March 28, 2014

You Just Don’t Get It

Filed under: What the hell?,Youth Rights — Katrina @ 10:48 pm

I find myself thinking this in exasperation in youth rights spaces sometimes, whether on NYRA’s Facebook page or elsewhere. Someone seems to agree with most that is posted or discussed. And sooner or later there’s a post that makes them flip their lid.

It goes something like this: “Ah, lowering the voting age to 17? Cool, neat… Ugh! What that school did to that girl was awful! They should be stopped!… … Wait, what? Lower the drinking age? Are you crazy? Teen brains are still developing!!!!111!!1!!”

You know, there can certainly be some leeway when it comes to people relatively new to the cause. I know when I was first getting involved some issues made me wary until I had the chance to think about and discuss them some more. But some people are determined to be intransigent on some irrational blind spots in their youth rights view. There’s a guy who has been with the movement for years and supports abolishing the voting age but for some reason supports corporal punishment.

I’m all for a “big tent” in the youth rights movement, since it’s a huge subject matter and so a big tent is just good sense. But someone whose support for lowering the voting age is based on believing it will get more Democrats elected is not a youth rights supporter. Someone whose support for homeschooling or unschooling is based on protecting parents’ rights is not a youth rights supporter. Someone who supports lowering the drinking age only in order to “stop unsafe drinking” is not a youth rights supporter.

Such people are certainly useful allies in specific campaigns, of course. And they could easily become youth rights supporters if we play our cards right and if it turns out they are so inclined after all. But they aren’t there yet.
(more…)

December 29, 2013

Translation

Filed under: Christmas Time!,Youth Rights — Katrina @ 11:21 pm

What do people mean when they open their yaps and say words? Here’s a guide to some of the things. Even if some of intention isn’t always there, such a message is conveyed.

“Learn more about dealing with drug abuse among teens and young adults.”

Translation: “Teenagers are bad and you should hate them.”

“Good luck when your kids are teenagers!”

Translation: “Teenagers are bad and you should hate them.”

“We’ve had shoplifters, so no unaccompanied under-16s allowed in store.”

Translation: “Teenagers are bad and you should hate them.”

“Brains aren’t fully developed until 25, so young people can’t make decisions well and are impulsive.”

Translation: “Teenagers are bad and you should hate them.”

You get the idea.

December 18, 2013

Unwise Purchases

Filed under: Christmas Time!,Think About It!,Youth Rights — Katrina @ 11:28 pm

People with Celiac Disease can’t eat gluten. It screws up their small intestine and makes them all kinds of sick. And yet, they are still perfectly free to waltz into any store and buy a loaf of bread.

People with peanut allergies must stay away from peanuts, obviously. In some cases, eating peanuts could kill them. Merely being around peanuts can mess them up. And yet, they are still perfectly free to waltz into any store and buy a can of peanuts.

Stores don’t require you to prove you can safely consume the foods you intend to buy before they sell them to you. They trust you can look after your own self and know what you should or shouldn’t be eating or drinking. Not that that’s really their place anyway.

But then there’s the drinking age. For this, stores are required to make their customers prove they are of legal drinking age before allowing the purchase. Because alcohol is supposedly uniquely harmful to those below that age.

Yet even if this were true, even if the tiniest sip of alcohol could cause someone 20 or under severe immediate damage, why are the sellers made responsible to ensure that the buyers of this product are those who can consume it safely, while they do no such thing for deadly allergens, which do a lot more damage to those with such allergies?

Maybe just throw this on the already gargantuan heaping pile of Reasons the Drinking Age Makes No Sense.

December 16, 2013

Don’t Lower the Voting Age!

Filed under: Assorted Politics,Christmas Time!,Youth Rights — Katrina @ 11:27 pm

A major youth rights issue is granting youth the right to vote, by either lowering or abolishing the voting age, with or without implementating some other voter-fitness standard. Just this year, right in my county, Takoma Park lowered the city voting age to 16. But is such a measure a good idea?

There are so many concerns!

Such as…

Teens lack the political knowledge necessary to vote!
And said political knowledge necessary for voting is agreed upon by everyone. That’s why those without it are turned away from the polls. And why those with extra political knowledge get two votes.

Teens would just vote for celebrities.
Adult voters would never dream of voting for actors Ronald Reagan or Arnold Schwarzenegger, or wrestler Jesse Ventura.

Teens aren’t directly involved in what gets voted on.
Why let the students who actually attend the public schools vote for school board when some old creeper who watches them walk to the bus stop every day can?

