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.


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?

December 3, 2012

Dear Tide Parents

Filed under: Christmas Time!,Idiot Box,Youth Rights — Katrina @ 6:43 pm

Yeah, you, the parents in the Tide commercial griping about your college grad triplets being unemployed and living with you.

Fuck you.

While I’ll certainly agree they should be doing their own laundry, besides that, quit your bitching.

First of all, if they’re unemployed and recently out of college, chances are the alternative to living with you is homelessness.

Second, it’s hard to find a job immediately after graduation, especially depending on what they studied. I didn’t have a job for 14 months after I graduated, and it wasn’t for lack of trying. And I studied science! And even if they do have a job, depending on where they’d live, it’d probably take a while before they’d have enough money for moving out to be feasible.

Third, your idiotic complaining is just more “let’s make fun of millennials as being lazy and entitled”. There’s this cute little assumption that making these snide remarks about teens and twenty-somethings is somehow helpful, but it isn’t. It so isn’t. It’s rude. It’s bigoted. And it just makes you assholes.

So shut your cry-holes, “mature” adults!

October 29, 2012

A Girl with a Book

Filed under: Estrogen,Here's To You!,Youth Rights — Katrina @ 10:10 pm

And now here’s an education desiring edition of…

Here’s to You!!!!

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

She’s the 15-year-old Pakistani girl who campaigned for her right to go to school. And then she was shot. Because nothing terrifies Islamic extremists more than the mere idea of an educated girl.

In response to the assassination attempt, there’s been much interest in the right to an education, that all children should have that right. Some even have said those of us in countries like the US or UK should be very glad we had that right. Even, as some made a point to add, if we did not appreciate it at the time.

Oooh, boy, here we go.

Trouble with painting this in such a way is that it pretty much silences concerns over the quality of the education or, of course, the rights of students in those schools that they should apparently be so glad they’re being forced to attend every day. Really, it’s a cousin of the age-old “there are starving children in [piece of crap location] who’d be happy to have that!” as a reason someone (read: some child) should eat food he does not like.

But here’s a question. Is it really so much better to be forced against your will to attend school than to be forced against your will NOT to attend school?

Well, it is. But it’s far better for the decision to be your own!

Yousafzai’s rights were being violated, absolutely. And she fucking rocks for all she’s done to fight for her right to attend school, something withheld from her because she has the wrong set of genitals. But the issue is that her educational choice to attend school was blocked because of oppression. It’s not just a “school is wonderful” deal. It’s freedom of educational choice.

As such, it’s ridiculous to use something like this against students who are in school against their wishes, that they should be grateful. Their educational desires are still being violated, even if they are the opposite desires as those of Malala Yousafzai and others fighting for the right to school. Their grievances are still being ignored and seen as unimportant, just like Yousafzai’s have been by those in power.

So when it comes down to it, it seems for many, Yousafzai is only the heroine she is because she’s being a good girl (by Western standards) and wanting to live the “correct” life of a child by being in school. To her Western fans, she’s fighting for what they are comfortable with, that a 15-year-old girl belongs in school because that is just the way things should be.

While, you know, the radical Islamists think 14-year-old girls should be uneducated and forced into marriages, because that is just the way things should be. Radical Islam is considerably worse, absolutely! I mean, it’s obviously much better to be educated and only marry if and whom you want. I even recognize that, for girls in that part of the world, education is their only escape from being forced to stay home and hidden from society, to be told only what their families want them to know, to be nice and ignorant for the man they’ll choose for her, because more knowledge means it’s less likely she’ll good and submissive. But when it comes to what is or isn’t right for a 15-year-old girl, the West and Islamists alike seem to think anyone other than that 15-year-old girl should be the one to decide that, unless her decision is in line with what they think she should be doing anyway.

This is about a young person being blocked from the educational choice she has made, regardless of how we or anyone else who isn’t her feels about that choice.

