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The Misogyny of “Brony”

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Brony (n): A name typically given to the male viewers/fans of the My Little Pony show or franchise. They typically do not give in to the hype that males aren't allowed to enjoy things that may be intended for females. – Urban Dictionary

I'm pissed off about the word “Brony”. Specifically the existence of the word. There are many reasons to dislike those that self-apply the name, not least because they have fetishised and pornified a children's cartoon to the point that I have to supervise my daughter searching for desktop wallpaper, but I'm cross that the word itself exists.

A portmanteau of “bro” and “pony” (and, oh, do I hate bro-culture), its very existence says that these people need to set themselves apart from the target demographic viewers of My Little Pony. That target demographic is, of course, girls. This need to self-apply a special label, for fear they may be associated with anything female focused, is an example of how society deems women and girls as second class. 

“I can't just like My Little Pony, that's what girls do. Oh no, I'm a brony, I'm a whole different thing. I appreciate it for it's animation and character driven story lines.”

As opposed to girls who, presumably, like it for the shiny colours and sparkles?

Fuck. Off.

You're terrified that liking something that primarily targets girls makes you “girly”, which patriarchy has deemed man's greatest embarrassment. So you invent a meaningless term to avoid that stigma.

My Little Pony *is* a good show. The characters *are* great. The story lines are warm and funny and full of decent lessons for our children. It's a great show for girls, because it doesn't talk down to them, and teaches them that excitement and adventure are not the sole domain of male characters. It's a great show for boys too, *for exactly the same reasons*.

If you want to enjoy My Little Pony, do it. But inventing a label just makes you look like a misogynistic prick.

And definitely stop with the porn.

My Daughter writes to Lego

Sakura (nearly 10) has been incensed that the Lego Club has started sending gender discriminatory magazines (on top of their “girls” Lego sets), so we explained to her she could write to them to let them know. The following is her letter to the Lego Club, written entirely without help (except proof read for spelling). Very proud of her.

Dear Lego Club Magazine,

I have been getting the Lego Club Magazine for a few years now, and I think it’s wrong you have started sending boys and girls different magazines. Yes, I know when Lego Friends was invented it was geared towards girls, but that does not mean that all girls in the Lego Club will instantly love it and want to get a whole magazine about it every month. My little brother gets his magazine every month and I enjoy the content in his magazine much more than the “girls” content.

Some of my favourite Lego sets are: Star Wars, Harry Potter, Hero Factory and Lego City. I am also asking for Lego Mindstorms for Christmas. My interests in Lego are not just in Lego Friends. I’m not just talking about girls, some boys (including my brother) love Lego Friends and may love to read about Lego Friends.

I think that you should give every member a choice, or, even simpler, just print one magazine with both things in it. If I had a choice, I would pick the one you’re sending to boys in a heartbeat.

Yours Faithfully,

Sakura Gibson

Teaching Our Children Only “Yes” Means Yes

I don't know what sex-ed lessons are like in school these days. It's been twenty years since I had them and neither of my kids (9 and 6) are old enough to have started them yet. Even ignoring the fact that mine were taught by convicted paedophile Lindsay Brown, they were very much of the “this goes here, this happens and babies”. I doubt much has changed. My parents, awesome though they are, weren't much better. They bought me a book after I asked why my dad had had to have an operation (it was his vasectomy). I pretty much devoured every page of that, I was probably the most technically knowledgeable twelve year old in my school, but you can pretty much forget any teachings about emotions, relationships, or any of the stuff that gets you to the part where you're ready to put all that technical knowledge to use.

Movies and TV aren't much help either. Couples look at each other and both instantly know it's on. But real life isn't like that. Most of my clumsy teenage fumblings were the result of desperately dropping hints, trying to read body language and proceeding very, very slowly in case I got a slap round the face. Hell, I lost my virginity without anyone actually asking if I wanted to. Sometimes I said no to people, sometimes people said no to me, but I don't think any of us ever said an explicit “Yes”. I never asked anyone “Is it OK if we do this?” and no-one ever asked me.

We didn't know we could ask.

This isn't right. Teenagers are confused enough about their burgeoning sexuality to have to deal with trying to second guess if the other person is 100% happy with where things are going. They shouldn't feel they have to. They shouldn't be furtive about wanting to explore sex when they want to do so. We should be teaching our children that other people aren't some mythical creatures to be tamed, we should be teaching them they are human beings, just like they are. We should be teaching them that sex and sexual desire isn't something bad or shameful and that the best sex is the one where everyone is on the same page. And the only way to do that is to teach them that they must always ask. We should teach them that it's a non-optional component. We should teach them it is normal to ask. And, bad news parents, that means you need to actually talk to your kids about sexual relationships, not just the mechanics of sex. If you can't talk about this with them, what chance have they to work it out themselves?

It's all very well teaching our girls they're allowed to say “no” (and our boys to listen to that, immediately), but that isn't really where the problem is. “She didn't say no” has let too many people get away with rape and sexual assault and has ruined too many lives. We need to teach our boys to wait until they get a “yes”, or an invitation. We need to teach our girls that it's a no until they are asked and willingly say yes. We need to ensure that everyone knows that a blurred line means no, that ambiguity or gut instinct is not enough.

We need to teach that respect means asking first.