Teens aren’t mature enough to vote.
Voters who come to the polls are given a battery of personality tests to be sure they perfectly meet some maturity standard. Those who do exceptionally well get two votes.

Teens will just vote the same way as their parents.
Someone voting the same way as someone else is forbidden. Votes for a candidate already voted for by someone else are thrown out. That’s why every election is a tie at one vote per candidate.

Teens are dependent on parents and don’t have jobs.
Only employed homeowners are allowed to vote. Stay-at-home moms and the elderly and those with disabilities are therefore not allowed to vote.

Teens do not value basic freedoms.
Adults would never dream of passing the Patriot Act.

Teens are into Justin Bieber and wearing their pants too low. They shouldn’t be voting.
Yeah, I know someone who went to vote last year only to be turned away from the polls for accidentally listening to 30 seconds of a Taylor Swift song. She also wore a white shirt two days after Labor Day.

Teens are apathetic and wouldn’t vote anyway so why bother?
Yeah, really. What, you think they might actually have a HIGHER turn out than adults? Don’t be silly.

December 10, 2013

Screen Time

Now for a glowing connected edition of…

SHUT THE HELL UP!!!!

Enough! Enough with all the stupid little stats and complaints and lamentations about young people’s “screen time.” In other words, how much time they are watching TV, playing video games, or using computers or smart phones.

What if a young person spends seemingly every waking hour engaged in these screen activities?

Honestly… I don’t care. And neither should you.

“But it’s BAD for them!”

Even if it is, that’s their business. And there’s plenty of entertainment and, yes, contrary to common belief, even cognitive value to some of these things. Not to mention that, well, you don’t seem to care when adults use these things, by either totally ignoring their use and/or perhaps implying they don’t do it as often. Come on, aren’t adults often in front of a computer screen all day at work?

“But these things cause special harm to developing young minds!”

How convenient. A supposed age-based safety differential giving someone carte blanche to say “It’s fine if I do it but BAD BAD BAD if you do, so your use should be shamed and restricted!”

Actually, how healthy the activity is isn’t even the point. It’s an excuse, a grasping for straws when called out on a statement made for entirely other reasons. And those reasons are just repeating “common knowledge” for the purpose of trying to make a point or further some other agenda. Sadly, I even see things like this done in youth rights circles (though they tend to recant when pointed out).

Though in those cases, it’s that use of such devices is seen as being a slave to some kind of corporate machine, that this is the only refuge of young people because they lack proper social engagement. Well, there’s the obvious in that every one of these screen activities can and often does involve interacting with other people. It also ignores that, well, maybe it isn’t the result of being some kind of corporate slave but rather simply one’s chosen leisure activity or method of work or communication or entertainment. I wonder that such statements are made without much thought but just with the assumption that everyone agrees with you so elaboration is unnecessary.

That kids watching TV is just such a given taboo, that adults are supposed to hiss at the very idea, that every second must surely be damaging their brains. Why, it might damage their brains so much they grow up into adults who have nothing better to do than obsess over how they spend their leisure time when such time is spent much the same way as adults. But if kids do it, it must be up for scrutiny, of course! 🙄

December 8, 2013

But I Want THAT ONE

Filed under: Christmas Time!,Idiot Box,What the hell?,Youth Rights — Katrina @ 8:31 pm

I’m increasingly believing that advertising executives have no souls. Certainly they have no shame about the mass genocide of brain cells they commit, hoping enough brain cells will die in any given individuals that they’d want to buy whatever they are selling. The makers of Fiat commercials certainly come to mind, but that’s not the topic at the moment, and the stupidity of those speaks for itself anyway.

I have a special loathing for the commercials running these days in which someone or some people want a newer version of their gadget and make this happen by… intentionally destroying or losing their current one. There’s one ad with a bunch of people dropping their phones in blenders or leaving them in microwaves or bathrooms, after finding out about a newer one they’d rather have. In another, a guy wants his employer to give him a new laptop so he intentionally spills coffee on his so they’d have to.

The loathing reaches a new level when I realize that the main words that come to mind about these people is “spoiled brats”. Because there’s certainly the trope about kids and teens wanting some new toy or bike or clothes or something, perhaps losing or destroying the current ones. There was even a Simpsons episode where Bart intentionally destroyed his bike so Homer would buy him a nice new one. Or the stereotypically rich teenage girl who gets a new Ferrari for her birthday but screams and cries because it’s blue instead of red. When it’s young people, such behavior is (rightly) seen as distasteful. But when it’s adults, apparently something we’re supposed to identify with?