September 30, 2012

Parental Instincts

Filed under: Think About It!,What the hell?,Youth Rights — Katrina @ 4:55 pm

All parents love their children, right? All parents want what’s best for their children, right? All parents would do anything to protect and help their children, correct?

You really believe that?

I mean, I’m sure that truly does describe a lot of parents. It’s certainly a cute sentiment. But when you look hard enough, it’s far from universal, and assuming it is leads to a lot of ridiculous assumptions.

If unconditional parental love were truly so universal, why are so many children killed because they did not meet some standard?

Why are infants in some societies killed or left for dead because they happened to be female, an act to be found anywhere from the ancient Greek myth of Atalanta to some modern-day Asian societies, and plenty of times and places in between?

Why are many children and teenagers throughout the world killed by their parents or other relatives because they “dishonored” their families in some way, such as having sex out of wedlock, being gay, disavowing the family’s religion, or some other stupid reason?

Even in modern-day USA, you find this behavior. When Nebraska had a loophole in their safe-haven law (which allows for newborn babies to be left at hospitals or other places to be put into foster care) in that it did not specify an upper age limit, parents were traveling in droves to Nebraska to abandon their children, some of them in their upper teens!

You get the accidental deaths of small children that one might wonder just how “accidental” it truly was. I mean, these theoretically could have been accidental. Hanlon’s razor and all. But if it were intentional, would it look any different?

Look at all the kids and teens in foster care because their parents were abusive or negligent. Look at all the homeless teens, a disproportionate number of whom are LGBT, left without a home or family because that family shunned them.

Look at the teens sent off to behavior modification facilities to be tortured. While many parents who do so do it without knowing the place is abusive, well, bullshit. What, you don’t learn what you can about a place before sending your kid there? Many places with plain as day allegations of severe abuse are still getting kids sent there. The parents either are stupid and didn’t bother to properly research the place. Or… the torture is exactly what they sought. They not only wanted their child sent away; they wanted their child to suffer.

With all this and so so so much more, how is it possible for anyone to continue to entertain any notion that unconditional parental love is a natural universal thing? Clearly it isn’t, because societal and cultural expectations keep taking priority. Or even just plain selfishness, instability, or whatever else. Or some bizarre sense of doing the kids a favor.

I’m not saying unconditional parental love doesn’t exist. Of course it does. It is widespread. But it is not universal or guaranteed. And requires a lot of rechecking the definitions of “unconditional” and “love”.

August 27, 2012

Education Policy

Education policy can go to hell.


You know what it is, when politicians and “experts” and whatever other adults get together and talk about education policy? Exploitation.

True, this is something I’ve talked about before. But even beyond what I wrote there, it goes so much deeper.

I just saw a Facebook posting by a nice organization called Our Time, sort of a youth rights org geared primarily at young adults. It was a little cartoon showing Chinese and Indian students studying hard (due to their countries supposedly investing more in education) while the American student is just listening to his iPod and chewing gum. They proceeded to ask whether education should be made a bigger priority here like in those countries, asking those who didn’t think so to explain in the comments.

So I did:

I’m wary of simply comparing ourselves to other countries without taking a good hard look at what the cultural and other differences actually are that result in the findings, or even whether the right aspects are being measured. Too often the political solution to wanting to compete with other nations not only fails to truly look for what’s being done differently (and when it’s a cultural thing, it’s not something any political decisions can do anything about anyway), but it usually translates to “work our students harder” which leads to third graders getting six hours of homework every night, and other egregious ways the lives of those under 18 are being made to have no other meaning or importance than their schooling. Behind the global comparisons and hand wringing over education policy (where only adults are discussing it) are the REAL individual lives of the students who are at their mercy.

It was while I was typing that I had a realization. Several realizations actually.

August 13, 2012

Tanner Upstaged

Now for a feminine pubescent edition of…


Anyone who says anything along the lines of “Girls today are starting puberty at younger ages!” And goes on to treat it like some utter catastrophe. A serious problem for today’s kids. Something we must absolutely do something about to protect little girl innocence! Eeeek!

