are troublemaking kids better able to resist and “just say no”?

I just came across an article on Jezebel: Pain in the Ass Kids Are More Likely to Just Say No I’ve been interested in a lot of the Jezebel posts lately; I’ve retweeted several of them. Linking to a Live Science article, Jezebel author Anna North describes how a recent study on teens and peer pressure, just published today in Child Development, indicates that teens who talk back to their parents are more willing to stand up to peer pressure from their friends to drink or do drugs. Here’s what North concludes about the importance of the study:

It’s no shock that kids who learn to assert themselves at home are better able to do so with their friends. Arguing with parents, however annoying for the parents involved, might give kids a crucial model for how to stand their ground, something they can use in potentially higher-stakes situations involving peers. The study does have limitations — kids’ self-reports of their drug use and friendships might not be accurate, and they might not fight with their moms the same way in the lab that they do at home. Still, it offers a pretty good argument for letting teens plead their case, rather than shutting them down. Parents have been campaigning against backtalk since time immemorial, but they might change their tune if they knew it could keep kids off drugs.

I first wanted to post about this study because it reinforces the idea that troublemaking (in the form of talking back and refusing to merely accept) is valuable for kids to practice and cultivate. Cool. I agree….even as I struggle with it as a parent sometimes. But, I don’t understand why the study focuses exclusively on mothers as the parent that kids should resist. What assumptions are reinforced by the idea that kids should talk back to their moms? What about their dads? What happens when kids talk back then? I was able to access the actual study (it’s important to go beyond reports about scientific studies and look at the actual study; I learned that from Bitch Media’s great post, Mad Science). Nothing in their method section explains why they focused exclusively on mothers. Is it just assumed that mothers are the primary care-givers? Or, could it be that kids’ deviant behavior is (always) the mother’s fault? Check out one of their possible conclusions in the discussion section (and the implied, “it’s the mother’s fault):

maternal behaviors in interactions with adolescents were also linked to apparent susceptibility to peer influence. Teens who were observed to experience high levels of support from their mothers at age 13 were less likely to adopt levels of substance use consistent with their friends’ use later on in midadolescence. Notably, maternal support was assessed in a different observational task than the recanting behaviors assessment above—a task designed to capture, not autonomy struggles but rather qualities of attachment relationships and supportive behavior. It may be that teens who are secure in their ability to turn to their mothers under stress are less likely to end up feeling overly dependent upon their close friends and thus less likely to be influenced by their friend’s behavior.

Note: As I was researching how various news sources reported on this scientific study, I was struck by how some included Mom in the title while a few others referred more generally to parent. Some examples: Teens Who Butt Heads with Mom Better at Resisting Pressure, Does Your Teen Constantly Challenge You?, Pain in the Ass Kids are more likely to just say no, Study of the Day: Arguing with Mom Protects Teens from Peer Pressure

I wanted to write about this study because I am bothered by how it (and many of the popular representations of it online) might encourage placing even more of the burden of difficult/exhausting parental labor on the backs of mothers. As I write these last couple lines, I’m also curious about thinking through what the study means by arguing with Mom. What were the different ways that this occurred? How did the race and gender of the teen affect how they argued? What connections can be drawn between being a “pain in the ass” and making/staying in trouble?

on a side note: I am often fascinated by comments and seeing how various readers react to a post. The comments on the Jezebel article are all focused on how pointless it is to resist parents (many of the more detailed stories focus on the futility of standing up to Dad/Grandpa and not Mom…hmmm….) and how much easier it is to just tell parents what they want to hear. I’d like to read these comments beside the scientific study.

“I Don’t Want to Learn!”

