Throwback Thursday: Let me do my Job

Today’s Throwback is back to the long ago year 2014. And the anecdote it refers to is from 2011! It’s all about how being a Stay at Home Dad was made extra stressful by the insistence on treating caregiving Moms more respect than caregiving Dad’s. Just let me do my job people…

Let me set the stage. Each year the kindergartners through 3rd graders put on elaborate (for little kids) performances. With singing and dancing, the kids get a chance to really show off the “performing” part of their education. It is a scrumptiously cute production every year and only slightly painful to sit through. As the Schmoo’s first year of big kid school approached its end, she grew more and more excited. She practiced her one line over and over. She sang her little songs ad nauseum. She was adorable.
When the fateful date arrived, we ran into one little hitch. The Girl had a work-related obligation (details are hazy as to whether she was busy at the office or on a business trip to India . . . it was 3 years ago), which meant I had to fly solo to the big shindig. No problem, said the utterly confident SAHD. Get the Grommet (still under factory warranty at this point) in the stroller. Bribe the Peanut with fruit snacks to settle down. Make sure the Schmoo is in the right clothes. Arrange to meet the Nana at the school. Get there early. Check, check, check and check! Everything appears to be going according to plan. Thirty minutes to showtime as I and the rest of the family wait in the hallway outside the dance classroom, checking the iPhone to make sure Nana isn’t lost, I hear a familiar crying. It’s not the Grommet (who is asleep) or the Peanut (who is running around in circles). It is definitely the Schmoo. Parent reflexes kicking in, I grab the Peanut, tell her to watch her little brother for a moment, and go to check on my big kid. And at the door I am rebuffed. A volunteer, not even a teacher, informs me that only mothers are allowed in the “dressing room.”
“But I can hear my kid crying. She’s obviously scared, probably just stage fright,” I respond reasonably.
“I’m sorry, but moms only in the dressing room”
“It’s not even a dressing room, it’s the Dance Classroom, I’ve been in there before. . . . C’mon, she just needs a hug. It’ll take a minute.”
“Tell me your child’s name and I’ll send her out.”
At this point I was beginning to become a bit upset. I gave her the Schmoo’s name and waited at the door, craning my neck to see if I could catch the kid’s eye. I heard the crying get worse, not surprising me at all because if there’s anything that I can depend on, it is for the #1 kid to get incredibly anxious if she feels like she has done something wrong. And having a stranger talking to her at that point was the worst thing we could do. Finally, with the other two kids losing patience/gaining consciousness I was able to flag down her actual teacher, who while sympathetic to my plight once again insisted on the Moms Only rule. She was able to coax the upset five-year-old out into the hallway, where a hug and some reassurance from Dad was all she needed to brighten up. Crisis averted just as my mom arrived. We trundled into the auditorium, and the rest of the show went off without a hitch. All’s well that ends well, . . . right?


The other explanation is a bit more troubling. Sex crimes against children are nothing to take lightly. Child molester, child pornographer, these are amongst the worst crimes in our national imagination. We have a National Sex Offender registry at the FBI. And politicians eager to look tough on crime have no problem crafting draconian laws that make those on such a registry’s lives a living hell. I’ll go into this phenomenon in more depth at a later date, but for now I’d like to propose that in the frenzy to protect our kids from lurking predators, we have created a paranoid climate of mistrust. Combined with a zeal for zero tolerance, we put our schools and other child-oriented institutions in the position of being suspicious of all men. In just my own experience I have twice been approached by park staff and questioned as to why I was taking pictures of kids at the playground. My kids! Which I had to prove by showing the concerned park ranger all the pix I had taken of them at other playgrounds. (To be fair, this isn’t just on my iPhone; as a fairly serious enthusiast, I have a camera getup that can look a little intimidating.)

Check it out over at Grounded Parents, every click gets us closer to getting this dog an all expense paid trip to Amsterdam!

Throwback Thursday: “My Parents Spanked Me As a Child Edition

Besides vaccination, I don’t think there was a single issue we considered more settled than the question of corporal punishment. This was one of the first IMDD’s I did on the subject, and I’m pleased to report that the overwhelming majority of our readers were supportive of our ant-spanking stance. This is also where I reveal one of the inspirations for the Derby, the second most famous Happy Days episode ever…

I find it interesting that, in the USA at least, I can use the term “Demolition Derby” and be incredibly confident that my audience will know exactly what I’m talking about. And I can credit Garry Marshall, creator of Happy Days. Despite completely whitewashing anything remotely controversial about the ’50s and contributing to the slang lexicon the phrase “Jumping the Shark”, Happy Days was one of the most popular situation comedies of our childhoods. And thanks to the seminal 2 part episode “Fonzie Loves Pinkie” in which the Fonz and love interest
Pinkie Tuscadero compete in the big demolition derby against the hated Malachi Brothers (I finally learned how to spell that), and their dreaded “Malachi Crunch” double team maneuver, most of us are familiar with the basic idea, even if we grew up far away from the flyover country fairgrounds where the sport is practiced.

