Why I wont teach my kids this tradition.
We need a new St. Patrick’s Day tradition.
My aunt posted a conversation she had with her daughter this morning…..
My aunt: “Oh no, I don’t have anything green to wear! All the kids are going to pinch me!”
Her daughter: “Well, yesterday a lady talked to my class about personal space. If you don’t want people to pinch you, ask them not to invade your personal bubble. Also, you could put a note on the outside of your office saying you dont want participate in St. Patricks Day stuff and ask them not to pinch you or invade your personal space”.
Oh and by the way, the girl who dropped that little ball of assertive wisdom is 8 years old. Yes, 8.
For the rest of the day my thoughts kept coming back to what she said. And I started thinking, “wow, what a messed up tradition that is.” Do we actually have a tradition where we encourage kids to actively try to hurt someone unless they are wearing a certain color? And how messed up is it that the responsibility is on the person to protect themself from being pinched?
I can see the eyes roll already. Hear me out. I’m not trying to ruin your fun, I just can’t help but finally notice the similarities between this tradition and a larger social justice issue – sexual violence. I have been doing direct service with survivors of sexual violence for over four years, and I never made the connection until my confident 8 year old cousin made me think. Because she is just that awesome.
Have you ever read any sexual assault prevention tip sheets? They usually have suggestions like this: don’t walk in a dark alley, don’t walk by yourself at night, never accept an open drink from a stranger, use the buddy system if you go to a party or bar, wear shoes you can run in, look in your backseat before you get in your car….
Notice, the responsibility is put on the person to not let themself get raped. Our society having this mindset is totally hand-in-hand with the fact that most sexual assault survivors get blamed for their experience. They drank too much. They trusted a stranger. Look at what she was wearing. etc. By the way, victim blaming is always, 100% bullshit.
We need a new system that prevents perpetrators. We need a system that does not protect them and makes them accountable for their actions.
So let’s get back to St Patrick’s day. Am I saying that a tradition where kids pinch eachother if they aren’t wearing green causes sexual violence? NO. I am saying we should look closer at a tradition where we normalize that it is ok to purposely hurt someone unless they have properly protected themself. Let’s stop teaching our kids that it is a person’s own fault that someone else made the active decision to reach out pinch them. Instead let’s teach our kids to respect other people’s personal space.
We need a new tradition.
Perhaps, “wear green and plant green,” a day to plant trees. Or, “wear green and save green,” a day that encourages riding bikes or the bus. Or maybe kids can cut out four leaf clovers and write on each leaf something that is lucky in their life, a day that encourages gratitude.
I’ll have to think on it more and get back to you before next St Patrick’s Day.