Friday, November 13, 2015

The Social Justice Warrior's Guide to Gifting

Trigger Warning:
Say you've got an obnoxious social justice sister (or brother, let's not be sexist here).  Let's also say that said sister has decided to reproduce, much to your chagrin.  Honestly you really don't think she should be breeding, but she's your sister and you love her, so you put up with her kids.  Plus you think it's hilarious to sugar the hell out of them and send them back to mom.
No, sis, there's no sugar in Pixie Sticks.  I swear!
Now of course shopping for presents for these kids is a pain in the ass.  Not because of the kids, of course.  Kids are kids, and they're happy with just about anything that makes lots of noise and annoys adults.  No, the real problem is your social justice sister.  Seems like everything you get them offends her delicate sensibilities in some way.  How can you possibly shop for something the kids will love, but that will leave your sister's sensibilities intact?

Worry not, dear reader, because Rebecca Ruiz over at Mashable has the perfect gift-buying guide for you:
Finding that balance is a challenge in itself, but gift-giving also increasingly means thinking outside of the (nicely wrapped) box so that you're not reinforcing messages about who should play with which toys. For instance, no matter how companies market their products, there's no reason boys can't play with dolls and girls can't play with building sets.
If that sounds too overwhelming, don't panic. There is a simple way to solve this problem: Consider your gift selection as a way to expand a child's universe.
This means not putting artificial limits on what you'd buy a child based on their gender.
"It’s our job as parents and caring adults to widen all of the choices for girls and boys," says Andrea Bastiani Archibald, chief girl expert for the Girl Scouts of the USA.
Okay, so we've got to expand a child's universe.  Fair enough.  I'm all for giving kids more choices to play with.  Except for the fact that kids tend to naturally gravitate towards gender-specific methods of play.  For example, I have some friends who have a daughter who's about 10 years old.  Now this kid is just about the girliest girl you could possibly imagine.  She loves make up, getting her nails done, and pink.  So much pink.  And zombies.  She's kind of a strange one.  The point is her parents didn't teach her any of that.  They didn't go out of their way to push her towards boy toys, but they didn't steer her to girl's toys either.  That's something she chose on her own.

It seems to me that we should be letting our kids choose what they want to play with rather than helping them choose toys that don't offend our sensibilities.  If a boy wants to play with dolls or a girl wants to play with tools that's fine.  Hell I had a few My Little Ponies when I was a little kid.  My G.I. Joes rode them into battle.  What we shouldn't do is push kids towards play choices that play into progressive sensibilities.  Yet that's what Ruiz spends the entire article doing.  It's not enough for the social justice warrior to let their kids make their own choices.  They have to make the right choices.

The funniest moment in the entire article?  The fact that it ends with probably the least self-aware quote of all time:
"The gift you give should not be a political statement," says Isaacs. "Ultimately, it’s about a child’s play and making the child happy."
It sure is, buddy.  It sure is.
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