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The “policing” of free hate speech

This article popped up in my Facebook feed yesterday because a friend shared it. Before you click the link, be forewarned it may be highly triggering due to the transphobic language. Yes, it’s bad enough to put it in bold, red letters. The summary alone includes quotes which are so offensive that even someone ignorant of trans* issues would recognize them as hateful. I’m not joking. Unless you have an extremely strong constitution, I recommend against listening to the broadcast, which is linked in the article. The extracted quotes are bad enough.

Rochester Radio Hosts Mock Transgender People in Disturbing, Offensive Segment

It speaks for itself. There’s no need for me to say anything about how horrible those comments were. Besides, anyone local to me who has ever heard Kimberly and Beck knows that they are Grade-A Jerks. That is what they do; they’re paid to be awful. I think this one is particularly bad, given the fact that they were responding to trans-friendly local legislation. It’s also frustrating given that I live in a city that, while conservative in some ways, is better than average regarding LGBTQ issues (though there’s always room for growth, of course). But I’m not writing today to call for their heads on a platter, or even their permanent firing.

When I posted this, the responses were interesting. (Side note: Anyone who thinks people under 21 aren’t articulate, intelligent people able to hold their own in a debate does not know my friends.) Naturally, one of the things that got invoked was “free speech.” Dear God, why is that the first thing that’s trotted out in response to assholes spouting off? I mean, I would think that the first response to the article might possibly be, oh, I dunno, “Wow. It sure is crappy that trans* people have to put up with hearing that shit on the radio. Maybe I’ll go check and see if my friend/family member/stranger I interact with on the Internet  is okay and didn’t have a massive anxiety attack triggered by that.”

Besides the obvious lack of compassion, the other thing I don’t understand is why anyone would bother trotting out “free speech” in the first place. My commentary on the article when I posted it to Facebook:

This carries a very heavy TW for incredibly offensive transphobic language and commentary. Read at your own risk. Also? SCREW THEM. I already don’t listen to them (they’re God-awful and annoying as it is). But this makes it a billion times worse. And now I’m telling everyone else to not listen to them.

I never once demanded they be fired or disallowed from broadcasting. I said I didn’t like them, and I said I was going to discourage other people from listening to them. They are entirely free to spout all the garbage they like, and the rest of us have the choice to change the station. Which is exactly what I suggested doing!

Aside from the fact that I never threatened their right to free speech in any way, why are they the ones given that card to play? Do I not have just as much right to the same free speech? Just as they are (technically) free to share their disgusting views with anyone fool enough to listen, I’m also free to tell the world they are ass-hats. I posted on my own Facebook page that I don’t like them. I’m posting it on my own blog. Why? Because they spewed trash and I didn’t like it, and I’m allowed to say so. It’s not a zero-sum game. My freedom to discourage people from tuning in does not curtail their right to broadcast their nonsense.

Even if I were demanding they be fired or sending out a petition for such action, guess what? Still my free speech. Yep. Just because I say it doesn’t mean it’s going to happen, and I’m absolutely allowed to say I think they should be dumped. And let’s not get into the fact that “free speech” is not the same as “consequence-free speech.” If  you violate the terms of your employment with your words, then you still get the ax, regardless of whether you had the “right” to say it in a Constitutional sense. (Also, please go educate yourselves on what is, in fact, meant by Constitutional freedom of speech.)

Whenever the “free speech!” argument comes out, I’d like to remind you all that it isn’t just bigoted radio DJs or Westboro Baptist protestors or Michele Bachmann who have the right to say whatever they want. Those of us who don’t like what they are offering also have the right to say so, loudly and often. We have the right to call them on their hate and encourage other people to stop listening to their shows, attending their churches, or voting for them.

Next time someone points to “free speech” as some kind of argument (for what, I’m not exactly sure), point out to them that you, too, have the same right.

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Dear straight conservative Christians: I’m sorry I offended your “biblical worldview”

Actually, no, I’m not.

Yesterday, I posted about World Vision and their change in policy to allow married gay couples as employees. Obviously, I spoke too soon. They’ve hit rewind on their decision. I would like to pretend I’m surprised, but I’m not. Pressure from conservative Christians is swift and powerful. (I will not blame this on “evangelicals,” though conservative evangelicals do seem to be at the forefront here.)

I am angry. Yes, partly I’m angry at the hateful bigots who put pressure on World Vision to change their minds.  I’m angry with World Vision for not having the backbone to see it through the backlash or the foresight to put protective measures in place. But you know what makes me angriest?  World Vision’s apology to straight people.