Seriously, fuck ageism, because I want to call these people spoiled brats but that term is very ageist, but I can’t think of another term that means the same basic thing without implying anything about age. Grrr. :doitnow:

December 7, 2013

You Don’t Serve Me

Filed under: Christmas Time!,Foodz,What the hell?,Youth Rights — Katrina @ 1:19 pm

Some nearby pizza place decided they didn’t want to serve me the other day. Only they didn’t know they said this. I hadn’t even walked in the door yet.

They had one of them “we don’t serve teens” stickers on the window, announcing that the drinking age is 21, this is law, and that they follow it. Which worries me, because since the drinking age is an actual law, one would presume already that they follow it. So since I didn’t see any other stickers, I’m guessing that’s the only law they care to enforce. Maybe I should have robbed the place, since they’re indicating they wouldn’t be too bothered, just so long as I’m not drinking their alcohol ten years in the past.

So, yeah, despite not having been a teen for quite a while, I took this to mean they didn’t want to serve me, because when I can help it I don’t visit ageist businesses. I expect businesses to enforce the drinking age as it is an actual law, but rubbing it in people’s faces, without having a sticker saying they don’t tolerate aggravated assault on their premises, implies this particular law is super important to them. Well, youth rights is super important to ME, so I turned right around and returned to my car.

And found another pizza place across the street. They’re rather plentiful. Mmmm… pizza.

December 5, 2013

Minimum Wage

Filed under: Christmas Time!,What the hell?,Youth Rights — Katrina @ 8:26 pm

This graphic has been floating around online.

It’s pointing out that most minimum wage earners are not teenagers as per an apparently common assumption, that in fact 88% are 20 or older, plus another large percentage being over 40, how many are parents, etc.

In other words, the main argument for not thinking little of minimum wage earners and that they ought to earn more is… They aren’t teenagers!

Because teenagers don’t deserve decent wages as they are living at home and just using that money to go to the movies or buy video games or get high, an assertion whose chief basis is… they’re teenagers.

🙄

Seriously?

I mean, do people seriously think Every Teenager In The World is living a comfortable suburban white upper-middle-class life and has their every need met by underappreciated parents? I just don’t understand the need to cling to this ridiculous assumption. Or that any teens whose lives aren’t that great are in such a situation because they did something “wrong”, like run away or get pregnant or drop out of school.

Believe it or not, “spending money” is hardly the only reason a teenager might want or need a job. Sometimes their minimum-wage-earning parents (represented in that graphic) just aren’t earning enough to support the family, so the teenager looks to contribute to the family by getting her own job. Maybe their parents have refused to pay for college, or are just incapable of paying, and they need to work to fund it themselves. Maybe they’ve been kicked out of or emancipated from their homes and need to support themselves so they don’t starve.

In fact, it’s a travesty that their earnings would even need to be justified like this. Who cares why they need to earn money? That’s really nobody’s business but theirs. Just like with everyone else.

October 26, 2013

Going Public

Filed under: Think About It!,What the hell?,Youth Rights — Katrina @ 4:09 pm

Just a little while ago, I posted something to I Support Youth Rights, a short tumblr post about some Australian mother who sold her daughter’s One Direction concert tickets as punishment, complete with bragging about it on the sale page. Honestly, I hesitated before sharing, despite the piece explaining why this mother is a pile of shit being a good one. Why? Because asshat parents like these get enough attention as it is.

In fact, the more attention we give them, the more this will happen.

And it happens so so much. That mother who sold her son’s car. That father who shot his daughter’s laptop. I can’t even count how many times now some parent had made their child stand on the side of the road with a sign detailing their transgression, whether lying or bullying or dressing like a tramp or some stupid crap. There was a coach in Utah who suspended the entire football team because some of the players were apparently cyberbullying someone. Setting aside the question of whether cyberbullying is really any of the school’s business (that and the nature of the cyberbullying was never specified), why is the entire team being punished for what only some of the players are doing? No matter. The coach has been applauded for this.

For taking a stand against bullying.
(more…)

May 14, 2013

About Last Night

Filed under: Here's To You!,NYRA Happenings,Youth Rights — Katrina @ 4:03 pm

And now for a youth rights historical edition of…

Here’s to You!!!

So I raise my glass and say, “Here’s to you, Takoma Park!”

I wondered when it would happen, when some American location would finally do it. NYRA and others have been campaigning for it for many years. Some campaigns came close or at least had promise, until they were stalled by technicalities or just plain fizzled out. For each one that did, another cropped up somewhere before long.

