Gallery of art and thoughts

The cartoons and contemplations of a twentysomething copy editor.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Malls as "safe spaces"

This article ran in the Boston Globe earlier this week, but it's an interesting subject that deserves more discussion. Was the management of the Holyoke and Springfield malls justified in restricting access to local youth? Kaila Kuban, a UMass doctoral student, disagrees, writing, "What I am asking us to consider is not only the very blatant age discrimination at work here but also the implicit classism and racism."

Sure, it's unfair for stores in malls to target youth through merchandising, and then for mall management to limit the hours in which young people can visit. And is it appropriate, in criticizing youth for their allegedly violent behavior, to invite military representatives to malls to recruit said youth?

Kuban has brought up some good points, including the idea that malls could be a "safe space" for young people who live in unstable families. However, communities deserve stronger "safe spaces" like community centers, religious centers, etc., where youth can participate in more fulfilling opportunities and have access to role models that they will probably not find in malls. Of course, it's healthy for kids to have fun, too; I enjoyed walking around the Meadow Glen Mall in Medford when I was younger.

Also of interest: Theodore Dalrymple writes on Ibsen in City Journal. Having read both "Hedda Gabler" and "A Doll's House" (and having seen the latter on stage while in college at Harvard), I was interested to read Dalrymple's insights. Yes, the great playwright's characters make decisions that are great for the individual but disastrous for the larger community. He quotes Nora Helmer upon her realization that she must leave her family: "I don’t want to see the children. ... As I am now I can be nothing to them." Dalrymple adds, "And with these chilling words, she severs all connection with her three children, forever. Her duty to herself leaves no room for a moment’s thought for them." It's no surprise that children of divorce who read this play may have far less positive reactions than many feminists of the 1960s.

I'm not trying to criticize feminism or Ibsen. I only wish to point out that, yes, marriage is a flawed institution, but ending a bad marriage can be only a partial solution and may create new problems, especially when children are involved.


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