Tag Archives: marriage

NY State Sen. Diane Savino on gay marriage

Really quick: courtesy of the blog Feeling Listless, I just found this video of New York State Senator Diane Savino speaking passionately and eloquently about gay marriage. She’s funny and moving. Enjoy!

[Sadly, the bill about which Savino was speaking failed by a vote of 38 to 24.]

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Gay rights and the world of Jack Chick

This term is at last coming to an end, which means I will definitely now have more time for blogging. The only problem is that while my time is plentiful, my ideas are not. So at least in the immediate future, I’m grasping at straws as to what I should write about. You may point out the obvious solution and say, You’ve gone so long without blogging; why start now? Why does it matter? And I’d be hard-pressed to give you a convincing answer. But I think the salient part is that I must write as long as I have two hands and ten or so fingers in front of me, and that’s what I’m doing!

I have some vague desires, blog-wise: I want to write, for example, about visual arts (fim, comics, painting), sexuality, social norms, something along these lines. Yesterday, while conducting some desultory online searches, I found this abominable website, Defend the Family, which is basically nothing more or less than a hate site. I don’t know why I’m so drawn to websites so full of hate – I think it’s the same, unquenchable curiosity that drives a lot of people who investigate and write about radicals, maniacs, terrorists, cultists, and what have you. It’s this desire to find out just what drives these deranged, misguided passions.

What can lead someone to throw their life away on totally futile, objectively worthless pursuits, whether it involves hurting others, hurting themselves, or just harmlessly wasting time and money? They’re definitely relevant, important questions, since they speak to the darker sides of human nature, how easily people can be drawn into supporting malicious plots that cause unspeakable horror. (Nazi Germany is a tragic object lesson is this willingness to follow and believe no matter what the price.)

So it’s a desire to answer these questions – to figure out how and why people can do and think these things – that leads me to the atrocious, horrifying white supremacist website Stormfront (trigger warning of all kinds) and to, again, Defend the Family. Which, unsurprisingly, doesn’t really have anything to do with defending anyone’s family; a more appropriate name for the site would be “Persecute the Gay.” The question here is really, What isn’t wrong with this website? A banner ad along the side hawks books like Redeeming the Rainbow and The Pink Swastika, which the website claims to be “a thoroughly researched, eminently readable, demolition of the “gay” myth, symbolized by the pink triangle, that the Nazis were anti-homosexual.” I am not making this up. Somebody actually wrote this book, and this website is selling it at $16.95 a copy. The other side of the page has a big, bright, apparently family-friendy image:

Because it turns out that sunsets, smiles, beaches, and holding hands are to gays like garlic to vampires. Who knew? For you see, in a world where homosexuality is legal and publicly accepted, men and women won’t be able to embrace each other – brides won’t be able to wear veils! – children will be forbidden from sitting next to each other. Is that the kind of world you want to raise children in (except you won’t have children because the gays will illegalize it)?! Dear lord, how terrible.

You may notice that I revert to sarcasm a lot when dealing with this kind of idiocy. Possibly explanations may be that 1) I’m a pretty sarcastic person in the first place, or maybe 2) it’s so frustrating and ridiculous it’s hard to encounter with a straight face. And yes, I know that sexual identity isn’t the same thing as race or gender, but still, I’m so tempted to imagine. What if this were, say, the 1860s, the 1910s, the 1960s, or some other era when America/the world is poised on the brink of increased equality? Could you imagine a reactionary website from back then with an image like that?

A storm is coming. Do you want teachers telling your kids that black kids are just as good as they are?

If you don’t want to be obligated to acknowledge the equality of others, that’s too bad for you. It does not mean that everyone around you should be bent to your will. Yesterday I read a blurb on this inane website mentioning something called the “Riga Declaration.” It goes like this:

Whereas freedom of religion has been protected in human rights law from antiquity, including the Charter of Human Rights of King Cyrus the Great in 539 BC, the British Magna Carta in 1215 AD, the French Declaration of the Rights of Man in 1789 and the American Bill of Rights to the United States Constitution in 1789…

[blah, blah, blah]

Whereas natural law recognizes a natural order in sexual and family matters…

[more bullshit]

Therefore, relying upon more than 4000 years of legal precedent and the moral and religious principles we share with the vast majority of the citizens of the world,

We Declare that the human rights of religious and moral people to protect family values is far superior to any claimed human right of those who practice homosexuality and other sexual deviance, and

We Call for the European Union and the international community to immediately abandon any campaign to create a human right for homosexual conduct, and to restore religious freedom and family values to their proper superior status.

