Urbin Report

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Interesting observation...

Elf Sternberg made the following observation at his daughter's school:

As I stood in the office waiting for the appropriate clearance to wander the halls, I spotted a line of third-graders being prepared to lemming into their classrooms, and there in the middle of the line stood an awkward, gangly, worried-eyed tart. She wore an open V-necked pirate blouse shirt, a stiffly starched miniskirt with ruffles, and child-sized boots that when worn by her more mature counterparts are usually worn with the purpose of eliciting the reaction, "Nice boots" and all that entails.

Her parents are blithering fools.

Humbert Humbert, the protagonist of Lolita, once described his conceit: Among the universe of ordinary little girls between the ages of nine and fourteen there exists a cadre of their peers, perhaps numbering no more than one in thirty, each of whom were aware of what her puberty meant to a dangerous degree. Enmeshed as she was in her innocent schoolgirl clothes, she knew she was or soon would be devastating to men of all ages. Humbert's fatal flaw was his attraction to such girls.

But today, with Gap for Kids and its ilk there's just no such thing as the protection of "innocent schoolgirl clothes." There is no lesson in public modestly being delivered with public approval. Maybe the school that deals with pre-pubescents does not believe it needs a dress code. I have trouble believing kids have an interest in dressing in such a way unless they feel compelled by some outside forces.

There is always the possibility of a trap, as well. After all, if a teacher were to point out that this young victim-in-training was inappropriately dressed, the parents today might react with both horror at the questioning of their sartorial choices-- it is, after all, a free country-- and suspicion that the teacher made the accusation precisely because he or she found the child's dress disconcerting in inappropriate ways.
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I sometimes wonder if I want too much: I want adults to have the freedom to be adult, to enjoy the pleasures and privileges (and yes, the responsibilities) of adulthood, and I want children to have the power to be children, to lack those responsibilities, and I want the transition from one to another to be gradual, a flowering of awareness as kids grope blindly and painfully for that maturity they need. I am horrified by the fact that some parents believe that menarche or even earlier is to be conjoined with a showering of "gifts" upon the child such as an unlocked cell phone, the password to the household's NetNanny and a thousand-dollar shopping spree at Abercrombie & Fitch.


He makes a damn good point about the teacher not being able to say anything for fear of parents bringing charges against him/herself and the school. He also points out why democrats are doomed.