For a couple years now, it seemed the first would be Lowell, MA.

Until last night, when Takoma Park, MD, right in the county I live in, beat them to the punch!

First there was the hearing on April 8, attended by NYRAnians Alex Koroknay-Palicz, Bill Bystricky, Alexander Cohen, and me. All four of us went to the podium during the evening and spoke in favor of the proposal. Almost unheard of for youth rights proposals, most of the room was in favor! I was second to last to speak and urged Takoma Park to be on the right side of history, to be the first, to do what Austria, Brazil, Argentina, and other international locations have already done with success, what Berkeley, CA and New Haven, CT had already attempted, what Lowell, MA was currently attempting.

Then a week later on April 15 was the First Reading, when the city councilmembers themselves expressed their views of the proposal. All but one were in favor! Three even started off saying that at first they thought it was a stupid idea but after thinking about it some more, were now gung-ho for it! The one dissenting councilmember spouted a lot of typical “teens aren’t mature enough, I saw one once who wore saggy pants”. When he realized he was outnumbered he instead suggested the change come with a lot of other changes to include young citizens more. So proposal passed 6-1.

And then came the Second Reading, on May 13. The dissenting councilmember suggested the issue be put on the ballot rather than voted on by the council, and the mayor seconded. Uh oh. So the councilmembers each said their piece about this new proposal. It’s okay. It failed 2-5. And then back to the original proposal and some more councilmember remarks.

And the second and final vote to set it in officially.

Again… 6-1. Proposal passes.

That’s right. It’s official.

Takoma Park, MD has lowered the voting age to 16, the first in the United States.

This is real. I saw it happen. This is a thing that has actually happened. Just like that.

In Takoma Park’s city elections in November, there will be the first legal 16-year-old voters in the country!

And this is just the first, with many to follow. Lowell. And who knows where else? It’s not just a lot of failed campaigns and foreign examples. Here is a domestic success, an inspiration to all others in the country. The beginning of what will lead to larger cities lowering their voting ages, and counties, and then whole states. And the entire country.

May 13, 2013 – NEVER FORGET!

April 12, 2013

Pet Peeve

Filed under: Decrees!,What the hell?,Youth Rights — Katrina @ 8:06 pm

I hereby decree…

Your pets are not your children!

And as such, you are not your pets’ parent.

Now I’ll admit I’ve never liked the term “owner” for the person in that position, since the idea of ownership of an animal just sounds icky. I don’t care for “master” either. I like to just refer to the human as the, well, human. But referring to these people as the pets’ parents or guardians is just way too far in the other direction.

You know whose parents you actually are? Your children! Your human children, born out of a human woman’s womb, whether yours or your partner’s or someone else’s. The dog? Not your child.

I have nothing against elevating the status of one’s pets to “member of the family” consideration. But they are still their own category. The actual children are the HUMAN family, moreso than the pets. Equating the kids to the dog just dehumanizes the kids. And it outrageously ignores the VERY different needs that actual human children and the dogs or cats you call “children” have.

I mean, aren’t there enough people out there who have children with this idea of having a permanent baby or toddler? Completely forgetting they are bringing forth a person with their own mind? Treating their children like their sole purpose in life is to obey their parents and live as their parents dictate and to their parents’ pleasure?

You see, those are the reasons one should get a dog or cat! Dogs and cats aren’t going to grow up to be members of your own society. They’ll go their whole lives wanting your affection and, while not necessarily obeying you, being around when you want them. You don’t have to worry about differences of opinion since they don’t (usually) tend to have that many.

Granted, the idea of seeing pets as children is out of affection, yes. Not intending to make any statement either way about the status of the actual children. But if the pets are being elevated to the status of children, where does that leave the actual children?

Or is it the idea that the pets, like the children, are those within your home that you are obligated to serve? Yeah… I don’t think I need to get into everything that’s wrong there!

March 14, 2013

Sacked the Gunman

Now for a quick-thinking, death-stopping edition of…

Here’s to You!!!!

So I raise my glass and say, “Here’s to you, Cypress Lake hero!”

I don’t actually know his name. Very few people do. But he’s a high school student who, when another student on his school bus pointed a gun at someone else and threatened to kill, he and two others leapt up and tackled him, likely saving one or more lives. Yay! They’re heroes!

So they went to school where they got awards and medals not unlike the final scene from Star Wars…

Oh, no, wait, actually he got suspended. For being involved in an incident “where a weapon was present”.

Well, NYRA and others are on it! My always awesome fellow board member Jeffrey Nadel is on the case and has appeared on a couple of news spots and radio shows talking all about it.

