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I’ve spent an unusual portion of my time thinking about children lately. Thanks both to Josh’s post at his blog, and my post over at VOC. I realize now that my hopes for the direction of the discussion got sidetrakked by Josh’s comparison of dislikes of groups of people and their subject positions, and by the context that sparked these various discussions throughout the blogosphere. But really I wanted to have discussions about the idea of children’s oppression. I should have just said as such, because I’m afraid in me trying to nudge the conversation in that direction I may have silenced some people.

I really, really like children; I’m biased in that way. I didn’t always– I used to dislike children… a lot. I used to subscribe to the sort of overpopulation rhetoric that a lot of people do, but I’ve thrown that a way, and back (when I was still a child/teenager) I fell for those sort of masculinist visions of children as nothing but carriers of genes and otherwise drooling, whiny, snotbags. But I’ve grown up a bit I think. For me personally coming to like children is a sign of my growth. But this post is about my new views on children and oppression.

Whenever I conceptualized ageism I always thought of older folks, and how, especially in our individualistic, production-driven, late capitalist world we discard our elders as soon as they stop producing. But what about those who haven’t gotten to the point where they are considered productive?

I figure children face quite a few oppressions– a big one is they aren’t often allowed to be children. Children are shaped to be little adults, but still face a level of paternalism that other people find appalling when applied to themselves.

Children live in an interesting world. I remember being a child, and if I’m remembering correctly a child doesn’t really want all those rights that adults talk about. (You know the ones that the absence of, or denial of make oppression alarms go off). A child may not be denied the right to housing (doesn’t mean they get housing), or to medical care ( unless their parents deny them), but children are often denied their desires and interests.

A child wants to play, and a child wants to explore, and learn. They haven’t been in this world long, they want to know how it works. If you believe in rights isn’t that one. Think of all the things that keep children from navigating their new world: dangerous people (and equally or more likely imagined dangerous people, a world thats dying, a world their very bodies can become a commodity, a world where people don’t answer their questions as they try to learn this place, a world where they are forced to act in a way that isn’t their nature. Imagine a world where your instinct/desire/need is denied to you.

I can imagine a horizontal world where with everyone liberated from oppression (including children), where that tired phrase about villages raising children is taken to heart. Where we. adults, would have bonds with children and treat them like people, but not like little adults. Where we have compassion for each other.

So I didn’t explore the ageism as much as I had planned, but I’ve got time.


  1. The first image that came to my mind was a documentary that I saw a few months ago, I think it was called Living Dolls or something like that. It followed parents and their daughters as they hopped from one child beauty pageant to another, propping the poor girls on stages to be judged on their decided beauty and charm. Their parents seemed to be desperately seeking something that I’m sure I could never fully understand.

    Anyways, nice blog Royce.

  2. i really enjoyed this post. do you mind that i’m reading your personal blog? im guessing not, because you made it public on gender agenda, but just checking.

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