*facepalm* *sigh*

Oh, concern trolling, such a frequent opponent to youth rights feminism!

Okay, time for some unpacking of bullshit.

1. Not only is the claim that the age of female puberty is steadily getting younger questionable, but those shrieking about this “problem” often either don’t specify ages or the ages they do specify, usually around 10 or 11, are still within the normal range of puberty (ages 8 to 16). And even so, they’re usually talking about onset, which is the development of breasts (which doesn’t exactly happen overnight), as opposed to first period, which is often a couple years later. Breasts budding at 10 or 11 means the period shows up around 12 or 13, which is totally fucking normal! And even the ones who get their periods at 10 or 11 might be earlier than average but it’s not abnormal, and for every one of them, there are girls who start it at 14 or 15.

June 28, 2012

Making Sure They Behave

Filed under: 100 Days of Summer,In the News,Youth Rights — Katrina @ 12:16 pm

Ever notice that the most common thing anyone tells a child is “behave!”? Is he/she behaving? Are they being good? Are they doing as they are told?

Because that’s the single most important thing ever regarding children, of course! 🙄

The trouble there is the expectation that this person is going to descend into “insufferable little bastard” mode at any moment.

It goes beyond that, of course. The other day I saw this article in the Guardian about cops stationed in school, and how this – surprise, surprise! – leads to students being arrested for the tiniest offenses, such as putting on perfume or not picking something up off the floor fast enough. They’re stationed there over constant concerns that, even if unlikely, some student might shoot someone, and you just can’t be too careful!

So the cops are a good thing, right? They just need to exercise better discretion and not arrest students for drawing on a desk or other stupid shit like that?

Yeah… I don’t think so.

June 21, 2012

Protect the Squeamish Ageist Adults!

Filed under: 100 Days of Summer,Idiot Box,What the hell?,Youth Rights — Katrina @ 3:20 pm

Nothing like sitting through an R-rated movie being played on basic cable, with half the dialogue either changed or silenced because of “offensive language”. When I think about it, it’s really offensive to me that it’s censored at all. How stupid do you think I am, that I can’t handle the word fuck? That you need to protect my gentle ears from hearing it.

Oh, what’s that? I’m 29 so I’m not one of the people being protected by this? Well, I must be, because it’s still censored. I’d have to either watch this movie on a premium movie channel (which I don’t get) or rent or buy it. Hmm. Maybe it’s a marketing move in that way. Even though I have no real interest in buying the movie anyway.

Ah, but the official reason is that the censorship is to “protect the children” from hearing these naughty words.

First of all, as I say frequently, so what if they hear (or say) these words?

Second of all, it’s interesting what words are and aren’t okay. Watch Forrest Gump on TNT. They have to blur out the “Shit Happens” bumper sticker, yet in a few scenes the N-word is said and is visibly written in the background, totally uncensored. An almost meaningless word for feces is unacceptable, yet they greenlight a racial slur? Um, racial slurs are the ACTUAL bad offensive words! Should they be censored? No. But if censoring offensive things is the idea, you’d think that’d be the first thing!

Third of all, my 8-year-old brother and I were watching Family Guy recently, and there was one line where a word was bleeped. He promptly turned to me and said “I know what he said! He said fuck!” Yeah, even the people you’re hiding the words from totally know what words go there. So… fail.

And… how many children do you know who have been contacting the FCC complaining that something on the TV was too mature for their fragile little minds? Oh, there are children who buy into the “bad words are bad for kids” thing. Hell, I grudgingly admit that when I was 11 I was sort of one of them. The reason wasn’t that I actually believed that, though. I only held the idea because I knew such a belief was pleasing to the adults around me. It was prior to my realization that my age kept the adults from respecting me no matter what I did, that beliefs like this just made them happy I was being their lap dog. And so many kids buy into that at their peers’ expense. But that’s what it comes down to. The desire to please adults is why some kids are against “swear words”, not that they have some personal conviction (well, some might).