Now, for one thing, this so-called “Declaration” isn’t actually anything real or significant in any way. Still, it’s pretty upsetting that some people think it is, or that it’s saying anything legitimate or intelligent. So what’s it really saying (not very coherently)? “We have a religion so your rights don’t matter.” This whole line of thinking is so obviously contradictory to the whole way democracy works; it’s impossible to reconcile wanting to live in a free society with wanting to deprive a group of their rights on such a shoddy basis – i.e., because we don’t like them.

And you know what’s even more sad about this? These claims and “declarations” and bullshit are all illogical and pointless, yet they hold sway over national law. (Just think about what happened in Maine a few weeks ago.) Recently, together with my school’s Gender and Sexuality Center and Cinema & Media Studies department, I helped out (very slightly) in bringing award-winning filmmaker Johnny Symons to campus, along with two of his films.

Daddy & Papa (2002) was very cute, based largely on Symons’ own experiences raising children and those of his friends; Ask Not (2008) was inspiring in its account of youth activism against “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and thoughtfully presented numerous counterarguments – from data, from experience, etc. – against the failed policy. I highly recommend watching these movies if you can track them down.

In the end, people like these fuckers for “Defend the Family” are simply on the wrong side of history. Freedom of religion is very important. But so are other freedoms, and there’s no good reason why anyone’s prejudices should cause others to be penalized for private, consensual behavior. (Reality check: Lawrence v. Texas struck down anti-sodomy laws as unconstitutional in 2003.) Within a few decades (at most), I dearly hope that gay marriage will be legal in all 50 states, and this whole absurd debate will be a thing of the past. Till then, I suppose, it’s just a matter of keeping the activism going full force, and not getting discouraged.

(Before I continue: I saw this great website listed on a poster in a high school a few days ago; I plan to glance over it in more detail, because I think this is a fantastic idea. As long as homosexuality is equated with negative attributes on schoolyards across the nation, there is not tolerance. Besides, thinking b4 you speak is just a good idea in general, whether you’re going to spout homophobic shit or not.)

And so, along these lines, I thought I might continue my ongoing investigation into the life and work of Jack T. Chick. The last time I wrote about Chick, I received this very pleasant surprise; if you haven’t watched the documentary yet (it’s very short and informative), I highly recommend you do that now. Chick is endlessly appealing, yet endlessly repugnant, and it’s not unexpected that his stance on homosexuality follows this trend.

Being the wacky fundamentalist he is, Chick has consistently addressed “the gay agenda” in his tracts, using the same overblown, puritanical fury he uses for everything from Halloween to not preaching exactly the right type of Christianity. His most direct take on homosexuality was 1984’s The Gay Blade, where he proved that not only was he behind the times, but that he viewed gay culture with all the accuracy and understanding of a 16th century Spaniard documenting the West Indies. Which is to say, typical Jack Chick. I think I’ll spend the remainder of this post analyzing The Gay Blade; his other two tracts primarily on homosexuality, Doom Town and Birds and the Bees, are similar in structure and content. (Wounded Children is, sadly, hard to find online, but it’s a demented classic.)

So The Gay Blade begins with a scene that you’d think would be out of some futuristic nightmare, but no! It is, in fact (I guess), a current event: a man marrying a man. Chick dismisses the fact that same-sex marriage was recognized nowhere in the U.S. in 1984, and pretends that men getting married to each other, and then rushing into waiting vehicles framed against indistinct gray backgrounds, is the greatest threat to Christendom since whatever else has made mothers cover their children’s eyes while thinking, “Gulp!”

(Incidentally, I think Chick’s tendency of making his characters think onomatopoetic words instead of say them, like normal people do, is one of his most hilarious artistic quirks – he’s consistent about it, too!)

After expressing anxiety about guys with big hair holding hands, Chick puts the issue out there: “THE GAY REVOLUTION IS UNDERWAY. To most people, it’s a big joke… but is it really?” This is pretty symptomatic of Chick’s indecisiveness: he can’t quite pick whether gays are hated now and should keep being hated, or if they’ve got the full support of our sinful society and the government behind them. He flip-flops repeatedly over the next few panels.