You read that right.  It’s telling that the apology wasn’t to the 2000 children who lost their sponsors yesterday or to the gay people who lost their job opportunities today. No, it was to the conservative Christians who went after World Vision over their policy:

We are brokenhearted over the pain and confusion we have caused many of our friends, who saw this decision as a reversal of our strong commitment to Biblical authority.

Are you fucking kidding me?

Oh, World Vision. You are “brokenhearted” that your friends were upset? Well, gee. I guess that must be hard. Much harder, of course, than applying for a job and then finding out that your legal marriage disqualifies you. Much harder than the fact that your stupid flip-flopping has led arguing of a strand that calls into question the very humanity of the people you just yesterday promised to affirm.

That must suck.

Well, I’m not sorry for offending any conservative Christians—not even a little bit. Come at me, folks. I’ll be happy to have you tell me I’m spreading a “false gospel” or that my eternal soul is in danger of the fire of hell. Remind me again that I’m leading my brothers and sisters (and people who identify as neither, both, or something else) astray. Tell me how I’m corrupting my children and causing someone else to “stumble” in sin.

Because I’m not going to stop. I’m not going to stop challenging the conservative belief that there is something fundamentally flawed about people based on their sexual or gender identity, and I’m not going to stop affirming every single person’s humanity, intrinsic worth, and right to live however and love whomever they choose.

Lest anyone think that there’s no cost in taking a firm, unapologetic stand, let me assure you there is. But whatever minor inconvenience, and whatever difficulties I’ve faced, that’s been nothing compared to what the people I cherish have endured. World Vision could easily have withstood the criticism and the loss of support, but they chose not to try even for a whole day.

Apologies to the conservatives who had a little of their assumed privilege curtailed for a few hours? No. My apology goes to the people who were harmed by World Vision’s indecision and by the fighting that resulted.

I’m sorry this is hurting you.

I’m glad you are part of my life and my church and my faith.

I love you.

Kyrie eleison–Lord have mercy.

World Vision and Unmasking Priorities

So, this happened.  World Vision is now allowing married gay Christians (and unmarried gay Christians willing to agree to WV’s policy of abstinence until marriage) to serve in the organization.

As you can probably guess, I’m behind this as a step forward.  Is it perfect?  No.  I’m not a champion of abstinence until marriage (and really, are they so sure their employees are all waiting anyway?).  I also understand that this prevents couples in any state not recognizing legal same-sex marriages from employment, since that’s the specific parameter.  I understand the implications that WV appears to be endorsing a heteronormative view of relationships (that’s a whole other discussion).  But in the Christian world, this is huge.

Which, of course, means that the backlash has been huge.  And that’s what I was thinking about when I woke up this morning to see that my friends had linked to several articles, tweets, and blog posts in which WV has been accused of deception, “empowering the darkness,” embracing “the world” (Christianese for “stuff the church considers wrong in society”), presenting a false gospel, and more.  People have questioned whether they should withdraw support or discontinue sponsoring a child through WV.  Lots and lots of people have expressed being “sad” about WV’s change in policy.

To which I say: Wow, people have messed up priorities.

Nothing reveals the true values of people more than asking them how they feel about anything related to same-sex marriage.  Almost no one says, “I don’t really care; whatever.”  The vast majority of people have one view or the other–that it ought to be legal universally or it ought to be banned or called something else so as not to mess with the “official” definition of marriage.

It would be awfully nice if it were a non-issue, but it isn’t, certainly not when people are expressing horror and outrage at WV’s comparatively innocuous change in policy.  I mean, come on, people.  WV did not suddenly announce that they have adopted a policy of beating small children or setting forest fires or shooting sub-par employees or drowning puppies.  All they did was say they’re going to hire gay people.

How about we get back to protesting something that actually matters for a change?  Because honestly, the only reason it makes a difference whether WV hires gay people is if you think being gay and/or being in a same-sex marriage is worse than acts of harm and violence.  It only matters if you think same-sex relationships are more terrible social ills than poverty.

Yesterday, I posted a link on Facebook to a good review of the movie Frozen.  (I promise, this is related.)  A family member joked that I must not be worried that watching it will turn my kids gay.  I replied that I wasn’t, but even if it did, I didn’t care.  I suspect that’s the real fear—that gay missionaries are going to somehow turn the world gay.

I suppose my question, then, is this:  Who cares?  Which is more important—telling people about God’s love and providing people with food and clean water, or making sure no one is threatened by the presence of gay people?  I guess maybe my own priorities are messed up because I sure prefer the former.

