Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Getting carried away

There has been a surge in disciplinary action for "sexual harassment" among schoolchildren. "Sexual harassment" appears to mean "hugs." A preschooler was suspended for hugging a teacher's aide. A junior high student served detention for hugging friends. Schools have developed very strict no-contact policies that even ban hand-holding. (Huh? Isn't that how you keep track of your field-trip buddy?)

It seems that the Powers That Be have forgotten what sexual harassment actually is. Sexual harassment is, at its core, unwanted (and unsolicited) sexual attention. It might be overt; it might be subtle; but in any case, sexual harassment creates an uncomfortable and/or hostile environment for the recipient.

Now, I suppose the preschool teacher's aide might have felt uncomfortable when the little boy hugged her. Freud be damned, four-year-olds do not have the same understanding of sexual behavior as do adults--or even adolescents. Can sexual harassment exist where the alleged perpetrator does not know what constitutes sexual behavior?

Plus: if you give your best friend a (totally non-sexual) hug and she welcomes it, an observer should not be able to declare that you have engaged in sexual misconduct. Perhaps the observer is uncomfortable with public displays of affection; but if neither the hugger nor the hugged believes there is anything remotely libidinous about the embrace, then what evidence is there to support a third party's decision that yes, there was something sexual about that 5-second hug?

I suppose I feel rather strongly about this issue not only because it's patently ridiculous, but also because I was sexually harassed in junior high and the perpetrators were not punished. To put it mildly, as a grade schooler I was never among the popular crowd. I was also a year younger than everyone else in my grade. By junior high, not only was I still shorter than everyone else, but I was also not going through puberty with everyone else. The boys teased the more well-endowed girls and snapped their bra straps... but they teased me just as much ("Roses are red, violets are black; why is your chest as flat as your back?") and made a big show of attempting to snap a bra strap I didn't have. At recess, the boys liked to shove me "accidentally" via my equally flat little butt. I complained to the assistant principal. His response? "They like you." (I told him that, if that was the case, they needed some instruction in the proper demonstration of their affections.)

And in eighth grade, the boys whose lockers were on either side of mine for the entirety of junior high (God bless the alphabet) took it upon themselves to say all sorts of bizarre, inappropriate, and unrepeatable things to me, adding the occasional "accidental" shove. Finally, my mother went to our homeroom teacher and demanded that this sort of thing stop. It did, mostly. But not entirely. For although my young, female homeroom teacher sided with my mother and me, the older, male administration still maintained that "boys will be boys."

Yeah, I hated junior high.

I don't think kids have changed much in the 16 years since I began the seventh grade. Boys are still boys, girls are still girls, junior high still sucks, puberty is still long and embarrassing. Forbidding children and adolescents from engaging in "good touch," because it's just a slippery slope down to "bad touch," won't change any of that.

Human contact is precious, instinctive, and important. Perhaps sucking face in the hallway between classes should be banned; but not friendly hugs. When we police innocent displays of friendship and appreciation, we risk instilling outright fear of human contact in a generation already more comfortable with virtual socializing than with face-to-face interaction.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Another fun pregnancy post: Things that make me happy

my slipper1. My new sock monkey slippers from Target. I prefer ballet slippers to scuffs, but my feet are starting to swell on account of the gerb; and so these (with their memory foam soles) are just plain awesome right now. For maximum sock-monkey-osity, I wear my sock monkey slippers with monkey socks.

2. Cocoa Creme Tums Smoothies. Okay, so I turned up my nose at vanilla chai deodorant. But since chocolate itself currently gives me heartburn (so tragic!), I think it's only fair that I have chocolate-flavored heartburn relief.

3. Seeing our little wiggler on ultrasound yesterday. It put on quite the show!

Friday, November 09, 2007

What's in a name?

Thomasville Furniture has a product line called Wanderlust.

It seems you can deck your entire house with its daring, adventurous rusticity.

But Wanderlust (from the German, of course) is a strong, perhaps irresistible urge to travel. So if one truly had Wanderlust, one should not care about the furniture in one's house, for one would not want to be in the house very often. Therefore: why name a domestic product after a concept which is in itself a rejection of domesticity?

In other nomenclative news, the other day I spied a motor home with an awesome name: The Intruder. Thankfully this model appears to have been discontinued last year--perhaps on account of its name. I mean, everyone knows motor homes are really big, but the last time I checked, responsible travel didn't include intrusion.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Word to my mom.

My mother was just elected to council in my wee little hometown!

Go my mom!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The hostess with the mostest

I want there to be Pineapple Upside-Down Minis at my (as yet unscheduled) baby shower.

Pineapple Upside-Down Minis

As Mrs. Gerbil so eloquently put it, "How do you look at those and not see boobs?"

Monday, November 05, 2007

Reason #458 why I'm not cut out to be a Californian

Books for Botox.

Because beauty may be only skin deep, but the satisfaction of knowing you got some free botulin toxin for your face in exchange for some kids' books lasts forever.

Friday, November 02, 2007


Lea requested some fun pregnancy posts every once in a while. Well, ask and ye shall receive!

I have always been a baker, especially when under stress. I'm not terribly stressed at the moment--the second trimester indeed is better than the first, though I still have some nausea--but I've had a resurgence of desire to Bake Stuff.

cupcake!First I decided to take up my mom's tradition of baking Halloween cupcakes. She has sent my dad to work with said cupcakes for several years now. So last weekend I whipped up three dozen adorable cupcakes for Mrs. Gerbil and her classmates. I hear they were very well-received.

Next I decided it was time to make persimmon pudding. Mrs. Gerbil had bought three persimmons without a specific use in mind for them. I am somewhat embarrassed to report that I haven't made the persimmon pudding yet. Anyone know how long persimmons will keep in the fridge?

And now I'm letting three dozen more cupcakes cool prior to icing them. We are having a little going-away party tomorrow for one of the supervisors. Natch, I volunteered to bring cupcakes.

Oddly enough, I've lost about 95% of my sweet tooth since becoming pregnant with the gerb. I don't even miss chocolate--it gives me heartburn these days. For whatever reason, all I want is salty stuff; and yet I go and bake 36 cupcakes on a whim.