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Sunday, May 22, 2011

"Are You Talkin To Me"

I have never understood the habit of name calling in our society. When people don't agree or don't like something it is all too common to use derogatory labels in reference to the supposed offender. It is unfortunate how often I witness this ugly behavior from young people here in Utah. I am constantly reminding the teenagers who come into my home not to say "that is so gay" when they refer to something they don't like or think is stupid. Most of them are fairly well trained by now - at least at my house. However, recently I have had to call them out for their consistent use of the word "Jew" when addressing my kids. I see it on their facebooks and yearbooks and hear kids address them by their name followed by "Jew". My kids don't like it and neither do I. Why is this necessary? Why do we have to put labels on people who are different? We don't say "Hey Joe- Mormon - would you like a slice of pizza?" That would be silly, not to mention rude - yet it is how my children are addressed quite often and I have finally had it with this ridiculous behavior.

I am motivated by the recent commercials put out by which are a fabulous public service and point out how insulting words can be. They directly address the term "that is so gay". I hope the message will go even farther in illustrating that labeling and name calling in general is hurtful. For too long, we have all accepted these sayings as harmless behavior. I choose to confront those who use terms that are hurtful to any particular group even when it is not my group. I hope I can be rational and calm in my discussions - but honestly there are days when I feel just like De Niro


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

"There's No Crying in Baseball!!!"

Much has been said about the roles of men and women in society. Here in Utah, I have found that women are defined by their specific place in their family and community. Much of that identity has been advocated by the Mormon Church’s beliefs about the woman’s duties as wife and mother. As a woman who gave up her career 20 years ago to stay at home with my two children, I clearly do not have a problem with choosing those roles instead of a career. My objection is that those who make different choices may be criticized for them. In many ways, Utah is decades behind in women’s issues.

I remember one evening a few months after we moved to Draper, a man knocked on my door wanting me to purchase groceries from his home delivery service. I kindly told him I was not interested and he replied, “Why don’t I come back when your husband is home and speak with him about it.Excuse me!!! My husband has no interest in those decisions and the idea that somehow I could not make any decision without him was insulting. I told this salesman so and he just looked at me like I had appeared out of some futuristic movie where women had a voice in their own lives.

Last week while substituting at an elementary school here in Draper, I attended an assembly to encourage students to participate in the “Fun Run” to raise money for the school. To add to the excitement, 2 BYU football players came to speak. While I am not a BYU fan, I think having players from a local college team speak to students is a great idea. Kids love to see them and imagine themselves someday in those uniforms. However, this assembly was about more than just the “Fun Run” and I was astounded and offended by the comments from these players.
First of all, in their bios which were on the big screen in the gym was information about where they had served their two year missions. Why is that important? Would it be relevant in a public school to say where you had your Bar Mitzvah? I think not!!!! One of the players even spoke about how great it was to teach the Gospel for two years. Good to know, but inappropriate in a public school where like it or not, not everyone has plans to go on a mission. Remarkably, this commentary was not as objectionable as what was about to follow.

This young man proceeded to talk about the goals he had as a child in elementary school and to encourage fitness in all the young people listening. Fantastic right??? He spoke about his goal of getting good enough to bounce a basketball a couple hundred times without stop. Sounds great! Here comes the zinger – so he says you should set similar kinds of goals and “girls – you could learn to do the splits or something”. I literally almost fell off my chair. Had I entered some sort of time machine and been transported back to the 1950’s – nope I am just in Utah. Seriously, my daughter can bounce a basketball better and longer than most of the boys she knows. What the hell was this kid implying?

All I know is I am glad my children were not raised in a place where “heroes” are presented to them at school and then they are subtlety told that they cannot be like them because they are different. Is this the message the public schools want to give to their young students? I hope not, but frankly, this assembly said that if you are sitting out there and you are not of our faith or our gender than you will not be one of us. I wanted to take my little first graders back to class and tell them that is untrue, but I could not do that for several reasons. First of all, I doubt I would be asked to substitute there again and secondly I can’t honestly say that if they are different they will not be treated unfairly by their friends and community. I left school that day very angry and heartbroken.

Yes, boys and girls are different. People are all different! So what. Why must we stick to certain roles just because we are in a certain group? I challenge my daughter to be athletic and challenge my son to dance. I hope my daughter is strong and my son is sensitive. I hope to see them choose their own roles, both traditional and non traditional. I do not want them to have limits based upon their gender or their faith. I want them to be happy and free to choose their own path. I want them to embrace who they are and their differences. So, why can't we can just accept all people where they are and maybe, just maybe even "crying in baseball" would not be so terrible after all.