No, the people who scream back and forth over appropriateness of media content is entirely adults. It is the supposedly mature adults who can’t handle the idea of kids hearing someone say “bullshit” or seeing an accidental half-time show nipple slip. You know who can handle it just fine? The kids themselves!

Seriously, that nipple thing. Everybody has nipples! Half of them have the dreaded baby-feeding female nipples! They need only look down to see nipples. Children are only a few years past being the ones feeding from those nipples, and I hope somebody told the little girls they’ll be growing those things before too long. Censoring body parts? Do these complaining people not shower, because they might realize they have these evil parts? And the ones who are parents, how did that happen, as that happens through having sex which involves – gasp! – being naked!

Conveniently, it seems it’s only adult nudity they’re (usually) all that pissy about. Interesting.

Let’s be honest. There is no censorship that protects children. It only protects adults. Or, no, not really. It protects no one.

And the “protect the children” thing is just an excuse anyway. They only say that because “hide words and things that make squeamish adults cry” sounds less noble. Maybe we should stick to calling it what it is.

In other news, a Michigan legislator just recently got in trouble for saying “vagina” on the House floor. And people think teens aren’t mature enough to vote?!

This has been Day 29 of the 100 Days of Summer, Round 12.

April 23, 2012

What You Want

Filed under: Shut the Hell Up!,What the hell?,Youth Rights — Katrina @ 9:39 am

Now for an ageist, condescending edition of…


Anyone who says either “you’re too young to know what you want yet” or “you’re too young to know who you are yet”. Seriously, you just really really need to be shot.

Who the hell are you to say that to anyone? Okay, even if said person-younger-and-therefore-stupider-than-you does in fact not know what he/she wants or whatever, whatever the hell that even means, you know who knows this even less than they do? YOU, dumbass!

It’s a typical silencing and invalidation technique towards young people, an excuse to belittle absolutely any life choices they make by convincing them they are incapable of making sound choices and as such they’ll definitely regret it in like a week. I mean, it’s a terrific way to instill life-halting insecurities and uncertainties into people, making them feel they are never “ready” to do anything, but hey, at least they aren’t making personal decisions that, even though such decisions don’t involve you in any way, make you personally uncomfortable because you just have to pry into their lives, right?

April 19, 2012


Filed under: Check It Out,Teh Interwebs,Youth Rights — Katrina @ 3:17 pm

I make a point occasionally to read back through not only my own writings on youth rights, but those of others, even ones that are years old now. The study and recollections are needed sometimes to feed the ever-present thoughts and considerations of the issue.

A little while ago, I reread Alex Koroknay-Palicz’s “The delay between the inarguable and the acted-upon”, about a professor who seemed to agree with all the reasoning behind lowering the voting age yet wouldn’t explicitly come out and say he believed the voting age should be lowered. Why? Because it felt like such a fringe view to take, and nobody wants to be the lone supporter of a fringe issue.

In other words, something we youth rights people hear all too often!

Alex goes on to suggest the solution is to have more high-profile people voicing support for our issues and organization, as well as making what positive changes for youth rights we can already. I agree with the second part wholeheartedly, since making real changes to ageist policies is a pretty clear “yes, we’re serious about this, and, yes, this is in fact realistic” sign.

April 15, 2012

What It Means to Me

Filed under: NYRA Happenings,Youth Rights — Katrina @ 4:00 pm

Yesterday was the third annual National Youth Rights Day. A few days ago, I tasked some of my fellow NYRAnians with sharing, in whatever way, why they supported youth rights. Perhaps a little hypocritical on my part, as I not only didn’t share my own but wasn’t even sure how to answer my own question for myself!

But then I realized. Yes, I do!

Youth rights has been such a major part of my life over the past several years that it’s hard to even pinpoint any single sources of inspiration anymore. And even before I found NYRA, there were many little things here and there, the recognition that people thought little of me during my teen years and before, and, of course, my 8th grade English teacher saying “There’s no such thing as a typical teenager.”

