Rich and Beautiful in Second Grade

02.6.15

When my New York girlfriends visit town we play a game that doesn’t have a name yet. It goes like this: I tell her what it’s like to raise kids in LA and then she counters with anecdotes about what it’s like to raise kids in New York and then we both roll our eyes and hope that we’re doing it right. We hope that we’re doing parenting right because we’re smart enough to know that we really don’t know what we’re doing a lot of the time.

Usually it’s a draw. We match overbearing, crazy or inattentive stories coast to coast. Actresses’ kids and models’ kids have a lot in common, the tiger moms might choose different winter sports (if they allow sports) and occasionally we laugh at our own foibles. Like when I didn’t know what day school started, the time I forgot to pick up the kid I carpool with or when I cannot be bothered to make a sandwich for lunch but instead bring In ‘n Out midday. We laugh at parenting because parenting is funny and flawed and sometimes ridiculous but this week New York City won the Competimom Olympics in the most spectacular fashion.

My friend has a daughter in the second grade. Second grade kids in private schools are anywhere between seven and nine depending upon the parent’s philosophy. You see some parents know that their child is very advanced and absolutely must start kindergarten at five, other parents would like their children (boys usually) to be a little older and bigger so they can be on varsity sports teams in high school. Some parents read about the age requirements and don’t require any finessing. Stranger things have happened.

So, at this swank New York City private school a second grade girl is having her birthday party and the mother invites about two thirds of the girls in the class. The rule of thumb is that unless you are limited by capacity or if you are doing a small party for a kid who really doesn’t want a big crowd you invite all the girls. Inviting two thirds of the girls is a hostile move when there are only a dozen girls in a class, the difference between inviting 8 and 12 kids isn’t worth mentioning. What is worth mentioning is the theme of the party.

Rich and Beautiful

The theme of the party for a second grade girl is Rich and Beautiful and guess which four girls weren’t invited? Obviously, the four who were deemed to be neither rich nor beautiful. I cannot confirm that these girls were from families who required financial aid but when I asked my friend about it there was no denial.

Every so often I wonder if I’m just living in a different world so I asked some of my girlfriends if they’d let their second grade daughter go to a party that was themed Rich and Beautiful. About half of them said yes but all of them said they’d prefer it didn’t happen. When I asked them if they’d let their second grade daughter go to a Rich and Beautiful party when not all the girls in a class had been invited there was an audible gasp from each and every one of them, they would make up an excuse to not attend. When I told my children there was a Rich and Beautiful birthday party they thought it was cute, when I told them it was for a second grade girl there was a Gottlieb chorus of, “Oh my god!”

It seems as though second grade birthday parties range from Ocean themed parties to Frozen to roller skating and renting out an entire movie theater. Lots of friends are all about an activity like rock climbing or cake decorating but no one I know had hosted or been invited to a party that included the words Rich or Beautiful.

I’m sure that the omission of the scholarship girls was out of respect and cultural sensitivity. These are pillars of the community after all.

rich and beautiful

Girls Aren’t Sluts

05.24.14

This morning we’re all waking up to the news about the shootings and rampage in Isla Vista. Parents sent their kids to college and seven won’t make it home. Currently the shooter’s YouTube page is active and it plays like a bad movie about a rich, disaffected youth who doesn’t make it through puberty with grace.

His videos are about how he’s been tortured with his virginity (not even a kiss) for the past eight years, his loneliness and how girls are sluts who “give it” to everyone but him. I’m quite certain he’s not the only 22 year old virgin who is frustrated but the venom is problematic.

Can we talk to our sons about the fact that girls don’t owe them sex? That there will many virgins both boys and girls, that some of them will be sexually frustrated and that’s normal. Can we normalize masturbation so that boys and girls can be a little less frustrated? I think we do a good job of telling our daughters they don’t owe anyone sex but we fail at telling them that they’re good people after they’ve had sex.

