Children should remain silent, and they are ‘good’ when they’re quiet, but ‘bad’ when they are not, because they are disturbing the adults and causing trouble. This attitude runs through the way people interact with children on every level, and yet, they seem surprised when it turns out that children have been struggling with serious medical problems, or they’ve been assaulted or abused.
The most common response is ‘well why didn’t the child say something?’ or ‘why didn’t the child talk to an adult?’ Adults constantly assure themselves that children know to go to a grownup when they are in trouble, and they even repeat that sentiment to children; you can always come to us, adults tell children, when you need help. Find a trusted adult, a teacher or a doctor or a police officer or a firefighter, and tell that adult what’s going on, and you’ll be helped, and everything will be all right.
The thing is that children do that, and the adults don’t listen. Every time a child tells an adult about something and nothing happens, that child learns that adults are liars, and that they don’t provide the promised help. Children hold up their end of the deal by reporting, sometimes at great personal risk, and they get no concrete action in return. Sometimes, the very adult people tell a child to ‘trust’ is the least reliable person; the teacher is friends with the priest who is molesting a student, the firefighter plays pool with the father who is beating a child, they don’t want to cause a scene.
Or children are accused of lying for attention because they accused the wrong person. They’re told they must be mistaken about what happened, unclear on the specifics, because there’s no way what they’re saying could be true, so and so isn’t that kind of person. A mother would never do that. He’s a respected member of the community! In their haste to close their ears to the child’s voice, adults make sure the child’s experience is utterly denied and debunked. Couldn’t be, can’t be, won’t be. The child knows not to say such things in the future, because no one is listening, because people will actively tell the child to be quiet.
Children are also told that they aren’t experiencing what they’re actually experiencing, or they’re being fussy about nothing. A child reports a pain in her leg after gym class, and she’s told to quit whining. Four months later, everyone is shocked when her metastatic bone cancer becomes unavoidably apparent. Had someone listened to her in the first place when she reported the original bone pain and said it felt different that usual, she would have been evaluated sooner. A child tells a teacher he has trouble seeing the blackboard, and the teacher dismisses it, so the child is never referred for glasses; the child struggles with math until high school, when someone finally acknowledges there’s a problem.
This attitude, that children shouldn’t be believed, puts the burden of proof on children, rather than assuming that there might be something to their statements. Some people seem to think that actually listening to children would result in a generation of hopelessly spoiled brats who know they can say anything for attention, but would that actually be the case? That assumption is rooted in the idea that children are not trustworthy, and cannot be respected. I’m having trouble understanding why adults should be viewed as inherently trustworthy and respectable, especially in light of the way we treat children.
I woke up to a panic attack about failing my driving test. This is literally the most irrational thing in the entire world, and yet I can’t go back to sleep. It’s like everything I try to think about that calms my brain comes back to whether or not I can drive come Friday. I want this so badly, which is so pathetic because ultimately I don’t give a flying FUCK abut driving, but I need to see my people on Friday and I want to do it on my terms and my time, not whenever my grandparents feel like getting me up there.
Just. Ugh. I want to put my head through a window. Really I do.
I basically just have to clear off my to-do lists and start from scratch. I don’t even know what I was DOING over a week ago. I hadn’t touched my calendar since the second week of July.
I got stuff to DO, yo. Work stuff and mostly a lot of personal stuff. Mostly a lot of reading. I gotta finish that book RPB gave to me before we go back to school on Sunday (SIX DAYS TO FINISH 433 PAGES AND I’M WORKING AND I HAVE TO HAVE IT FINISHED AHHHH) but because that’s not directly related to my Lincoln research, I simultaneously have to be reading another Lincoln book and I’m trying to cram fiction back into my life (need to finish Ragtime for my mom’s book club that I attend in the summers when I can, but that’s easy and I can blow through it with no problem) and I have a FUCK TON of like Gender theory and more academic (but not history) reading laying around that has sort of fallen to the wayside, and I’m not sure I ever started taking notes on that stuff.
(This is what happens when I’m out of school for too long; I start assigning myself a fuck ton of reading and then I get stressed out about it when none of it really matters that much except it does because WHAT IF EVERYONE KNOWS MORE THAN ME AT COLLEGE AHHHH AHHHH AHHH WHAT IF SOMEONE KNOWS MORE ABOUT LINCOLN THAN ME NOOOO. Hi, I’m Ai and I have a fuckton of complexes.)
“Josh, I’m not sure you were fully conscious while you were saying it.”
Sometimes I feel like a bomb who constantly has to be defused. Like, at least once every three days. Otherwise I’ll explode all over everything.
I was walking back from lunch along the front fields, when I see a group of 8 junior and senior boys lined up along the sidewalk. I was concerned, because what the fuck? so I slowed down and watched as two freshmen girls walked through their mini-gauntlet and then were harassed the whole way through. The boys like collapsed on them, and I couldn’t see what they were doing or what they said, but everything to me screamed something horrible. I threw my backpack to the ground and ran across the street, through the grass and tried to be like “guys whatever you’re doing stop” but they wouldn’t LISTEN to me. I didn’t know what to do, so I stood there, wanting to throw up and cry. I couldn’t figure out a way to get them to listen to me—it was literally all of my nightmares boiled down into one moment in real life.
A male teacher walked through with another small group of girls and the boys didn’t do anything, so I held up the next group of girls until another male teacher came. He asked me what was going on and I said I didn’t know but it felt bad and I started crying. He walked through the line too fast for the girls I was holding up to follow, so I made them wait, trying to figure out if there was a way I could guide them around the boys. At that point, the male teacher who had asked me what was wrong yelled at the boys to break it up and they left saying “let’s go to the other side!” meaning the other sidewalk on the other side of the building. I shouted “You’re DISGUSTING!” at them, but was already crying.