The other day I bought Mindy Kaling’s audiobook, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (and Other Concerns). I was particularly struck by the following passage:

As a teacher, coming from a family of teachers: 2 parents + 2 siblings who all participate/d in educating others in some way, and a long-time student—26 years of education! Yikes!, I place a lot of importance on learning, becoming aware, being curious and always questioning in the efforts to more deeply engage. I think this is great but…it can be too much sometimes. Kaling’s line about “the afternoon becomes ‘unlocking Mindy’s passion for Frisbee'” really hit close to home. While I don’t try to force friends or family members to be passionate about the same things I’m passionate about, I do encourage them to always be learning and thinking and engaging. Maybe learning doesn’t need to happen all of the time. Maybe we do need to shut it down and take a break. Maybe we should have space to yell out, “I don’t want to learn! I don’t want to learn!” Of course, this idea of not learning and just relaxing on the lawn with a book is not new to many. In fact, it’s not new to me; I understand it…in theory. But having spent most of my life learning and teaching and thinking and questioning, I always need a reminder of the value of relaxing and the importance of not (always) learning. 


I was 7 in 1981…

This is a LEGO ad from 1981. I was 7 in 1981…

How I found this: On twitter via @worstprofever’s RT of @urchinette’s original tweet. I tracked it down to Peggy Orenstein’s post from May 14th, 2011. Before moving into a discussion of this advertisement, I’m curious about how and why certain images and entries pop up again, months after they have first been posted. How many people will be like me and post or tweet about this image again? (When) is it important to track down the original source (is Orenstein the original source?) of a post? How reflective do we need to be about the links/sources we find? How important is it to make visible the tracing of those sources? These questions aren’t really about this image, but are prompted by other recent experiences of sharing  old sources that had gone viral again–like the video of an Iowa college student whose impassioned speech about his two moms that went viral a few years ago started making the rounds again last month….Okay, I just did a quick search and found that this ad was discussed on Feministing (found it via MAKE) way back in January, 2010. Feministing found it on the FLICKR account of Moose Greebles. There was another great Lego photo there too, from a 1980 magazine ad. (I also found a post for the ad on Sociological Images). Hmmm…through even more searching, I found a recent article at Huffington Post about a new line of Legos for girls, called “Lego Friends” for 2012. This new event must be why the image is resurfacing. 

Would this be a useful exercise for students/users who are developing digital literacy skills?  It seems potentially time consuming, but it might be a good exercise to try a couple of times…

Anyway, I love this advertisement for Lego from 1981. I was 7 in 1981, so I probably saw this picture (in their description for FLICKR of this photo, Moose Grabbles writes that they found the ad in a Decorating and Craft idea magazine; my mom had tons of these and I loved looking at the pictures). My mom probably also saw this picture. If she were alive, I would have enjoyed asking her about it. And my first grade teacher, Mrs. White, would most likely have seen this picture. Since I don’t have too many strong memories from when I was a kid, I can only imagine that this picture helped to shape an environment (a pre-Disney Princessified environment–Orenstein claims the Princess Phenomenon started around 1985), that encouraged me–at least a little–to think and live beyond the rigid and confining gender box of a girl who is only supposed to like pink (not that there’s anything wrong with pink…not all girly-girls are simply and unwittingly reinforcing rigid gender rules/roles) and princesses. Of course, I don’t want to romanticize the (early) 80s. After all, it was also the decade that brought us, “Get in Shape Girl!” I know I didn’t own any of this stuff, but I do remember watching the commercial (I couldn’t find the exact date for when this ad was aired):

One last thing, here’s another Lego ad that Moose Greebles posted on FLICKR:

Why hasn’t this image made the rounds too? I also like to see positive and (somewhat) gender-neutral images of siblings. Speaking of brothers and sisters, here are a few more images and ideas that are related:

1. A comment by Sally from an article on the new Legos for girls:

I played with Legos as a kid (and Barbies, and Hot Wheels). I sometimes wonder if girls actually prefer pink/sparkly things because it keeps their stupid brothers from, I dunno, stealing their toys and hoarding all the Lego.

2. “Sisters and Brothers” from Free to be…you and me:

Research for an article on Siri and the Feminist Media Fail

I’m having way too much fun today. Finally, I get to write on my blog! I’m trying to get in as much writing as I can before RJP and FWA get out of school next Friday and we travel to see family. Hi AMP! Can’t wait to see you next Sunday! I thought I’d archive some sources for an article that I’m planning to write about Siri and all of the hype surrounding its feminism fail from a few weeks ago. In my article, I’m not so interested in detailing how/why Siri is a problem for people who need reproductive health resources (want to know why I write “people” and not “women”? Read this) as I am in critically analyzing the ways in which the story about Siri’s reproductive health limitations was discussed by various feminist/feminist-friendly blogs and then taken up by other non (or possibly pseduo) feminist sites.

