It’s no secret that I’m a pretty ardent feminist. I never hesitate to call bull shit on the patriarchy. And there is a lot of BS that goes on in the way we socialize our girls. Once my niece is old enough to articulate the types of toys she wants, I might relent and buy her a stereotypically girl toy. But so far for the first 3 years of her life we have managed to buy her pretty gender neutral toys.
But it’s hard when everything is divided into pink and every other color. Dress-up/Princesses/Domestic Chores vs. Building/Learning/pretending/and yes lots of violence.
The toy aisles feel like some time warp to gender stereotypes from the 1950s.
Which is why I was so excited and interested to follow the story of GoldieBlox, an engineering toy for girls. This toy and the inventor of it has had an amazing journey over the last few months — she went from idea, to Kickstarter to in EVERY Toys R Us store. I pitched the story when her Kickstarter video went viral and it didn’t come to fruition. But today, my profile of the founder and how this awesome toy came to be came out.
I’m excited about this one guys. Read it here, I think you’ll like it. And here’s an awesome video to set the tone of bad-assery.
The famous quote of inspirational coffee mugs may be true: “It’s not the days in your life, but the life in your days.”
I am currently obsessed with the British documentary series: the UP Series, which follows 14 people over the course of their lives, checking back in with them starting when they are 7 in 1964 up until the most recent last year when they are 56.
It’s really like nothing else you’ve ever seen on T.V. or film. Our lives seem over documented now and surely by the time children born in within the last decade are elderly every moment of their exsitences will be available instantly for them to reflect on.
And while I’ve seen some beautiful daily photo-a-day portrait projects (this video of the first year of a baby’s life in tiny few second snippets has been making the rounds this week), nothing has comparred to the frankness of the slow burn of real life over not seconds, minutes, hours and days, but years and decades.
The tag line used in the first film that’s repeated throughout is “Give me a child when he is seven and I’ll show you the man.” The idea being that who we are in something that is always there — that the hints of our adult hang-ups, quirks, and struggles are inherent in personality from the time we are children. I have just finished 35 UP, and it’s strange and interesting in so many ways. In the first, yes — a lot of their personalities and even paths their lives took were hinted at decades earlier, some almost eerily so.
Watching it as a 30-something American woman in 2013, many elements strike me as how people are also such a product of the time and place that they grow up. By 28 most were married with children, and by 35 a few were already divorced, and for the most part career isn’t something that has registered of any importance among the women. There is also something so almost stereotypically British about the participants: when they fail and some also when they succeed, they are humble in a way I doubt many young Americans even of the same time and certainly now would be. And of course the stark class issues (which seem to be the basis of the series–how life turns out drastically differently for those with privilege) are both interesting and annoying.
But I think the most remarkable thing about the series is the thing that is most remarkable about life. As much as your disposition as a child might hint at the adult you will become and there are still so many unexpected turns that your life might take — both for the better and worse. One of the boys who seemed well off and carefree as a child ended up homeless and mentally ill as a young adult. A East End roughneck built a fairly comfortable life for himself as a taxi driver and sometimes actor. And some of the couples who at 21 or 28 seemed sure to split up remain together while others end.
There are three more in the series, 42, 49 and most recently 56 which was filmed in 2012. I could read about how their lives turn out but I look forward to watching it unfold, and I hope they continue with 63 in 2019, and beyond.
The verdict in the Trayvon Martin case has left many with a hollow feeling of injustice. Sometimes when things like this happen I end up saying nothing because all of my words just seem like an echo of others. Maybe it’s worthwhile to add one more voice to the chorus. So consider this poem my echo:
Kids Who Die, by Langston Hughes
This is for the kids who die,
Black and white,
For kids will die certainly.
The old and rich will live on awhile,
Eating blood and gold,
Letting kids die.
Kids will die in the swamps of Mississippi
Kids will die in the streets of Chicago
Kids will die in the orange groves of California
Telling others to get together
Whites and Filipinos,
Negroes and Mexicans,
All kinds of kids will die
Who don’t believe in lies, and bribes, and contentment
And a lousy peace.
Of course, the wise and the learned
Who pen editorials in the papers,
And the gentlemen with Dr. in front of their names
White and black,
Who make surveys and write books
Will live on weaving words to smother the kids who die,
And the sleazy courts,
And the bribe-reaching police,
And the blood-loving generals,
And the money-loving preachers
Will all raise their hands against the kids who die,
Beating them with laws and clubs and bayonets and bullets
To frighten the people—
For the kids who die are like iron in the blood of the people—
And the old and rich don’t want the people
To taste the iron of the kids who die,
Don’t want the people to get wise to their own power,
To believe an Angelo Herndon, or even get together
Listen, kids who die—
Maybe, now, there will be no monument for you
Except in our hearts
Maybe your bodies’ll be lost in a swamp
Or a prison grave, or the potter’s field,
Or the rivers where you’re drowned like Leibknecht
But the day will come—
You are sure yourselves that it is coming—
When the marching feet of the masses
Will raise for you a living monument of love,
And joy, and laughter,
And black hands and white hands clasped as one,
And a song that reaches the sky—
The song of the life triumphant
Through the kids who die.