And if my kids somehow turn gay* because they’ve been around gay people or watched “gay” (by that I mean “things people accuse of being gay”) movies, so what?  That just means both the church and the gay community get two more awesome members, ’cause everyone knows my kids are the best and anyone would be lucky to have ’em.

Let go of the warped idea that a small subset of the population is looking to colonize the world and plant their rainbow flag in the dirt of impoverished villages everywhere.  Instead, let’s take seriously WV’s call to come together in Christian unity for the good of all.


*I truly do not believe it works that way; I’m just saying I wouldn’t care if it did.  For real, I could write a whole blog post on why we need to stop saying “But it’s not going to turn them gay!” as a defense regarding gender pigeon-holing.

On being “gifted”

Last night, I read Glennon Melton’s post about calling kids “gifted” and this response to her.  Today, I read Glennon’s response on Facebook.  Because I believe she truly does want to understand, here is my answer.

Dear Glennon,

You will probably never read this, but I’m going to write it anyway because I sense that you honestly do want to know why some of us felt a little (oh, fine, a lot) defensive about your post on giftedness.

I’m going to be honest–I didn’t actually read your blog before unless someone linked to it.  I admit that I always kind of felt a little judged by you.  That might have been because the specific posts I read were often passed along by people who actually were judging me, so please forgive me for that.  That said, I didn’t have an open mind when reading your post on the word “gifted.”

It made me angry at first.  I’m the mom of a gifted child (in the label sense).  My immediate reaction was, “Dang.  How did we become a culture of people getting all tied up in knots over a word?  Let go of your need to have your child be a special snowflake, people!”

So I did what comes naturally–I grouched about it on Facebook.  In the comments, a friend suggested I watch your TED Talk.  I rolled my eyes and replied that I would.  (Yeah, I’m not very nice sometimes; I’m not proud of that.)  And then I watched it.

Oh, my.

I cried.  I cried because I know intimately that feeling of wearing a cape and pretending.  I’ve done it my whole life too.  My cape is being angry and self-righteous.  I’ve mostly shed it, but it sometimes begs to be taken out and worn.  Kind of like how I reacted to your post about gifted children.

So I thought about it, and I decided I want to help you understand.  You can correct me if I’m wrong, but I wonder if you’re seeing the label of “gifted” as being a kind of cape–something to hide a child’s real self.  If that’s so, then I want to tell you that you have it backwards.  My son’s gifted label is not his cape; it’s his freedom.

For us–for my son and for me–being told that he is gifted and has ADHD gave him wings.  Suddenly, he didn’t have to try to be just like every other child.  He could have his needs met, just like the child who has a learning disability or autism or physical limitations.  He could be fully, completely himself.  No pretending.  No cape.

Sometimes, I envy my son.  He loves who he is: highly intelligent, creative, musical, energetic, sassy, cheerful, sensitive, friendly, confident.  Unlike me, he is entirely comfortable in his own skin.  Knowing there’s a name for some of the ways in which his brain works differently is an important part of understanding and feeling good about himself.

I know you believe the word “gifted” is a frustrating term.  Right now, it’s the best one we have.  It isn’t a descriptor of gifts, it’s about the overall way in which children like my son are unique, just like other labels for brain function.  It’s not a reference to specific talents, such as playing the piano or being particularly good at math or art or soccer.  One can be a gifted musician or a talented writer without being given the overall distinction of gifted.  They’re not synonymous.

Maybe someday, we will have a better word that explains the difference between a gift and being gifted.  Until then, children who are gifted should not be ashamed to be given that title, and parents should not be ashamed to use it to describe their children.  Nor should children be ashamed for not being labeled gifted, in the same way no one should be ashamed of not having ADHD.

I hope that helps bring understanding, and I hope I’ve said it in a way that is kind and not shaming or hurtful.  We’re all on this planet together, and we parents have the responsibility to our kids not to make it harder for them by arguing amongst ourselves, particularly over such small things as words.

Much love on this parenting journey,

Amy

Health class and hook-ups

Last night, I got an email from one of my readers.*  She sent me the link to this mind-bogglingly awful blog post by Matt “Stay-at-Home-Moms-Are-Awesome” Walsh.  I’m not sure that we should have expected anything different from his guy, given the chipper and vaguely misogynistic tone of the post about motherhood.  Please be sure to read Matt’s post, or none of this will make any sense.