Also, here: SchoolBusHero.com

Go there, watch the video, and sign the petition. And get others to do the same.

Seriously, that principal just isn’t backing down on this, insisting that she “knows the full story”. After the original suspension, they made up some junk about the heroic student being insubordinate and uncooperative, something they added after this story got media attention and they wanted to cover their tracks. Yeah, sure, okay. 🙄

Because the student should totally have instead done nothing like a good little boy and watched his fellow students get killed. And because he didn’t allow people to die in front of him, he now has this suspension blemish on his record because “only I know the full story, he was uncooperative! uncooperative!” Genius!

Come on. Expunge the suspension and move on. The school fighting this is nonsense, even by school administrator standards.

January 1, 2013

Best of 2012?

So I was at Barnes and Noble yesterday and looking at the science books, when I see a few that are compilations of the best science articles of 2012. Sounds neat. So I took a look. Good stuff for the most part.

And then something about brains… I had a bad feeling about this one. So I flipped to it…

*headdesk*

Yup, you guessed it. It was more “teen brain” bullshit. It starts off about how we all know teenagers are reckless and stupid and whatever other choice stereotypical traits. And says this is because their brains are still developing.

Stuff we hear over and over. But then the realization that this was a best of the year thing. That right alongside advances in real stuff like molecular biology or analytical chemistry, you get this teen brain bullshit being touted as some great discovery.

This is what’s in the mainstream and influencing policy and encouraging discrimination and making the lives of my young friends more and more difficult. While guys like Robert Epstein and Mike Males are still mostly unheard of. Shit.

December 27, 2012

Why, Animaniacs? Why?

Filed under: Christmas Time!,Idiot Box,What the hell?,Youth Rights — Katrina @ 1:27 pm

Why the “Katie Ka-Boom” segment? What the fuck?

I watched this show 20 years ago, though rather on and off. Why? Because every now and then, some of the segments just bugged me. Really, I think the only ones I consistently liked were the Yakko, Wakko, and Dot ones, and maybe Slappy and Skippy, Goodfeathers, and Rita and Runt. The rest is either frustrating, like Mindy and Buttons. Stupid, like Chicken Boo. And, of course, just wildly offensive like Katie Ka-Boom.

There was a marathon of it on the Hub on Christmas Eve, and I like their Christmas specials. And seems the show is coming on that channel regularly in January. First thought was, yay, I like that show, get to see an old show of mine again! Then I remembered the love-hate relationship with it, that so many segments of the show I prefer to change the channel from.

Particularly Katie Ka-Boom, the teenage girl who explodes in hulk-like fury at the slightest unhappiness, something of which her parents and little brother live in constant fear. Every segment has something frustrate her, usually her family doing something stupid or a guy being a minute late for a date, and then she screams and turns into some kind of fire-breathing monster or some shit, and afterward she reverts to normal and is even friendly, and to close out the segment her parents make some disgusting comment about teenagers.

There’s a certain sadness in seeing blatant anti-teen sentiment in cartoons meant for an audience that has yet to reach their teen years (“fingerprints” joke notwithstanding). Spongebob Squarepants is about as bad when Mr. Krabs’s daughter Pearl is in an episode, behaving like every teen girl stereotype the show’s writers could come up with.

Why are children being told that in a few years they are going to grow into an age group during which they’ll be horrible and their parents will hate them? Or is this being done hoping the kids will behave differently once they reach their teens? Except their behavior doesn’t actually matter, since all anyone will care about then is their age, and every single action they make will be derided as “stupid teenager”. They can’t win, and their elders just want to make fun of them for it. What the fuck?

December 19, 2012

Pure Obsession

Filed under: Christmas Time!,Estrogen,Youth Rights — Katrina @ 6:29 pm

A couple years ago, I read the book “The Purity Myth” by Jessica Valenti. It was about the obsession with virginity, namely teenage female virginity, which brought about a number of troublesome phenomena, including the retch-inducing “purity balls”. As in the father-daughter dances complete with ceremonies where the daughter pledges to her father that she will remain a virgin until marriage. Yeecchhh!!!!

I mean, shit, you’d think the classy thing to do would be to at least TRY to hide the fact that they believe a girl’s genitals belong to her father!

But it’s obvious why this happens. It’s this fetishization of “purity”. This obsession with the untouched and (therefore) untouchable. It’s why you get people who consider it some sort of bonus to have sex with a virgin, to “take one’s virginity”. Because they feel like, on some level, they were the first to “soil” what was before unsoiled, that they were the ones who opened the seal, so what they got was theirs.

