Thomas Wictor

Lip servicing ourselves into hell

Lip servicing ourselves into hell

I recently joined Facebook. Against my will. Alas, it’s turned out to be what I feared: a place where uninformed opinions based entirely on emotions are hurled around like…like…this.

“It began with a food fight between children.”

That’s what Facebook is like, unfortunately. Today the Horror That Must Be Stopped was the bill that Democratic State Representative Gail Finney, of Wichita, Kansas, proposed. It allows parents to hit their children hard enough to leave marks.

Both my parents spanked us. They also punched us, kicked us, and slapped us. Until we were in our teens. I vehemently oppose the physical punishment of children, but my repugnance is based on the memories of the fists and feet connecting with my face. So, since I’m not objective, my opinion can be safely discounted.

While Facebookers posted their outrage, I did some research.

Four in five Americans support corporal punishment of children, and 67 percent of parents admitted to having spanked their kids. As in so many other cases, Americans say one thing and do the opposite. I’ve known plenty of progressive parents who whaled the tar out of their kids. What they usually said to me when they brought it up unprompted—because I never asked—was that they’d learned how right their own parents had been to hit them.

“If you ever have kids, Tom, you’ll find out,” they’d say.

Well, I’ve had to deal with some of the most ill-behaved children on the planet for extended periods, and I’ve never once even thought of hitting them. So don’t presume to speak for me. I’ve already admitted up front that I’m too biased to weigh in on the debate over whether or not children should be spanked. Though I personally oppose spanking, it isn’t my place to tell you that you shouldn’t.

Nor, in my opinion, is it the place of the government to get involved one way or the other. From 1978 to 1981, I lived in Norway, a nation where it’s illegal to spank children or even shout at them. Norwegian children were absolute monsters, and their parents had no emotional connection to them. The country has massive rates of alcoholism and depression, factors that certainly play parts in all this.

Norwegian kids were such psychotic little bastards that we couldn’t even go outside our school when they were in the courtyard. If we did they’d throw rocks at us and scream, “Monkey face! Monkey face! Monkey face!” like a mob of tiny demons with red cheeks and cornsilk hair. We were held hostage because adults had abdicated their responsibility to raise normal children.

I saw another video today, about a documentary called Sexy Baby, released in 2012.

Sexy Baby is the first documentary film to put faces to a seismic cultural shift: the cyber age is creating a new sexual landscape. While doing research for the film, we had intimate and candid conversations with kids in middle school classrooms, suburban shopping malls, nightclubs, college dorms, and even conducted an informal roundtable during a high school house party. While chronicling trends among small town and big city kids, we discovered this: Having pubic hair is considered unattractive and “gross.” Most youngsters know someone who has emailed or texted a naked photo of themselves. Many kids have accidentally or intentionally had their first introduction to sex be via hardcore online porn. Facebook has created an arena where kids compete to be “liked” and constantly worry about what image to portray – much of what was once private is now made public. And the list goes on.

The trailer told me all I need to know about this movie.

It’s just an excuse to show underage girls involved in prurient activities. Yes, the film was made by two women, but women are just as fubar as men these days.

The New York Times dismissed the movie with one of the most breviloquent reviews I’ve ever seen.

Substituting graphic imagery for solid research, the documentary Sexy Baby hopes to reach our minds by grabbing our eyeballs. But this scattershot investigation of the effects of Internet pornography on female behavior only ruffles the surface of a complex issue, one that demands a much larger sample than three white, educated women.

A longer review describes what precocious twelve-year-old Winnifred thinks about the hypersexuality of of social media.

There are several storylines, two of which are particularly interesting. The one that’s relevant here is 12-year-old Winnifred’s story. She’s very precocious, and “gets it” on an adult level. She notes, for example, that FaceBook and other social media pictures of girls must always at least include the suggestion of being open for sex — of being “DTF,” as she says. (Down to F***.)

She says (or implies) that she’s rather trapped by the current market forces, in which boys just won’t take an interest in girls who don’t broadcast that sexual availability…

The pictures she posts online are not graphic or overtly sexual. They do, however, subtly signal that she might be DTF, which is actually her intent.

Well, maybe Winnie didn’t post this photo, but to my fifty-one-year-old mind, it’s overtly sexual and as subtle as a baseball bat to the skull.


The review continues.

Her dad argues with her about this, and tells her the sort of things dads tell their daughters, about respect and so forth. But she tells her interviewers, basically: This is the marketplace. If I want to have any boys show any interest me at all, I have to conform to what’s being bought in the marketplace. This is just the way it is.

Well, here’s where I hone my chops as the most judgmental person in literature.

From the trailer, the father is a useless dork. He has no idea how to talk to his daughter. Also, he’s clearly titillated by her budding sexuality. My own opinion is that too many adults pay lip service to the idea of protecting our children, but in fact grownups are trying to live vicariously through youngsters. Parents and teachers are the worst offenders.

There’s a thread of immorality and corruption that runs through our popular culture. I was immersed in it for ten years. The people who are the “taste makers” are for the most part nihilists with terminal daddy issues. Any form of modesty is like a red flag to a bull. They want to abolish all standards because they’re pissed off at their fathers, who made them take baths and clean up their rooms.

At the same time, parents are told over and over that parenting is easy. You just have to junk those destructive tendencies in your head that urge you to tell your kids what to do, and you’ll be fine.

Baloney. Parenting is the hardest job there is, especially since parents are now under immense societal pressure to let their kids behave like precocious Winnifred in Sexy Baby. If you tell Winnie that she can’t post provocative images of herself for the entire planet to see, you’re “slut-shaming” her.

No; you’re being a good parent. The right thing to do is to not let Winnie watch porn and pose provocatively until she’s eighteen. As long as she’s a minor, you make the decisions. If she says she has to do this to attract boys, you tell her she’s full of crap. The popular culture has brainwashed her. It’s a lie that boys will only like her if she reduces herself to her genitals. She’s got her priorities messed up.

You’ll be required to have long, hard, embarrassing, grueling conversations with her, and you should ignore absolutely everybody who tries to stick their oar into the relationship you have with your daughter.

We’re lip servicing ourselves into hell. My world is binary: Either you actually have ideals, or you don’t. When you become a parent, that’s the time to fish or cut bait. Being a weak, clueless dork doesn’t help anyone.

Except the creeps who hunger after your twelve-year-old.

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