The notion of the mass shooting is not a common situation but the way we talk to boys about slutty girls who give it up to everyone but them is disturbingly normal. When we went to war against Vietnam we called them gooks. It’s easy to kill a gook but not so easy to kill a man, woman or child. Niggers were bought and sold, they were not people, using that term dehumanized them enough for America to treat them as chattel. Two generations before me my family died at the hands of Nazis. No Great Grandparents on that side, it’s easy to exterminate a kike but the notion of putting a human in an oven would be revolting.

So when our girls are sluts it’s easy to hurt them. Not everyone will run them over with cars or shoot them. People won’t necessarily kill them for being a slut but they do have permission to demean them, touch them, demote them, hit them, exploit them and abuse them. When we accept that women (and we do this to each other) can be called a slut we take away a piece of their humanity, we strip them of opportunities and we set them up as targets.

The shootings at UCSB will torture hundreds, maybe thousands of people for years to come. Elliot Rodger’s videos are disturbing to watch and his final video (which appears to be removed) talks about killing blonde sorority sluts. Again, they’re easier to kill than young women, because young women are human and deserving of proper treatment.

I don’t imagine that we will learn a lot from this shooting. There will be talk about mental illness and gun rights. There might be murmurings about watching for depression and isolation but the talk that I’d really like to have is this one. The one where we talk about keeping women human.

Quick, Guard the Virginity! Who Cares About Her Dignity!

02.16.14

This morning I was on TV once again having a ridiculous discussion about Barbie The Sex Toy. In a stroke of genius Mattel is providing Sports Illustrated with 1,000 wraps for their swimsuit issue. The wraps feature Barbie so that instead of seeing this:

sports illustrated 2014 swimsuit cover edition

You’ll see this:

Barbie Sports Illustrated cover 2014 wrap

Keeping in mind that Sports Illustrated had a circulation of just over 3 million last year these 1,000 promotion wraps sure are getting a lot of attention.

The predictable complaint is that Barbie is now sexualized. I’m confounded by this. Just how is Barbie sexualized to your five year old daughter? Is she going to grab one of the 1,000 magazines off the rack (where they won’t exist anyhow), rip through the cover, see young women in bikinis and think OMG Barbie is a whore!? 

Perhaps your five year old son has been anxiously awaiting the arrival of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition and when Barbie miraculously shows up on the over wrap he gets a thing for dolls. In twelve years he drops out of high school to live with his real doll because plastic turns him on.

If this is the case Barbie isn’t your problem.

I’m all for protecting the children. Advances in automotive safety, food labeling and drug testing are wonderful things for our kids. Legislation like Megan’s Law has made it easier to be vigilant in our neighborhoods and COPPA keeps corners of the Internet safer for kids. In schools, parks and suburbia I think it’s fair to put kids first.

Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, the world is not responsible for raising my children. This fact may sting a little, at times it may sting a lot, but the reality is that Mr. G and I decided to have kids. The world didn’t stop for us and the world owes us nothing. Adult women are allowed to be sexy and playful, adult men (and in this instance probably more than a few teenage boys) are allowed to enjoy their images. This does not impinge on my children’s rights or freedoms.

I’ll give it to you that having Barbie grace the cover of this particular magazine is an odd marriage. That’s it though. Getting outraged that a magazine your child will probably never see has Barbie on a very limited number of covers by herself without any perfect bottoms next to her is ridiculous. That a Barbie Doll is inside the pages of said magazine also affects your daughter not one bit. She’s not confusing Barbie with a sexy image unless you’re telling her that Barbie in a modest one piece swimsuit is a bit of a tramp.

If Swimsuit Barbie is a little slutty for your taste you’re probably also telling your daughters that the women who grace the pages of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue are undignified and not deserving of praise. These are young women enjoying a career that has a shorter shelf life than most and the rare combination of winning the DNA lotto, youth, exercise and watching what they eat has given them what we consider to be ideal bodies. These are not attainable images (don’t get mad at me, go yell at your parents for their subpar genes) and we all know it. It’s okay that they (models) are made one way and we’re made another.