This goes well beyond sex, though, even if that is the most obvious application. It could be as simple as an unwillingness to walk across a snowy field that is still pristine and undisturbed, so as to keep it pristine and undisturbed, that to walk through it and spoil that would be some kind of crime. And yet, this snowy field is ever so tempting to those who want to, well, write their name in it.

What is pure is tempting and yet confusing, what with the dual contradictory desires to be the first to use or touch it, and to protect it from others who would use or touch it.

In either case, once it is used and no longer “pure”, it has lost its worth. Rather than a temptation, it’s now a source of disgust. It is ruined. It is shameful.

That’s where we get the famous virgin-whore dichotomy.

And that has a lot of youth rights effects too!

I mean, we get told all the time how “pure” and “innocent” children are, right? Their lack of knowledge and experience is held up as an expectation, a virtue even. John Holt talked about them being kept in a “walled garden of childhood”, where they are separated from the harsh adult world by living a life of innocence and play. And if they try to leave the garden, they get smacked right back into it. If they succeed in leaving, they are forever damaged, soiled, and lost.

It’s talk of abstract good and evil concepts, a form of invented morality that even the secular seem to observe. That there’s something inherently good about being pure and innocent, and evil about being knowledgeable and corrupted. Even though there’s no real reason for this other than people’s sensitivities. Shit, isn’t the idea of Original Sin based on this, that it was evil for Adam and Eve to acquire knowledge and awareness that they were naked? God got all pissed when they said they were naked, all like “Who told you that you were naked?!” See, he lost his little peep show when they realized this, that they had thoughts of their own, so God didn’t want them anymore and kicked them out of Eden. And this is the same thing adults often do to children, that it is children’s purity and innocence that they like, that when these children acquire knowledge, form independent thoughts and opinions, aren’t always obedient, and a host of other things that scare their elders, they lose all their worth. Basically, around the time they become teenagers, a time adults fear and teach each other to fear, that their innocent children aren’t so innocent anymore, that they are bad and troubled. Because they are actually totally fine but just aren’t living up to their elders’ lofty expectations of them, to be their perfect little angels like they feel entitled for them to be.

Especially when these knowledgeable teenagers are female. Then the elders need to fight tooth and nail to keep them pure and innocent. To keep them alluring with their purity, to those who want to be the first to corrupt them. Yet protected. So they don’t do anything with their lady parts that will bring shame upon their rightful owners, their fathers. 🙄

December 16, 2012

#16tovote on the 16th – Just a Step Among Many

Filed under: Christmas Time!,NYRA Happenings,Teh Interwebs,Youth Rights — Katrina @ 11:02 pm

So today is sort of #16tovote on the 16th. I don’t run it anymore, though. Not from NYRA anyway since I no longer run that Twitter account due to some internal NYRA politics I don’t care to get into right now. But in sticking with tradition, I’ll say something else about it today.

There’s more to being a youth rights supporter than merely supporting a few goals. It’s a deeper conviction, a deeper consciousness. In the nearly three years since #16tovote on the 16th began, there have been a fair number of participants, though that’s considering participation can mean as little as retweeting one thing with a #16tovote hashtag on it.

A question might be… are all of these people youth rights supporters?

No.

I think I can safely say that. Don’t get me wrong. Plenty of them are. Plenty more might be if they learned more about the issues and philosophy. But supporting lowering the voting age to 16, if there is in fact even that much support and they don’t merely find the idea non-seriously interesting, does not alone indicate support for youth rights.

The way to decipher that is why they support lowering the age. And I don’t just mean the age-old (LOL) battle of lower vs abolish. I mean, for example, if they want a lower age because they believe it might help more Democrats get elected. Or they see it as a feel-good measure. Or they see it as part of a youth involvement campaign. Not that the last one there isn’t pro-youth rights in its own way, of course, but some youth involvement or engagement types have a way of operating under the idea youth are supposed to serve the wider community moreso than others.

Or even if their reasons for a lower voting age are genuinely for the sake of youth having the same voting rights in their own city and country as anyone else, you might wonder how they feel about other youth rights issues. A couple participants in #16tovote on the 16th I’ve seen also supporting corporal punishment or some other token of “parental property”. Or perhaps they make derogatory remarks about teen moms. Or express disgust at a young person swearing. This says they only support youth a little bit, that they like the idea of them voting but probably see them as rightfully inferior in other ways, for whatever reason.

