NBC’s The Island – The Myth of Punch-You-In-The-Face Manhood

May 26, 2015

Well, I was working on a blogpost on baby brain development last night when, for some reason, I started watching this new NBC show, The Island, and my own brain exploded. What is this shit? asked my baby brain. Oh, it’s the latest backlash programming, said my feminist brain.

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If you haven’t seen the set up, apparently “manhood is in crisis” (Here we go again) and the solution is for survivalist Bear Gryllis to take 14 “American men” to a deserted island in the Pacific with cameras and not much else and say “Good luck, boys.” The lead-up shows how unmanly American society as made these once proud Ninja warriors. Technology and women have stolen their “survival instinct.” One is a 28-year-old attorney who sheepishly admits that his survival tool is Google. In the bunch is a 43-year-old stay-at-home dad who worries he’s “gotten soft.” What a bunch of wussies! Welcome to the jungle, baby. You’re gonna die.

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If this sounds familiar, it’s because it’s the basis of Robert Bly’s 1991 book, Iron John, and the subsequent “Men’s Movement” that followed. Supposedly, modern society has turned once mighty men into a race of simpering mama’s boys who need to reclaim their “inner king” by finding their “deep masculinity.” In the 1990s, feminists like Susan Faludi and Michael Kimmel observed how this was just a lot of hooey in the service of restoring patriarchy after modern feminists put tiny ding in its door. The rise of the pink collar workforce and sexual harassment suits could be countered “real men” running through the woods with mud on their faces, rescuing their warrior within.

I remember the appeal of this thinking when I was young. In 1980, I was 16-years-old and, according to the TV, America was being held hostage. Actually, it was just 52 Americans who were being held hostage by some radical Iranian students. One of those hostages, Col. Charles Scott, was from my hometown. President Carter sent in a Delta Force rescue team on April 24th on a mission called Operation Eagle Claw, but sand got into the rotor blades and the helicopters crashed in the Iranian desert. Eight servicemen were killed. You would have thought that Jimmy Carter, a liberal Democrat, had caused the crash himself.

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Into this void stepped Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan. While not a military veteran (unlike Carter), he had played a war hero in movies and that was good enough for us. Reagan the Cowboy promised to “reclaim American greatness” (like back when we slaughtered the Indians) and knock the shit out of anybody who pushed us around, unlike that pansy peanut farmer. I was in the bag. Bye-bye Jimmy. Reagan got America’s dick hard and he won in a landslide. On his inauguration day, the hostages were released, as if just the presence of Reagan near the Oval Office made those nasty Iranians back down. (I should point out that by 1982 I was regularly wearing a “Reagan Hates Me” T-shirt and now have pissing on his grave on my bucket list.)

So we’re seeing this reactionary impulse all over again. In a world of gay marriage and metrosexual body waxing, comes another fake “crisis of manhood.” And shows like The Island are meant to “fix” men by turning them loose in the wilderness. But these people don’t know much about gender. They reduce it to biology and cherry pick cartoonish moments from history to back up their claim of the essentialness of a masculinity that is (somehow) differentiated from femininity. Kimmel and Michael Kaufman commented on it in 1995 by writing:

Bly and others wander through anthropological literature like post-modern tourists, as if the world’s cultures were an enormous shopping mall filled with ritual boutiques. After trying them on, they take several home to make an interesting outfit – part Asian, part African, part Native American… All totally decontextualized.

Men don’t need to separate from the feminine to become better men. Evidence shows that way leads to war and suffering. The men in prison that I study do that. We call it toxic masculinity and it ain’t good. I don’t want my daughter living in a world where this mythology of warrior men still is embraced. Recent evidence has revealed that half the Viking warriors were female. This silly cartoon of “cavemen” clubbing their cavewomen over the head to have cave sex (now, rebranded as “rape” by those ball-busting feminists) is a grand lie men tell each other and women. Hunting and gathering societies were a lot more gathering than hunting and evidence shows us that both tasks were split evenly among gender lines.

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So what is the value of The Island? There’s a 25-year old radio producer who screams at everyone to “Man up!” or he will punch them in the face (that’s his cool picture to the left). There’s a 50-year-old military guy who wants to name the band of brothers, “The Conquistadors” (a group that knew something about rape, murder, and slavery), and a variety of others who are struggling to hold on to their masculinity while their  women receive marching orders from Hilary Clinton’s underground lair. It would be almost comical if it didn’t reinforce the single biggest piece of human bullshit ever told, that men and women are “opposite” sexes.

