Updated: Nov 28, 2020
What an afternoon! Tarini and I watched an episode of Anne with “E” on Netflix. It’s a series based on the 1908 novel Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery and plays on a Canadian island. I must admit I have not yet read this classic, although I have heard of it before, so I cannot tell how closely the script of the series follows the original work.
This one was about a friend of Anne’s being gay, her other friend’s old aunt coming out as lesbian to her, although she has lived in a community of illustrious non-straight people for decades and had lost her life partner with whom she pretended to merely be friends to anyone who wasn’t open enough not to judge.
At the same time, a young girl in Anne’s class who wanted to go to college was about to marry and turned down the groom at the altar because he had told her he expected her not to go to classes as his wife but rather spend all her energy on helping him to climb the social ladder in Toronto. So the theme was a lot about tolerance for people who are different from the mainstream, showing that loving someone deeply can never be wrong and women’s rights as they developed in the Western world.
Of course my little inquisitive Buddha Tarini had lots of questions. Why would anyone have a problem with two men or two women loving each other? Why is that man dressed up as a woman when it’s not carnival or a stage performance? Why would a teacher require his wife not to go to college and how could he even have the power to demand this of her, let alone expect her to obey? The black man from Haiti being discriminated against, she’s heard about, racism and slavery is something we have discussed more in-depth as my children have half black genetics and I find it important for them to know about these subjects, of course.
I told her how women were the chattel of their fathers and husbands, how they weren’t allowed to vote and had to do as the father or husband commanded. I told her that the women’s rights movement has to thank a lot of unnamed lesbian women who were the first and fiercest to stand up to patriarchal rule because they were the ones living without males in their lives, wanting to be independent, financially stable without a husband “taking care” of them and who wanted to be able to go into professions that were seen as domains for men only.
We talked about women’s rights had developed and that even in Western countries, there still wasn’t a legal equality, not only in pay but also in matters like abortion and such. Someone committing financial fraud gets five to seven years in the German law system, a rapist only two, often even on probation. Women trying to protect their children from abusive fathers are treated as criminals who are using the children to gain revenge on their former partners because the relationship failed. There is still so much to be done.
But throughout all this discussion, I loved how driven Tarini, who is barely twelve years old now, was by love and compassion in all her musings and thoughts and chains of argumentation. She showed how capable she is of independent thinking and even though she reached the same conclusions, she grounded them on her own reasoning, rather than just mindlessly repeating what I told her my opinions were on the matter. To me this means she has the conviction she requires to explain and to advocate her own thoughts in a discussion with others as well because she is capable of sound reasoning.
I know my two older children, Tajun and Tarjani have complained so often that I always explain in detail why I think something, do something or decide something in a particular way. But looking at them, teenage rebellious years aside, it has served them well in forming their own opinions, trusting in their own judgement because I taught them to think for themselves and therefore showed them I trusted in their judgement. They can take responsibility for themselves and the mistakes they’ve made so far were nothing to lose sleep over. No coma drinking, drugs, etc.
My children respect themselves enough to take care of themselves enough not to cause permanent damage to themselves without thinking of whether or not I’ll find out but knowing, it is their own responsibility to take care of themselves when I am not around. And raising them this way, with all ups and downs and discussions, arguments and fights along the way that are part of family as loving cuddles, kisses and great conversations are, I’m pretty sure they’ll make their way and take care of themselves well in the process, as well as being sensitive to the needs and rights of others.
I remember Tajun, when he was about four years old (he is now twenty) asking me what the word death penalty meant so I explained it to him. He frowned, shook his head and said, “But that doesn’t make sense. You can’t teach someone that it’s wrong to kill by killing them.”
Just goes to show that children are naturally born with love and compassion – and a lot more common sense than most adults possess. We should protect and nurture this in them, rather than try our best as a society to drill this out of them, along with instilling guilt, shame, judgement and prejudices.