The Real Loser

There’s an expression that hard times help you discover your true friends. I agree.

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Toy Story No More

One of my favorite trilogies is Pixar’s Toy Story. I love the first three movies, the third being my most favorite, and I like the shorts they had. I was never interested in Toy Story 4 because, to me, they ended the trilogy perfectly. On top of that, Toy Story is one of those rare series where the sequels are better than the original. You cannot beat that! But they tried.

And in my opinion, they flopped.

The only reason I watched this film is my boyfriend likes it and wanted to watch it with me. I figure maybe I’ll be surprised, so I said yes and we watched it during a sleepover. I was surprised, but not pleasantly.

The only parts of this move I enjoy are the flashback montage at the beginning, and Bo Peep. I love her character, and I didn’t expect to because, while I have always liked Bo Peep, I never liked her more than any of the other toys (Jessie is my favorite, and Buzz before her). However, in my opinion, Bo Peep is the sole reason this movie is worth watching. She’s still not my favorite overall, but she’s my favorite in this film.

I can’t decide which is more annoying in this film: Woody, or the romantic plot. I never enjoyed romantic plots, even as a teenager, and ironically, they are more annoying now that I have my own steady relationship. But depending on how they’re done, they can be enjoyable. This one, however, was only a nuisance. And no, I don’t believe romance weakens an action girl (I just said I have my own!). My issue is when it takes over everything. Which it did here.

And that brings me to Woody. I like Woody in every film except this one because he is an utter idiot! I was glad Bo Peep called him out on his actions, but really, after the first scene with the antique shop, I could not stand Woody anymore. The entire movie after that scene happens because Woody is a blundering fool!

I am not trying to knock down those who love this movie, but you can’t say everything after the first scene with the antique shop isn’t Woody’s fault because the rest of the movie wouldn’t have happened if he didn’t go in there. He got Forky back, and finally convinced Forky he was valuable as a toy, so Forky is willing to stay. But after going through all the hell of bringing Forky back, Woody suddenly decides a tiny chance of seeing Bo Peep is more important than Bonnie, despite how much he preached that importance just a scene ago, and that we saw he still misses Andy.

This is what makes me hate romance plots. Yes, real people make stupid decisions in the name of love. But again, Woody’s stupidity is the sole reason the rest of the movie happens. And no, the resolution does not make me hate that less. At the very least, take Forky back to the RV before going into the antique shop. But the movie couldn’t exhibit Woody’s chronic hero syndrome if he used common sense. My point is there’s a difference between a single lapse in judgment and having the intelligence of wall plaster.

Gabby Gabby. I am enjoying the trend of movies with no villains, so I like that she is more morally questionable than outright villainous (kind of like Elsa in the first Frozen, though Elsa’s questionable actions are either unintentional or done with selfless intent), and I do like she finally gets an owner. I admit I felt for her when Harmony rejected her. But otherwise, I don’t think much of her. I like her for what she is, but that’s really all I can say.

I don’t like the ending, but with Woody’s obsession with Bo Peep, it was probably the best ending.

I do enjoy the film’s concept of lost toys, however. The previous films depicted not being loved by a child as a tragic thing, so it is nice that not all lost toys are devoid of hope and can have a good life outside of a child’s bedroom. At the same time, Gabby’s desire to be owned by a child isn’t shamed and is shown to be as valid. I see it as a metaphor for commitments (career, marriage, parenthood, etc) versus freedom. It’s okay if you want to be a free spirit and go wherever chance takes you, and it’s okay if you’d rather settle down into a more (presumably) comfy and stable life. Neither is better than the other, and neither makes you better than someone who chooses differently. We definitely need more “live and let live” messages in society. Even when Bo Peep calls Woody out on his actions, it’s his selfishness, his disregard for his actions hurting his friends, she calls him out on, not his need to help Bonnie (which he sees it as an attack of).

Speaking of which, I admit that’s another topic the movie does tackle well: toxic loyalty. In real life, relationships are (or should be) built on mutual love, trust, and respect. Bonnie no longer had interest in Woody, but Woody was still willing to go to ridiculous lengths for Bonnie’s happiness simply because he could not accept he isn’t her favorite toy like he was Andy’s. Through Woody’s stupidity, this is shown as a bad thing, and it’s what Bo Peep calls him out on. As much as I dislike this film, that is a very good message for kids: be wary of who you give your loyalty to. Yes, we’re talking about a 5 to 6-year-old girl and her toy, but close enough.

All in all, I give Toy Story 4 a plus for Bo Peep, its positive messages, and realistic child behavior. Everything else is a “meh”, and Woody is an absolute negative.

When those “like other girls” are bullies…

Recently, I asked my boyfriend’s opinion on the backlash against “not like other girls”. Like me, he knows how it feels to grow up bullied and being treated differently, and struggling to accept those supposed differences, so I had to ask what he thinks of it suddenly being a bad thing to not be like the others.

His answer? “Hypocrites. They spent so much time hating others for their differences. Now, they suddenly want to unite and say we’re the same? What changed?”

I never thought of it that way, but I do agree.