But maybe we’ll find these guys rejecting the refuge of this bogus idea of masculinity. Mr. I’m Going To Punch You In The Face was taken off the island after the first episode when his little tantrum bit him on the ass and his male body shut down. Maybe for every snake they kill, they’ll have two conversations about their true emotional selves. Maybe one, instead of saying he was wounded by his father leaving the nest (as Bly contends), will say he was saved from being raised by an asshole. And maybe, when they are on their last drop of fresh water and crying out their children’s names, they’ll be rescued by some badass Amazon women who live on the next isla.

I’m just tired of the notion that there is a singular definition of masculinity and a set of rules for “real” men. That’s not an idea of gender that helps my daughter succeed. If you want to be a real man, put down your machete and your war paint and listen to a woman. For a change. You can’t “survive” without women. Monday nights are “Reclaim the Phony Masculine” on NBC, I guess. American Ninja Warriors (Don’t get me started on that one) and The Island. Where are Cagney & Lacy when you need them?

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Dad Love Pt. 4 – You’re so far away

May 22, 2015

This is just a little shout out to all the parents who have to be away from their kids. I’ve been gone all this week, first to Washington, DC, do do some work with the National Institute of Justice, then to Montgomery, Alabama to work with the Southern Poverty Law Center. Now I’m in the Atlanta airport about to head in the right direction, Portland. The airport is full of parents going somewhere.

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“Home,” has a bit of new meaning these days. All week I’ve had to talk to my child via FaceTime. I think Cozy thinks I now live inside my wife’s laptop. Seeing her face light up when I appear on the screen is a great rush of emotion. Andrea and I can get plenty done on the phone (including going on about how we much we miss each other), but when Cozy’s face pops up, it’s all over but the drooling. Andrea and I have business to deal with (the heating oil tank is leaking), but when Cozy is there, it’s just baby talk. The people in the next hotel room must think their stuck next to somebody who speaks in tongues.

It makes me think of parents who are in the military, or are working overseas or out of state. It also makes me think of parents who are in prison and rarely, if ever, get to see their kids. While my colleagues were going out for drinks, I was racing back to the hotel room to get a fix of baby face time. Wifi’s not free? I’ll pay!

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The sociologist in me worries about those soldiers, prisoners, and others who don’t get that face time. What’s the impact on them and their children? It’s a miracle drug. We humans need it to to be human. That emotional bonding. I’m just glad I get to go home and see my family. Home, it’s where I want to be. My flight is boarding.

I know that someday Cozy will read all this. I just wanted her to know that I’m never not thinking about her.

Even Better Than The Real Thing: Cozy’s First Concert

May 19, 2015

First concerts are a big deal. When I taught my Youth Subcultures at Portland State, BP (Before Purge), on the first day I’d read the role and ask students to tell the class their first concert. It typically went two ways. You might have some cool obscure punk band or you might have something completely cheesy (a lot of New Kids on the Blocks). There’s also a subcategory called “Christian Rock Fest.” I used it to start a conversation about generational experiences. My first concert locates me in time and space (Elvis Presley, 1973, Atlanta, Age 9, thank you, Mom and Dad). There are also first concerts that you wanted to go to and ones your parents took you to.

So Cozy will probably have a concert she will claim as hers sometime around 2028. But I wanted to give her a Point A that she could start from and maybe brag about 50 years from now. I think she’s got it. On Friday we took her with us to see U2 in Vancouver, BC. You might know that I have a bit of a history with this band that started when I first saw them play at the Agora Ballroom in 1981. Personal relations aside, a U2 show is always an emotional, exhilarating event. And Andrea had never seen them, so there was no way we were going to miss the northwest stop of the 2015 Innocence and Experience Tour.

The original plan was to dump Cozy with a babysitter and make the 5 hour drive up to Canadia. But overnight babysitters are in short supply and the folks at the Rogers Arena said babies don’t need a ticket. (Canadians are so nice.) Andrea made a reservation at an Airbnb and grabbed the passports and I burned a few Alt Latino podcasts for the ride. So with a good set of baby headphones we strapped the kid to the Prius and fled the country. Thanks to the horrid Seattle traffic, I got a little stressed about making the 7:30 show time and brought the fun-level down a bit, but Cozy was fine the whole way up.

