The thought processes of many young children are pretty remarkable before they are thoroughly socialized to incorporate society’s conventions. At the age of five or six, for example, with innocence and honesty, they maintain clear critical faculties before these tend to fade at each consecutive level of socialization in acceptance of dominant hegemonic ideologies.
I remember my five-year-old self asking my mother: “Mommy, how can people be beside themselves? That’s kinda creepy. Is it magic?”
My mother explained to me that “it is just an expression. It doesn’t mean that people are actually beside themselves. It means that people are upset when they say it.”
“So why don’t people just say they are upset?” I responded.
All these many decades later, I am grateful that a specific part of my childhood mind and critical consciousness have remained with me. This has allowed me to expose things merely taken for granted by many people and to make the invisible known, at least to myself.
Placing myself in those earlier times, I can imagine some of the critical questions my five-year-old self might ask today:
- Why does “mankind” represent all people, but “womankind” only represents women?
- Why is it called “suits” for men, but “pant suits” for women?
- Why is it acceptable for men to wear kilts or kaftans but not skirts or dresses?
- Why is it acceptable for young males to play with action figures but not to play with dolls?
- Why are males still socially thought of as the stronger sex but women as the weaker sex?
- Why is it acceptable for men to go naked to the waist in public but not for women?
- Why is it permissible for women to dress in formal wear with uncovered shoulders and breast cleavage showing, but men are usually covered to the neck?
- Why is it generally appropriate for men to wear ties and dress in drab-colored clothing while women can dress in brightly-colored outfits?
- Why do women’s clothing and accessories generally cost significantly more than men’s for basically the same thing using the same materials?
- Why do most people find it necessary to know, for sure, the sex assigned to people at birth that they meet, and they feel uncomfortable if they are uncertain?
- Why do heterosexuals have “lives,” but LGBTQ+ people have “lifestyles?”
- Why is “heterosexual” seen in the public imagination as representing love, but “homosexual” and “bisexual” are seen as representing sex?
- Why do some clothing brands still market one of their color choices as “nude” or as “flesh,” representing shades of beige?
- Why do some people warn of Islamic Sharia law while simultaneously imposing their form of Christian law through legislation and judicial decisions?
- Why are the Jewish Bible, the Christian Bible, and the Quran considered as the “Words of God” within their respective religions, but Ancient Greek, Ancient Roman, Ancient Egyptian, and all Indigenous religions and spiritual systems considered as myths or superstitions?
- Who gets to decide what is normal and natural?
- Why do people generally construct reality and think in terms of binaries or in only two choices when the universe presents an unlimited and diverse array of marvels to behold?