Not "Boy"

I watch a lot of westerns. It's not for any particular reason, not a statement about the state of today's television programming or something; I just like 'em. Just like in modern shows, there are tropes, common threads throughout each series. Every popular series must've had a doppelgänger episode, for instance. Respect is a big deal too. Men killed each other just because one "called" the other "out." I've watched hundreds of episodes, and I'm still not sure what exactly "calling out" means. People got shot for it though.

One serious offense is when someone calls a man "boy," unless fondly in a father-type way. The thing is there is no problem with calling male children "boy." I couldn't help wondering why this is. Now, often the term boy is used in the same way as son; it is kind and intimate like pa or ma or the more modern terms daddy and mommy. That's fine; that usage is not what I'm talking about. It's all the other ones.

It still had the same derogatory, sub-human meaning when used with actual boys. The fact that they were literal boys did not make the pejorative any more appropriate.

I grew up with several images and stories of the Civil Rights movement; one such image contained placards with the statement "I AM A MAN!" Of course, the main issue is that a black man or woman is still a man, that is, a member of the human race, and therefore, deserves to be treated as a human. It also bears reference to the disrespect of being called "boy" by someone who should be an equal. It denoted subservience; still does. Here's the rub: it also denoted subservience when applied to children generally and not in a fatherly manner. It still had the same derogatory, sub-human meaning when used with actual boys. The fact that they were literal boys did not make the pejorative any more appropriate.

Condescension is rude. Speaking to an adult as though she is a child is rude. Giving a child preference over an adult is rude. Clearly, a grown woman is more intelligent and experienced than a child, so a legitimate part of the offense of condescension has to do with being treated like you're an idiot. There's another part, that of being treated as a child would be, as though there is something inherently undesirable about children or child-likeness. In little ways like this we are constantly calling them not-quite-human. We say they are equally valuable, but in reality we think they are still becoming humans, that they are not fully human yet, that they haven't yet reached our level of humanness.

We say they are equally valuable, but in reality we think they are still becoming humans, that they are not fully human yet, that they haven't yet reached our level of humanness.

It's been said children should be seen and not heard. Also I am the parent; you are the child. Submission absolutely has its place; exercising proper, God-given authority is good and right and even loving. Yes, children ought to submit to their own parents; this is clear. However, children need not submit to all adults just because they are adults. This is undue authority and frankly, dangerous; some adults should not be trusted. Just as there are differences between women and men and the roles God has given to each, there are differences between adults and children. Women are beautiful and necessary; men are equally beautiful and necessary. Children also uniquely display this same beauty.

You are just a child. There are no justs among us. You cannot be just a girl or just a black or just a man or just a felon or just a punk or just a Jew or just a mistake or just a freak or just a child. Even a child is a man. We are all equally, collectively, uniquely man.