A question I’ve posed lately on posts and groups about this topic is if a girl who grew up hearing constantly from other girls that she isn’t like them, was excluded and ostracized from groups in general, and wanted nothing more than to be like the other girls becomes a “not like other girls” girls when she finally gets fed up of failing to fit in and tries to embrace those differences that make the other girls reject her.

So far, I have received no answer to that question. Which further makes me agree with my boyfriend and believe the backlash against “not like other girls” is utter garbage.

No, I don’t want to be like the other girls who took joy in making my school life hell. No, I don’t want to be friends with the girls who mocked my appearance on a daily basis. Yes, I will proudly be “not like other girls” when the other girls spread vicious rumors about me, stole my lunch food, tossed my backpack out of a school bus, and never received consequences for their bullying behavior.

It was cool for girls (and boys) to bully, exclude, and antagonize a girl for not being like them. Now, it’s cool to do it when the girl is finally fed up and decides she doesn’t care if she’s not like them. It sounds to me like it’s okay for the other girls to decide she’s not like other girls, but it’s not okay for a girl to decide for herself she isn’t like the other girls… even if she has never stopped hearing it.

If the girl can’t fit in because the other girls deem she’s not like them, and she can’t embrace whatever those differences are because she is like them, the final option is for that girl to live her life hating herself. Poor girl.

To me, this is akin to the bully who beat you up and slammed you in a locker every day suddenly claiming to be a better person because he found God/Jesus/religion. I can’t help wondering how many of these preachers against “not like other girls” were the girls who bullied other girls for not being like them, and are now shaming those girls for deciding they no longer care if they’re not like them. Because if those girls finally accept what their bullies have told them and actually embrace it – that they are not like them and their group, and they are going to be proud of that – their bullies can’t bully them anymore about being different anymore. So, shame them for that pride and tell them they’re the same. And meticulously leave out how and why those girls became “not like other girls” girls to begin with.

In short, as far as I’m concerned, the preachers against “not like other girls” can fuck off. You didn’t want to my friend when I wanted nothing more than to be yours and join your circle. I’m not a crying elementary schoolgirl in her little blue uniform anymore. I don’t want to be your friend now that you suddenly deemed we are alike after all. Just don’t break your arm patting your back for being “inclusive” now.

Children’s Consent

My boyfriend and I had an interesting argument. Not the good meaning of “interesting”.

The topic of pierced ears and children came up. I’m well aware ear piercing is essentially harmless and it’s very common, but I’ve personally never liked the idea of piercing an infant’s ears because it’s purely cosmetic and the only reason for is tradition.

Unfortunately, my boyfriend likes tradition. His reasons for it amount to tradition, superstition (it’s supposed to bring good luck), and a baby won’t remember it anyway.

First and foremost, I believe if “they won’t remember it” is an argument for anything, it’s probably not a good thing.

More importantly than that, my biggest reason, aside from it being a needless cosmetic procedure, is that I’d prefer waiting until my (non-existent) child is old enough to understand what ear piercing is and consent to do it because it’s her (or his) ears that will have a needle or gun shot through them. But my boyfriend threw all of that down in the name of “tradition”, saying he didn’t understand why waiting until a child is old enough to consent would be necessary.

That’s where I officially had a problem.

“Just because it’s what’s done doesn’t mean it’s what should be done!” – Cinderella, 2015

My boyfriend deemed my value of a child’s ability to consent and understand what will happen to their body to be irrational. I deemed his reasons of tradition and superstition to be sentimental, and a child’s supposed lack of memory (fun fact: studies have proven children as young as three months old can form memories) to be an archaic idea.

Should I ever change my mind about parenthood, it will spell the end of our relationship, even if he also changes his mind, because someone who values tradition and sentiments above a child’s well-being, even for a matter that’s supposedly harmless, is not someone I want to raise children with. The perhaps ironic thing here is he says it’s not a big deal. If that’s the case, why the rush to pierce a child’s ears before they have the ability to consent to the procedure? If it’s not a big deal, why is “they won’t remember it” a reason for it? If it’s really not a big deal, remembering the pain shouldn’t be an issue.

He stated the pain will go away, which is true. But he stated this in the same vein as “they won’t remember”. Never mind the pain will also go away for an older child, a teenager, or an adult.

And yes, I had my ears pierced as an infant, at seven months old. Considering I very rarely wear earrings, I really wish I hadn’t. On a different note, can someone please explain the borderline obsession with cosmetic procedures, especially about an infant?

Let’s be honest: it’s to make the adults feel good. It is not for the baby because the baby cannot grasp what’s going on, why, or give consent. It’s for the adults to fawn over and feel special. In the end, he said he would get a (female; of course, not male) child’s ears pierced as an infant because every woman in his family has done it. With that type of thinking, I’m surprised he isn’t a parent. After all, if he does something because everyone else does, why hasn’t he had a child thus far? That’s definitely something everyone (or almost everyone) in his family has done.

My frustration is I find this argument to be a sign of a bigger problem: my boyfriend doesn’t think. I don’t hate tradition itself, but this isn’t a tradition like putting up a Christmas tree for December 25th. This is a tradition that affects someone else (yes, babies and children are people). And no matter what reasons I presented, even pointing out factually that babies do have memories (whereas he had none they didn’t), they were drowned out in the name of tradition. That scares me. If he deems tradition and superstition to be of greater important than logic, consent, and autonomy, and believes someone’s potential lack of memory justifies bypassing their willingness, what else does he believe? What does he believe about me?

