At the cross section of Children and Oppression

gender, race and class of parents

Children fall prey to all kinds of violence and oppression. They are sometimes the specific targets such as child abuse and pedophilia. They are sometimes raised in the most oppressive of situations and grow to have little choice other than to continue to perpetuate the cycle. Some of these children grow impoverished and hungry and trying to feed their families. Some find work and security in terrorism, some attempt to find it in work outside of their borders and end up forced into slave labor and sex slavery. Some are married as children and are oppressed by the sum of their circumstances, as their daughters will likely be as well. These children don’t know another way. They don’t see one anywhere near them.

These issues are being separated and gendered, raced, and classed. They are not always recognized by their genesis, but by their product.

Oppression takes on many forms and can be in your neighborhood or around the world. Sometimes it’ll feel like it is something that you can do something about, and sometimes not. Taking action can be a scary or uncertain thing. Sometimes it’s a matter of donating to the right place and the right people more than it is direct intervention. Either way, we cannot let children continue to be the direct victims of oppression or the collateral damage. We allow oppression to be gendered, raced, and classed. This allows different crusades to both help and hinder progress. This allows children to get caught into all kinds of caveats depending on the gender, race, and class of their parents or caretakers. Even with the foundations that directly intervene on behalf of children, they are gendered, raced, and classed. Education is a problem for girls. Disposability is a problem for boys. Children who are gender variant have yet another set of oppressions, both internal and external. But for children, these problems intersect with that of their parents or caretakers.

Children pay enough for the discrimination against their own genders. We need to figure out a way for them to not pay for the discrimination against their caretakers. We assume that children don’t understand gender discrimination and disparity when they are the fatherless children of men who died on the job or the impoverished children of a mom who doesn’t get paid equally or are singled out for having gender variant parents. Gendering oppression is a slippery slope. It is just as slippery as when we attempt to race or class them. Oppression is based on a story and we need to not allow it to be a single story for anyone. We must not allow these stories to be so gendered that we miss a part of them, such as the way they impact each other. Problems effect every person involved in them. To gender a problem leaves out the effect upon the other genders, such as the children or other family members involved.

We cannot teach this to our children. Problems are problems. Oppression is oppression. What happens to one gender effects the others, even if that effect is solely what happens to the family. We cannot forget that children are effected in a whole host of ways by this. We cannot leave them behind to perpetuate the cycle, but we must know that we cannot save them all and that sometimes saving them doesn’t look the way we think it should or want it to.

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