So, my husband has decided to take the children to the library once a week for an educational daddy activity. They went yesterday and, for some reason, there was a display about abolition and the women's suffrage movement. (This isn't women's history month or black history month, so I'm a little lost about that--anybody know?) My daughter wanted to get the books from the display to read. There was one about Harriet Tubman and one about Elizabeth Cady Stanton. They start to read the book and on one page there is picture of a man grabbing a black woman and a white woman by the arms and he's holding keys. The Babydoll asks why the man is holding the women and why he's holding keys. Hubby tells her that a long time ago women weren't allowed to hold keys, so they were in trouble because they tried to get the keys and now he was taking them away.
First of all, I'm going to have to go to the library to figure out what this display is all about. Secondly, I'm also going to have to get a hold of this book to find out what in the world is going on in this picture. He never sufficiently explained just what the deal is with these keys. His explanation to The Babydoll made very little sense to me. He didn't even know who Stanton was before this book (I'm loathe to admit that, but he's a math man and a little bit clueless about anything humanities related). There is a sort of accidental metaphor in there, but I'm not sure either of them is aware of it.
Anyway, the point of the story is that The Babydoll had this horrified look on her face for the rest of the book. On each page, she kept asking if the man would let them hold the keys now. It's not fair, she said.
I felt so sad for her and this moment when she had to connect herself with injustice. I know that she's four years old and can't possibly fully contextualize either slavery (which Hubby skirted past because he really didn't have a way to explain that) or sexism, but she knew that something was wrong. The horror on her face was merited. And I know that the depth of that horror will grow as she grasps just what all that this unfairness means. But I hope that she never loses that sense of horror; it will help her save herself from, as Audre Lorde wrote, being crunched by other people's fantasies of her.
I also hope that she doesn't develop some irrational fear of keys.
5 years ago