Having a kid makes you weird
My son graced us with an early wake up of 4:30am this morning. He’s normally an early riser, about 5:30am, but even for him this spirit crushing time was early.
Eventually I conceded defeat and sat with my son in front of Peppa Pig. Because of my ongoing studies I thought I would seize this as an opportunity to do some reading whilst trying to wake up fully.
I’m currently reading “The Utopia Of Rules; on Technology, Stupidity and the Secret Joys of Bureaucracy” by the anarchist academic David Graeber. An excellent book looking at the influence and central part that bureaucracies play in our modern world; and the violence that enforces them.
Peppa Pig and Structures of Violence
Now I’m not the biggest fan of Peppa Pig. This is in part because brightly coloured cartoons with obnoxious characters are not really what you want to be subjected to at 5am. It is also in part because even for things that I really enjoy I can get tired of if I am forced to watch endless repeats.
So this is how I came to be sat with a critical, tired eye watching Peppa Pig this morning and considering how this trumped up piece of ham contributes to structures of violence; a concept that Graeber discusses. (That is, he discusses structures of violence, not Peppa Pig).
A structure of violence is described as follows;
“Structural violence is one way of describing social arrangements that put individuals and populations in harm’s way… The arrangements are structural because they are embedded in the political and economic organization of our social world; they are violent because they cause injury to people … neither culture nor pure individual will is at fault; rather, historically given (and often economically driven) processes and forces conspire to constrain individual agency. Structural violence is visited upon all those whose social status denies them access to the fruits of scientific and social progress.”
So, to cut it really short and simple, if we look at modern patriarchy and the resulting violence that 1 in 4 women experience we must look to those ‘historically given process and forces’ that have contributed to this. We have a situation in the UK where only 29% of our MPs are female, men are paid on average 19.7% more than women and in the top jobs men earn around 50% more. There are structural barriers which have led to this situation and one of the obvious barriers to women in work is childcare. Inequality of opportunity leads to seeing women as inferior and it is not hard to imagine how ultimately this could lead to violence and harm.
If you’ve not got a small child you may well have been spared from watching Peppa Pig. So if you are in this lucky position I’ll give you a quick overview; Peppa lives with Mummy Pig, Daddy Pig and her little Brother George. Peppa is very “girly” and likes her princesses and pink. George is a boy who likes dinosaurs and doesn’t like pink (as we’re made sure of in the show). Mummy Pig “works from home” whilst somehow juggling the childcare when George is inexplicably not in day care, otherwise she keeps home and takes care of the laundry. Daddy Pig is oafish, lazy and goes to work in an office and often boasts about his own sense of self-importance. Peppa Pig, like many programmes on TV or stories in the media, reinforces very tired stereotypes about gender roles and male superiority.
The obvious conclusion of course is that the cartoon Peppa Pig is entirely to blame for a situation of widespread violence against women.
…ok well off course it isn’t. But it is part of a continuing narrative which in its mass cultural collection is dangerous. Although almost certainly unintended by its creators.
Most importantly from reading this you can see the danger posed by small children preventing parents from sleeping. At 5am I am left sat with my cup of tea, my book and my growing resentment against that pig. What am I supposed to do?
You should see my critique of the dystopian nightmare of the industrial train-based world of Chuggington…
Chuggy chuggy chugger. Chuggy chuggy chugger.