Some people think we’re rather odd for avoiding buying firearm toys for the Lad. Some of them, politely, keep it to themselves. Others make loud, condescending Pfffft! noises, and spit rather scornfully at us for being “first-time” parents trapped in our own la-la-land of unrealistic self-expectations and ridiculous ideals. “But all boys make weapon toys”, they say, “whether they’re exposed to weapons or not. They’ll make a gun out of a piece of toast. Why not just buy them the toy guns in the first place? Give in now, ya wallies!”
Whether they’re exposed to them or not? Does weapon culture inevitably arise from whole cloth, writ into the genes, in each generation? More importantly, how would any of us know? The language of violence is everywhere. Everywhere. Short of locking a newborn in a room empty of windows and media, they will soak it up from the environment – they don’t need to invent it.
This gallery brought that home to me today, with a sickening *thud*. It’s a smorgasbord of everyday images of aggressive domination. The stuff that is subliminal to most of us now – that our kids are soaking in. Statuary, James Bond posters, green Hulk hands, video games, war movies, military parades, media images of the Iraq war, the glorification of colonialism, foxhunts, Crusade imagery, baby camouflage gear, severed-finger lollies, violence against children, images of sexual domination. Ripped out of context and juxtaposed, it’s a litany of hostility that induces instant nausea and a creeping horror.
So I don’t buy capguns and plastic AK-47s and GI-Joes. I’m going to keep not buying them. And I’m going to keep reinforcing to the Lad that if he insists on playing “hunters”, he is hunting for food animals only, and in no circumstances does he ever, EVER point his tuba-gun or his finger-gun at people, even in play. Ever.
We’re surrounded by images of sexual violence, but that doesn’t mean I should buy my preschooler an abduction-and-rape game kit with toy rope, duct tape, and a knife. So why should I buy him murder-rehearsal tools?