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Gone are the days of getting on U2’s guest list. It’s probably easier these days to get backstage to see the Pope than Bono. So we ended up with tickets in the top row from the evil StubHub. Although, I did bombard U2’s new manager, Guy Oseary, with a bunch of tweets and pictures, including of a letter that Bono wrote me. Top row. But with this stage set up, pretty damn good.

Cozy loves a crowd, so her eyes were open wide as we made our way to the seats. On the way, in the ladies room, some middle-aged “lady” with a wine glass and a Coach purse stopped Andrea and asked, “Why did you bring your baby to this?” (Obviously not a Canadian.) Andrea gave her the Mexican finger. But everybody else was charmed by Cozy, as usual. Then the lights went down and the Ramones came on the P.A.and the band took the stage, playing “The Miracle of Joey Ramone.” Crowd goes wild. Cozy, head phones on and in a pouch on my chest, seemed a little freaked out. What’s this craziness? she cried out.

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By the second song, “Vertigo,” there was a big smile on her face. She loved the colors and vibrations. The staging was massive with a huge screen the band could climb inside of. She was transfixed. The fourth song was “I Will Follow,” from their first album and sounded as explosive as it did when I saw them in 1981. I looked down and Cozy was asleep. She’d wake up every few songs, including for a powerful version of “One” that ended the night. She seemed to love it. She won’t remember any of it, but I will tell her how much she dug it.

Of course her parents were blown away. Andrea loved Bono’s tender tribute to his mother, “Iris,” and I was happy to see them play “When Loves Come to Town” for the recently departed B.B. King. The band was tight and grand, tackling issues like AIDS drugs and the unpunished murders of the Irish citizens from the 1972 bombings and then keeping it light by pulling a fan on stage or Bono making jokes about The Edge falling off that stage.

There are better reviews of the show. It’s must have been the 25th time I’ve seen the band play live. Maybe 35th. I’ve never missed a tour, even when they opened up for the J.Geils Band on the 1982 October tour. But this one was special. I think Bono would have loved Cozy’s wide eyes at the whole thing.

One day you’ll look back

And when you see

Where you were held

By this love

– U2, “Mysterious Ways.”

I wanted to just let go of everything throughout the concert. I did during the rare performance of “Bad,” a song I saw take shape in the studio in Dublin in 1984. But I just kept looking at Cozy and imagining her 20 years from now playing the first concert game.

Snotty brat: “Well, my first concert was the Flip Flerps at the Massengil Amphitheater in ’24.”

Cozy: “OK, but my parents took me to see U2 when I was 9 months old.”

Game, set, match.

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“Oh, I Get It” Moment #1: B.B. King and the lady in the purple hat

May 12, 2015

The sad news about the fading health of blues great B.B. King has got me reflecting on one of those moments in life when you have a clear opportunity to leave stupidity behind. This blogpost could be titled, “How B.B. King got me to stop being a racist.”

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Almost anyone who hears me speak will know I grew up in Stone Mountain, Georgia. Stone Mountain has the distinction of getting a shout out in MLK’s 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech, the greatest speech in American history. “Let freedom from Stone Mountain in Georgia.” It still gives me chills. My town got that distinction from Dr. King because it is the birthplace of the modern Ku Klux Klan. My northern family displayed a gentler version of white southern attitudes. My dad would voice concern about property values if “they” moved into the neighborhood. My mom would lock the car doors if we drove through a black neighborhood. So I grew up in a racist family, in a racist town, in a racist state, in a racist country. It impacted me.

I was raised to be afraid of black people. But none of my experiences matched those lessons. I played YMCA basketball and the black kids were as competitive and nice as the white kids. In high school, I had three quarters in Mr. Krantz’ Folk Guitar class. By the end my best friend in the class was an African-American girl named Sharon Squires. I talked to her about The Beatles and punk rock, she talked to me about dub reggae and the very first hip hop records. Our language of music broke through the barrier of race. It didn’t jive with some of the racist things that came out of my mouth.

In high school, I knew kids whose fathers were in the Klan. I watched the KKK march on more than one Labor Day in my town. In my journalism class, I wrote an editorial titled, “If they can have Black History Month, why can’t we have White History Month?” I needed an escape route from racism. It would be music.

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At the tender age of 16, I got a dream job at a record store. It was Turtles Records and Tapes on Memorial Drive. I basically pestered the employees in the Stone Mountain store until they hired me and became the youngest employee in the entire chain. “The Baby Turtle,” as Bono later dubbed me after a U2 show at the Agora. Getting that job was like going to music college. Jimmy, Eric, Nan, Jeff, David and the rest of the gang infused my education with a racial theme.

