Michael Morones is caught between life and death after a suicide attempt. Here’s why, and what you can do to help.
As ChicagoNow reports, 11-year-old Michael Morones is currently on life support after attempting to hang himself recently. He was the target of near-constant harassment and bullying from his peers, and seemingly felt he couldn’t take any more.
He didn’t get bullied because of his strong religious feeling, or his love of music. He got bullied, got called every ugly name for a boy who doesn’t perform masculinity hard enough for the bullies’ satisfaction, because he likes My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. Specifically, his favorite pony is Pinkie Pie, the energetic party planner who loves nothing better than putting smiles on other people’s faces.
For the uninitiated, this is a show about magical ponies in a magical pony kingdom who have adventures and learn lessons about friendship. It’s marketed to young girls, but unlike too much media in that category, it’s really well-written, funny and sincere with engaging characters and good stories.
And that makes it a threat. Because guys liking girl stuff is, must be, horrible and evil and wrong. Otherwise the entire fragile edifice of performative masculinity might turn out to be hollow. Much better to bully a child to suicide than ever admit or even consider that possibility.
Some of what’s going on here is old-fashioned gender enforcement via bullying, the enforcement of femmephobia on a young boy. Some of it, though, is a backlash against something more specific. My Little Pony has been the subject of endless trend pieces and internet flamewars specifically because of the perceived novelty of guys liking a girl thing.
Girls are allowed to like guy things, because on a deep femmephobic level we feel like that’s trading up, going for something cooler instead of something worse. But if the reverse happens, even once? Why, that’s just so amazing and unusual and unique that we have to talk endlessly about it, dissect how it could happen, and if possible find ways to imply that adult male fans of the show must be pedophiles or something, because there’s no way they could like a girl show otherwise.
And every time we do that, we empower the kinds who bully boys like Michael Morones. They absorb the idea that it is right and proper to consider such behavior abnormal, weird, potentially threatening. So they wheel out the whole junior-high arsenal of pain and degradation and, inevitably, another Michael gets pushed past his breaking point.
Fortunately, there are things we can do to try to make this less of a tragedy than it might be. The ChicagoNow article lists several helpful suggestions, based on things that Michael’s coma seems to be responding to. There’s also a fundraiser here to help cover the costs of Michael’s treatment and hopeful rehabilitation. Right now, this minute, you can do something to in small part redress this terrible wrong.
Just don’t make a donation and then push another trend piece about those weirdo bronies, because that’s not actually helping.