right to touch me (tousle my hair, pinch my cheek) without my permission.
- Society and the media often portray people like me in a negative light.
- The media often describes people like me as lazy, ignorant or criminal.
- People often make decisions on my behalf and tell me that they know better than I do what is best for me.
- The world is not generally sized to fit me:
- I am not usually able to find a seat which is made for somebody my size.
- Light switches, windows, sinks and toilets are not usually positioned for someone my size to be able to reach easily.
- I cannot be certain that I will be able to lock the door to my bathroom stall or reach the toilet paper once I’m sitting down.
- It is very possible that I might find myself trapped somewhere that I cannot leave without assistance.
- Silverware, plates, and glasses will usually not be sized to fit my hands.
- When eating out, or at a film, the wait time will probably not feel reasonable to me, and if I eat as I would at home I might attract stares and rude comments.
- If my wait time for food or entertainment feels unreasonable, and I complain, people will generally not be understanding and apologetic.
- I can’t talk with my mouth full without people putting this down to my age.
- I might not understand the unspoken rules of interacting in public spaces, they might not feel natural to me, and might not be able to follow them without causing myself distress.
- I may not be able to speak my native language with fluency and am often not understood by other native speakers.
- It is considered acceptable for another speaker of my native language to laugh at me for my language choices, or inability to express myself.
- I am not usually given a choice about my place of education (or whether to participate in education). If I am sent to school I am legally expected to attend, whether it is my choice or not. If I am home educated I might not be given the choice to go to school if I so wish.
- If I am late to my place of education I will probably be reprimanded, even if this is the fault of my adult caregiver.
- I am almost never permitted to choose my educational curriculum, materials, or pace.
- My educational evaluations will often be based on circumstances entirely outside my control–the actions of other students, or of my caregivers, or the learning materials available to me.
- If I am feeling ill, I might not be able to adequately express this to my caregiver. If I can, I might not be taken seriously or treated properly.
- If I need to see a health professional, I am reliant upon my caregiver to arrange this for me.
- Medical professionals often ignore me entirely, choosing instead to speak to my caregiver only about my needs.
- I am not able to make my own medical decisions. The right to make these decisions belongs to other people entirely (usually my adult caregivers).
- In some places, if I require an abortion, my adult caregivers must be notified, which can sometimes place me in great danger.
- I might not be able to attend to my bodily needs (housing, food, water, toileting, health needs, taking myself to bed) without relying on someone else to assist me.
- I am often forced to eat foods I do not like.
- People might advocate force-feeding me, and this is not often seen as abusive.
- My bedtime is set (often arbitrarily) by my caregiver, and I often do not have input on this.
- I have no choice about my living space – the house I live in, its decoration, the arrangement of furniture etc.
- I often have no choice about my outward appearance – haircuts, clothing etc.
- I am usually not given a choice about which religion to follow.
- If I wish to spend time with other people, I need the permission and sometimes the assistance of my caregiver to arrange this.
- If I do not wish to spend time with a certain person or people, I am not usually given the choice to avoid them.
- My sexual development is often not explained to me and sometimes actively discouraged.
- If my sexuality/gender identity is not cis and straight, I can expect to be told it’s “wrong,” and efforts will be made to change it. Use of force is considered acceptable in this situation.
- It is considered unacceptable for me to enjoy my sexuality.
- My belongings can be taken from me (often by my adult caregiver) and this is not viewed as theft.
- If I am in public unescorted by an adult, random adults may demand to escort me, and restrict my movements; this is considered acceptable, regardless of my own opinions or those of my legal caregiver.
- I am limited in what films I may see alone, regardless of my opinions or those of my caregiver.
- It is considered acceptable or even “prudent” for me to be discriminated against and regarded with suspicion when patronising a store or other establishment.
- It is often considered acceptable to force me to submit my belongings to a search before/after/during my visit to a store or other establishment.
by Arwyn from Raising My Boychick
"This argument is common among so-called “allies” in many fields of anti-oppression work: “Of course I don’t have a problem with [women/gays/immigrants/people with disabilities/people of color/trans persons] — when they act just like me. As long as they [act like men/couple and get married/learn English/act able/act white/are straight and gender normative], of course they should have rights!” It is a fundamentally flawed position, whose bigotry I trust is self-apparent, and serves only to reify the hierarchies it purports to reject.
This is just as true when it comes to children as for any other oppressed group, but with the complication that children will, should all go minimally well, eventually turn into adults; no other group can be said to be reasonably certain to transition from oppressed to privileged. This does not mean that how we treat them doesn’t matter, however, or somehow negate their oppression; rather, it means that however we treat them now, while they are powerless, is how they will learn to treat those they have power over by “right” of unearned privilege.” read more
i think i need to get out of my pajamas.
I never realized how much time I would be spending writing about research in my pajamas.
I needed this advice right now.
[Image is 4 stars drawn on park equipment. Text reads: This star is for girls. Girls are brilliant; This star is for boys. Boys are brilliant too; This star is for people who aren’t girls or boys or men or women but who exist and are definitely brilliant too; This star is for you. You are brilliant.]