Note the proud lesbian – apparently being leered at by guys with crooked heads? – wearing her requisite shiny black dyke uniform. So what is it, Jack? Are homosexuals “in a display of defiance against society… suffer[ing] the agony of rejection, the despair of unsatisfied longing – desiring – endless lusting” (yes, it really says that)? Or are they basically in control, as page 6 would indicate? He seems to want it both ways. They’re oppressed (good), but they’re oppressing (bad). If you’re confused… welcome to Chickworld.

The scene then changes, as Chick takes on a trip into the past, to the last time gays were given free reign to be their bad gay selves: SODOM. We see some valiant archaeologists uncovering millennia-old carvings and immediately covering their faces. One of them cries, “Good Lord, I can’t believe my eyes, we can’t publish this. It’s filthy!” The discovery of this ancient gay porn lets Chick segue into one of his usual long Bible stories, one he’d later recount in far more graphic detail in Doom Town. Lot lives in Sodom, gets visited by angels, the Sodomites get pissed, demand that he send the angels out “that we might know them (sexually),” and in the end, everyone dies.

Chick underpins this section, which is not all that artistically interesting, with a lot of Bible citations (Genesis 19:10, Genesis 19:11, Genesis 19:24, etc., etc.) and bullshit archaeological evidence. Then, mercifully, we return to the present day, where “new laws” are encouraging gays to take the offensive by grabbing people’s arms and refusing to let go, while simultaneously resisting Christ’s power. It also leads into one of my very favorite pages from this tract.

Is it just me, or did Chick somehow make his condemnation of the gay lifestyle unintentionally sexy? I’ve heard of unintentionally funny before, but – I mean, look at her, an attractive young lesbian, defying the idiocy of the very comic she’s in! Sure, she’s got a confusingly-worded biblical passage beneath her, but your eyes wander away from “…did change the natural use…” and you start thinking, Wow! She cannot change, and she doesn’t want to! I’m convinced. Gay lifestyle it is.

After this page, the tract mentions some old canards – gay men die young because they’re violent and get AIDS (and remember, it’s just because they’re gay men, has nothing to do with centuries of systematic oppression) – quotes some more paragraph-long Bible verses, and kind of gives up and goes home. “Homosexuality is one of many sins,” explains the second-to-last page. “There are also murder, lying, adultery, drunkenness, etc.” A scathing indictment of homosexuality, to be sure: It’s in the same ballpark as murder, lying, and stuff.

So what can we learn from Jack Chick’s outdated rampage of silliness and illogic? I see it as a glance into this madly homophobic thought process that helps drive shit like what happened in California and Maine. Men holding hands are different. They’re icky. They’re the Other, and we – being good normal straight white Christians – just don’t like ’em. Besides, they’re all proud and angry and God hates them and eww, they sleep with others of the same sex.

Ultimately, what evidence does Chick really have other than pages of gay caricatures far removed from reality, and reams of vague, randomly-applied Bible quotes? His main line of argument amounts to “Gays scare me, and that makes them bad.” Unfortunately, this isn’t limited to one crazy-but-massively-influential cartoonist. If you glance over some of these help-defend-marriage websites, as I sadly have, or even just look at the one I linked to above, that’s their argument. “My religion says gay people are bad. So take away their rights.”

It’s a pretty depressing viewpoint to think about. Hatred is all over the place. Thankfully, the tide is turning, and equality is going to win the day. We just have to keep fighting, keep arguing against this hateful bullshit, and soon the day will come when kids will call each other “gay” about as often as they call each other “straight.”

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Complaints about the Watchmen movie and gender roles

So, I haven’t blogged in forever, but at last the term’s winding down, and my workload is (slowly, slightly) dissipating. Soon winter break will be here and I’ll have little better to do than spout out thoughts onto the Internet. In any case, I’ve got some random thoughts clotting up my brain: movies I’ve been watching lately, good & bad. Gender roles and perceptions. Feminism, activism, and privilege. Where to start? My ideas aren’t really in any kind of especially useful or coherent form. But I’ll see what I can do.

[Watchmen SPOILERS!]

First of all: the Watchmen movie. I wanted this to be good. I honestly, sincerely wanted to see Watchmen and enjoy it, and say, “Well, that was a worthy adaptation.” Alas, that was not to be. I know everybody went over all of this months ago, but I just now caught up with the film, so I’m going to speak my piece: I love Alan Moore’s Watchmen. I read it for the first time when I was a senior in high school. Its merits (and its influences) are endless. With Dave Gibbons’ impressive artistry and Moore’s blow-you-the-fuck-away writing, which veers between the trenchantly political, satirical, personal, and epic, it’s an ambitious, mature work of art that changed both how readers thought about superheroes, and how comics writers wrote about them.

