Recently, I saw the film Mr Peabody and Sherman.
Now, this is by no means a bad film. It’s quite entertaining for adults, and a great way of sparking an interest in history for children.
But….but…there is the obligatory awful plot line.
Sherman has been bullied at school by Penny, a girl who calls him a ‘dog’ and commands him to ‘fetch’ in front of the cafeteria. Watching that, I couldn’t help imagining how my child would feel in that situation. Humiliated is the word that springs to mind.
And yet, when Sherman is telling his adopted father, Mr Peabody, about this incident, the father’s reaction is this: ‘You like her, don’t you?’
Er, what??? Your son has been humiliated by a conventionally attractive girl. Instead of empathising with him, or being indignant on his behalf, you imply that he likes her? Surely you should be encouraging him not to like her?
Let’s extrapolate this for a second. Your son is a quiet, unassuming teenager. A popular, attractive girl at school thinks it is amusing to bully him, let’s say on social networks if we want to take the physical side out of it. Vicious rumors circulate. Your son is devastated. Is it really appropriate to say, ‘you are upset about this because you like her and want her to like you too’? And if he did like her, wouldn’t you be inclined to worry that he is fixating on someone who does not deserve him?
If we switch the gender roles, the murky side of this comes to the fore. Your teenage daughter has been humiliated by her boyfriend. Perhaps he has verbally abused her. Wouldn’t you tell her that she should leave him? That a healthy relationship shouldn’t involve verbal abuse?
It’s sad that the insinuation that those in a ‘weaker’ position should have to put up with the cavalier attitude of the ‘strong’ is so prevalent. It’s not something that I want my children to accept.