We were at the movie theater on post the other night seeing some new movie or another, which is the great thing about the post theater, because they show movies for free, so if we are on base and can’t think of anything to do we wander over and see whatever is playing and sometimes lose track of what we saw and when. It might have been the new Robin Hood movie, because it was so very busy that we left The Guy to go wait in line for snacks while Kid and I secured seats. It was pretty crowded and we were having some difficulty finding just three seats in a row (a lot of this was due to the fact that people were NOT following the rules, that you can not just plop your bag down in seats and wander off, you need to have people physically in most of the seats saving one or two of them, or something along those lines, but I have found that a lot of U.S. people on this post believe that the rules don’t apply to them /digressing).
We wandered down closer to the screen than my neck can tolerate, and then back up towards the back, and struck gold with perfect seats on the back wall between the two entrances. Just as I was settling us in, a Filipina woman I know from Kid’s old Tae Kwon Do class (she goes to a different one now) came up to us with her young daughter, who is break-your-heart adorable and so small I could put her in my pocket, like Thumbelina. She and Kid used to get on really well in class, even as she is about half Kid’s height, and Kid was protective when other kids would pick on her for being so young. She has the most beautiful dark eyes, and at this moment they were filled with tears, and her chin was trembling like she was just holding on to not letting out in a full on wail right then and there.
She had seen us wander down by their seats, closer to the front, and had said “Hi!” to Kid in her tiny voice, and in the hubbub of the pre-show settling in we hadn’t heard her, and had turned around and headed to where we sat now. The young dear was so upset that we hadn’t seen her, that we hadn’t noticed her there, taking up space, trying to get our attention, that it nigh broke her heart. Her mother brought her up to say hello to us, and I gave her a warm hug and apologized for not seeing her before, and Kid said hi and did the same. Sorry that there was no room to sit together, they went back to their seats and we stayed in ours, and Guy joined us and we settled in for what was Not a Bedschel passing hit (I watch these things for free so you don’t have to spend money on them, peeps!).
The point of this 500 word story is that, like Renee will often tell you, children take up space. They sit there, and they exist in our world, and like That Thread of Angry Making at Feministe (most of you should know the one) that went on and on to prove that we as feminists, womanists, and social justice activists (and I’ll let you know where I fall on that scale when I figure it out) really fail hard at seeing children as what they truly are; a marginalized class of people who need their rights fought for and protected.
People of Color, People with Disabilities, LGBTQAI People, plenty of marginalized persons have movements behind them, and yet in social justice circles people feel free to openly say “I hate children” without repercussions. Children are routinely beaten in the name of “good order and discipline” (and parents are blamed for not doing so in the name of “not being attentive parents”) and no one pays attention. We expect children to be silent unless spoken to, and we often walk around and talk around them as if they aren’t even there. And possibly more importantly, like our little friend, they notice when we don’t notice them. They notice when we fail to take them into consideration. They notice when they don’t matter. They notice when the world, when those who are meant to love them, don’t fucking see them or hear them.
Children take up space in our world, and they are defenseless against the harm that is done to them every day, and I don’t understand why the protection of their voices and their rights is not considered a feminist/womanist/social justice issue outright, without having to start a Bloglandia Kerfluffle. Protecting their rights doesn’t mean you have to give up your declaration of being “Child-free-by-choice” or that anyone is asking you to be a human incubator. Protecting the rights of children doesn’t compromise your right to Choice. It won’t force you to be a parent any more than being an LGBTQAI ally means you have to Gay Marry. No one is asking you to even enjoy the presence of children or babysit our Kid so we can go out and enjoy an evening with conversation that doesn’t involve Harry Potter references. (OK, even if it was just us, that conversation probably comes up. LOL.) Or Star Wars. (O WAIT THAT’S ME.)
Children take up space, and when we don’t notice them, they hurt. It isn’t just a mother’s issue to let you know that. Children notice that we don’t do enough to give a damn about them, whether they know about social justice or not (some of them do, mine does). It hurts them. It should hurt more of us to realize this.