Let’s start with the “email”  Matt received from “Jeremy.”  Aside from the fact that it doesn’t sound like anything a teenage boy would write, I had to laugh at this:

One of my teachers actually mentioned it in class once after you wrote something (she didn’t mention it in a good way lol)

Oh, really, letter-writer?  I suppose it’s possible that one of Matt’s previous posts could have been popular enough to be read by an apparently non-Christian high school health teacher.  It’s not anywhere near likely that the teacher would have mentioned it in class, and almost certainly not including the name of the blogger.

“Jeremy” goes on to say that his teacher does the following things that I’m pretty sure I’ve never heard a teacher do and still keep his or her job:

  1. Calling abstinence “out-dated” and “unrealistic”
  2. Encouraging students to have casual sex
  3. Asking students to raise hands in a show of sexual history

This is a classic argument against sex education in high schools.  It doesn’t actually happen this way–in fact, more often than not, teachers hands are tied in regard to giving students proper information because some parents throw a fit every time the teacher tries.  The conservative families who don’t want comprehensive sex education come up with strange arguments about how teachers are going to start telling kids to just go ahead and do it.

The sad reality is that there isn’t nearly enough good education about sex.  I grew up in a non-religious household, but I knew people whose parents wouldn’t even allow them to go to school during fifth grade puberty lessons.  I remember those classes being embarrassing but halfway decent; my sex education steadily declined thereafter.  It ranged from having to diagram a penis for an exam (but not a uterus, because dicks are more complicated, ya know) to a teacher putting in a filmstrip about STDs.  The one teacher I had who might have done a better job never got the chance.  My grade 10 biology teacher had us submit 3 questions we wanted answered, and he was going to spend one double (lab) period answering them.  That was the year we had a huge ice storm, lost a week of school, and that lab got slashed as “unnecessary.”  Unfortunately, my teacher gave us the list of questions (ranging from “I think this whole thing is a joke” to good questions about relationships) without giving us any of the answers.

Anyway, if I were a teen in need of support, Matt Walsh is probably the last blogger I would write to.  His response to this “kid” is full of the same self-righteous crap spouted by most conservatives.  It’s condescending, it’s shaming, and it won’t help anyone make good decisions.

Believe it or not, I tend to agree with Matt that it’s not a great idea for teenagers to be having sex.  I’m not unrealistic enough to think they won’t, but that doesn’t mean I won’t teach my kids that it’s not a decision they need to make in high school.  I absolutely agree that the vast majority of adolescents are not equipped to make adult decisions about relationships.  We don’t expect our teens to know how to navigate the adult world in other ways; why should sex be different?  But the way Matt approaches it–including referring to teens as “emotionally immature juveniles” (that’s not at all condescending)–isn’t helpful.

I think this may be my favorite part of the post:

There’s plenty of ignorance on the subject. Plenty of confusion. But it’s the lies I hate. The lies that come from people who know better. The people who have made mistakes and now encourage others to make them, too.

I hate the lies, too, Matt.  I hate when people use their religious convictions to make up fake emails (whether this was Matt or a “concerned parent” posing as a kid, we may never know).  I hate when kids are given misinformation or none at all because of fear that telling them something will make them go try it.  I hate that kids are growing into adults who also don’t navigate sex and relationships well.  I hate that people are shamed for what they chose (or were forced) to do.  I hate the heteronormativity inherent in these conversations.

Casual sex proponents are the ones who have turned sex into something trivial, banal, utilitarian, pointless, joyless, one-dimensional, lifeless, lonely, and disappointing. How could the ones who hold it as sacred also be the ones who make it “boring”? No, it’s mainstream culture that’s made sex boring. It’s mainstream culture that is, in fact, afraid of sex. That’s why we spend so much energy shielding ourselves from every natural aspect of it, other than the physical sensation itself.

I’m so glad that Matt thinks he knows the minds of every person and how they feel about their sexual experiences.  Plus, he cleared it up for us–there are only two ways of thinking about sex!  We can have “meaningless” casual encounters, or we can have holy married sex.  Whew!  Good to know.  Now when I talk to my kids, we don’t need to have a conversation about sex in a long-term, non-married relationship.  Great!

This is exactly my problem with having conversations about sex with a certain brand of conservative-minded people.  They set up these straw-man arguments about how “the world” is teaching us that we should (Matt’s words here) “throw ourselves at strangers.”  Not even one word about the damage done by purity culture and how shame plays a big part of it–especially for girls and anyone who isn’t straight.

