This morning started off with Kai being absolutely horrified to hear that people can get in trouble at school for making a mistake. “BUT MISTAKES ARE PART OF LEARNING. And you go to school TO LEARN.” The kind of mistake he was referring to wasn’t “I did something wrong and now I’m being punished for it,” more of the “Whoops. I didn’t realize,” variety.
But, as our discussion went on, his frustration at that reality turned into a large of amount of indignation about a bigger issue: autonomy.
See, we’d been looking at these vintage beach pictures. Picture 103 shows a woman being measured for modesty (sorry, you’ll have to scroll through to it – I don’t think I directly link to that one photo). The caption says, “Circa 1929: An officer from the West Palm Beach police force is seen measuring a woman’s bathing suit to ensure that it conforms with regulations introduced by beach censors.” But Kai, ever vigilant about language, pointed out, “No. They’re measuring HER. Not her bathing suit.”
We started talking about how that used to be common, that girls would have the length of their skirts and dresses (always skirts and dresses because that’s what they were required to wear) measured at school if someone suspected it was too short, and that those girls would get in trouble, sent home, have to change, etc. even if it was an honest mistake. He said, “What if they grew and didn’t realize it was getting short on them? That happens with my pants. Suddenly, they look short on my body. But they’re not getting shorter. I’m getting taller.” Sorry, kiddo. Nobody cared.
We talked about how that’s fairly common – that, in fact, people still try to make decisions about what women should wear, how they should look, the size of their bodies, etc.
He’s absolutely horrified. He doesn’t understand why anyone would care. “They’re not the ones wearing it. Why should they decide? That’s not fair. The only person who should decide about someone’s body is that person.”
If a five year old can get it, why can’t everyone else?