Monday, October 27, 2014

Using Children as Political Props is Disgusting

When I was still in college in what seems like a lifetime ago, there is a particular day that I remember quite vividly. I was walking from the library to my class when I noticed an unusually large gathering of students in the middle of campus. And there was a lot of yelling.

Curiosity got the best of me and I went over to take a look to see what had gotten everyone so excited. It turned out that members of a fringe Christian church, whose name that I don't recall, had decided to visit our campus with placards showing images of aborted fetuses. They called those who were pro-choice “murderous homosexual agents of Satan.”

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They declared that, naturally, such people deserved God's divine punishment, whether that punishment happened to come in the form of an unfortunate car accident or giving birth to deformed children and then literally burning in hell.

I have always found religion to be quite comical; and the nuttier the practitioners, the funnier I found them. I had wanted to stay a little longer to enjoy the spectacle but as I was almost late for class, I decided not to linger among that den of irrational idiots. However, that was when I noticed something. The members of that church had brought their children to their shindig – some who could not have been more than seven or eight years old. They, too, were holding signs. I remember the signs that the children held compared pro-choicers to Nazis.

I found that especially deplorable. For the most part, young children do not yet possess the mental faculties to hold independent thoughts of their own. Therefore, children tend to emulate their parents or other older members of their family or community.

Admittedly, I am not a child psychologist. So I do not know if a child has to be sixteen or eighteen or some other arbitrarily defined age to be able to think independently. However, surely the answer cannot be “eight years old.”

There is a reason why people make such a big deal of child prodigies.  They are very rare.
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My friends and I agreed that the church members were irrational mystics, and we also agreed that using their own young children (who have not developed the necessary cognitive abilities to make up their own minds about something as complex as political rights) as political (or in this case, religious) props was particularly abominable.

Though you, dear reader, were not there, I am sure that it is a position that you can agree with. If not, then, please, explain why you think that brainwashing children is a good thing.

Many years have passed since that warm sunny day on campus. However, in the past few days, those same friends of mine (as well as many random strangers whom I assume would not normally support brainwashing children) who were horrified by the form of child abuse that we had witnessed that day appear to have lost all qualms about it when they saw that children were being used for a political campaign that they happened to agree with.

I am specifically referring to a video on YouTube called “Potty-Mouthed Princesses Drop F-Bombs for Feminism.”

In the video, young girls used plenty of swear words to draw people's attention to the fact that there are things in the world that are far more offensive than children saying “fuck.”

Two things that they focused on particularly were that women are paid 23% less than men, and that one out of five women get raped.

Now I'm no prude and admittedly, I have said worse things when I was their age. So although the very idea of potty-mouthed children can be shocking to some, that's probably because a lot of people have forgotten what they were like when they were children.

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The first problem that I had with the video was the use of young children to drive a political message. Regardless of the intent or the validity of one's political standpoints, I cannot condone the use of young children who are incapable of having their own independent thoughts as political props.

The second problem that I had was with the so-called “facts.”  
For one thing, the point made in the video that women are paid 23% less than men has been debunked. Many, many times.

Here are just a few links that show how many times that myth has been debunked by economists, academics, business leaders, journalists, pollsters, and feminists:

Even I wrote about the topic, which can be found here.

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Then there's the problem with the statistic about one out of five women being raped. That statistic is based on the Campus Sexual Assault Study, which was released in 2007. And this statistic is incredibly unreliable.

For instance, according to this report, the problems of the study were as follows:

  • The survey had a large non-response rate. 
  • Those who had been victimized were more apt to have completed the questionnaire, resulting in an inflated prevalence figure 
  • The definition of sexual assault used in this and other studies was too broad, including unwanted touching, forced kissing, and sexual encounters while intoxicated. 

Of course, there were also other studies that were conducted that revealed similar findings as the Campus Sexual Assault Study. The problem was that they, too, had similar problems.

This is not to say that the problems that the children brought up in the video are not problems. Not being paid the same wage for the same job despite the same qualifications and the same amount of work done IS a serious problem. Regardless of the statistic, rape and violence against women ARE serious problems. But the statistics that were in this video were wrong through and through.

And teaching young children, who do not know any better, such debunked statistics as facts and getting them to challenge “society to stand up and stop it” (gee, I wonder what the word “society” will eventually translate into) is disgusting and immoral. Those people who were responsible for this video, if they are not too busy patting themselves on the back and feeling self-righteous, ought to be ashamed of themselves.