But praising Watchmen is like bringing coals to Newcastle – it’s been declared the greatest graphic novel of all time, and so far, that claim seems at least as legitimate as calling it “the Citizen Kane of comics” (just try searching that phrase and see what comes up). My point is, I’ve loved the book for a while, loved how it lures you into its dystopian yet recognizable world and gives you pathetic has-beens to identify with (Dan and the insulated Laurie), loved its intelligently crafted images from the snow blindness of Karnak to the majesty of Jon’s Martian solitude, and loved how they all came together to form a brilliant and imaginative end result.

Then I saw the movie.

Yes, it’s faithful, but only to the letter of the original, not to the spirit. A real Watchmen adaptation (IMHO – after all, who am I?) would have acknowledged that comics are a different medium than film, so the techniques that worked so well in one just wouldn’t translate to the other. Similarly, we read comics in a different way than we watch movies. In comics, you can page back and forth, reconnecting subplots, noticing subtle visual clues, and resolving suspicions. Moore & Gibbons used this to their advantage time and time again. In a movie theater, though, you can’t slow down the pace at which you’re taking in information – it’s going to be constantly hitting you at 24 fps – and you can’t ask the projectionist to rewind to a earlier reel because you want to check something. (Maybe Watchmen can be an object lesson in medium specificity.)

Dr. Manhattan in Alan Moore's Watchmen

What this amounts to is that 1) while in the book, we could extract all the detail out of Gibbons’ art by lingering over each panel, we don’t have time for that in the movie, especially when so much jumbled, hyperkinetic action is being thrown at us and 2) the complex, interweaving strands of narrative and character development are reduced to chaotic attempts to give each character his due. Robert Altman could dart back in forth between sets of characters and do each one justice, showing the audience how they all intersect and what that means. (See Nashville, Short Cuts, or Gosford Park.) Zack Snyder just can’t. So what ended up happening?

The viewer’s assaulted with chunks of pages ripped from the book, with no chance to appreciate any of their nuances. We get one flashback, then another, then another, with a little bit of the present day thrown in for good measure. What was a fully-developed world full of unhappy, relatable people becomes a competing mix of garbled ideas, some carried out well, others not. The massive background of Watchmen, apparently tossed in as one of many efforts to please fans, instead becomes a contextless distraction. Who’s Dollar Bill? Who’s Hooded Justice? Snyder might as well have tacked a note to those scenes saying, “If you can’t tell what’s going on, go read the book, then come back.” This is by no means a stand-alone project; instead, it’s like a parasitic twin sprouting out of the Watchmen legacy.

So what the film’s unflinching “faithfulness” to the book means, in the end, is that it’s a rushed, 3-hour attempt to tell a huge story. And to paraphrase Citizen Kane‘s Bernstein, “It’s no trick to [tell a huge story], if all you want to do is [tell a huge story].” Well, OK, it is something of a trick, but my point is that Snyder doesn’t tell the story well or interestingly or in a way that adds anything to the body of cinema; he just tells it. Sure, every plot point is filled in, but they’re done perfunctorily. In the book, the ending is cathartic and daunting – with Dan and Laurie still together, two people in a shattered, confused world, and the New Frontiersman potentially about to change all that.

Dr. Manhattan in Zack Snyder's Watchmen

Having felt for these two and been involved in their lives over the preceding hundreds of pages, I could sympathize with the crises they’d faced and the uneasy point at which they’d arrived. In the movie, however, I just didn’t care about Laurie. Maybe it was fucking Malin Åkerman. Or maybe it was the way she was squeezed into all of these emotionally loaded situations – her mom popping up briefly at the beginning and end to reminisce, Dr. Manhattan with his making-you-remember-things superpower (where did that come from?) to let her know that the Comedian is her father. All the right words and pictures are there, but none of the feeling.

I’ll keep my minor complaints to a minimum: for example, why did the masked heroes call themselves “the Watchmen”? I’m not a purist who insists every detail in the book must be in the movie, but there was a reason for the group in the book to be called the Minutemen instead. The title derives from a Juvenal quote, graffiti’d on walls periodically throughout book and film, “Who watches the watchmen?”, an explicit questioning of the pre-Keene Act team’s power and lack of oversight. If the team calls itself the Watchmen, that takes away the whole critical aspect of the title, and reduces it to a simple descriptor. Of course, as Ashley pointed out, if they’d called the team the Minutemen, audiences would’ve been confused and upset, so it’s probably all for the best.