As the ranting about Barbie and save the girls reaches a fever pitch a few throwaway lines all include references to both Barbie and the models being plastic. Really? Do we want to do that to other women? Is that fair? If you’re going to say it is I certainly hope you don’t have a dot of makeup on your face or any color in your hair.

I’m tired of the world telling me that as a mother I’m obligated to stand guard over my daughter’s purity. Can we all agree instead to stand guard over womankind’s dignity? It’s just a doll. They’re swimsuit models. There’s nothing wrong with either one and pretending that a five year old child is hurt by an adult’s sexuality is not just silly, it’s intellectually dishonest.

Where Have All the Women Gone?

10.11.13

Sometime around 1980 LAUSD opened it’s first computer magnet. My mother ran the computer lab. She didn’t have much in the way of a budget for networking but she did have kids. Mom and my brother spent weekends “making the phone talk to the computer” and ultimately networked with an elementary school in Russia where they video conferenced.

To give this all context AOL launched in 1983.

We know there’s a dearth of women in programming, engineering, math and other sciences and academics often try to explain why. Sandberg asks us all to Lean In, I’m not convinced that explains much. Marissa Meyer is a C level fashionista who declines maternity leave and is alternately seen as a heroine or nemesis by feminists. Neither woman is particularly relevant to my life as a freelancer so I find myself distant from those conversations.

I do work in tech and most often I work with and for men. I love when I’m hired by a woman because there’s a particular joy for me in knowing that women are reaching managerial levels and have budgets to include me. I am then saddened that I find it odd that women are at these levels. I love all that WITI (Women in Technology International) has to offer. I am disheartened that we need women’s groups.

This morning I went to a meeting at Alexander’s school. They’re creating a new technology curriculum and have formed a parent committee to advise. I showed up to a room full of men and was shocked. We’re talking about a K-8 school. At it’s most advanced an elementary tech curriculum will include creating a basic website using some HTML and full use of the Office Suite. Middle school is different. By middle school the kids should be exploring and finding ways to break and repair both their computers and it’s software, but I often find myself alone in believing those are good uses of time and resources.

In a school where upwards of 90% of the communication is handled via a website or email I find it curious that women aren’t interested in how technology will be implemented. Are we naturally end users? Is the gala just more interesting? I’m also the room parent at this school and have been for a number of years. I’ve never seen a father be a room parent yet we cannot call ourselves “Room Mom”.

Sometimes I feel like there are wars to be waged around girls and STEM. Booth Babes are disappearing from conferences (thank goodness) and women are rising in the ranks (not en masse but they are rising).

There is no such thing as a job without technology. I don’t care if you’re a doctor, ditch digger, interior designer or a stay at home parent. Technology has invaded our lives for better and for worse. I’m wondering what it is about the XX’s that makes us believe we aren’t interested and I’m deeply concerned that someone will tell my daughter she shouldn’t be.

 

If Stripping is Recession Proof it Makes Sense to Get the Kids Started Young

09.6.12

Times are tough. I know that here in America we’ve added back a lot of jobs but The Great Recession knocked the wind out of our collective sails. Apparently Canada is having trouble too because some parents are signing their daughters up for for a series of pole dancing classes. Oh, and when I say daughters I mean kids. And when I say kids I mean girls because everyone who is anyone sees a pole and doesn’t think FIREFIGHTER they think STRIPPER!

There’s a trend now towards having kids specialize young and some folks don’t think that college is necessary. I’m thinking a class like this is great for your tween particularly if she’s clearly already very seductive (as we all know that tweens can be). When do you think exotic dancing is legal? I mean you could use larger pasties and a bikini instead of a G-String and these girls could be earning a decent wage by the sixth grade.

Also… I remember my friend Scott talking about his girlfriend 20 or so years ago. She was very petite and he referred to her as a “little spinner” I’m SURE it’s because she took this dance class. Right?

</sarcasm>