But there is an underlying motivation, and it’s a simple one.

In short… I know this is right.

And I know it works.

I’ve met youth who were raised in whatever way in less oppressive conditions than average. In 2006, Alex and I were tabling at a conference and next to us was a table for Albany Free School, and with an adult or two from the school was a group of ten-year-old students from there. These kids? They were actually pretty mature and socially competent. They saw our NYRA table and were happy that we existed and related their frustrations at an Albany mall that had a youth curfew (Fuck you, Crossgates!) and they bought a bunch of our buttons. I don’t remember many more details than that about them, but I recall being pleasantly amazed at these ten-year-olds, the product of a non-oppressive school and probably non-oppressive families (if they had parents cool enough to send them to the non-oppressive school). It was nice to be reminded all the info flyers in front of me on my own NYRA table weren’t just spouting nice-sounding ideas that had little basis in reality, but were encouraging real changes to the way young people are thought of and treated, encouraging freedom and respect, and here were comfortable, competent, dignified kids at the table beside us, having grown up with that respect, as living proof of it.

Unschoolers, too! Whether it’s that teen rebellion isn’t necessarily a thing or just the continual accounts of unschooling families of the quality of life of unschooled youth as compared to traditional school students (yeah, I know there’s a “consider the source” factor here), the comparison between the unschooled youth who are generally more included and their choices respected as opposed to the voiceless traditional students who are coerced and dictated to at every turn.

March 29, 2012

Just the Bullying We Care About

Filed under: What the hell?,Youth Rights — Katrina @ 2:18 pm

There’s a lot of attention toward school bullying these days. Specifically, it’s the bullying of students by other students. Oftentimes, even more specifically, the student-on-student bullying that is because one student is, or presumably is, homosexual.

These kids are definitely suffering. I’m not going to deny that. I was bullied and taunted constantly from grades six through nine (and it was one of the reasons I ended high school early). Yeah, when you have hair like mine, it’s inevitable! That and in 9th grade when I unwittingly admitted I didn’t know what “giving head” meant when someone used that term, the next several weeks consisted of that group of people asking me on a daily basis “do you give head?”

Here’s the interesting part. I can also think of times I was bullied (albeit differently) by teachers and other staff! In fact, I was more worried about that than anything my fellow students did because the students were not in a position of authority over me or my future. In high school particularly, the teachers were decidedly cold, uncaring, and dismissive. Though it didn’t stop them from being excruciatingly controlling and even willing to give you a lower grade simply because they did not like you.

I’ll bet the last two paragraphs would elicit different reactions from most people. The student bullying paragraph would be “OMG bullying is so horrible!!1!!” The one about teacher bullying? Nope, that would my own fault! The bit about the cold teachers would be (and was) treated with “So what? Welcome to high school! Get over it!” And them being controlling and spiteful? “Oh, that’s ridiculous! Teachers wouldn’t do that. You were probably just a bad student.” That’s even if you consider how little information I even gave about the incident, a verdict based entirely on one being a teacher (adult) and one being a student (teenager).

January 5, 2012

Offensive Independence

Filed under: Christmas Time!,Idiot Box,Think About It!,Youth Rights — Katrina @ 1:48 pm

You know what’s amusing? Adults who feel personally offended by the mere idea of independent children.

I recently reread Alex’s piece from 2007 about that old show Kid Nation (which I wrote about a few months later), and how, before the show ever aired, adults got all up in arms about “oh noes, this show is abusive toward those kids and forcing them to take care of themselves, exploitation!” Something they seem to only ever say when the kids shown are competent and independent, and something they are quiet about when the kids are being abused and actually exploited.

Movie called “Dolphin Tale” came out this past year. I haven’t seen it, but I just gathered it’s based on a true story. My supervisor told me she was going to see it in theaters, and mentioned that, even though it’s based on a true story, she doubts the 12-year-old boy depicted in the film really played at any part in it.