My second degree is in health education.  One of the first things we learned is that statistically speaking, abstinence-only education does not make any difference in rates of STDs and pregnancy among teens.  On average, teens who pledge abstinence wait 6 months to a year longer than their peers.  What is different is that with abstinence-only programs, students don’t learn how to be responsible.  Would you like to know what does make a difference–regardless of religion–in keeping kids safer and healthier?  Parent involvement.

Yep, that’s right.  It’s not about what the teacher says or doesn’t say.  It’s not about abstinence-only or standard sex ed or even some teacher spouting off about the perks of casual sex (not that the last one ever happens outside the made-up world of certain conservative Christian bloggers).  It’s about parents who are willing to have open communication with kids–not just a one-time “birds and bees” lecture but a lifetime of teaching them to respect themselves and others.

Believe it or not, this is the line that disturbs me most:

And, when the time comes, you’ll express love. Then, you’ll be able to say that you only ever expressed this sort of love to the one person who deserves it.

“Deserves it”?  That phrase haunts me.  Was I more deserving because when I got married, nothing other than a tampon had ever been in my vagina?  Is someone who has had casual sex–and enjoyed it–less deserving?  Or is this just a reference to how awesome married sex is?  I can’t tell.  I would like to hope that Matt didn’t mean it to sound so shaming, but I’m not convinced.

If “Jeremy” is real, here’s what I would like to say to him (and any other “Jeremys” our there):  If you want to wait, that’s cool.  Don’t feel pressured to do anything you’re not ready for just because someone else said you should.  Don’t listen to people who tell you that you must have sex in order to know for sure if that’s the person you want to marry.  But also?  Don’t listen to Matt Walsh or anyone else who tries to tell you that there are only two options–hook up with strangers or marry your one true love.  Don’t listen to anyone who tells you that you should feel ashamed of your choices.  And don’t feel like you need to figure this out on your own.  Find people you trust who are open to talking about it.  In the end, the decision is yours and yours alone who you choose to have sex with.  You have the right to live your life without shame.

______________________________

*Dave Barry always said those letters were from Alert Readers.  Stephanie Drury (of Stuff Christian Culture Likes) calls them “email of the day” or “comment of the day.”  I suck at naming things, so if anyone wants to suggest a clever name, feel free.

Pearson strikes again

By Pearson Education (http://logok.org/pearson-longman/) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

I do my best to stay out of most discussions about public education.  My older child is having a positive experience in public school, and our family’s income depends on the public school system.  I’m hesitant to say anything that would put my husband’s job at risk because of his wife making trouble.  I honestly used to think that might not happen–after all, this isn’t some mob movie, right?  After reading about Pearson’s latest antics, I’m not so sure it isn’t the educational version of The Godfather.

For those of you who don’t remember, Pearson is the company that brought us the Pineapple Question on the state ELA test a few years ago.  (They bought the rights to a short story by Daniel Pinkwater and rewrote it in a convoluted way.)  Now the New York State Attorney General is investigating whether Pearson is using their non-profit branch to influence state officials by paying for expensive trips that may include lobbying for their for-profit arm.

By now, I’m sure you’re wondering why I’m bringing this up.  I mean, this is obviously important to me as a parent–I don’t want my children’s education corrupted from dirty dealings by a testing company.  Other parents have the right to be informed as well.  And really, I’m feeling pretty proud of my state for taking on Pearson.  I hope they suck them dry (fat chance, but it’s a nice dream).  While those are my top reasons for my interest in the subject, I do have another selfish motivation.

I don’t like to go into details about my projects very often.  I find that it stifles some of my creativity and creates undue pressure on me to perform in a way I can’t always manage.  But I’m going to mention it because it’s related to the article I linked above.

Last year, I started writing a story.  It was going to be just for fun, something to work on whenever I felt like I was in a blogging rut.  I wanted to experiment with some things I’d never written before.  I happen to like updated fairy tales that don’t come off as fairy tales, so I chose the tale of the pied piper.  I had in mind to give it a happy ending, because I’m cheesy like that.  Anyway, I worked on it for a bit and then decided to set it aside because I’m not great with long-term projects.  I figured if I really wanted to, I could pick it up again for NaNoWriMo, since I hadn’t written that much and I knew I could write another 50,000 words (and therefore not be cheating, since I had some written already).

What does this have to do with anything?  The story is about underhanded dealings in public education and misuse of disciplinary action against “failing” schools.

