Why Social Media Can’t Save Wonder Woman or Us

wonder-woman-social-mediaThis looks like a job for … some social media outrage!

Parents were riveted to last month’s story about a girl banned from bringing her Wonder Woman lunch box into school. Turns out the school has a policy about violent images inside the building.

Here’s the school’s official response to this lil’ outlaw:

“The dress code we have established requests that the children not bring violent images into the building in any fashion – on their clothing (including shoes and socks), backpacks and lunch boxes,” the letter continues. “We have defined ‘violent characters’ as those who solve problems using violence. Superheroes certainly fall into that category.”

The letter was posted anonymously on Instagram, and the story quickly earned its viral bona fides. What was the violent image in question? Suffice to say it was a picture of a curvy superheroine striking a cool pose – with nary a bad dude/dudette in sight.

I confess I didn’t see anyone defending the school’s decision. If such voices exist, it’s clear they’re in the minority.

So what changed as a result of all those furious Facebook posts, those tormented Tweets? We can’t know for sure, but likely not much. That’s how our social media outrage often works. Parents get all bent out of shape about some cultural outrage, we sound off on Facebook/Instagram/Twitter/Fill-in-the-Blank and then … nothing. It’s out of our systems. Social media can force celebrities to apologize for their unique brand of Foot in Mouth disease. In other ways it’s as useless as a misspelled hashtag.

Which reminds me what I may be up against in the months to come.

The Battle on the Home Front

I’ve had a darn near perfect relationship with my sons’ schools so far. Love the teachers, my fellow parents and every morsel of the experience. I didn’t even mind the slow march that was last year’s child pickup process. That won’t last. Someday soon I’ll disagree with a punishment, lesson plan or other school minutiae. I’m ready for that. I expect it. Perfection doesn’t last.

But what if a Wonder Woman-type scenario struck my school? Would I shrug my shoulders and wish it away? Would I even have the time to fight back?

That’s where things get complicated. Parents have dozens of chores large and small on any given day. I’m no different. So do I really want to add protesting a lunch box policy to that list?

But if I don’t, and my fellow parents stand down, what happens next? These kind of P.C., kneejerk decisions multiple and fester. Soon, a banned lunch box will sound quaint. After all, what lesson does the lunch box mafia represent? Violence is always wrong? Tell that to the heroes of World War II. Violence is often wrong, but context is everything.

Wonder Woman uses her strength to protect the innocent. Since when is that something to be shamed? That takes courage, something I hope my children learn both at school and home. And it doesn’t have to result in violence. It could be the courage to stand up to a bully … or an unfair teacher … or another injustice.

I may never face a situation where I need to make my voice heard. If I do, and I stand down, then I have only myself to blame for what happens next. We all do.

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