I came across an article on the Consumerist which got my attention. The article is here and you can read the original news story here.
Potty Training Your Kids At The Restaurant Table Might Possibly Upset Nearby Diners
“I noticed that this lady was having her two — she had two twins, two little girls about 2-and-a-half years old, sitting on what I thought were booster seats,” one witness to a public potty training tells KSL-TV in Utah.
But she soon discovered that those booster seats were actually kiddie toilets. “She had to undo the jumpsuits, and take them all the way down so they were completely nude, with the jumpsuits down to their ankles just eating their chicken nuggets, sitting on little toddler potties,” the diner recalls. “I was like this is not ok, we’re eating, there was a business meeting with about five or six businessmen going on right next to me. The place was packed.” So she did what lots of people would probably do in the same situation: Take a photo with her phone and post it on Facebook.
What is going on with the reasoning in this paragraph?: “It is inappropriate to have your children exposed and naked in public. THEREFORE, I am going to take a picture of your naked children and display it in public.” It’s not a good enough answer to simply say, “Stupid people are stupid” because we see the same weirdly-contradictory logic in other situations:
–When people talk about women, self-respect, and sex. The narrative I’ve seen played out numerous times goes something like this: Dude is upset that woman is not protecting herself properly against inappropriate sexual advances; so, he starts making inappropriate sexual advances towards her. The idea is something like, in not ‘respecting’ herself enough, she is no longer worthy of respect from him.
–When someone is harassing a person on the street and they yell out, “You’re beautiful!” but if ignored they will tack on, “F*** you, you Ugly B****!”
–When we talk about how innocent and asexual kids are but if one of them gets raped (but not also murdered) or has sex all of a sudden it’s completely plausible that they are mature, worldly, experienced, and sexual beings.
–When, “Black women are only seen in a barely positive light FOR sex. It’s an awkward turn to this stereotype – everyone wants to f[***] me, but I’m the ugliest thing walking, huh?” (From here.)
This incident with the potty training kids highlights the weird part of this madonna/whore logic where the meaning of “inappropriate” shifts. It starts out as, “These children are being inappropriately exposed and need to have their bodies protected” but then changes into, “the other diners are being inappropriately exposed to these bodies and thus (the diners) have a right to ridicule and display them (the bodies).” It begins as an impulse to protect but ends as a desire to punish.
What are other instances of this sudden flip from respect to disrespect or from protection to exploitation? And what are the unspoken premises here?
The whole, “Please stop, I’m unable to partake of food in the presence of grossness and/or social inappropriateness,” screams of #firstworldproblems.
If something is upsetting your sensibilities, please just be quiet and eat your damn dinner instead of proceeding to tell other people how gross and inappropriate their bodies are. (And I’ll admit, I still catch myself wanting to do this sort of thing because it’s a cheap and easy joke to deride someone for being gross and unseemly. But really it’s just spiteful judgement and petty hierarchy-climbing.)