I've seen this video shared on Facebook a few times now, and I wanted to address it in a bit more detail. So here we go. Basically, it's a social experiment where young boys are introduced to a girl named Martina, and then told to caress her, make faces at her, and slap her. The boys refuse to hit her, saying that it's wrong to hit girls. How sweet. It's been pulling heartstrings for the last few days.
I think it's really sexist.
It's a sweet video, the kids are all adorable. And yes, it's nice to see kids saying they're against violence. That's good. But it's for the wrong reasons.
When the boys are introduced to pretty Martina, they're awestruck. We know how old the boys are, we know what careers they want, but we know absolutely nothing about Martina. They like her eyes, her hair, one claims immediately he'd like to be her boyfriend. Bear in mind, they've never met this girl, they've never said a word to her. They just know she's pretty. Done.
They're told to caress her, and without even questioning it, they all reach out to touch her. Some stroke her arm, or her cheek. This part is where I start to get uncomfortable. None of them ask her. She hasn't said a single word. It's as though Martina doesn't have any control over her own body or what happens to her. Nobody has control over anybody else's body. It doesn't matter who tells you to touch someone, unless that someone says it's ok, it's not.
Look, I know they're kids. But it's so, so important for kids to learn and actively practice consent. That sounds weird, I know, because we tend to talk about consent in a sexual context. There are some really interesting articles out there about raising children with a strong sense of control over their own bodies, and I think that's really healthy. Consent is waiting for an answer. Even for a caress on the cheek.
Anyway, the video goes on. The kids all refuse to slap her when they're told to. Not because they've realized that Martina is a human being. There are only two answers that aren't gender specific: "I'm against violence" and "Jesus doesn't want us to hit others". Good job, you two, gold stars for you. Here are some of the others:
- "Cause she's a girl"
- "Because you're not supposed to hit girls"
- "I can't hit her because she's pretty and she's a girl"
- "Girls shouldn't be hit, not even with a flower"
Not hitting someone just because they're a girl is sexist. Think of it in terms of race. Imagine if one of those boys had said "Because she's white". Would you think it was wrong?
Look, do I want to get slapped? No, of course not. But if the only thing stopping you is my gender, I'd rather you hit me than not treat me like a human being. Also, apparently, if Martina had been ugly, she would've been hit anyway. Slapping a human being, no matter what their gender or what they look like, is not ok. Don't hit people.
At the very end, one boy is told to kiss her. And without questioning it, he asks the director if he can kiss her on the mouth or the cheek. Think about that for a second. He doesn't ask Martina. He asks the director. Martina still hasn't said a word, but that's just as well, since she doesn't seem to have any say anyway.