I then was extremely late to class because I had to go talk to the class dean about it because I just. No. Cannot handle this shit. And then I had to talk to like 4 different faculty members about it and they’re going to see what they can do, but. ugh. It completely ruined my day and left me emotionally exhausted and sick and worried that I overreacted, that I misinterpreted what was going on. I just know that standing there, looking at all the boys lined up, I was panicking. No one should feel intimidated on campus, and I felt intimidated and scared for the girls. I felt powerless and it scared the shit out of me and I couldn’t stop crying. My RPB complex was in hardcore overdrive, screaming that I needed to DO something, that I needed to stop it, but I couldn’t. I had to wait for a teacher and part of me hates myself for not being strong enough to get them to disperse on my own.
Sometimes I wish I wasn’t wired this way. Sometimes I wish I couldn’t see everything the way I do. Sometimes it feels like this is all I see, that I’m just becoming paranoid and oversensitive and that I’m driving people away because of it. It scares me a lot. Just. Fuck the system that lets this happen. Fuck it a lot.
UGH THIS SONG IS THE MOST TERRIFYING SEQUENCE
/what, no fears of mob mentality here
you realize someone who’s been on your (fictional) Board of Advisors for three years (ohhh that awkward moment sophomore year when we spoke for the first time) in fact also has a (fictional) Board of Advisors and you’re on it.
But seriously, RPB.I am worried. I’m about thiiiiiis close to writing you a life-affirming email being like “look you are not a failure, stop saying that even if it’s a joke because I KNOW YOU AND WHEN YOU JOKE YOU’RE NEVER JOKING”
Just. ffffffff. IS THIS WHAT IT’S LIKE TO BE ON MY BOARD ALL THE TIME? Because it’s exhausting and worrying. I AM SORRY FOR ANY/ALL HEARTACHE I HAVE CAUSED IN THE PAST FOUR YEARS.
because I ruin every experience for myself by being waaaaaay too in-tune with the culture that makes things like jokes funny.
I want to curl up under the desk. I feel like I’m being way too negative, but. I can’t stop feeling this way.
Just. The play. It was excellent, the acting was wonderful but the content… The kiss between the two characters who were sleeping together but we didn’t know it and to me it totally read as non-consensual. I covered my eyes (even though I cover my eyes for all the kissing, because I’m one of those aces) but I really wanted to be sick. And then when she slapped him, I was the only one in the whole damn theatre who clapped.
And. The fucking wheelchair joke. Like. In what fucking universe is it acceptable to imply that because a woman in a wheelchair, she is unattractive? NOT IN MINE. I have never nearly walked out of a performance, ever, but I swear to fucking god I was half-way out of my seat.
And I know really it’s no one’s fault, that it’s the culture that constructs these things and telling people only makes me look more and more ridiculous. How the fuck am I going to live in the real world if I can’t handle this stuff? How the fuck am I going to enjoy any form of popular media if these things bother me so much?
I don’t want to be that person, but frequently I feel like I have no other choice, and it makes me want to curl up and never leave my room. And I have to go back two more nights, which I don’t mind because I love the cast and the program and I want to support it, but. Seriously. I guess we’ll see if the jokes relax the second night.
here is a round-up of what happened. (This is mostly for my own personal use, so I can go back and point out to myself that SOMETIMES AUTHORITY DOESN’T FUCK YOU OVER. Oh, um. Spoiler alert: sometimes authority doesn’t fuck you over.)
So Saturday I had my meeting with the administrator I contacted about issues of rape culture and sexism on campus.
I forget, probably because I deal so often with incompetent (or worse, competent but unwilling to help) people, that there are people, administrators, even, who are smart and kind and patient people. The woman I spoke to has heard me talk about issues similar to this before, back in August when RPB referred me, post-privileged-pep-talk. We pinpointed my concerns (because my email was scattered as fuck, if you go back to look at it) and worked to talk through things we thought she could do to help solve some of the problems, althoug she was very upfront and honest in telling me that this will be a long process adn we probably won’t see the broken system currently in place get in any fashion fixed before I am old. And I appreciate taht honest as a recognition that she, too, knows something big is fucked up and needs to change, and that she’s not just humoring me and my ridiculousness.
The tactics we came up with are as follows:
- she will push for comprehensive sex ed to be put into the new health curriculm, including an emphasis on how to have a healthy adult relationship (including respect of others’ boundaries and how to effectively communicate those boundaries)
- she will look into either raising awareness among faculty and students about what to do if a victim of sexual assault/harassment comes forward, or she will push for some kind of group that deals with that to exist
- I will continue to do what I do, watching and listening and speaking up and calling out and I will update her on anything I see that is different/worse than it is now
- In addition, I will urge those struggling with the types of problems as the cases described in my email to talk to the school counselor if they want to speak to an adult (NOT the psychiatrist, as he has a history of victim blaming I’m not comfortable with)
- I will work to find tools/exercises/resources etc. for teachers who struggle with ways to deal, as authority figures, with issues of harassment/how to deal with LGBTQ+ issues
Overall I feel loads better than before, at the very least just because we talked and she listened and took me seriously and didn’t humor me about my moral outrage and didn’t tell me to calm the fuck down. I realize I’m irrational about some issues, but this is not one of them. I am perfectly rational about this.
But ultimately I’m glad I went. We talked for four hours about this and about my sexuality and teaching and Montessori and everything and I just. I feel better, knowing I’m not carrying all that stuff inside my head any more. SEE, SELF? AUTHORITY PEOPLE CAN HELP.
This only makes me think of the scene immediately following it aka the most fucking traumatizing scene I have ever seen in a movie in my whole life and the reason I have so many authority problems today.
#i was two and a half #shut up it’s not my fault #stupid disney