Stephanie Metz wrote the viral blog post “Why My Kids are NOT the Center of My World.” While I agree kids should not govern every waking breath of their lives, this writer reduces boys and girls to archaic gender roles and advocates a dangerous, ignorant definition of bullying.

By now you've probably read the blog post by Stephanie Metz that went semi-viral titled "Why My Kids are NOT the Center of My World." Judging from the ridiculous disclaimer at the beginning of the post saying something along the lines of "I'm about to share my opinion and you may not like it" (um, isn't that what blogs are for?) and her declaration that "this is how I feel and that's not going to be changed" (I mean why not just say, "I see things one way and refuse all other perspectives?"), I geared up for a one-sided, simple-minded rant.

And indeed, that's what she delivered.

While my kids sometimes seem to take over every waking moment of my existence, they do not call the shots, I do not bend over backwards to accommodate their every will, I will not protect them from the trials of life, and I absolutely refuse to interfere with that which I know they can handle themselves.

Except not exactly. The really unfortunate part of this post is that I agree with her completely in her assertion that kids shouldn't be the center of their parents' universes. While my kids sometimes seem to take over every waking moment of my existence, they do not call the shots, I do not bend over backwards to accommodate their every will, I will not protect them from the trials of life, and I absolutely refuse to interfere with that which I know they can handle themselves. Hell yes, Metz.

But then she wrote this drivel and lost me completely: "My boys are typical little boys. They love to play guns. They love to play good guy versus bad guy. They love to wrestle and be rowdy. That's the nature of little boys, as it has been since the beginning of time."

Um, the '50s called. They totally want their vapid rhetoric back.

This mom agrees with Ms. Metz. Here's why! >>

Critical thinking?

See, here's the thing: If this author would just use a shred of the "critical thinking" she claims to instill in her boys (who, incidentally, will grow to be just about the most perfect "gentlemen" ever (no really, read the bottom of the post)), she would realize that claiming a "typical" behavior of boys or girls reinforces archaic gender roles that are formed externally (societally) but passed off as "natural" or internal. This process diminishes the validity of other expression and bolsters heteronormative culture, valuing heterosexuals over homosexuals and confining all of us to strict, arbitrary gender identities.

In other words, some boys play with My Little Ponies and wear dresses. And if that's "against nature," why then there must be something wrong with them, correct? They must be fixed! And then we get discrimination, hate crimes and a teenager who lights another teenager on fire because he's wearing a skirt. And we get bullying, which Metz also discusses. (Incidentally, does anybody think it's weird that Metz claims her kids are not the center of her world, and yet her entire understanding of "boys" is based on her own boys, as if there are no other boys in the world?)

Over-simplification of bullying

Miraculously, she manages to expand her reductive mentality not only to girls, but also to the topic of bullying: In her mind, bullying is only physical aggression and all teenaged girls are venomous name-callers.

Check this out: "There was a time — not too long ago — when bullying was defined as slamming someone up against a locker and stealing their lunch money. There was a time when kids got called names and got picked on, and they brushed it off and worked through it (ask me how I know this). Now, if Sally calls Susie a b**** …Susie's whole world crumbles around her, she contemplates suicide, and this society encourages her to feel like her world truly has ended, and she should feel entitled to a world-wide pity party. And Sally — phew! She should be jailed! She should be thrown in juvenile detention for acting like — gasp — a teenage girl acts."

OK. Let's just start with the astute declaration (sarcasm font) that all teenage girls call other people names. You know, it's funny. I was once a high school girl. I do not recall yelling names at other girls. Not once! In fact, I never even saw a single friend engage in such behavior, and the "mean girls" were looked at like some strange breed of human to be avoided at all costs. How weird!

So according to Metz, boys love guns and rough housing and rowdiness and girls are catty, trite and mean.

So according to Metz, boys love guns and rough housing and rowdiness and girls are catty, trite and mean.

Wow. That's some critical thinking. Did you come up with that yourself? Because it sure seems like that's the exact same nonsense that's been funneled our way for generation after twisted generation, the very cultural narrative actual critical thinkers have been fighting to dispel as a vacuous construction of a misogynistic, homophobic society.

Oh but there's more. Is bullying really only shoving people against lockers? While I agree there are some ridiculous helicopter parents out there running around like obsessed pit bulls, sheltering their unique snowflakes from the tiniest hint of pain, the idea that bullying is only physical is simple-minded and ignorant.

Actual bullying

Through the internet, kids get bullied on whole new forums in whole new ways: Personal photographs spreading through entire schools, verbal attacks, lies and rumors are no longer passed via telephones and parties, but rather in permanent, electronic form, to potentially millions of people, into forever.

iphone

And though I've personally witnessed some over-reactionary parents, as a whole, what I mostly hear in "modern society" (as Metz calls it) are stories of kids suffering and yes, even killing themselves due to repeated, aggressive harassment by people who hold power over them. Oh wait. That's the actual definition of bullying.

Calling somebody a name once is not bullying, and if Metz understands situations like this one, in which a 12-year-old girl was bullied online by 15 girls, ultimately resulting in her suicide, as nothing more than evidence of a child with no "coping skills" who can't "put up with anything [that] doesn't make [her] heart feel like rainbow-colored unicorns" then she's seriously not worth anybody's attention, and yet, if you read the comments on her blog, very few people are calling into question her assumptions.

Clearly, the ignorance abounds.

Let's think about this for a moment: Bullying involves a power dynamic. That's the nature of bullying. According to StopBullying.gov, the kids most likely to be bullied are the outcasts, the ones perceived as different, weak or "unable to defend themselves." They are the ones who are "depressed, anxious or with low self-esteem." They are the less popular kids, the ones who don't get along that well with others.

According to StopBullying.gov, the kids most likely to be bullied are the outcasts, the ones perceived as different, weak or "unable to defend themselves."

The reasons for this are numerous, many of which have nothing to do with poor "coping skills:" psychological disorders, unstable or abusive homes or developmental delays.

Or, and I'm about to get crazy here: Maybe it's just their personality. Maybe they're shy. Maybe they're unlike the other kids. Maybe they're gender nonconforming individuals who have grown up in a heteronormative society screaming at them since childhood that they are wrong and defective, if not downright disgusting, because they aren't a rowdy boy or catty girl.

Hmmmm.

Do you see a relationship here?

The same mentality that underlies assumptions about "typical" gender behavior fuel the myopic perspective that people outside the mainstream are somehow weaker or deserving of the cruelty they receive.

If they would just learn to cope, they'd be fine like the rest of us.

According to Metz, they need to just learn to "function in society." But what if society is broken? What if society results in Sandy Hook and Columbine and kids killing themselves and each other? What if society is rape culture and hate crimes and beatings of transgender youth?

And what if society refuses a person entrance unless they conform to the very culture that's silenced, disempowered and rejected them?

While Metz rails against modernity, I rail against the broken history that works against it.

That is the society that I find "nauseating," and that is the society I will rage against as long as I have voice, for my boy who wears purses and has little interest in guns, for my daughter who decided a year ago she's a boy, and for my oldest girl, who's sure she wants to be a NASA engineer.

While Metz rails against modernity, I rail against the broken history that works against it, fighting through words like hers to remain into perpetuity, continuing the "typical" hailed only by those already in the "center of the world," wondering why the rest don't just join them, failing to recognize they are only one tiny piece of that which is, or could be, if the center were expanded for the rest of us.

More on gender

What's wrong with being a girl?
Teach your children to be flexible about gender
Pastor advocates "cracking wrists" of gender-bending kids

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