I ended up going back to it sooner than I’d intended.  I finished enough to start sending the story to beta readers so I could get some feedback on where to head with it.  In one chapter, a character tells another that the underhanded dealings are not a good way to live.  One of the beta readers complained in her comments that I had made it sound like a mob movie and that while “corporate takeover of a school is not ideal,” it made her roll her eyes.

Except that’s what happens.

For-profit companies (for example, Pearson) can take failing schools, create charters, and make a profit.  Investors–usually wealthy donors such as the Gates Foundation–can put money into it and receive not only a tax write-off but a financial gain, sometimes as much as double what they put in.  I swear I could not make this stuff up.

The worst part is that the charter schools are not better than the public schools they replaced; they’re just not as heavily regulated.  Charter school teachers don’t even need to be certified because the rules applied to state-funded schools don’t apply.  The idea that if schools operated on a for-profit basis they would improve due to “competition” is ridiculous.  Additionally, schools can lose funding and students can suffer when wealthy investors back out suddenly (this has happened with the Gates Foundation).

Does this have the potential for people to try to game the system in order to profit from education?  Absolutely.

Go ahead, beta reader, and roll your eyes.  Corporate takeover isn’t “ideal”?  I hope you’re unlucky enough one day to be forced to send your child to a sub-par charter school run by a for-profit Educational Management Organization.

I have no idea whether I’ll ever publish this story.  I’ll let you know if I do.  For now, I’m content to watch the Pearson drama unfold and pray desperately that someone takes that company down several notches.  We don’t need education reform; we need a complete overhaul.

 

Looking for Super Girls

This post is a bit lighter than my last one.  It was written for the Creative Buzz Hop; this week’s theme is “Superheroes.”  If you’d like to join us, write your post and link up at either Pen Paper Pad or Muses from the Deep.

I was a little disappointed to see this week’s theme, superheroes.  After all, I’ve never been much of a fan.  I don’t think I’ve been to a superhero movie in the theater since Spider-Man 2, and I’m not sure I’ve seen one at home in that long either.  Neither of my kids is much into superheroes.  So what the heck was I going to write about?

Even though I have some thoughts on comics, superheroes, and geek culture, that didn’t seem appropriate.  It’s true that there is a distinct lack of super women, and the women in comics play a wide range of “stand by your man” (even if it means death) roles.  I’m put off by the skimpy costumes on the women and the disgustingly large muscles on the men.  I could probably write forever about that.  On the other hand, there are already some women writing about those things who have more of a vested interest than I do and who can speak to the issues better than I can.  I’ll leave them to it.  It also occurs to me that lots and lots of people love superheroes for a variety of reasons, and I’m sick of the feeling that we’re all being policed for our choices in books, movies, and television (see my post yesterday on why, sort of).

Where does that leave me?  It leaves me with the one “superhero” my daughter actually likes: WordGirl.

Yes, people, I know it’s a PBS kids’ show and it’s meant to be educational.  But come on.  Who wouldn’t like something that, in the last year, has helped my daughter expand her vocabulary by several hundred percent?  Besides, WordGirl has an enemy called Lady Redundant Woman.  What’s not to love?

For those not familiar (probably because you don’t have any kids under age 10 in your house), WordGirl is an alien from the planet Lexicon who lives with an Earth family and goes by the name Becky Botsford.  She has a sidekick, a monkey named Bob (or Captain Huggy Face, when he’s in full superhero sidekick mode).  WordGirl fights villains such as the meat-slinging Butcher, the cheese-obsessed Dr. Two-Brains (his second brain is a mouse’s), and the conniving knitter, Granny May.  The whole show is just such campy fun.  The best part is that WordGirl is a strong, smart, and capable role model.

The show’s writers have created one of the most likeable characters, appealing to kids of all sorts.  The feminist mama in me rejoices that there is a fantastic television girl out there that is relatable for both boys and girls, something sorely lacking in a lot of our culture.  At a time when so much of kids’ literature, television, and toys are separated into boy and girl categories, we have a show with a main character that appeals to everyone (even mom and dad).

I know my daughter’s time with WordGirl is limited.  It won’t be long before she wants to watch things she perceives as more “grown up.”  Maybe someday she’ll be interested in more mainstream superheroes; maybe she won’t.  Maybe the culture will have changed enough that we’ll see more and better options regarding women in superhero comics and movies; maybe it won’t.  For now, she and I can enjoy watching Word Girl and learning something new–and hoping that once again, WordGirl will protect Fair City from the likes of Chuck the Evil Sandwich-Making Guy.

______________________________

For the very curious, you can see what I’m talking about: