What the moron’s baby is wearing this season. Originally uploaded by Jenny at Bombadee’s Garden.
Think your infant girl might not be exuding quite enough sex-appeal? No problem. Afraid she might somehow manage to fly in the face of convention and grow up unencumbered with the cold, crippling despair of self-hatred? Got ya covered.
I Blame the Patriarchy’s Senior Sexbot Babywear Analyst, Jenny at Bombadee’s Garden, gamely braved the stench of deep-fried polyester and the mournful vibes of the dashed dreams of Chinese sweatshop slaves yesterday to snap photos of a couple of infant wunzies at Target (a “wunzy,” I discovered late in life, is a pastel-colored infant garment made primarily out of snaps designed specifically to make novice babysitting spinster aunts cry).
The Target wunzies — or as Target quaintly euphemizes, “message bodysuits” — in accordance with the rule of law governing cheap crap from China, are visited with a plague of slogans. The slogans are intended to be humorous. However, like any slogan appearing in a cheapcrap department store catering to the brainwashed throng’s voracious appetite for the vulgar, they fail to distinguish themselves as prominent examples of comedic endeavor. One of them asks “Does this diaper make my butt look big?” The other reads “Worth the wait.”
Here we will pause a moment, while you struggle to comprehend the dizzying forces of cultural toxicity that compel a woman to swaddle a helpless infant in a gloomy, jizz-encrusted joke; to contemplate the utter impossibility that the same garments were ever intended for use on male babies; and to allow a little time for your subsequent fit of melancholy to subside. May I suggest
lite musical interlude?
Where the wunzies fail as jokes, they succeed as instruments of barbarism. Unless your head is up your big diapered butt, you are not likely to require much in the way of evidence that most American parents view children not as sentient beings, but as insensate blobs to be oppressed at their own egocentric discretion and ‘molded’ according to their own ill-considered whims. Were such evidence to become necessary, the repellent habit of turning babies into pink billboards shilling for pornaliciosity would certainly meet the requirements. I’m gonna go ahead and call this child abuse.
It once sparked a smidge of controversy when I, a tiresome Dawkinsite of the first water, lemmingesquely seconded his suggestion that imbuing kids with godbag nonsense and calling it “truth” — i.e. giving kids a “religious upbringing” — is a form of child abuse, so before you lambaste me for effecting a comparison between cozy cotton jersey T-shirts and physical beatings, let me clarify my position.
It should be counted among the many black marks against me that the patriarchally-imposed oppression of children, as a corollary to women’s oppression, is not a topic I’ve often touched on here at the blog. Fortunately, a recent re-reading of Firestone’s The Dialectic of Sex has reminded me of a forgotten concept central to feminist revolutionary theory: we can never be liberated ourselves while our kids remain oppressed. ‘Childhood’ is every bit a patriarchal construct, as much as is the bafflingly unreviled ‘femininity’. The two, in fact, are one and the same. Here is Firestone on the integration of children into a post-patriarchal society:
Fulfilled: the concept of childhood has been abolished, children having full political, economic, and sexual rights, their educational/work activities no different from those of adults. During the few years of their infancy we have replaced the psychologically destructive genetic “parenthood” of one or two arbitrary adults with a diffusion of the responsibility for the physical welfare over a larger number of people. The child would still form intimate love relationships, but instead of developing close ties with a decreed ‘mother’ and ‘father’, the child might now form those ties with people of his own choosing, of whatever age or sex. Thus all adult-child relationships will have been mutually chosen – equal, intimate relationships free of material dependencies. Correspondingly, though children would be fewer, they would not be monopolized, but would mingle freely throughout the society to the benefit of all, thus satisfying that legitimate curiosity about the young with is often called the reproductive ‘instinct’.
In this sterling, sun-kissed world, putting a “Does this diaper make my butt look big” shirt on a baby would exhibit all the tasteful élan of so costuming a Terry Schiavo.
Vulgarity is the soul of patriarchy. Patriarchy begins at home.
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Incidentally, at the instigation of our own B. Dagger Lee, interested parties, if any, will be doing a sort of group reading of the aforementioned seminal treatise, as well as of Firestone’s only other published work, a collection of short stories in the shape of what 18th century novelists liked to call “a slender volume,” entitled Airless Spaces. Discussion of same will commence here at the blog on or about March 1st. No pressure, though. If it turns out that nobody has bothered to read the books, I’ll just make fun of BDSM instead.