I ran across an article titled It’s OK to think your toddler is a tiny, horrible person that got me thinking a bit. The article is from the perspective of a parent, a mother and author of Three Year Olds Are A**holes. In it she relegates an honest accounting of the downright sociopathic tendencies that young children can sometimes display and the trouble parents can have in understanding that children must to varying degrees learn, kindness, empathy and compassion. A three year old child is the center of it’s world after all. I’m certainly not a trained professional in the areas of psychology and neurology but I’m going to assume that several key milestones must be reached before a toddler can begin to exhibit empathy. A toddler must first understand the facial gestures of others who are experiencing sadness or discomfort, it must learn to see crying, or the facial expressions associated with worry or even pain and learn to correlate it with some sort of suffering or discomfort from the person displaying them. After a toddler is able to do this, it must then be able to put itself in the other persons place, and ask itself;
How would I feel if this were happening to me?
This is a significant task for a human being in its first few years of life, given the likelihood that everyone in it’s life tends to regard them as cute little mini-people that should be cared for and pleased at all times. It is indeed quite difficult for a child who is the center of it’s universe to attempt to comprehend the suffering of another. As time, and thus wisdom accrues, a young child will develop a much more robust understanding of cause and effect, as well as an ability to apply the concept to others. Stubbing it’s toe for the first time will perhaps allow a 3 year old to witness another person stubbing its toe, relate to the experience, and empathize with that person, but for a good while, young children are indeed extremely cute, neotenous helpless little assholes deserving of our understanding and protection. I remember taking a trip to the zoo where I was enjoying the reptile and amphibious exhibits. A couple accompanied by their son, who couldn’t have been more than four years old were in the center of a crowd that gathered at the tortoise exhibit, upon which a male tortoise, oblivious to his human observers, thought it a good time to mount a female and do his duty. Delighted at this odd behavior the three year old screamed out…
“Mommy mommy what is that turtle doing to the other one?”
Everyone at the turtle exhibit burst out laughing at this youngsters questions, as we were clearing out of the reptile area, the same little boy saw a man who clearly suffered from some sort of dwarfism and began loudly asking his mom why the man looked so silly and what was wrong with him, the man upon hearing this simply smiled, telling the mother, who at this point was profusely apologizing that it was ok.
“He’s just a kid”, he said.
What the man really meant was…
“It’s ok, he hasn’t had the requisite time and experience to empathize with a person suffering from dwarfism, give him a pass”
So, again, going back to the article, are three year olds assholes? well it can certainly feel that way when this is what your three year olds are doing:
Imagine this scenario: my three-year-old daughter, whom I love dearly, asks me to make her macaroni and cheese. “Lunch is ready,” I cheerfully announce soon after to my spirited child, who is now attempting to draw on our white walls with my $20 mascara. She stops her art project, takes one look at her lunch and proclaims, “I don’t want mac and cheese. I want spaghetti!” She then grabs the mac and cheese and throws it on the kitchen floor.
Funny of course, but if this behavior was coming from an adult whom you just finished cooking for, you would regard them as highly antisocial, possibly schizophrenic, and yes, an asshole. You will reach this conclusion about the adult because he or she should have been able to, by now, gain enough real world experience to know that it takes effort to cook, and if someone is cooking for you, it is quite a dick-move to toss it on the floor and demand something else like some spoiled child. It is the inexperience that we forgive, not the asshole-ish behavior itself.
This brings me to the topic of women, I think comedian bill burr said it best in this comedy routine starting at about 4:30
Much like the children we mentioned above, Burr explains why women get away with things that men could never get away with, he jokingly points out that a woman can walk up to a musclebound weightlifter, proceed to smack his protein shake out of his hands, and receive no real punishment for her behavior. Most men would be confused, bewildered even. Perhaps the man would mutter a verbal insult under their breath, but most likely, since of course it would be socially unacceptable to hit a woman who did this, they would likely look for the quickest way to get away from the situation and move on with their daily activities. A man however, who engaged in this behavior would most likely end up with a broken nose or a black eye.
Just like the kid and the dwarf, our society retards women’s ability to empathize with others. It does so by not allowing women, no matter how long they’ve lived to face the consequences of their own actions. Evidence of this can be found in the sentencing gap, an article titled Men Sentenced To Longer Prison Terms Than Women For Same Crimes, Study Says says the following:
If you’re a convicted criminal, the best thing you can have going for you might be your gender.