“Randy, do you like jazz?”

“Yeah, I love Dave Brubeck!” They would put on a John Coltrane record and blow my mind.

“Randy, do you like reggae?”

“Yeah, I love The Police!” They would put on a Peter Tosh record and blow my mind.

“Randy, do you like the blues?”

“Yeah, I love Eric Clapton!” They would put on a Buddy Guy record and blow my mind.

It was clear that my musical upbringing had been squeezed through a white bread filter. I had known it intellectually – Elvis sang Little Richard, The Beatles sang Motown – but I hadn’t experienced it viscerally. Watching David Remy’s face scrunch up when he slapped on Son Seals Live & Burning or Coltrane’s A Love Supreme took me to the core of what the music is about – soul. African-American girls would come into the store, giggle and asked me if I was prejudiced. When I said, “No,” we’d have great talks about Kurtis Blow or Millie James. I was in.

But I still had the fear to contend with. In 1981, the Turtles gang got a batch of primo tickets to see B.B. King with Bobbie Blue Bland and Clarence Carter at the Atlanta Civic Center. If you know the P. Funk song, you know that Atlanta is a “chocolate city.” A blues concert downtown meant this white kid would be a serious minority. What would happen? Would they try to murder me? Or worse, would they blame me for racism? I had black records now! Southern whites loved to blather about “reverse racism,” so I feared the worse.

Our little Caucasian group walked into a sea of black faces and I could feel my heartbeat race. But when we got to our seats, something funny happened. All those black faces smiled at me. A heavy-set woman next to me in a huge purple hat put her arm around me and said, “Sonny, you are going to have a great night. You need to loosen up.” Later, when Clarence Carter played “Patches,” she held my hand and cried. I had the greatest night.

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That night I got it. I got the loss that comes from being a racist and I let it go. When B.B. King came out to his anthem, “Everyday I Have the Blues,” I got that, too. Where that comes from. His blues. And his permission to let a white boy from a Klan town experience the release of that pain with him. In that one evening, it all made so much sense to me. The stupid waste of racism. The loss of basic connections between human beings. At that point I decide to do something about it and that became the foundation of my career as a sociologist.

Someone once compared racism to alcoholism. An alcoholic can go for twenty years without a drink, but they still refer to themselves as an alcoholic. I never say I’m not racist. I learned racism at an early age and it exists inside me. I am a racist. But I am also a committed anti-racist, working to undue my white privilege and the systemic institutional racism that supports it. And I owe that position to a bunch of record store employees and a big lady in a purple hat at B.B. King concert. Feminist scholar bell hooks once defined feminism as “a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression.” That night I started moving.

Next: How The Ellen James Society freed me from homophobia.

Happy first Mother’s Day to my beautiful wife. Sleep in.

May 10, 2015

Andrea and I were just getting to know each other. She had been one of the sea of students in one of my larger classes the previous year. I was coming out of a “It’s complicated” relationship and she was similarly in the grey zone. We were having a drink at Binks, where I was virtually living in those days and I just noticed this glow around her face. “We’re going to have kids, aren’t we?” I said, out of the blue.

“Yeah, we are,” she said, cool as a Mexican radish.

Less than a year later, we asked each other what we were waiting for. There was no answer. The following month our Cozy was on her way to us.

There are people who think we probably shouldn’t be together. We call these people “university administrators.” They think the age difference is creepy and that young women are mindless children who have no idea how to think for themselves. All I can say is that over a one month period I fell madly in love with the person I was meant to be with. It started with, “I can’t go out with you” and ended with “I can’t live without you.”

What’s so special about this woman? Obviously, she has a beauty that goes right to the bone. It stops me in my tracks. Sometimes I think I am looking at a classic Hollywood photograph, but I am looking at this person sitting on the couch in the living room. But there is a much bigger story behind those beautiful brown eyes. There is story of a little Mexican girl whose mother left her to come to America and then came back many years later to sneak her 8-year-old daughter across the border. There is the girl who lived in two worlds most of her life and refused to give up the beauty of her Aztec roots to fit in with the white world.

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Andrea is the true gypsy bohemian I’ve only pretended to be. Her talent as an artist is awe inspiring. If Frida Kahlo and Andy Warhol ever had a baby, I married her. Her ability to create great works so effortlessly astonishes me. I have no doubt that at some point I will just be known as that guy who is married to Andrea Barrios, the painter.

