Category Archives: Health

Response to “Violence is Easy, Sex is hard.”

My friend Adam, the Tenor Dad, recently wrote a post Violence is Easy, Sex is Hard which describes the evolution of his thoughts around the violent and sexual content of movies that he chooses let his children view. It’s a thought-provoking post, and I find myself disagreeing wholeheartedly with him on several points, so I thought I’d respond with a post of my own.

I recall seeing a young boy at a PG-13 film being terrified by the trailer for The Mummy Returns, which features some very graphic, scary monsters, and stabbings and shootings aplenty. I was surprised that parents would bring their young child (five-ish, if memory serves) to a PG-13 film and expose him to such frightening imagery. I also think it’s ridiculous that bare breasts can bump a movie up to an R rating, but decapitations and disembowelings only warrant a PG-13.

I haven’t made great choices all the time, though. I let my son watch the Lord of the Rings movies too early. He did a really good job of letting me know when a scene was too scary, and we’d skip it. What I found interesting was that he wasn’t afraid of goblins or orcs, Sauron or the Balrog. He was frightened by Frodo getting stabbed on Weathertop, and by the hill man swearing a blood oath to Saruman (cutting his palm). Even when you think you know what will be frightening or intense for your child, you may surprised.

Violence is easy?

It’s easy because you’ve taken a very simple stance; it’s always bad. But an answer like “violence is always wrong” feels oversimplified and hard to reconcile with real-world experience.

Would you defend yourself or your family with violence? Would you intervene physically in defense of someone who is being attacked? Police officers and military forces injure and kill in the defense of our communities and our nation, but that isn’t without its own problems. How does your family’s faith or philosophical tradition inform your choices about violence?

Now, I wouldn’t stop the film to have a deep conversation about this when Peter Parker beats the snot out of Flash Thompson, nor when Iron Man is liberating the town of Golmira. But you definitely could talk about lots of things. Only in the movies does the bullied science geek get bitten by the radioactive or GMO spider. What options do bullied kids have in real life?

The first Iron Man movie had strong connections to the war in Afghanistan, and there’s lots to talk about there, too.

Sex is hard?

America’s prevailing attitudes towards sex are at the same time puritanical and prurient. Sex — the glamorous, airbrushed, tidy kind — is used to sell everything. Everything. The clothing styles that are marketed to school-aged girls often imitates the sexually provocative styles of adults.

But we can’t show naked bodies; naked means sex.

But really, it doesn’t. News flash: seeing naked bodies doesn’t harm kids. Kids have bodies, and know that other people have bodies that are more or less similar. Kids can handle appropriate information about what they see. In fact, they might have an easier time with body image related self esteem if they saw more normal bodies to balance out the fake, unrealistic ones the media bombard us with every day.

When my son was old enough to use the computer by himself, we had several conversations about things you might see by accident on the Internet. It went something like “if you see a picture of a naked person, let me know. Sometime grown-ups share pictures like that, but they aren’t meant for children.” We tried to be pretty matter-of-fact about it. We also kept the computer in the family room so we weren’t far away.

In the same way that I don’t think a discussion of the geopolitics of the middle east is necessary context for watching Iron Man, I don’t think you need to talk about monogamy with your seven-year-old just because Tony Stark and Christine Everhart have a consensual one-night encounter, or about slut shaming when Pepper Potts says that she does everything for Mr. Stark, including “taking out the trash.” I doubt any questions would even come up, but if they did, you could answer in an appropriate way. Maybe something like:

Sometimes, you might play with the kid you’ve just met at the beach for a wonderful afternoon, and then never see her again. Or maybe you see her at school sometimes, but don’t really want to play or hangout again, and that’s OK. When grownups play, sometimes they do the same thing.

Pepper was a little rude to Christine, but I think she was feeling hurt. She really likes Tony and wishes she had gotten to snuggle with him. I think Christine was rude first, but you know how two wrongs don’t make a right.

So give enough information at an appropriate level to answer questions or to share important values. No need to psychoanalyze Tony.