Then again, supporting youth rights goes well beyond a laundry list of goals and issues. The other thing to consider is the individual’s politics and worldview. Sometimes, when an otherwise youth rights supporter seems surprisingly unsupportive of a certain youth rights issue, it might be less a blindspot or lack of understanding, and more that they have certain other values that have led them to that particular conclusion. How this usually manifests, however, is not so much an outright disagreement with the pro-youth rights goal but often a separate option or goal entirely that keeps youth rights very much in mind. And there’s value to the movement in this, as it provides more insight into our own issues and opens up more possibilities for the change we want to see.

It’s also wise to remember not every issue is a clear and cut choice between “pro-youth rights” and “anti-youth rights”. Sometimes both or all sides are a little bit of both.

Why even make this distinction? Well, it’s merely a matter of knowing who does and doesn’t really understand what we’re about, or how close or likely they are. When it comes to support for lowering the voting age, though, surely all the support it gets is welcome, since it’s the same first step regardless of reason or further goal. But it’s only wise to keep the further direction and overall philosophy in mind and let it be known. Otherwise things can go in strange other directions.

December 12, 2012

Teaching Generosity

Filed under: Christmas Time!,Think About It!,Youth Rights — Katrina @ 11:57 pm

This morning on the radio, they were talking about a little boy who recently donated all his birthday presents to charity. Then his town was so impressed with his generosity that they threw him a big birthday party with a zillion more presents… all of which also went to charity.

It’s a lovely story of generosity, based on that little bit about it I heard.

But then the radio guy, awestruck by this kid, remarked, “That’s just amazing. How do you even teach this sort of thing?”

That’s when my brain got stuck for a moment (not the best time, as I was navigating rush hour traffic!), from all the things I found very wrong with that statement.

For one, the question itself implies that “teaching this sort of thing”, to this extent, is even desirable. Don’t get me wrong. They were this boy’s toys and thus his to do as he wished, and what he wished was for them to be donated. And it was certainly an extremely kind thing to do. But it’s such an extreme level of selflessness, and to teach it would be to imply that this is a general expectation, just good manners, as opposed to the above and beyond gesture it is.

Also, because you know I’m going to bring this up, again, he’s a child. His selflessness like this is seen as amazing and adorable, while, had he been twenty or thirty years older, people would have just thought he was crazy, perhaps even threatening. Why? Because when an adult your own age makes some sacrifice, you feel like you’re expected to do the same, and you just plain don’t want to. But it’s just fine for kids to do it, and they should be encouraged in a way adults wouldn’t be. Why? Because you don’t identify with them. Almost everything about their lives is trivial and expendable. It’s easy for an adult to believe a kid’s Nintendo DS is just some useless gadget they don’t really need, when they’d probably slice off their own legs before they’d give up their iPhone. So it’s not only seen as the easier sacrifice for children to give so much for charity, but it’s even seen as the “right” way to be.

And the question itself, of teaching generosity. Again, that implies it even needs to be specifically taught. That an adult who wants a child to be this extremely generous needs to preach it in some way. In fact, that’s bullshit. Generous kids generally have generous parents. There needs to be some strong example of this behavior going on already. Want kids to be generous or any other desirable trait? Be generous yourself. Be the good person you expect your kids to be, rather than preaching it to them while sitting back and clutching your own hedonism and avarice.

All this talk over how amazing this kid is, that he got it right, that all kids should be taught to be like this, but how willing are you to give up your stuff? Perhaps everything you get for Christmas this year? Yeah… that’s what I thought.

But by all means expect kids to do it. Good enough, right? 🙄

December 11, 2012

You’re a Douchebag

Filed under: Christmas Time!,Rants,Youth Rights — Katrina @ 8:52 pm

So let’s say you’re a parent of a – gasp! – teenager.

And this adolescent offspring of yours – gasp!- has opinions.

This fact somehow makes life just so awful for you. That who was once a helpless baby totally dependent on you is now behaving more independently of you. Probably even gets angry sometimes.

And you just get so frustrated. And you must vent to other parents of teens. And then come the gems. Whether it’s how lazy they are or how disobedient they are or the ever popular “they think they know everything!”

Yeah…

You’re a douchebag.

Okay, okay, parenting is hard. You want to share your frustrations with others who are likely going through the same or who have been at least sufficiently conditioned to sympathize with you.

Doesn’t matter. You’re a piece of shit.

You’re insulting not only your own children but other people who happen to be their same age. And why? So you can look “cool” in front of other adults. Oh, aren’t you so witty and clever? You’re taking shots at people over whom you have total legal and economic control. My, you’re so brave, you should get a medal!