Some primary questions I want to pose:

  • What doesn’t get discussed when the issue of Siri’s limitations gets reduced to the conclusion that Apple is pro-life or anti-feminist or misogynist?
  • What important feminist/critical conversations about technology, Smartphone Apps, the digital divide, and reproductive justice are foreclosed with this reduction?
  • How does mainstream (social) media take up and distort stories first introduced on alternative media sites (like feminist or critical race blogs)?

Since I haven’t had that much time to think through this project (with teaching and grading and tweeting and running and writing other posts), I don’t have any big conclusions yet. But, I do have a timeline of sources! Here it is:

TIMELINE of articles/responses
november 27, 2011: 

november 28, 2011:

november 29, 2011:

People have suggested that this about a lack of female programmers. I don’t think it is. One doesn’t have to be female to know that if you’re going to provide your customers with the benefit of the doubt that they’re adults and will give information on where to buy condoms, beer, the names of local escort companies and “tongue in cheek” locations for hiding a dead body, you should provide information about health clinics, especially when customers know their full names and basic locations. I don’t think you need females on your programming staff to know that a person can go to an ob/gyn for birth control, not just a “birth control clinic.” I don’t think that it’s necessary to be female to know that rape is a violent crime and that a rape victim will need a hospital and/or the police before they need a “treatment center.” This isn’t just about gender. This is about something more esoteric and far far less simple to explain.

november 30, 2011:

december 1, 2011:

december 2, 2011:

december 5, 2011:

Any other blog/news sources that I should include in this timeline? I should note that I don’t think that my list is exhaustive; I’m sure that many others have written about this incident (there are probably tons of posts on tech blogs that critique the idea of a bad apple). For my article, I’m more interested in critically reflecting/documenting a general trend (and a common pattern that frequently occurs with “feminist” issues in the blog-0-spheres).

Oh bother! or, don’t bother? Mansplaining and whitesplaining, the Gene Marks edition

Last week in my feminist debates class, I brought up a term that I had recently encountered (it’s been around for awhile): mansplaining. Here’s the definition that Fannie’s Room offers:

Around the feminist blogosphere, the phenomenon of mansplaining has been duly noted as of late. This is also known as the Men Who Know Things phenomenon, whereby some men mistakenly believe that they automatically know more about any given topic than does a woman and will, consequently, proceed to explain to her- correctly or not- things that she already knows.

The mansplainer’s problem isn’t so much that he’s trying to teach a woman something, but rather that he takes it as a given that she doesn’t already know whatever it is he is going to tell her.

She also briefly mentions whitesplaining:

a white person whitesplains how a person of color is “wrong” about something being racist against people of color. It’s the same basic idea as mansplaining- as both are grounded in the privilege of one’s identity being considered society’s default and, therefore, more objective than the experiences of Other identities.

As I was looking over my twitter feed this morning, I found a tweet to an article over at Colorlines:

The article at Colorlines is a critique of Gene Marks original essay for Forbes: If I Were a Poor Black Kid. Marks’ article is getting tons of traffic and tons of attention and has generated lots of important critiques. Here’s one take on how this traffic and attention might have been deliberately crafted by Marks because it’s good for (his) business. I don’t really think I’m interested in bothering with a critique of this very problematic article (or am I? not sure; hence, the title of this post: oh boher! or, don’t bother?) because it just contributes to more attention (and money?) for Marks. I am interested, however, in documenting it as a great example of whitesplaining. Gene Marks is great at this ‘splaining stuff. Just a few months ago, he wrote an article that stands as a great example of mansplaining: Why Most Women Will Never Become CEOs. Sigh… So, next time I want to teach about whitesplaining or mansplaining, I can look to Gene Marks as my (im)moral exemplar! Gee thanks, Gene!

I was partly inspired to write this post after noticing a few responses to Marks’ “if were a black kid” approach. Here are just a couple:

Here are 2 examples from the If I was a poor black kid tumblr: