Our Children are listening

April 15, 2019

People say stupid shit, hurtful shit, and demeaning shit. Sometimes they know they're doing it and other times it's so normalized that they don't even understand the impact. Children hear this shit and a lot is said directly to them.

If you haven't watched 48 subtly sexist things women hear in a lifetime, please do.

 

 

I've watched it multiple times and what people say to young girls especially, started to fester. But it's not just girls, it's boys and men to. All that stupid shit like "Man up," and "Don't be a pussy." For examples, watch 48 things men hear in a lifetime that are bad for everyone.

 

 

 

There's so many awful things said that shape our self worth. I was what would be called a feisty little girl, calling out sexism as young as kindergarten. I was outraged that I wasn't allowed to play soccer because it was "too rough" and not for girls, even as I spent countless hours on the sidelines as my father and brother played, ironically girls matches were often going on simultaneously on adjacent fields. I took ballet because that's what girls do. I enjoyed ballet, but that wasn't the point. I complained to my 3rd grade teacher that the Constitution said all "men" were created equal and not women. I asked why there were only altar boys and not altar girls. I was basically a pain in the ass as far ain regards to the status quo.

 

My uncle would tell me to find a rich guy to marry when I grew up and I'd always answer," I'll make my own money." All the cliche sexist phrases were flourishing as I grew up in the 70s. They haven't gone away. Add to this what LGBTQ kids are hearing and it breaks my heart.

 

 

I wanted to branch out from underwear sculptures for this and immediately thought of toys, especially stuffed toys. For kids, they are security, comfort, even imaginary friends. The velveteen rabbit came to mind. The image of a child overhearing adults talking while clutching their teddy bear, not really understanding what's going on. I thought about stuffed toys given as get well gifts, with messages written in marker all over them. They are rich with meaning, social customs, gender stereotypes. 

 

My first piece in this series started from thinking about the shit I was hearing on the news like Tucker Carlson saying that women making as much or more money than men will destroy society.

 

This piece has an opening in the back to insert an arduino and speaker for soundbytes.

I realized it was appropriate that Thumper's Rule is if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all.

 

 

 

 

I made 2 more pieces, a rabbit and a dog, but I decided I didn't want them all to have sound. Words are impactful, they linger like scars. The autograph stuffed animals popular when I was growing up kept lingering in my thoughts. I also wanted them to be more well worn, more velveteen rabbit before he becomes real. I squished the limbs. I added rips, and wire stitches. The bunny has sexist things girls hear written on him and the dog will have things boys hear.  I'm also making one for things LGBTQ kids hear. This affects my students and I'm compelled to make one, especially after my stepson's mother told him he could only come and live with her if he didn't do any of that "homosexual stuff".  This made me sick to my stomach. Luckily, he's now an adult and knows his dad and I are here for him. 

 

 

Everyone I know is affected by this shit. It's time we evolve. It's time we strive for compassion and empathy. The world is changing and its encouraging when I see so many other artists and activists working toward this goal. This series is my little contribution. I don't know how far I'll take it but it's very personal to me.

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Davidson, North Carolina, USA

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