New York parents are a special breed. They are even more special, and apparently more extreme, if they have been indoctrinated in political correctness.
Yesterday, blogging on a website called The Stir, Kiri Blakeley posted a vignette about a special New York custom: “extreme parenting.”
It isn’t just that parents have become health fanatics, shielding their children from the least morsel of inorganic chicken, but they also want to shield their children from ideologically incorrect language.
You may not agree with me when I characterize such people as the thought police, but these extreme parents are trying to ensure it that their children never think a counterrevolutionary thought.
I would call it totalitarian parenting, because this level of mind control, when practiced on the young, was endemic to the great totalitarian dictatorships of the twentieth century.
Recently Blakeley attended a dinner party with, among others, a couple that had brought along their two-year-old daughter.
To Blakeley’s mild surprise, the child was thoroughly absorbed in her activities and sat quietly and calmly through a four-hour dinner party with perfect aplomb.
She was, Blakeley notes, thoroughly “well-behaved and social.”
Allow Blakeley to describe what happened next:
Towards the end of the gathering, the little girl ended up sitting next to me. So we're sitting there, chillin', and she was doing something cute with her large red bib, when I cooed, "Aren’t you a good girl?" Her mother -- a very nice woman, by the way, don’t get me wrong -- leaned over and said, calmly but firmly, “We don’t use the term 'good girl.' "
In New York City, the land of extreme-parenting, there's about a million different ways one could go wrong around a child in the eyes of the hyper-vigilant parent, and I had just bumped smack dab into one of them. In using the term "good girl," I had unwittingly crashed some parental ordinance of which I had no knowledge, but had been scolded for nonetheless. It wasn't one of those things that you could classify as obvious not to say around a child. Such as, say, "muhthaf**king crackwho*re."
This very nice mother, a woman who would surely call you out for the least hint of judgmentalism is, let’s be clear, a bully.
In the name of her maternal instinct, she is telling other people that their vocabulary must fit her political bias… in this cases, she seems to have something against “good girls.”
She has arrogated to herself the right to police how other people talk to her daughter.
Blakeley understands, as we all do, that it would be inappropriate to issue forth with a torrent of obscenities in front of a toddler. Not because the toddler would understand what the words meant, but because most parents do not want to expose their children to such crass vulgarity and its attendant aggressiveness.
We all know that you do not say just anything to a child. In truth, you do not say just anything to anyone.
Conversational decorum requires a measure of self-control, coupled with tact and consideration.
As it happens, “good girl” does not cross into the realm of the tactless, the rude, the crude, the lewd or the inconsiderate. Or, at least, it doesn’t for any normal human being.
Only an individual who is saturated with radical political ideas would correct the phrase “good girl” in order to protect a two-year old from indignity.
The mother is imposing her political beliefs on Blakely, even to the point of making her think that she might have done something wrong.
Normal language usage develops over time through a myriad of verbal exchanges. Deciding that you want to change it because it offends your ideology or because you believe that changing it will change reality reveals a totalitarian mindset.
The mother might think she is principled. She is behaving like a fanatic.
If she believes that this expression is so completely injurious how does she expect to protect her daughter from the ambient culture? Will she send a note to her daughter’s schoolteachers telling them not to call anyone a “good girl?” Will she launch boycotts of television stations that use the expression “good girl?” Will she want to have the term excised from books, newspapers and magazines?
If she really refuses to allow her daughter to be exposed to such “vile” language, she will have to mount a campaign to change the way everyone speaks.
This sounds impossible, but it has happened before. In fact, it is happening now, as we speak.
No one has yet proscribed the term “good girl” but nowadays everyone calls both men and women “persons” for fear of offending the gender neutralists, and everyone uses the generic “she” in place of the generic “he” or even the more neutral “he or she” as a sign of obeisance to the Great Mother Goddess.
Unfortunately, the mother in question is also abusing Blakeley’s good manners. If a mother tells you not to address her daughter as a good girl, you will normally respect her wishes, however totalitarian they may seem.
Dare we even speculate about why “good girl” is such a bad term? Which is more offensive, the “good” or the “girl” or the combination of the two.
But why does this mother believe that “good girl” so offensive? Is she revealing her own latent misogyny? Does this woman believe that anything is better than being a girl? Or, is she at war against goodness, as in good character?
After all, Blakeley was giving a little girl a nudge toward good character. The girl had been very good at dinner; she had behaved in exemplary fashion. She deserved a compliment, so Blakeley quite properly offered it.
For her efforts, she was slapped down.
It takes a special warp of mind to guilt-trip a friend for having said something nice to your child.