But don't just take it from me. You can always check out this video that was made by the always-brilliant Julie Borowski in response to the video of the potty-mouthed children.


  1. I was really engaged in your post, but I became disconnected because you seem to be more upset that you believe the research is wrong then adults using children for their own social awareness gains.

    I'm not disagreeing with the topic of this post, but the two events you pointed out were activities (rage infused anti pro-choice protesting and using children) you and I disagree with. Have you seen any campaigns that you support using children? I wondered about that (and my views) when the tone of your post went to -women aren't attacked as much as they say they are- paragraph. You think it's "disgusting and immoral" because you don't believe in this particular research...what if you did?

    1. I think the reason why I seem more upset about the research than the use of the children is that there is only so much that I can talk about in regards to the use of children in political advocacy. I said that young children are incapable of independent thoughts and therefore, the use of children for such purposes is immoral. But aside from that, there isn't much else that I can say. Statistics, on the other hand, I (and anyone else) can talk about aplenty.

      And honestly, I do not recall seeing any political or economic campaign that I support that used children. However, if there are such campaigns, then I will criticize it just as much as I did here.

      I think it is important for me to repeat that regardless of the statistic, rape and violence against women is a serious problem. Women ought to be taught how to prevent rape AND men ought to be taught not to rape. But the problem with such inflated statistics is that, more often so than not, it tends to cause division when there need not be division.

      Also, people cannot believe in a particular research. Research has be empirical. And when a particular research has been found empirically to be untrue, it becomes rather indefensible to continue believing in it.

      But all of this is secondary to the fact that my point about it being disgusting and immoral had more to do with the pay gap myth, rather than the number of women who get raped.

    2. I understand your views now.

      On the topic of research I was writing in regards to your links. You can't debunk research without research. The links you posted are not research. The first article literally states, "women would not choose a higher paying career." Where has it been proven or said that "most women" don't want to make more money. Women and fighting so hard more than ever (myself, and my sister included) right now to get into these higher paying careers! This is why I feel you don't believe in the research.

    3. I thought that it said that men are more likely to choose jobs that are more dangerous (which happen to pay more) than women are likely to choose such jobs.

      I don't think women, most or otherwise, don't want to make more money. Money is important regardless of the kinds of genitals that we possess. However, we have to look at the aggregate number.

      For instance, in this was one research that I found, the study shows that "women who worked flexibly or part time typically did so to combine working with caring commitments, in ways that damaged their career prospects. In contrast, men typically deferred working flexibly to a later stage when their career had progressed further."

      I am not saying that individual women do not work hard. I have met many women who do work harder than most other people that I have met. However, we have to keep in mind that the 23% figure in question was not about an individual woman being paid 23% less than men, but an aggregate pay difference between median incomes.

    4. Correction: The double negatives are killing me. Let me rephrase. I have never heard of women wanting to make less money.

  2. You have to understand. John can't think of anything that doesn't relate to economics. He has a one track mind. I think there are new statistics on the gender pay gap. I don't know them and I'm sure if I look them up and site them John will find something wrong with them. Fine. I'll address the use of children. I went to church as a child. My family wasn't religious. My mother sent us so she could have a couple of hours of quiet time on Sundays. So for many years I considered myself a Christian. Until I actually became one and found out it was a form of collective delusion. I don't know why it took me so long to figure it all out, that modern religion is nothing more than a hold over from any other ignorant superstition early man devised. So I didn't raise my kids in the church. I figured if they wanted to follow a religion later in life when they were old enough to make the decision on their own fine. However, as John knows I'm a union supporter and therefore by proxy a semi-socialist and I did bring my sympathies home to my kids. When my son was in middle school he attended a protest with me in Washington. He was the only child in my group. He helped carry the banner at the front of the march. Did I use him for political purposes? No. I took him because I wanted him to see democracy in action. I wanted to him understand the kind of values I stood for. It's the same reason he has gone with me to the food bank and to get out the vote door knocks during campaign season. So even though the video might be a blatant attempt to exploit children to prove a political point bringing your kid to the next clan rally might just be about what parents do. They try to teach their children their values by action as well as words. Just because we don't like their values doesn't mean what they are doing to their kids is wrong. That's are job as parents to train our children to be adults even when we're religious nut jobs. It's unfortunate but that's just what it means to be a parent.