The study found that men receive sentences that are 63 percent higher, on average, than their female counterparts.
Starr also found that females arrested for a crime are also significantly more likely to avoid charges and convictions entirely, and twice as likely to avoid incarceration if convicted.
Other research has found evidence of the same gender gap, though Starr asserts that the disparity is actually larger than previously suspected because other studies haven’t looked at the role of plea bargains and other pre-sentencing steps in the criminal justice system.
A 2009 study suggested the difference in sentencing might arise because “judges treat women more leniently for practical reasons, such as their greater caretaking responsibility.”
This gentleman, is gynocentrism plain and simple, it is an appeal to the revered golden uterus, that which confers inherent worth onto women in all societies and cultures that allows society to internalize and subconsciously default to a position of leniency with regard to female crime and misbehavior. It’s why judges are more likely to rule in a feminist fashion if they have more daughters, it’s why women get welfare when they cant provide for their children and men get penalized up to and including the threat of incarceration. These are the reasons why safe haven laws exist, allowing mothers to willingly surrender their children in designated locations under the protection of legal anonymity.
These laws technically apply to both mothers and fathers of course, but it’s certainly a safe bet to assume that if it was men throwing their newborn infants in dumpsters in the majority, leaving them for dead in the process, society would take swift action, demanding that police departments form task forces dedicated solely toward tracking these men down and imprisoning them on charges of murder. Safe haven laws would be conspicuously absent from societies reaction, and would likely never even come into the conversation. Somehow, because we believe mothers are innate “nurturers” and naturally inclined toward the care of children, we gladly engage in the mental gymnastics required to keep this myth intact in the face of even the most despicable and egregious acts of maternal violence against their progeny.
A man who kills his young children is a reviled monster, a demon whose humanity is now forfeit, our society will never ask the question of why he killed, they will instead climb over each other for a chance to get in front of a camera, a social media feed, or wherever to compete over the chance to display the most ostentatious teeth gnashing directed at the offending male. It should be clear that this observation does not voice support for infanticide or violence in anyway, it is made simply to provide the juxtaposition necessary to highlight our reaction to comparable acts of female violence. The fuming outrage we reserve for men gives way to an emotional, sympathetic attitude of understanding.
Men who kill children are banished to a place of supernatural evil, evil that can never be understood fully, he’s not just an animal, subject to the rules and constraints of the animal kingdom and thus within the confines of understanding, he is instead a monster, a mythical beast found not in the realm of existence, but in lore… the implication being that he is so evil that we can only understand his evil through the faraway lens of fantasy. Women who kill however are instead meant to be explained away, they are meant to be understood, and in the process potentially absolved. They are, like the infamous Andrea Yates, victims of postpartum “depression” when she snuffed out the lives of her five innocent children.
I’m sure there’s evidence to suggest that many male mass murderers are “depressed” I’m sure some male pedophiles are “depressed”, and yet if they harm or murder children we know to automatically assume that saying they did it as a result of their depression is a giant copout. The particularly tragic issue of female pregnancy and drug addiction is a rarely explored manifestation of leniency towards women that eventually culminates in decreased responsibility for women at the expense of everyone else. Take the case of Amber Briana Smith who gave birth, as a result of her drug use while pregnant, to four infants who were born with drugs in their systems. Four out of her six children were born like this. One could make the argument that this woman should have been incarcerated way before she was allowed to birth four drug addicted children. This may sound harsh to you, but we can temper that harshness by simply offering up the attitude we take toward men in similar situations. Men, many of whom may have drug addictions themselves, can be arrested simply for not having the money to take care of children that aren’t addicted to drugs because of them. The simple act of not having the sobriety, health, or job opportunities, to give your child resources can land a man in jail, but a woman taking drugs during pregnancy that can harm her child on a physiological level on a potentially life long basis shouldn’t be thrown in jail?
These are simply the most extreme examples of how we treat women with delicate care to the point that they do not develop empathy to the same degree that men do… yes, empathy must be learned, and until we start demanding that women face the same harsh consequences men do for showing a lack of it, women will indeed be assholes.