I said if we did have a child and he pierced our child’s ears without my knowledge or mutual agreement, I’d divorce him. His response to this was: “Jeez… So much for death do us part.”

I agreed two years ago to marry him. I may need to rethink if I can spend the rest of my life with someone whose primary concerns are tradition and sentiments.

Why I’m Done With r/childfree

I was a part of the Reddit’s childfree subreddit for four years. The subreddit has a (well-deserved) bad reputation. Of course, every group has its share of awful people. The problem is the awful ones are the loudest. It reached the point the subreddit was the focus of an article on Daily Dot.

For the most part, I tried to ignore the more toxic posts because overall, I did enjoy the subreddit, but I finally found the one that made me say “I quit”. For the sake of not bringing it more traffic, I will not share the link, but I did screenshot it.

You could say this is just one person, and that’s true. But much of the subreddit was hugely in agreement, and anyone who objected was downvoted to the point their comment was hidden or deleted. The subreddit hates “breeder pleasers” – childfree people who do not hate children, or like them – almost as much as they hate the existence of parents and children. The idea is a childfree person who likes kids or doesn’t hate them is justifying their lack of desire to be a parent. Or, you know, simply likes kids and is okay with saying that.

Aside from the obvious, the biggest problem with the sub is many of them proclaim they hate to be judged, but do the exact same thing about parents and children, and will defend it with the excuse of needing to vent. Putting aside the utter absurdity of being irritated at someone’s mere existence (especially when they are not bothering you), this person is proud they sound like a borderline sociopath (“I’m selfish. I’m unsympathetic. I am that monster”), and the majority of the subreddit agrees this is okay.

Hilariously (not the good funny), this person insisted they shouldn’t be judged based on this one post, and hating parents and children isn’t the center of their being. A child’s mere existence is bothersome to you, but hatred doesn’t rule your life. Right…

It’s not so much the post as the nearly united agreement in the comments that was the straw that broke the camel’s back for me. Even if I continue to consider myself childfree (yes, I’m debating that), I have no desire to be part of any community that’s ultimately a hive mind. No, I don’t think it’s okay to be angry at the world because someone under age eighteen dares to exist in your space. No, I don’t think it’s okay to be a narcissist, let alone proud of it. And no, I absolutely don’t think hating parents and kids is prerequisite for considering yourself childfree. If my account wasn’t four years old, I’d delete it and make a new one just to have any and all posts from r/childfree out of my history. I genuinely want nothing to do with the subreddit anymore.

I have no children, nor do I intend to have any, but this person, and every person in the comments who thinks it’s a “brave” post for its honesty, is someone I hope I never cross paths with.

One of the several agreeing comments: I just can’t fathom enjoying being around the disgusting things.”

The reason this ticked me off a bit is children are not things. Perhaps if they stepped outside their circlejerk, the idea children could be pleasant company to some people wouldn’t be so unfathomable.

Another: “The Victorians had the right idea. Children should be seen but not heard and speak only when spoken to.”

I’ve ranted about that phrase twice before, so it should be obvious why this particular one bugs me. No, children are people who deserve respect and kindness as much as any adult, and if this is what the adults have to say, I’d much rather hear the kids talk if I have to listen to anyone. At least, they’re cute.

While there are extremists who believe not having kids is a sin or evil or any number of negative adjectives, r/childfree’s reputation isn’t because it’s a spot for people who don’t have kids. It earned that reputation by turning from a support community for those who dealt with real pressure (from family, friends, or conservative communities they lived in) into an echo chamber for confirmations their irritation that a child is alive on the planet is okay and normal. And apparently, they’re proud of it, so even they can’t argue any longer the sub’s reputation is undeserved. They want it like that.

Reddit as a whole isn’t known for being a friendly place, but that’s par for the course for social media in general. The childfree subreddit, however, is undoubtedly one of the worse areas. At the time I’m writing this, it has 663,625 followers, so one person leaving has zero impact, but I don’t want to have an impact.

Reading some replies to deleted comments I missed, it seems some of them felt the need to insist none of them want to hurt children and none of them would. I really want to believe that, but some years ago, there was a case of a father who murdered his young child and police discovered that subreddit in his browsing history. Someone who’s bitter and vindictive toward parents for no other reason than them being parents, and hates children “with literally every molecule in [my] body” (but supposedly, this hatred isn’t the center of their life), sounds very much like someone who, at the very least, would relish in hearing about child’s death, if not out to be the one who causes a child harm.

There is a subreddit called “true childfree“, which is not as active, but not toxic either (and unsurprisingly, it’s not liked by r/childfree). In the Daily Dot article, one of the mods stated you can filter out the hateful posts (which is true), but that doesn’t really change that the subreddit is a toxic pool. It merely hides the poison.

The upside is, assuming most of the subreddit’s followers are American, that’s about 0.2% of the population. Chances are I never will cross paths with these folks. Good.