Friday, March 11, 2005

Hating Kids

Joyce Carol Oates has a book review over here

on Steven Mintz’s Huck’s Raft: A History of American Childhood.

It sounds like an interesting book. But this bit here is the bit I want to go off on:

In his penultimate chapter, “Parental Panics and the Reshaping of Childhood”, Mintz examines the often hysterical reactions of adults to purported dangers threatening their children, from unfounded accusations of sexual molestation to a general fear of abduction, internet pornography, sexual promiscuity, drug taking, and the possible link between “grunge, hip-hop, and youth violence”. As American society has grown ever more conservative in the past several decades, it would seem that adults’ hostility towards youth – “rooted in fear of disorder, and loss of control; fear of ageing, and envy of life not yet squandered”, as the social critic Edgar Z. Friendenberg eloquently remarked – has been disguised as efforts to “help” the young.

Because that is the thing: that Conservative hostility toward their own children, the adversarial relationship all their child-rearing books seem to start with – to accept as a matter of course – that of course your children will be small demons who will try to cheat, lie, steal, deceive, and triumph over you if you don’t beat them into submission, that of course you must crush your children at every turn or they will turn into rapists and thieves –

Well, it goes hand in glove with this attitude toward children, doesn’t it?

For all those who believe juveniles are never culpable enough to deserve capital punishment, consider this: Not everyone in hell is over the age of 18.

(The Rev. Mark Creech, as quoted by s.z. on World O’Crap

Yep. Jesus tortures babies, Jesus burns toddlers in a lake of fires, so why shouldn’t Wingers beat them with sticks? And why shouldn’t Texas give fifteen year olds lethal injections?

Little jerks got it coming, after all.

Someone has to teach them a lesson.

(What’s that you say? Do unto others, you say? Turn the other cheek, you say? Suffer the little children, you say? Forgive your brother, you say?

What are you, some sort of damn liberal?)

Well, hatred for the other, for the criminal, for the sinner – that’s one thing, and it’s also something we need to fix.

But these folks are afraid of their own children.

These folks see their own children as the Other.

And no kidding: they really do.

Children are the enemy to conservative parents. That’s why they’re so adamant about the need to beat them. Children have to be beaten if they’re going to be controlled, say conservative parents.

(Forgive me, by the way, if I don’t use the cute word spank here. “Spank,” as defined by John Rosamund, means one or two smacks with an open hand on the clothed bottom of a child under the age of five. That’s not what these parents are talking about in any respect. These parents are talking about beating children.)

Well, what do you need to control? Do you need to control someone you respect? Someone you love? Someone you see as a member of your family, another human being?

No, you control the enemy. You control the dangerous other.

Both women and children fall into that camp, for the Levitican Christian – at least according to their rhetoric.


Dianna said...

Interesting post.

In the last few days, I've come to understand that many Christians (and non-Christians too) need their hatred of the "other" to bolster their beliefs. I too can get into that mindset of using the "other", my favorite "other" being the far-right Christians themselves! But I'm sort of aware of that fact - I'm sort of aware of my "story" - unlike many far-right Christians, who believe their "story" to the point of making themselves and others, like their kids, miserable. I feel sorry for them. I hope they learn to give up the fear. Such a waste of precious time.

zelda1 said...

I don't like what happens in male dominated societies and that is what the Leviticans want. For instance, little girls become objects of property from an early age and in some countries, and I am not excluding the USA, female mutilation occurs to stop them from touching that awful place that bleeds. It is in these male dominated societies where most of the abuse of children and women occurs. It's the fear of losing their dominance that causes them to take away pleasure, beat into submission, and suspect the worst. I remember my best friend, we were in first grade, and one day her mother found out that she had broken something. Rosey had hidden the object in fear and while I was there, unfortuantely for me, her mother found it. Her mother hit her on the head and warned her to just wait until her daddy got home. I had as much fear as did Rosey. The next day, Rosie wore black and blue strips on her arms and legs where her father had punished her. Rosie's parents were very religious people and often looked down their noses at my mom who was religious as long as it didn't interfere with other things that occured on Sunday, like our drives through the mountains or to the lake. Not that I didn't get whipped, but my mom whipped me and that was that. Poor Rosie got it from her mom and her dad. That just didn't seem fair. The preachers preach that if you don't whip your children then you don't love them. How fucked up is that. I love you so let me take this rod and beat you into submission, don't think because that is only the job of the master of the house who is me the man with the rod.