Thursday, February 19, 2009
I've had a lot of little ideas rattling around my head, but none has developed enough to take up a whole post on its own. This will have to be like one of those flashback episodes of a sit-com or something....
I was hired to take over for a coworker who's going on maternity leave. This means that I have guaranteed work until June (woot!). This also means that I have to finish up my Early Childhood Education credits, which I've been putting off for a couple of years. I'm taking two classes online, which is the least painful way to do the classes, even though it's tough to stay motivated.
The experience has been strange, actually. One of the classes is on how to teach the Anti-Bias Curriculum, which is a wonderful idea. The point is that society not only constructs complex roles for people to fill, but also teaches us (from birth) to have biases against those who don't embody those roles. The idea behind the curriculum is to dismantle racism, ableism, sexism in the youngest members of society, which will hopefully help to get rid of them in the rest of us.
Sounds great, right?
Well, being an online class, the professor wanted to maintain some medium for class discussion. She hit upon the online forum idea. We all have to answer certain questions on the forum and then respond to other people's posts. The first big topic of discussion went like this:
"In order to know about biases, you have to know yourself. What are your biases and where do you think they came from?"
That was it. No other instructions. Point final as they say in French. Nothing about being respectful, nothing about avoiding hate speech, just a big space to wallow in your hatred of other groups of people. Oh, yeah, and no moderation either.
Big fat balls of hate were thrown at gays and lesbians, immigrants (especially those who "refuse to learn English"), Middle Eastern people, the homeless, the poor, those on welfare....The list goes on.
A couple of us interpreted this as "we need to get over our biases," and so we set out to respectfully provide counter-points to people's assumptions. I have tried to phrase things in such a way that I seem sympathetic, but also thoughtful and critical......Like I said, I tried. If you know me or know how I write, try to imagine how hard that is.....
Those responses, though, have been met with "Well that's just how I feel, so you don't get to jump down my back."
This is the future of America's (or, California's, anyway) early childhood educators????? Oy vey.
I've been so worked up by these discussions that it's making it very difficult for me to concentrate on other things. And sleep. And finish knitting the scarf for my best friend's birthday. These things all need finishing! Stop poisoning my brain, you stupid online class!!!!!
Okay, I'm calmer now.
Next up is the Vatican, who has tallied up some essentialist assumptions, uh...I mean research, and decided which deadly sins are most often done by men and which are more perpetrated by women. Um, yeah. Women are prideful and envious. Men are gluttons and lustful. Big shock, eh? This research was done by a 95 year-old Jesuit monsignor, who obviously knows so much about women from his vast life experience avoiding them completely. The article I read (BBC) also told me that they have added some new deadly sins:
Genetic modification, experiments on the person, environmental pollution, taking or selling illegal drugs, social injustice, causing poverty and financial greed.
So, let's see.....Catholic church, you encourage giant families, which inevitably leads to environmental pollution. You deny the civil rights of vast swaths of the population (women, lgbt folks, etc) thereby perpetuating social injustic. You force priests and nuns to take vows of poverty. You amass money and art and keep it from the public, and have done for, oh, 1,000 years or so. You may or may not eat genetically modified food (if you're the American branch of the Church you do....European branch not so much).
Great. How many of those are most perpetuated by the very body who has deemed them sins??? Screw you, Catholic Church. And your little dog, too.
In far more positive news (heh, sex positive...hehe...), Feministe recently linked to a site that provides real, accurate, non-judgmental, non-het-biased sex advice to teens and people in their 20's. This site, Scarleteen, provides advice, information (that kids don't seem to be getting in sex-ed classes anymore), and education. Some of it is totally basic (information about anatomy), some of the questions in the advice column are *head/desk* inducing, but I'm really glad that there is accurate information out there. I honestly can't wrap my head around the idea that "abstinence education" was ever a good plan, but nonetheless it stays around, which makes Scarleteen very necessary.
Speaking of "abstinence only education" does anyone know whether that kind of sex-ed actually includes things like basic anatomy and physiology?? Because some of the questions on the site lead me to believe that no, they don't.
I suspect that one's "lady bits" are not explained in the slightest. This leads me to my next link, which is "I almost wish my vagina were mysterious and powerful" It's from the blog "Tiny Cat Pants," and the author keeps referencing someone named Campfield (who, I gather, is some Tennessee republican) who is apparently terrified of vaginas. Or women. I'm not entirely sure, but the post is really, really funny.
Update: It helps if you read the previous post, "Campfield's Anti-Fatherhood campaign" for context.
Crooked Timber posted a survey about gender justice. It's designed to be administered to (I think) college students, probably in a history/sociology/women's/gender studies department, but it's really interesting and thought provoking. Definitely worth checking out.
So, there it is. A random mish-mash of things I've read and thought about this week. Not terribly coherent or cohesive, I know....Sorry.