Mar. 22nd, 2013

sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (learn2grammar)
I'm very much on the go today (and all weekend, argh) so here are two rantlets with accompanying links that have little in common beyond being about phrases I hate.

Broken homes

In the midst of an otherwise quite good "don't pick on teachers" editorial, Peter Mansbridge says:
We send teachers children from broken homes, from abusive homes, from negligent homes. We send teachers children from homes where both parents work, or where the only parent works, or where no parent works.

Which reminds me that I don't think I've ever ranted about how much I hate the term "broken home."

I was one of those pitiable children who came from a broken home—and, as a bonus, a home in which the only parent worked. (A trifecta, even; I have some memories of coming home from school when said parent worked late, making me—at least according to the media, a "latchkey kid, raised by the television." Woe is me!) In fairness, up until I was a certain age, one could conceivably call my home "broken." I'd argue that my parents' separation and later divorce fixed that rather handily, however; my home was certainly a better place to be with a single parent than it was with a traditional nuclear family.

The divorce rate in Canada is approximately 41%, and presumably many of them have children. For the sake of argument, let's say four in ten students I teach come from families where the parents are divorced. I'd bet you anything that those four aren't the ones causing trouble. As much wailing and moaning as there is about absent fathers and such*, of the children I've taught who experience some form of abuse that I know about (i.e., Children's Aid was involved in some way), all but two experienced that abuse at the hands of a father or step-father. So—whose homes are "broken" again?

Can we have a moratorium on "broken home" and "single-parent family" being shorthand for "troubled kid"? It's sexist and heterocentric (after all, it assumes the supremacy of the nuclear family) and obscures the very real problems of high unemployment, poverty, ableism, and marginalization that are typically behind the failure of kids to thrive in school.

Creative class

Looks like this one's been dealt the death blow by the man who coined it in the first place, Richard Florida. The article has its problems (the author is way too gleeful, for one thing, though that's not surprising given what a douchenozzle Florida is), and stops well short of proposing workable solutions. But it's nice to finally see an admission of the failure of what's basically polite class warfare.

So beyond the obvious—an influx of artsy young professionals with no kids does not a thriving urban centre make—let's examine the assumptions inherent in the term itself. Are working class people not creative? Are there significant numbers of people who can earn a living through "creativity" without either being supported by their upper class parents or working as a barista at Starbucks? Is the separation of this group of people into a single city or neighbourhood a desirable outcome?

It's dumb enough that Florida said it in the first place, and even dumber that it's spawned a culture of TED Talks and institutional conferences that take the existence of something called a "creative class" as a given. I should hope that this foolishness will stop now that he's admitted it's bunk.

* This usually comes with a big helping of coded racism as well: If black fathers would only stick around, black boys wouldn't join gangs or something.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (humping bunny)
So I accidentally-except-not-really made [ profile] fengi aware of demisexuals on Tumblr and discussion ensued. [ profile] literarity made an interesting comment:

May be wishful thinking and hyperbole on my part but how dope would it be if a lot of this kind of argument was "merely" a backlash against an oversexed media by teenagers who have been exposed much earlier than we were to the vocabulary of sex & gender politics?

Which made me happy for a few minutes but then I was on my way to work and another thought occurred to me. It's this: Demisexual describes the sexual orientation of nearly every female character in popular culture that I can think of. I am actually wracking my brain for an example of a female character in media for a younger audience who is shown:

a) Having sex outside of the context of a long-term, monogamous, romantic relationship, and
b) Not being punished by the narrative for it.

I mean, granted I don't watch all that much telly (well, I do, but it's usually HBO stuff and the standards are different), or read much kid lit, and maybe it's just a genre thing, but if I think about the characters that the teenage girls I know could conceivably think of as role models—the Bella Swans and the Katniss Everdeens and the Alison Argents—they are all, as far as I can tell from an audience perspective, only attracted to men they want to be in a long-term, monogamous, romantic relationship with. And when I think of the counter-examples—Faith Lehane, Inara, that one time Buffy had a one-night stand—they're all punished for their transgressions in ways ranging from heartbreak to season-long comas.

So, can you argue that demisexual is a marginalized sexual identity when it's so reinforced in popular culture? Or am I wrong about just how hypersexualized kid media is or is not?

I should add that I'm in no way interested in policing anyone else's sexuality, and everyone ought to be free to identify however they like, obviously. But in response to Tumblr discussions wherein demisexuality is referred to as a site of oppression, I am wondering whether a sexual identity/orientation can be both celebrated by the dominant culture and marginalized.


sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)

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