And for that, you are a douchebag. Not enough people tell you this, but you need to hear it. That makes you a terrible person. Your “ugh! teenagers!” whining is significantly less mature than you insist these teenagers are. You completely disregard their personhood and basic right and need to be respected. You trivialize everything about them and make it all about you. Therefore, you are a piece of shit douchebag.

Have a nice day.

December 9, 2012

Of Marriageable Age

Filed under: Christmas Time!,Estrogen,Youth Rights — Katrina @ 3:38 pm

Child marriage. It’s a gross human rights violation. Little girls being betrothed to men two or three times their ages because their fathers signed a form.

And then you get the stats about it. Where they list the percentages of people in a certain location who are married below a certain age.

Except that age is 18.

Yeah…

I don’t think so.

Don’t expect me to believe a 17-year-old choosing to enter into an equitable marriage is the same thing as an 11-year-old being sold to her 35-year-old cousin to be raped on her wedding night and forbidden from learning or having a career or doing anything other than serving her husband and pumping out tons of babies. Just… no. The latter is the one that is, you know, actually a serious human rights violation. The former is just someone well past puberty entering into an “adult” lifestyle sooner than people feel comfortable with.

And that’s not something that just gets solved with a “make sure no one under 18 can marry!” law. Age restrictions don’t cure anything. In fact, the aforementioned 11-year-old girl’s situation is pretty obviously bad in ways that go lightyears beyond her age. She’s in a society where it’s seen as acceptable to treat women that way at all. Making that all begin seven years later would mean her body is more ready for the baby-making, but that’s about the only difference. The fact that marriage in that society means being a husband’s property, and thus regularly raped and forbidden from outside activities, is a serious fucking problem which needs to be addressed head-on, and in doing that, the marriages of early-pubescent girls will likely stop, or at least there’d be no profit for anyone in it.

But if that’s too complicated, at least stop using 18 at the age under which marriage is a Serious Problem. At least lower it to 15 or something, and quit acting like marriages of girls who are only “children” because society says so are something to shriek about. And if marriage is so daunting that someone who entered into it has ruined their life or chances or something, the problem there is with the marriage itself, not the age.

December 6, 2012

The Need to Learn

Filed under: Christmas Time!,What the hell?,Youth Rights — Katrina @ 4:46 pm

If you’ve seen some of my recent posts, you know I’m all about school reform and questioning the idea of compulsory schooling in general. There are people doing the same in all corners, including the unschooling community, doing so for their own different reasons. My reason is simply the rights of the student.

However, with many voices on this subject, you get many talking points. And as with any collection of talking points, you get some that are just plain stupid.

For the moment, I’ll focus on one.

“Why do I need to learn X? When am I ever going to use it?”

I admit it. That drives me up the damn wall. Well, truth be told, there are some times it’s a valid question. My brother is in third grade, and just like I had to in third grade, they’re making him learn cursive handwriting. He told me this and I was like “WTF? Why?” Come on, have you seen anyone write in cursive? There are some. And it is annoying as shit, because you can’t fucking read it. Not as quickly and easily as printed letters anyway. That seems to be one of those things they only continue to teach and require because adults just like the idea of children learning it, probably out of some ridiculous nostalgia.

But that is an exception, and there are a few others. The anti-school crowd, however, has a way of taking the “need to learn” idea to strange new levels. As in, they question the “need” to learn things like math, history, and science! Or at least certain portions of them.

“Why would I need to know algebra?!”
“Who needs to know the structure of the cell?!”
“How could I need to know about the French Revolution?!”

This goes beyond being anti-school. This is anti-intellectualism. This makes the subject matter itself out to be some sort of enemy, when what’s supposed to be the problem is the coercive mandatory nature of how it is being taught. Not to mention that some reasons I’ve seen from these people as to why certain (all?) subjects are “useless” are really fucking stupid.

I could go into why these subjects are in fact important, that even if they aren’t mandatory school subjects one should still learn them some way or another. History is important because to move forward as a society and human race, it helps to know where we’ve been. Developing good math skills has advantages just about anywhere. And scientific literacy may save your life some day, as that is what governs things like health and nutrition, among much more. And I’ll throw in language skills, so that people will actually be able to understand you, saving you and others much frustration.

Should someone stand over you and force you to memorize and practice these subjects under penalty of jail? Hell no. But that doesn’t mean learning these things isn’t still a good fucking idea anyway!

And even if it being a good idea is questionable, why exactly is extra knowledge being treated like a bad thing?

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