Why would she say this? Well, her son is 12. Maybe she believes him to be incapable of anything great and certainly unable to make independent decisions. Maybe she likes it that way.

Similarly, I’ve actually seen complaints about, of all things, Dora the Explorer! Oh noes! How dare the show depict a 5-year-old girl wandering around… without adult supervision?!

And, of course, let’s not forget… Home Alone. Eight-year-old Kevin is accidentally left home when his family leaves the country, and during this time he must protect his house from burglars. Then later in the sequel he’s in New York City by himself and again managing himself just fine, and ends up rescuing a toy store and a children’s charity from the same burglars. Even though these two movies (I don’t consider any later “Home Alone” movies to exist, it’s not Home Alone without Macaulay Culkin!) are beloved classics now, sure enough, you’ll find no shortage of people who feel personally offended that these films depict a prepubescent child successfully taking care of himself and fending off two burglars without adults around to oversee and take care of him, save for the old man with the shovel and the bird lady who come to the rescue when the burglars do have him cornered. Even where movies with adult heroes are significantly less realistic, Home Alone will get picked apart, because how dare John Hughes suggest a heroic independent child?!

And there’s the people who are even offended that Bart, Lisa, and Maggie Simpson are smarter than their parents.

The list goes on. And it’s not even just fictional characters, as even real youth who show courage and independence or great skill are often derided, and assumed to be neglected or abused.

But if these people are so disturbed by this? Good! Let’s keep disturbing them! 😀

December 30, 2011

Temptations for Ageism

Now for a growed-up, snack-packy edition of…


Jell-O. And they’re little Temptations pudding advertising. See, the idea is that it’s not like their other desserts (somehow). I mean, it probably still contains the exact same ingredients. But somehow this one isn’t for kids. They’re not only saying so. They’re forbidding kids from getting free samples of it through fancy machines!

The current offer is for Temptations by Jell-O, the brand’s first product designed specifically for adults. The machine is equipped with technology to determine the age of the person requesting a sample. If the machine senses a child, a panel lights up with the words, “Sorry, kid. You’re too young to experience indulgence like this. Please step away so the adults can get their free treat.”

You’re too young to experience indulgence like this? Even if I weren’t outraged on youth rights grounds, I’d want to smack the person who came up with this. Are they actually implying eating this particular pudding constitutes sex?

We’ve been discussing this a bit on the NYRA board e-mail list, and Eric Goldstein suggested the restriction could be for liability purposes. And he’s probably right. Except if that were all it is, you’d think they could at least try to be respectful about it. Having a machine say the equivalent of “ha ha, you can’t have this!” pretty much shows there’s more to it than that.

December 26, 2011

Getting Kids Reading

Now for a juvenile, literary edition of…


People who are all like “we’ve got to get kids reading!”

There’s been ads for James Patterson books on TV, and some recent ones start off with “James Patterson gets kids reading!” Because he’s apparently written young adult lit now, so it shows a pre-teen reading from a book about middle school.

Because if there’s anyone who truly knows what middle school is like, it’s authors in their sixties!

But, what, they couldn’t just advertise the book? They have to include some crap about “getting kids reading”?

That takes away the “here’s something you’ll enjoy” factor and turns it into yet another “getting kids to do things adults want them to be doing”. Okay, the implication seems to be “it gets them reading BECAUSE it’s enjoyable”, but it still makes it being enjoyable to the young reader secondary to satisfying some cliched expectation. Because, after all, the world cares nothing for kids’ personal desires and cares entirely for what adults desire for them.

Also, maybe someone should tell these adults that when kids are reading, they’re generally -gasp!- inside and sitting! Oh noes, they’re getting fat! So send them outside to get exercise. Then bitch that they aren’t reading enough.

