It’s the latest sortie in the modern left-wing Kulturkampf: a six-dollar shirt from Target for boys that says “Strong Like Mom.” You don’t need me to tell you how various groups of people have reacted to it. The HuffPo says that “Parents Everywhere Are Loving” this shirt. That would be the “everywhere” that doesn’t include Islamic states, China, Japan, India, South America and all the places that haven’t abandoned the idea of so-called gender roles. And the “everywhere” doesn’t include much of the United States, either. In fact, it’s safe to say that “Everywhere” means “Coastal California And Gentrified Areas Of NYC.” Those are the only places that matter, you know. It’s no coincidence that another shirt in the same clothing line says “Brooklyn” on it. That’s the modern-day Brooklyn-as-playground-for-white-people, mind you, not the Brooklyn where my father, grandfather, and great-grandfather lived, where you didn’t bother to buy a radio in your new car and you didn’t let your wife leave the house after dark.
On the other side of America’s cultural divide, a lot of people are writing about the “feminization” of boys, the “War On Boys”, and similar topics. It seems obvious on the face of it that this is a shirt for you-go-girl types, the mothers who were on “Slut Walk” in 2008 and in the maternity ward come the spring of 2009. It’s virtue signaling, both for the moms and for the feckless, terrified fathers who acquiesce to this shit so they can be excused from the table to play video games until Mom has finished reading her favorite part of Fifty Shades Darker and diddled herself to sleep.
But I don’t want to talk about any of that. I don’t even want to talk about the hugely unpleasant message that you send when you dress your First World child in a six-dollar-retail shirt that almost certainly exploits the labor of children, indigenous people, and other disadvantaged groups. I mean, if American Apparel can’t keep its head above water charging $39 for shirts that were mostly sewn by “undocumented” immigrants in the old Los Angeles warehouse district, I doubt that Target has managed to ensure the availability of clean drinking water and safe working conditions for the six-dollar shirt factory. In fact, I’ll betcha that it’s one of those “pad check” places where women have to submit bloody sanitary napkins every month to prove that they haven’t gotten pregnant. (Yes, that’s a real thing.)
What I want to discuss is a simple series of related questions: Do parents have a right to use their children as billboards? Do parents have a right to dress their children in a way that reflects the beliefs of the parents and not the beliefs of the children? Where are the lines between identification, exploitation, and brainwashing? Last but not least, what am I, your humble author, doing to my son by including him in what I write?