Well this edition’s meme is the Malachi Brothers of the Internet Meme world. It is scary, violent and quite possibly after poor Pinky. It is literally all over the place, as some form of this meme has been popping up on my Facebook feed on a monthly basis.

It was a very popular meme!

Don’t even get me started on how disrespectful this meme is to people whose actual and serious psychological conditions are mocked and minimized to form the punchline for your shitty joke. As one of those people, let me just add a personal “Fuck you and the horse you Rode in on,” to the creators and purveyors of this meme.
Respect for others is a complicated thing to learn. Some of us still have a lot to learn, despite the fact that we are legally adults. And some of the people that we need to have more respect for are CHILDREN. The idea that we can “beat some sense” into kids has been thoroughly debunked. Try something else folks. Look on the internet, there’s lots of good advice.

I finish by sharing a meme featuring a famous comedian who is now famous for whipping it out in front of co-workers. Click on over and read the rest, every click gets us closer to getting this dog personalized snow booties.

Throwback Thursday: The Restroom Wars Pt. 1 and 2

In the run up to the 2016 elections, the Republican Party was flailing about for a culture war issue to drive their base voters to the polls. The Supreme Court had rendered the old reliable same sex marriage scaremongering obsolete with the previous summers Obergfell vs Hodges decision. Their bigoted gaze landed on an even more marginalized group than gay people who wanted to file taxes jointly, trans people who needed to pee. The Derby was ready to respond…

According to prominent experts, Everyone Poops. They also pee. Or need to adjust their makeup, or change a tampon or maxi pad, or wash their hands or change a diaper on a screaming baby while a toddler throws toilet paper everywhere. As a society we have traditionally understood that people don’t always have the luxury of doing the above things from the comfort of their own homes, thus is born the concept of the “public restroom”.
Also according to prominent experts, Transgender persons exist. And since trans folk are definitely a subset of everyone, we can assume therefore that they too need to poop, etc. In a just and civil society one would assume that public accommodations would be used in the least inconvenient fashion possible, and therefore in places where public restrooms are segregated by gender everyone would be least inconvenienced by allowing persons to use the restroom that syncs with their gender identity. Ladies in the ladies room, Gents in the gentleman’s room, no need to check whats in your pants because that would be really creepy.
The great state of North Carolina has decided to instead do this the hard way. This spring the Republican controlled legislature of North Carolina made history, becoming the first state to attempt to legally require persons to use the public restroom that matches the gender assigned at birth and thus on your birth certificate. Well actually the law in question does a hell of a lot more than that, it also overturns any existing anti-discrimination ordinances meant to protect LGBTQ citizens and bans any future such laws being enacted anywhere in the state. It also overturns any local minimum wage laws, because fuck poor people while we’re here I guess. Mississippi followed suit shortly thereafter, but  fewer people cared because its Mississippi.
There have been certain predictable reactions to this legislation. Prominent celebrities and entertainers, from Bruce Springsteen to Cirque du Soliel cancelled performances scheduled in the state. Great Britain issued a travel advisory, warning their LGBTQ citizens about the hazards of visiting US States with statutes of this kind. Target stores were quick to announce that their official company policy was to allow their customers and employees to use whichever restroom matched their gender identity. Conservative groups immediately called for a boycott of Target, at least until they need to pick up paper towels.  Irrespective of this chaos, conservative legislatures across the country are considering similar bills.
All of this leads us to today’s meme… Stop the Madness.  Parked in front of a door marked “Women” is a muscular young white male identified person, with his arms crossed and a menacing scowl directed at the viewer.

Click on over and read the whole thing if you could, every little bit of ad revenue goes too helping this dog learn to bark in Spanish.

It wasn’t just reactionary dickweeds screwing up on this issue either, which is why a Part 2, the NOT HELPING edition was necessary. This actually involved addressing two memes ostensibly on the side of the angels that unfortunately missed the mark a bit…

Then proceeds to show us eight people who look one sex but are actually the other! The implication being that laws like the one in North Carolina would seem to require that the dudely looking dudes in the top row go to the ladies room whilst the lovely ladies on the bottom row would have to use the gentlemen’s lavoratory, all because of what naughty bits they had when they burst purple and squealing out of their mommies tummies. The guy in the cowboy hat (first on the top left,) Michael Hughes, and the lady with the lipstick, Brae Carnes (bottom row #3) were among the first trans activists to post selfies like these on the internet, on Twitter at #WeJustNeedToPee, and spreading across the internet like wildfire.
They make a very good point at first, but the more I saw them the more certain elements of this campaign felt a little hinky. Look at that lineup again. Notice anything? Here, see if this helps, look at each image and think “would I suspect this individual of being trans if I didn’t already know? I know that’s a kind of gross way to think, we aren’t supposed to care about that over here in Social Justice Adventuring Party land. But put yourself in head of your average bigot, would any of those people really raise an eyebrow if they went into the restroom at Target, went into a stall to do their business and walk out? Would any of our potential bathroom vigilantes really bother any of these conventionally attractive people as they went to make a deposit in the porcelain bank?

We go on to examine how the focus on trans folks who so obviously “pass” aren’t really the best example of the problem. Not only because it leaves lots of trans folks who don’t fulfill cisgendered preconceptions of gender presentation out of the discussion, it also leaves a lot of gender nonconforming and nonbinary folks high and dry. For instance the story of this woman who was harassed at a Walmart bathroom because acute guardians of the precious female flesh assumed she was trans.

Then we look at variations on this meme…

I’ve seen a couple different variations on this meme, featuring conservative author and terrible excuse for a person Ann Coulter, claiming that she had been arrested in North Carolina for attempting to use the women’s restroom. This joke got enough traction that Snopes had to step in and debunk it, the image is from a fake news site I won’t link to because fake news sites are a plague on humanity.So is Ann Coulter, who’s best selling books have included  Treason: Liberal Treachery from the Cold War to the War on TerrorismIf Democrats Had Any Brains, They’d Be Republicans and  Adios, America: The Left’s Plan to Turn Our Country Into a Third World Hellhole.


So as you can see, Ms Coulter is not one of our favorite people. In fact I’m fairly certain that under normal circumstances I would receive the news that Ann Coulter had been arrested with a certain amount of glee. But this isn’t real news and it isn’t a very good joke. In fact it is an incredibly harmful joke. It is intentionally misgendering someone because we don’t like them and that is exactly the kind of shit we excoriate sexist, misogynist and ant-trans trolls for all the time.
And this isn’t a new thing, Googleing “Ann Coulter is a Man” finds dozens of similar memes claiming that Ms. Coulter has an obvious Adam’s Apple, that she has “transvestite mascara” or other such nonsense. First of all that is all bullshit. Ms. Coulter has been a public figure since the early 90’s. There is zero evidence of any kind that she is anything but what she appears to be, a conventionally attractive cisgendered Caucasian woman of middle years with horrid taste in political heroes. And as we pointed out in the previous segment, people are terrible at this. Trust me you didn’t uncover a decades long conspiracy to conceal Ann Coulter’s secret underpants scandal by staring too long at a screencap fron CNN.
The fact of the matter is that this kind of misogynist insult is far to often given a pass  when the subject is someone we don’t like. Recently deceased professional wrestler Joanie Laurer, who performed as Chyna, the 9th Wonder of the World, often had this slur thrown at her by (surprise) uncouth wrestling fans. I hated it then and I hate it now. And attacking successful and powerful women for being mannish is something the assholes have been doing for time immemorial. There’s no excuse for it.
So for the record, if you are intentionally misgendering Ann Coulter to make your shitty joke you are not helping trans people. You are part of the problem. Stop it.

All of this comes back to my mind today because of a Facebook Brouhaha I had on David Futrelle’s sharing of his latest delve into TERF Reddit. Give Dave a well earned click as well.

Throwback Thursday: Ten Rules for Dating My Daughter

I found a better image since then!

To celebrate the internet tradition of Throwback Thursday, I am going to use this space to link back to a piece of writing I’m especially proud of. Today I’d like to take us back to the winter of 2013 as I fumbled for a framing device to use when writing about the toxic stew of bad parenting advice and practice that burbled in the fever swamps of social media. Something about gratuitous but playful smashing done for as much the spectacle as the lesson learned. Something uniquely American, somehow wholesome and at the same time kinda bonkers.

Thus was born the very first Internet Meme Demolition Derby, 10 Rules for Dating My Daughter. The post opens with what I consider the Derby Manifesto…

Back in Ye’ Olden Days of the Internet the email listserv was the preferred method of disseminating crackpot conspiracy theories, junk science, apocalyptic prophecies and nonsensical grandmotherly “advice”.  But listservs were clumsy devices, with slow response times and undependable circulation. Plus your intended audience needed to actually click on the email, a dicey proposition if the recipient doesn’t know you well. You could be a Nigerian Prince for all Aunt Sally knows!

Today, because we live in the FUTURE we have left behind such primitive tools.  Thanks to Blogs, Twitter, Google+ and especially Facebook,  we now have the ability to share our most offensive, sloppily formed, bigoted, insensitive notions with EVERYONE who is still talking to us. Crazy Uncle Liberty downloads some pearls of wisdom from Glenn Beck University? Share it with EVERYBODY!  Do kids these days need to seriously pull up their pants, stand up straight, go to church and get off everyone’s lawns? You can tell EVERYBODY!   Have parenting advice for all of those people out their doing everything wrong and thus assuring the downfall of our once great society?  YOU HAVE A VOICE! We have taken the time honored art of standing on a street corner and shouting at strangers and plugged it in to the Information Superhighway!

Of course there’s a downside… once you set your Internet Meme free, be it inflammatory blog post, snarky hashtag, or pithy Facebook image, it’s no longer under your control. Your traitorous liberal nephew, your feminist  ex-roomate or your free spirited gay cousin might find it, carefully analyze it, then smash into a smoking pile of wreckage in Internet Meme Demolition Derby!!!

The original image. Truck Stop Chic

I’ve fiddled back and forth with the format since then, depending on the meme in question, whether it is heavily image or text dependent etcetera. But in general it looks like this…

So I think we can all agree that we have a serious contender here for “Father of the Year”.  There are, of course so many things wrong with this picture.  There’s the antiquated patriarchal notion that a father must ward off his daughters suitors, perhaps whilst in shining armor. There’s the fairly icky habit of referring to any young woman who is old enough to go on a date as “my princess”. There’s the paranoia of someone who would treat his daughter’s dates as if they are all potential members of Al-Quaida.

 And last but not least the threat of violence implicit throughout, as if ones position as “paterfamilias” grants one the right to dish out vigilante justice.  And the worst part is that he probably does think of himself as Father of the Year material.  Big parts of the USA are still filled to the brim with folks who think like this about their daughters.

Your kids aren’t your property, folks. They are your responsibility. Certainly part of that responsibility comes in the guise of protector. And I understand the impulse to protect your kids from harm, both physical and emotional.  Heck, no one is even asking you to approve of all of your dating age children’s romantic interests. If you have a bad feeling about Kenny The Boy Who Hangs Out Behind The Record Store,  you should probably share that with Definitely Not Your Princess.  But if you are interested in raising your kids up into functioning adults then you have to allow them to grow.  And part of growth is making mistakes.  Part of growth is getting your heart broken, picking the exactly wrong guy/girl, making poor choices and learning from them. And part of finding Mr. Right… or at least Mr. Right Now, is having the freedom to make those choices on your own. To know that when your kid does find someone they like that their parents will treat that someone with dignity and respect.

And if you respect their decisions they are much more likely to respect your opinion when you feel you need to talk about whether dating a meth dealer is a smart life decision.

Click on over to the original to get the whole gist, give the Grounded Parents some needed clicks. Every bit of ad revenue gets us closer to buying surfing lessons for this dog!


Welcome to the Derby

Hi there everyone. I’m Lou and this is my new blog! I know starting a new blog in 2019 is kind of anticlimactic. I’m sure kids these days are doing a a thing where they just share thoughts with each other directly through the brainstem or something we never imagined. Well when I was little the something I never imagined was the ability to send your thoughts out into the world to share with the universe on the magic device in their pocket so I’ll take what I can get.

Discounting aborted attempts at photo and RPG blogs this will be my second solo blog. I started Raising Hellions in the Fall of 2009. A classic Dad Blog, Raising Hellions started as a way to process being a Stay at Home Dad taking care of three little ones while The Girl pursued her career. I met some great folks through the Dad Bloggers community and the National Stay at Home Dad Network.

But even before that blogging has been a part of my internet experience since practically the beginning. I have been lucky to be welcomed into the comment sections of some great communities, Freethought Blogs, Patheos Nonreligious, The Orbit, Slacktivist (the smartest Christian blogger I know,)  but most especially Rebecca Watson and The Skepchick Network. When the network launched it’s secular parenting wing at Grounded Parents in 2013 I was ready. My elevation tom D-List Atheist Celebrity was complete.

I’m not leaving Grounded Parents, but I’m simply not as immersed in that aspect of parenting anymore. The Hellions are turning into teens and a lot of the Secular Parenting issues I’ve written about in the past aren’t part of my daily internet life anymore.

Dawkins being memed

I started writing the Internet Meme Demolition Derby as a reaction to the way terrible parenting advice or news was reported and shared on social media. It’s some of the best writing I’ve ever done so when I decided that I wanted a new blog, the name just felt right. I plan to do similar meme related teardowns here, just on a much broader range of topics.

So welcome to the my new front door on the internet. Check out The Rules before commenting please and I hope you enjoy what I have to offer.

Thanks, Lou.