“Free to be… You and Me” is a 1972 children’s album created in part by Marlo Thomas, daughter of St Judes Research Hospital founder, Danny Thomas. In this album, Thomas and friends sing songs that cater specifically to the needs and interests of young children. This is a watershed album, marking the rise of a new wave of thinking regarding the concept of children’s rights. The title song features a line, “there’s a land that I see where the children are free.” This theme is echoed throughout the piece. This brings up a very important question, and one which we have to answer to ourselves with complete honesty: should kids have rights?
This album has caused a lot of controversy; some parents find it too radical. It proposed alternatives to systems and behaviors that are integral to the American Dream. And honestly? I agree. I mean, who do these Hollywood liberals think they are, telling me how to raise MY kid? Challenging MY gender roles, and MY cultural biases?
Arguably the most important and iconic song on the album is performed by our Lord and Savior, Diana Ross. “When We Grow Up” is a lovely, lilting tune with themes regarding visual analyses of worth. “I don’t care if I’m pretty at all, and I don’t care if you never get tall; I like what I look like and you’re nice small, and we don’t have to change at all.” Ahem, Diana, that’s all well and good, but it also seems insincere coming from one of the most beautiful women in Hollywood. Maybe if you lived half a day with my face, you’d understand why it’s so important to dream about being pretty. Aside from that, what is there for a woman to dream about OTHER than being pretty? Isn’t that what we’re manufactured for– to be pretty and serve beers?
As we all know, a proper American household requires one man and one woman to be unhappily wed and churn out a couple of spawn. Another song on the album is “Parents are People” Are they? Do parents reeeeallly exist outside of their kids? Beyond that, we should be honest with ourselves: should parents have rights?… How could Harry Belafonte let me down like this? “Housework” is performed by Carol Channing. This song further dissects the dynamics of the household, this time focusing on the role of the woman. Channing describes a commercial in which a good wife shows off her favorite brand of soap. Channing, who has probably never kept a house, says that the only reason why the wife in the commercial is smiling is because “she’s an actress! And she’s earning money for learning those speeches…” This egregious outburst suggests to the youth of America that our comfortable capitalism, which we have been spoon feeding them for centuries, is less-than-perfect. Aside from that, she then goes on to suggest to the youth of womanhood, future wives and girlfriends, that they should Not do all of the work for the men of our species. I meannnnnn,,, let’s be real here: should women have rights? I don’t know, y’all. I just don’t know if we could handle it.
As if to make me even madder, “It’s Alright to Cry” suggests to the young men of our society that having emotions is acceptable, and that even Men should be willing to SHOW their emotions. ????????? Let’s get one thing clear– if any of you sissies cry, I’ll give you something to cry about. This also brings me to another important point in my argument: should men have rights– particularly when it comes to expressing emotions? I vote no.
And then the pièce de résistance. “William’s Doll” is a song that not only suggests that boys and girls should have access to the same toys, but that one can select toys that are not designed for one’s gender without being a flagrant homosexual. You may have met a boy who plays with dolls, or a girl who plays with cars, but when was the last time you met a boy or girl who plays with dolls AND cars? Imagine, as the song suggests, a boy who is simultaneously good at sports and has a desire to nurture? Unnatural. Doesn’t Exist.
In conclusion, nobody should have rights and y’all should get comfortable in the roles gifted to you by our capitalist society. Little boys, there is no masculinity outside of sports and aggressive behavior. Little girls, there is no world outside of the home, that’s a myth from the fuckin Hollywood hippies to get you to stop shaving your legs and armpits. Children were meant to be seen and not heard, can’t we get back to those good ol days? (And while we’re at it, I’d like to not hear from men or women, either)