December 16, 2011

#16tovote on the 16th – Typical

Filed under: Christmas Time!,NYRA Happenings,Teh Interwebs,Youth Rights — Katrina @ 10:56 pm


12:00am, the 16th: Introductory “yay it’s #16tovote on the 16th!” tweet along with link to Top 10 Reasons to Lower the Voting Age

12:02am: tweets some basic voting age point to get things started

12:10am: trying to think of another voting age tweet, comes up with crap

12:15am: finally just tweets link to recent voting age news article, if one’s available

12:30am: facepalms at Max’s “#16tovote or I’ll chop off your dick and shove it down your throat” tweet

1:00am: manages to tweet some good stuff, perhaps a couple tweets and/or retweets from regulars

1:30am: can’t come up with anything else for night but stays up late with it for some reason

2:00am: finally tweets link to NYRA voting age page or something from the downloads section, to get people through night

2:30am: goes to bed, ready to get up and get to work nice and early to resume

December 15, 2011

You Thought Otherwise?

Filed under: Christmas Time!,NYRA Happenings,What the hell?,Youth Rights — Katrina @ 1:24 pm

I’ll never understand how there are corporal punishment supporters in NYRA. It’s something that shocked the hell out of me loooong ago when I was new on the forums and found there was anyone in the organization justifying the practice! I mean, in a youth rights context, it should be a no-brainer. One of the most basic aspects of supporting someone’s rights is supporting their right to not be assaulted for supposed “misbehavior”.

Got a reminder of it yesterday when an anti-corporal punishment article was posted to NYRA’s Facebook page. Seriously, click through that and check out all the comments.

Some people are all “WTF? I thought NYRA was only against corporal punishment in schools?!”


Do they really think our opposition to corporal punishment is about WHO is hitting the kids rather than, you know, the idea of them being hit at all? Or, in general, did they not catch that we’re a “youth rights” organization?

Hell, in 2009, when our opposition to school paddling was added to our Education position paper, someone at the annual meeting out and asked me “this is just for schools, right? so if I had kids, I could still smack them?” I gave him a dirty look that made him recoil a bit and answered plainly “just for schools” and my look that seemed to add “but go fuck yourself”. I mentioned this to Alex later, since that guy was a friend of his, but Alex insisted the guy was joking. Eh, maybe.

While the words “youth rights” can make people think all kinds of different things, many of which way off what we do, you’d think freedom from assault that’s called “discipline” would be obvious. I wonder if these same people join or follow an LGBT org and are surprised they are for same-sex marriage. I wonder if they join or follow an animal rights org and are surprised they are against fur.

December 14, 2011

Making a Difference

Filed under: Christmas Time!,Youth Rights — Katrina @ 11:52 am

As I’m sure anyone involved in making any change in the world wonders, I wonder if we’re making much of a difference. I wonder if our youth rights messages are resonating with people, are getting them to at least rethink their previous assumptions about young people. More importantly, I wonder if the messages we spread truly help anyone, truly stop or directly lead to stopping much of what youth suffer.

I recently watched this viral video of the depressed bullied 13-year-old with the index cards. All I could think after watching that was how much I wanted to give him a hug!

On one hand, it’s nice this is getting the attention it is, not being written off as just “typical” teenage depression (though I’m sure many are still seeing it that way). Of course, that could be because he’s supposedly gay (or at least that’s the implication) and his tormentors are his classmates. If his tormentors were his parents, the reception would be much different. But I’ll cover that another time.

December 11, 2011

Participating in Life

Now for a generational, sneering edition of…


I’m really getting sick of the same canned “complaint” about the younger generation, whether my own or ones after or even a little before, that we expect life to be fair all the time. This is blamed on school and maybe parents that supposedly give out awards just for participating, hoping to squash competition in order to prevent anyone from “feeling bad”. Or occasionally blamed on pop culture telling stories implying nothing seriously bad will ever happen to you.

And that all these messages have supposedly spoiled us and made us think life is perfect or that we’re good at things even when we’re not.

Speaking as someone whose schools and teams and such did have participation awards…


How stupid do you think we are?

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