Other minor complaints: the soundtrack, dear lord. Hey, who wants another montage, action scene, or random transition set to the best of classic rock? “99 Luftballoons” appeared for about a minute as Dan and Laurie went to dinner together. You’re just left guessing what not-really-that-appropriate song they’ll turn to next. And finally, this isn’t really minor, but I can’t imagine enjoying this movie if you don’t enjoy stylized violence. All the time. Like blood splattering places for no real reason. Bones cracking in slow-motion. People being exploded by Dr. Manhattan, a lot, and having their guts stick to the ceiling. It’s not a party if no one’s being exploded.

The wrong Manhattan

So that’s my take on the Watchmen movie, and as you can imagine, I’m kinda sick of talking about it. Was it insufferably bad? Not really. Was it good? Eh. Jackie Earle Haley made for a suitably grungy, psychotic Rorschach. The general visual aesthetic worked well enough. But on the whole, especially in comparison to the book, no. Pretty much the only correct response to the existence of the film Watchmen is to go read the book. In cinematic form, it has all of its energy, emotion, and political inquiry sucked out, replaced with interminable blood-letting and tedious plot re-enactments, until you practically want to blow up New York yourself just to get it over with. (Another minor complaint: the changed ending also sucks, and it lacks the curiosity-piquing build-up of the book.) I may be a little tardy in reviewing this, but it doesn’t really matter. Maybe someday they (this mysterious “they”) will take the same route as with the 2003 Hulk, and reboot it all entirely. But given the legal quagmire this adaptation got stuck in, I doubt we’ll be seeing a brand new one any time soon.

One piece of Watchmen I did enjoy, though, was something lifted from another movie: the use of Philip Glass’s “Pruitt-Igoe” among other pieces from Koyaanisqatsi. The main effect, though, was to make me think, I want to go listen to some Philip Glass music, without Zack Snyder’s involvement. Listening to Glass makes me wish I knew anything about music. He’s called a minimalist, which makes sense to me – his compositions are often repetitive and cyclical, but beautifully so. When Godfrey Reggio approached him to score Koyaanisqatsi, he originally said he didn’t do film scores. Thank God he reconsidered, because what resulted was one of the greatest feature-length mergers of image and sound in film history. Since the film is entirely without dialogue (or narrative), the music speaks for it in a similarly universal language.

From what I’ve learned about him and heard of his music, Philip Glass is just cool. I first heard his name in connection to a new score he composed for the 1931 Dracula – I mean, how much more awesome do you get? He’s based symphonies on David Bowie albums. His score for Mishima, despite being totally un-Japanese, somehow fits Paul Schrader’s depiction of the author’s dark visions and imperial dreams. With Errol Morris’s The Fog of War, his music aurally illustrated the historical implications of Robert S. McNamara’s life. I can’t imagine a Glass score ever being a liability; I would (and have) watch a movie just to hear one. Out of all the classical musicians in the world today, I’m skeptical that any are as plainly awesome as Glass. Need proof?

That’s right, Glass composed music for Sesame Street. He’s just all over the place. And I salute his extreme versatility, ingenuity, and the great pleasure of his music. So, that done, I think I’ll take the time I have left at work to switch to a very different vein: talking gender roles, as I often do. Today in my often thought-provoking (and always very easy) Psychology of Gender class, we were watching clips of John Gray (of Men are from Mars fame) and Dave Chapelle talking about the differences between men and women. To put it directly, bullshit. In addition, fuck that. To make matters worse, last night Ashley and I were looking at a disturbing “trending topic” on Twitter: #arealwife. To give some random, unpleasant examples:

“sticks by her man thru thick or thin, rich or poor, her friends all hate him or not….”

“runs the family but acts and lets everyone think like her man is really running shit!”

“will give u a massage after a long day at work n will cook ur fave meal…. tell u she loves u n kiss u”

“will feed u, please u, need u, and always be right there for u”

Here’s what’s (obviously) wrong with this situation: these statuses are advocating deeply regressive gender roles that negatively affect both men and women. They’re claiming that “a real wife” should be subservient, sycophantic, hard-working, and sincerely caring all the time, subordinating herself to her almighty husband regardless of his behavior. It’s just a big, tiresome, worthless set of lies that people feel strangely compelled to fulfill. They’re similar to the lies we were discussing in class today: all women are [adjective], while all men are [adjective]; men and women apparently can’t talk to each other, but must do a formulaic dance in every relationship, struggling to reconcile they’re absolute goals (generally this means sex for men, and some combination of wealth, family, and commitment for women). Love, it would seem, has nothing to do with it.

