Week 14 Prompt One-Helling

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Amanda Levitt writes the blog, Fat Body Politics. In a post dated October 6th of this year and entitled “Bullying it’s Not Just for Kids,” Levitt explains how she sees the ideology that bullying stops when people become of a certain age and that adults don’t have to deal with the problem as an issue in our society.
The most interesting point that Levitt made was her argument that if society called bullying by more specific terms such as racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, etc. that we could more directly address the problem instead of sweeping under the all-encompassing rug of bullying. Levitt argues that children should be taught about each of these issues individually.
My question in response to that is more logistical than philosophical. I agree with Levitt in theory. There are many questions to be asked about at what age children/youth could adequately grasp these concepts and how best to instruct them about the issues. Teaching them about these dynamics of power lines in society at an age too young would be futile, too old could be too late. If educators have ineffective methods, even if given at the right age, then the lessons once again might not get the job of broadening minds done.
The other criticism I have to offer in connection to this idea is that if we deliberately teach children tolerance, we also run the risk of too narrowly defining the roles that people of varying gender expressions, sexualities and racial identities must fit into. We say that if someone looks or acts a certain way, then they must be (insert label), so don’t make fun of them for that. We end up perpetuating the system of categorization and rigid roles.
This is similar to Adams, Franklin and Schmitke wrote about in their article “Tomboys, Dykes and Girly Girls: Interrogating the Subjectivities of Adolescent Female Athletes.” In the article, Adams et al. write that teenage female athletes present themselves in a certain way because they have been taught it is necessary to be read in society as heterosexual women. No one has to enforce these norms with these young ladies, but rather, “the regulation of the female body is accomplished through a variety of self-regulatory mechanisms, such as the adherence to ideals of beauty that require women to maim and deface their bodies, control their food intake, and take up as little space as possible.”
In the same way Adams et al. argue female adolescents regulate themselves to appear heterosexually female, we could create a culture in which other groups similarly regulate. If we present a list of characteristics to watch out for, we send a couple messages. First, that adolescents whom wish to identify themselves in like manners must adhere to those behaviors and secondly that all those whom exhibit those behaviors must wish to identify with those labels. Both messages could be potentially harmful.

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