For me, the harder part of Iron Man might be the torture scenes during Tony’s captivity. That’s much more intense and important to the story than the bedroom scene. Or the Ten Rings terrorizing the citizens of Golmira, or Stane’s clean-up crew murdering the Ten Rings mercenaries (off camera).

I’m also thinking about the British TV shows that I enjoy, many of them mysteries and police procedurals. Many of them show a breast here, a buttock there, uncovered naked people in the morgue. (I even saw a penis, once! ) It seems much more natural and reasonable to me.

Ghostbusters

It’s been a while since I watched it, but I can only think of a handful of sexually suggestive scenes in Ghostbusters.

  1. The ghost that undoes Ray’s belt and fly, and (off camera) goes down on him. (was he dreaming?)
  2. Peter visits the possessed Dana Barrett, and she tells him that she wants him inside her.
  3. Luis and Dana appear disheveled (Luis’ fly is down), presumably after having had sex to summon Gozer the Gozerian.

Maybe there’s something more salacious that I’ve forgotten, but I’m betting most of that would go over the head of a seven-year-old. And if she asks what’s going on you can say:

  1. Ray’s dreaming about grown-up sexy touching with a ghost.
  2. She possessed, and either she wants to have sex with him, or she wants to eat him.
  3. The demons that possessed them — oh look, now they’re dogs — had to do some magic to open the gate and summon… Gozer the Gozerian

I don’t think sex always has to be as complicated as you suggest, Adam. I think the violence we are steeped in as a culture makes it seem easy to deal with, even when we argue against it. Often the violence in stories and movies makes a clearer distinction between the virtuous and the villainous than we have in real life.

On the other hand, we have a culture that denies the inherent sexuality of children and young people, while at the same time fetishizing and sexualizing youth. People accuse loving parents who share photos of their own children without clothes of making kiddie porn. People (mostly women) have laser removal of pubic hair and surgeries to make genitals more youthful. It’s contradictory and confusing, and yes, complicated.

But you don’t have to explain all of it. Just enough honest information to answer the question or address the concern that emerges at the time.

I hope this makes some kind of sense.

 

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Fitness: push-ups

Lifehacker pointed me at this article in the New York Times:

An Enduring Measure of Fitness: The Simple Push-Up

According to the article, push-ups are really good for you. I’ve been doing sets of about 20 very irregularly. The article suggests that I should be able to do 27. Guess I need to get more regular about it.

I’ve kept off most of the weight I lost last year, and my yoga practice has helped a lot with my lower back. I just need to get a routine established, and do it!. Of course, routine is one of my challenges in this life…

Hard work pays off

NatureBoy started Kempo Karate classes at the very end of January, and has been working hard. We even enrolled in in Martial Arts camp for this school vacation. Yesterday, he told us that we would be surprised when we picked him up today, and to wait for him in the car. So we arrived at the dojo, and NB came right out sporting his new yellow belt. He couldn’t have been prouder. Neither could we.

Well done, NatureBoy.

Report from sick bay

So, before Carnage, NatureBoy came down with a pretty bad congested cold. He coughed lots, and felt lousy. So we kept him home from school for several days. On the second day, I decided to take him to the pediatrician, just to rule out anything serious. It turned out that he tested positive for strep. So he was home from school for yet another day while the antibiotic kicked in, and then the following day was Carnage. Well, his cough continued, though it got gradually better over the weekend of the convention.

We got home from Carnage quite tired, and then our washing machine died. Beloved Wife, having inherited the fix-it gene from her shop-teacher father, had the washer on its side the following morning and had identified the problem.

CraftyMomma behind the washer
CraftyMomma behind the washer

It didn’t look like something we could fix easily or cheaply. So we needed to get a new washer.

I started to get sick in the middle of the week, and NB sprouted a spotty rash.

BW took him back to the pediatrician, who said it was a systemic reaction to the amoxicillin (i.e., not an allergic reaction), but we needed to stop giving him the med. And I came home from work early, because I felt horrible.