And naturally feminism is very problematic, because it upsets all these supposedly universal desires of men and women. After all, if women expect to be treated like human beings, how are men supposed to degrade them and coerce them into sex? And if the men can’t do that, how are the women supposed to latch onto them for security and start producing babies? Why, feminism is just a wrench in the circle of life! It frustrates assumed life roles, it messes up how people of different sexes are supposed to relate (and really, without these schemata, how can men and women even talk to each other?), it just makes everything impossible!

That’s some extensive sarcasm, of course. I’d like to discuss this more, but I have some business to attend to for the rest of the evening. My point is that this #arealwife shit is just kind of saddening. Everyone should feel like they’re a worthy human being on their own, with no need for the validation of a set-in-stone relationship. Men and women are more similar than they are different, dammit. I feel like this should be obvious, but for some reason it’s just easier to perceive the world and relationships through the lens of oversimplifying roles. Hopefully people can gradually come to realize what confining, damaging bullshit all of this is – hell, I feel insulted when I’m told “men only want sex!” – and all of society can continue changing. I mean, we’ve made some progress in the past century. But so much of it lingers. The battle’s never over.

Moral of the story? Watchmen movie and gender roles bad; Watchmen book, Philip Glass, and liberation good.

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“Atalanta” and self-determination

So, this isn’t nostalgia for me, since I wouldn’t be born for another couple decades, but it might be for some people. This is an excerpt from a 1974 TV special called Free to Be… You and Me. Attributed to “Marlo Thomas and Friends” (other participants include Mel Brooks, Rosey Grier, and little Michael Jackson), Free to Be… is basically a series of songs and skits in the vein of Schoolhouse Rock or Sesame Street attempting to teach children about gender roles, tolerance, and the fact that they were indeed “free to be” identified with whichever gendered behaviors they chose. On the whole, it’s pretty cute, if sometimes a little nauseating or unintentionally hilarious. But the best part, without doubt, is “Atalanta,” a fairy tale cartoon voiced by Thomas and Alan Alda. Watch it for yourself.

It’s not the best-made cartoon of all time  – the animation style is low-rent and reminiscent of cheap storybooks, the music is dated, and the voicework sounds like Alda and Thomas are reading through and enjoying themselves. But it’s not bad for part of a TV special, and that’s the point anyway: it’s the moral. After decades (centuries?) of being told stories where a woman/princess is only an object of desire, caught between forces into which she can have no input, only able to hope that a handsome prince will win her hand, this is finally a fable about gender equity.

It’s an adorable fairy tale with three likeable characters (no requisite villain to be seen) that allows its protagonist’s self-determination. Among the most heartening moments: Atalanta’s correcting of her father’s decrees; John’s respect for Atalanta’s wishes; and of course the ending, when everybody really does end up happily ever after. No one is funneled into an enforced, specific type of “happiness” like that under fairy tale marriages. (E.g., what happens when Cinderella finds out that the Prince – who she’d only had a few hours’ worth of contact with before committing herself for life – has a few bad habits of his own?)

Instead, Atalanta and John get to choose their lives for themselves. They don’t blindly pigeonhole themselves into one single life choice that will decide everything else for them. The cartoon accepts that people change over time and that when you’re pretty young probably isn’t the time to make quick decisions with lifelong repercussions. It’s important to be able to go out, explore the world, discover new alternatives, beliefs, lifestyles, etc. Maybe they’ll end up settling on a more traditional mode of life. Maybe they’ll find their own way to go, distinct from all established ways of living. And maybe they’ll realize that they’re too dissimilar and pursue other people instead. As the cartoon wisely concludes, who knows?

So I highly recommend showing this cartoon to any young children or older children or really anyone you know who could still learn a thing or two about relationships and life decisions. Sometimes it’s astonishing how ignorant people can be about all the choices they have; when I can, I try to tell children, Different people can do different things. Not everyone needs to follow the same track of college, marriage, job, kids, house, etc. Some people can, and good for them, but not everybody. And maybe not Atalanta, even if she is a princess. Our birth ranks – like our genitals, chromosomes, bank accounts, and skin colors – should not determine where we end up in life. The only ones who should preside over that decision are us.

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