Her passion for life and her wild laugh and all of the above would be enough to love her to the end of the world. But the fact she is the mother of our child puts her in a very special category. Bringing Cozette into the world wasn’t easy. We elected to demedicalize the birth, to be true to the countless generations of women who had children before the advent of the for-profit birth industry. We had midwives and doulas and a nice room with a tub to have the baby in. But the labor lasted three days and then Cozy started moving backwards. So we ended up at the hospital anyway. After hours of pushing (and me doing the important work of holding her right knee) and Dr. Girolami finding another use for olive oil, Andrea did it. I don’t know how, after all that, after three days, after all the worry and updates. With one mighty push Cozy was out like a champagne cork and ready to start her life. To say I was impressed with Andrea would have been the understatement of 2014.

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We’ve done our best to break the gender norms that society has proscribed for us. She was the one who went back to work while I stayed at home to take care of the baby. But there is no denying her ability to be a thoughtful, loving mother. Seeing Cozy and Andrea together is like watching the tag-team from heaven. They are in complete sync with each other, two whole people who are each half of something much grander. She and Cozy bring light into the world and love into my little corner of it.

When Cozy was four months old, those administrators started to ramp up their campaign against me, one of their staunchest critics (and loyal employees). They focused on my relationship with Andrea as if it was something unseemly. My wife was taking an online Women’s Studies class so technically I was having a relationship with a student. So what, right? I didn’t matter. All the good and important work I did there didn’t matter. Most importantly to us, love didn’t matter. We went in with Cozy and begged them to rationally evaluate the situation. They looked at me, my wife, and our baby and said it didn’t matter. And all the king’s lawyers and lawsuits wouldn’t have saved me. A colleague at the school referred to it as “modern McCarthyism.” I resigned to spare my family the bloodshed.

But they were wrong. Love does matter. If everything I did in my life up to this point, including going undercover in hate groups to get my PhD and working my ass off to get tenure brought me to Andrea and Cozy I win. If I can’t be a professor there because I found true love there, I still win and they lose. Sadly, the university loses too, but the new vision of college is “online education” where courses are run by bots not passionate professors. I will find other ways to continue my important work. Through it all, I never once regretted taking a chance on love with Andrea. I would do it all again in a latido del corazón.

Andrea could have followed me into the pit of depression during that, but she did the opposite. She built me back up. She took care of the baby and me at the same time. She inspired me with her art and inspired me to follow my passion. She sung to Cozy and reminded me to sing. She held both of us when we needed it (sometimes at the same time). This woman played mother to both father and child.

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Every single day, I’m glad I took that chance. And all that is great about Andrea I see in our daughter. It’s proof that love wins. We want more children and more magic wherever we end up. I can’t wait. I’ve got the coolest partner in parenting I could imagine.

The future is wide open and a little frightening, but there is no doubt Cozy and I picked the right mom.

NOTE: And because I live in fear of the university’s crack legal team, let me state very clearly that nothing in this post is meant to disparage the university or its administration.

I Want a Free-Range Daughter

May 6, 2015

When I was 6 years old, I ventured into the deep woods on my own almost daily. I was in search of dinosaur fossils, but spent most of my time building dams in the creek and looking for crayfish under rocks. My only concern was the 500-foot tall bear that lived just past the go-cart track. The older kids once told me that Charles Manson lived back on a trail we called “The Saddle,” but I didn’t think he’d ever bother me. The woods were my world until mom rang the big iron dinner bell and I’d come running in, past the tire swing, past the crab apple trees, and the swinging pool, home to my Spaghetti-Os.

Can you imagine letting a first-grader play in a creek, in the woods, far from the house and adults in 2015? You’d have Child Protective Services called and you’d be a feature story on Dateline NBC. My, how things have changed.

There are two parts to this issue. The first is the culture of fear in which we are now living. Despite the fact that the crime has been dropping steadily for over twenty years, the world outside your door is full of terrorists, kidnappers, and child molesters. If the jihadists don’t get your kid, the pedophiles will! There are websites and viral videos and news programs that will pump all kinds of fear-based misinformation into parents. Bogus stats for already stressed-out caregivers:

UPDATE: “Over 700 Children are Abducted a Day” Says Viral Video (PS. This is not true.)