Over the weekend, NatureBoy’s rash continued to spread and get more uncomfortable.

I have gotten more tired and congested. Thankfully, BW has stayed healthy. Earlier this week, she was able to identify a Whirlpool washer at Costco that looked like a good bet. Yesterday, I juiced myself up with some cold meds, and with the help of BW’s parents, we got the washer home.

CraftyMomma installs the new washer

BW managed most of the install herself, and we spent the evening catching up on laundry, and watching DVDs.

Today, NB has gone off to school. BW went with him to give some benadryl meds to the school nurse, and touch base with his teachers so they don’t flip when they see the rash. She also contacted the pediatrician, who said that this is definitely allergic, increased the benadryl dosage.

I’m still feeling crappy, so I’m home, too. I got to sleep until 7:30 this morning. I wish I felt better and could have enjoyed it. Mostly I’ve been couch surfing, drinking lots of tea, blowing my nose… I hate being sick.

Wet shaving

I may have gone off the deep end, but

When I first headed off to college, I took with me a Remmington electric shaver. It had a screen that covered an array of blades — arranged like fins on a radiator — the vibrated back and forth. I gave me a quick shave but did a heck of a number to my face.

Toward the end of my overly-long college career, I went back to shaving with foam and disposables. I also read somewhere about shaving with the grain and finishing with a rinse of cold water to close of my pores. This advice and the various Gillette Sensor models have been the mainstay of my shaving kit for fifteen years or more.

The old kit: shaving lotion and Gillette Sensor Excel

I’ve been plagued, however, with in-grown whiskers, and I have been looking for possible problems with my technique. I while back, I caught the Queer Eye suggestion about “double-stroking.” But making a single pass hasn’t made the problem go away.

Then I found Corey Greenberg’s Shaveblog; funny, sometimes bawdy, and very helpful. [note: I’d rate it PG-13]. So I took a leap and got Corey’s recommended shave kit (mostly).

The new kit

I got a Merkur double-edged razor, proraso cream, Wee Scott brush, and some blades that were available at Lee’s Safety Razors. I’ve been using the rig for a little over a week, and I really like it. I’ve found that I’m looking forward to shaving, ’cause I get to use all my toys. I’m a little unsure about the blades. I thought they were supposed to last for a week’s worth of shaving. But I’ve been getting maybe four days before they start to feel harsh. They have numbers on both surfaces, so I tried flipping the blade and giving it another go, but it didn’t help.

As an after shave moisturizer, I’ve been using a combination of Rosehip and Almond oil, with a few drops of tee tree and lavender essential oils. Beloved Wife loves it for her legs, too. I think I’ll put some of the other products that Corey recommends on my Solstice wish-list. It’s always nice to have options.

A (very) little Burning Wheel


Last night, I got together with couple of friends to play Burning Wheel. I’ve been meeting one of them since January or February, developing a character, running through examples of the conflict resolution systems, and then playing other games like Lunch Money, the game of schoolyard violence. We even played a one-on-one session with my character.

However, my friend finally recruited another player, and he’s developed a character very different from mine (yay conflict!). Last night we finished the final tweaks to his character, and then he was getting an introductory scene. My character ws going to get involved a little later.

Then my pager went off; Beloved Wife needed me to come home. She was in tears when I called because her cheek hurt so much. I raced (carefully) home, passing a red fox on my way. When I got home, she was readying to take half a Vicodin. Now BW hadn’t needed Vicodin right after she had her wisdom teeth out, just ibuprofen. But I’m glad we had them. After we all got to bed, and I started to rub BW’s back, she felt extra warm. I grabbed a thermometer, and she had a temp just over 100. Poor girl!

Fortunately, she got decent sleep and isn’t in so much pain this morning. She’s got her one week follow-up appointment with the oral surgeon today, and asked me to go with her. Hopefully we’ll get her fixed-up. This has been more of an ordeal than we were anticipating.

And I’m looking forward to getting together with my friends in a couple weeks for another session of Burning Wheel.