How can you explain Donald Trump to your daughter?

Four years ago, I was living in New Zealand, enjoying my first few months of being a stay-at-home dad.

Like many, I had an interest in the US Presidential race and given the NZ/US time difference I remember watching the presidential debates live in the afternoon – my then baby daughter transfixed by the screen (we didn’t tend to have the TV on during the day).

Four years later and we’re back in the UK. I’m just as keen to watch the debates, only they are now in the very early morning. I record them and watch before my wife and now 4-year-old daughter wake up. Only for the second debate, my daughter woke up early.

When she came downstairs, I turned the TV off. I didn’t turn it off because I thought she might be bored. On the contrary, she would likely be asking me lots of questions about it.

That was the problem.

I would have to discuss issues of sexual assault, objectification, male privilege, and fat shaming. With a 4-year-old. And I would have to explain why a man as reprehensible as Donald Trump is in contention to becoming the most powerful elected leader on the planet.

My wife and I like to engage our daughter in the political process. For example, I have always taken her to vote with me (and we always vote). If this were a ‘normal’ US election, I would happily let her watch and listen to news reports and the like, and answer any questions. But not this time.

It isn’t just the debates. We like to listen to BBC Radio 4 in the mornings. My daughter always requests we turn it to Radio 2 (middle aged before her time), so we usually compromise and I keep listening to Radio 4 for a while. Not anymore, the radio’s on the music filled Radio 2 before she’s in the room.

Mitt Romney’s ‘binders full of women’ gaffe seems so quaint now, sexism from a bygone age. Yet it was just four years ago.

The thing I finally noticed about Trump in the last debate is that he acts like a badly behaved toddler. He’s petty, impatient, sees unfairness everywhere, and constantly complains to mum and dad (the moderators) about everything. He also gets frustrated at his inability to win arguments with valid reasoning, so resorts to lies, bluster, and bullying.

In answer to the question posed in the title – I simply can’t explain Donald Trump to my daughter. Or more to the point, I don’t want to just yet. So I’m going to let her sit this one out.

There will be a time to talk to her about men like Trump, and the way they view women. But hopefully it will be in the context of how he failed to become US president. Because if not, that conversation is going to be a whole lot tougher.

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Writing this post, I was reminded of these Hillary Clinton campaign ads:

How Disney’s Zootropolis (aka Zootopia) Tackles Race and Gender Inequality

Do you want to have an age appropriate talk with your child about prejudice, discrimination, and identity politics – but don’t know where to begin? Well, show them Zootropolis (aka Zootopia in the US) and talk about that. Continue reading How Disney’s Zootropolis (aka Zootopia) Tackles Race and Gender Inequality

Pink is for Girls. Why do people think it shouldn’t be? Girls love pink!

Pink is for girls?

Pink is a girls colour. Why do people think it shouldn’t be? Girls love to dress in pink, to play with pink toys, to have pink rooms filled with pink things – it’s just a fact that pink is for girls. They still have plenty of choices – just as long as it’s in pink.

While it’s unlikely that girls do indeed have a predilection for pink, the marketing-industrial complex is very clear: “Pink is for girls”, and they keep churning out their wares targeted at them.

It’s all too easy to have or buy our girls ‘plenty’ of pink things. The big problem is one of smallness – the focus of what these things are remains relatively narrow, and this is potentially limiting our girls imaginations, opportunities, and ambitions. It’s for us as parents, and our children themselves, to set any parameters – not those trying to sell us things.

I completely buy into this line of reasoning. I avidly support the aims of campaigns such as Pink Stinks and Let Toys Be Toys. I like to think I am very studious about not buying pink things for my daughter.  I am very clear with family & friends, ‘Please don’t buy her anything pink’ (she still gets pink pressies of course, and we are very grateful for peoples’ generosity!).

Anyway, I’m a total hypocrite, because when I see cool things for my daughter – that also happen to be pink – I’m powerless to resist:

Farrah Fawcett
To cool not to dress her in…
And again...
…and still going many months later.

And how can I complain about a pressie tee like this:

We love Spidey...
We love Spidey…
...so much it's exhausting.
…so much it’s exhausting.
Wonder Woman, Batgirl, and Supergirl hat from Wellington
Wonder Woman, Batgirl, and Supergirl hat from Wellington

And always on the lookout for apparel with cool & confident female role models, this hat ticked all the boxes – well, apart from the non-pink one. And it just went so well with that cardigan…

Tricky eh? So despite all my great intentions, far too often I still ended up dressing my daughter like this – not what I intended at all when the great parenting adventure began.

And she’s not even at pre-school yet. I’m guessing it’s only going to get much worse when peer pressure kicks in – currently her cultural icons include Spider-Man, Wonder Woman, Princess Leia, Toy Story, and Totoro.  I fear it’ll be all Angelina Ballerina and Peppa Pig before too long. So I’m beginning to think I need another front of attack against pink. Or do I?

In my early teens, I happily wore my pink Pringle jumper, or a pink tee under a suit jacket (the Sonny Crockett look). It was the eighties, and that was the style (as much as a teenage geek knows about style). But as the nineties dawned, I felt like a fool for wearing a ‘girls’ colour, and I swore an oath – I really did – to never wear pink again.  And I haven’t.

As the years marched on, I pitied those fools who came into work with a pink shirt, or the people with grown up jobs wearing pink ties. I wouldn’t even wear shirts that were red and white patterned – because from a distance, they looked pink.

Pink was a girl’s colour, and I didn’t want to wear a girl’s colour.

Except pink ISN’T a girls colour. That underlines this whole issue. It’s just a colour like any other, and perhaps I need to embrace that rather than always fight it.

I think it’s time for me to break my oath, or make a new one: I need to wear pink.

In fact, I would like all men need to wear pink, and it would be great if parents could dress our sons in pink too. If the all-powerful marketing-industrial complex is going to continue to tell our girls that pink things are the only things for them, we need to subvert that. One way is encouraging our boys – and men – to play and dress pink too.

So I at least need to add pink to my wardrobe. Because pink isn’t a girls’ colour. It’s just a colour like any other. I reckon it might even suit me. Like it does my daughter.