“Tonight at 5 – Caught on camera! See a crazy person abduct a sweet second grader!” It’s enough to make you want to declare war on the outside world. I recently blogged about how being a parent is to live in a constant state of fear and now you are going to shove more stories about Baby Jessica falling down a well, being eaten by a pit bull or being sold into child sex slavery? Cozy will not leave the house until she is thirty!

Then I remember how I explored the world on my bike (without a helmet) when I was seven. We dug foxholes and had dirt clod fights. By eight we were building forts in the woods with stuff we ripped off from construction sites and at nine we were ditching the baby sitter by sneaking out of the bedroom window. My parents seemed fine with it all. I never came across any scary adults other than a few hungover teachers who let us know how much they hated children.

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As a parent, of course, I worry. But as a sociologist I’m reminded of the stats. The odds are in your favor. Way in your favor. Every American should read The Culture of Fear: Why Americans Are Afraid of the Wrong Things, by Barry Glassner. Glassner is now the president of Lewis & Clarck College, but when he wrote this he was just trying to get (white) people to calm the F down. I’ve walked through housing projects in Atlanta and DC and never once felt threatened. I know (white) people who won’t ride the bus in Portland, Oregon (Portland!) because they think they will get a “cap in their ass.” So much life is lost to the fear and we are foisting that loss on our children.

Of course you want to be “safe.” Bicycle helmets are a small price to pay. I’m old enough to remember when there were no seatbelts in cars, the front seat was like a vinyl couch and the dashboard was like a Ginsu knife. Sure, they were cool, especially if you wanted to make out at the drive-in, but, like Ralph Nader said, they were unsafe at any speed. And we didn’t have car seats in those days. Mom just held baby in her lap and hoped for the best. So, in general, the kids are alrighter.

But the other side is parents who are punished just for letting their kids walk to school. The recent story of the Maryland couple who were charged by the CPS with “child neglect” for letting their 10 and 6-year-olds play outside unsupervised pissed off a lot of us “old timers.” Not only would we walk home alone but as soon as we got there, Mom would say, “Go outside and play.” Now maybe that’s because she needed some time to sober up from her Valium snack, but we were still better for it.

So folks like mine (and all pre-2000 parents) are now refereed to as “free range parents” and are fighting back against the fear. I’m on board. I know I learned as much about the world mapping blocks on my bike or looking for arrowheads in the woods behind the school as I did inside the school. I also developed a sense of adventure. What’s around the next corner? Face your fear and find out. Yeah, I fell through the ice once and got a cool scar from trying to be Evil Knievel on my Huffy Wildfire, but so what? The kids locked inside, roped to their video games don’t have the stories that I have.

There are over 6 million latchkey kids in this country and that might be just be fine. Adult guidance is super-important but so is a sense of self-sufficiency. I’ve argued the opposite. That, because of the decline in wages, we’ve created an economy where kids have to raise themselves, so we shouldn’t be surprised when some of them go on shooting sprees. Latchkey kids have higher rates of drug use and obesity, but also more independent senses of self. So that kid who is home alone from 3 to 6 may become a stoned bad-ass who is a little chunky. That’s why you need to open the door and say “go outside and play.”

The other issue here is the gender thing. Girls have always had more supervision than boys. While boys were outside “sowing their oats,” girls were supposed to be inside as domestic apprentices, learning how to cook and clean shit. Research shows girls have earlier curfews and tighter strings. That’s partially as protection from the boys who are sowing oats. And by oats, I mean vaginas. But this is exactly what feminist Dorothy E. Smith meant by the public versus the domestic. Men get the whole outside world and women are confined to the inside. Don’t girls have oats to sow, too?

When I was 12, there was a girl named Tracy who ran with us boys. We called her a tom boy but I guess now she’d be referred to as a “free-range girl” or “future kidnap victim” depending on which side you are on. But she was just one of the gang, on her bike, playing softball, exploring half-built houses. I have a feeling she didn’t settle down. I bet she’s still going.

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I’m not advocating for a return to flammable pajamas. Everything is about balance. I don’t think I’ll send the 6-year-old Cozy into the woods alone to look for bugs and tell her to just head home when she hears the dinner bell. But I’m not going encase her in bubble-wrap either. The world is a lot safer than Nancy Grace will lead you to believe. So Cozy, there will be a day when you walk to school barefoot in the snow just so you can say you did. Just like your old man did.

The following book was mentioned in this blog and is available at Powell’s books by clicking the cover below: