Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Are you a goooood witch? Or a baaaad witch?

So yesterday in my blog I mentioned that I taught C to use his powers for good and not evil. Even if evil could be funny. And I've written a lot about choosing happiness and staying away from things that don't make you happy. Today I'm going to talk about the flip side a bit.

So last night a friend of mine linked me to an article he read. It was ostensibly about a word he and I disagreed on for years. But that's not really what the link was about or the article it linked. See there was this paper written that was researching the effects of hostile, benevolent and ambivalent sexism on daughters when practiced by their fathers. The paper was written by two professors and the sample size was 86. Two professors at Marquette University and the article was abstracted in The Medium. A Marquette University school paper.

It was an interesting read. But Marquette University. Two professors. Eighty six subjects. Can you and I agree that this is small time? Insufficient sample size to draw any sort of real conclusions, though there were trends that warranted further study. Written because that's what professors do. They posit theories, do studies, analyze, then do more. Science, bitches. Interesting, semi-dry reading, done back in 2012. Possibly opening a door to discussion about what exactly benevolent sexism is, and if you think it's an issue or isn't. Maybe even talking about the messages we send our kids about gender norms and how that affects their self-esteem. That is if you went and read the actual article, or the actual paper. But that's not what was going on. That's why I say the article linked was ostensibly about a word. It wasn't.

It was about making people angry. It was "wouldn't it make people angry if..." Not "wouldn't it be funny if..." because they weren't trying to be funny. They were trying to make people mad. To make sure there was a divide. That's what they were after. Don't believe me? This is the first paragraph of the linked article "Have you ever called your daughter “princess” or, if you are a daughter, have you been called “princess” by anyone? If so, you are sexist scum." And the link that was posted by our local guy "More garbage being spouted by liberal professors..."

Tell me how that's supposed to lead to anything other than anger? And honestly, reading the comments that were posted, people didn't even get that far. They read the title of the article, the link comment by our local guy and were off and running. The comments ranged from insulted, you can't tell me what to call my kids, to homophobic, oh yes, lots of homophobia, to insulting liberals, to telling people to eat a dick. Because ...reasons.

And you see this all the time. The talking heads out there that only have one reason to get up in the morning. Stir discontent. They aren't fostering discussion. Aren't bridging gaps. Aren't working toward an understanding between people with different points of view. Oh hell no. If that happened they would be out of work. They want you angry. They want you sure that when god was giving out brains the (fill in your opposite party member here) thought he said grains and since they were going Paleo that week they skipped out. Which is why the original guy found an article on Marquette University's website. About a paper written in 2012. With a subject pool of 86. Tell me that his research department wasn't, isn't, searching for shit just like that. "Wouldn't it make people angry if..."

It's the same reason why the conservatives point to Bill Maher as if he speaks for all liberals. And why liberals point to Rush Limbaugh as if he speaks for all conservatives. Because they know it will piss you right the fuck off. Because they have extreme points of view. They are good at making people angry. It's their job. And pointing at them is someone else's job. The Bill O'Reillys of the world naming their pinheads. But none of it really represents the majority of people. Just the loud ones.

So what I want you all to do for me. Just as a favor. Just for awhile. Is when you read an opinion piece that is obviously, OBVIOUSLY, working at just stirring up hate and resentment, you back away. Or at least tell yourself, "You know, self, this person is only doing this to manipulate my emotions. What a douchebag."

Don't let them do it. Don't be the pawn in their little game of "Wouldn't it make people angry if..."

Read. Study. Learn. Find friends you can have discussions with. Share opinions with. Bridge gaps with. Because that's how we make it better. That's the only way.

For instance, here is one part of the article and the paper that was really interesting, that those out there screaming their heads off about "I'll punch a liberal in the face if he tells me what to call my daughter!" would have seen and should have calmed them down if they had actually read it. The girls that were called princess by their fathers had higher self-esteem. So is it the word? I doubt it. My guess would be it goes back to the results of other studies that show that girls who have good relationships with their fathers have a stronger sense of self. It makes sense. Your parents are your first relationships. If that goes well it gives you a pretty strong foundation right?

And just so you know where I stand on the whole princess thing...

My sister was the princess in our family. The long hair. The ringlet curls. The pretty dresses. I was the short haired, wearing my brothers' hand me downs, helping dad in the garage work on "projects" girl. But we both had a good relationship with our dad. Just different. The word isn't the issue here. The relationship was.

And the reason I don't like to be called a princess? Well...

Why settle for Princess when you could be Queen?

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