New Internationalist

No Kidding

June 1986

new internationalist
issue 160 - June 1986

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Children are children; adults are adults. These pages are
for NI readers who don't fit into either of these categories.

Not only fun and games

Life-styles show - amongst other things - how fashion-conscious you are (or whether you think clothes don't matter), your interest in politics (or lack of it) and how rich or poor you are.

Teenage life-styles cover that 'in-between' period between being a child and being an adult: they show what sort of adult you can (and want to) become. It's easy to think that teenage life-styles in the West give people in the rich world complete freedom, but we don't think things are that simple. Life-styles are like a card-game, in which you have to make the best of the hand you've been dealt. Your choices are limited, and skill is needed if you are to feel that you've made a success of your life.

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You play by figuring out what you want from life, and then working out a way to get it. Winning a round, or a trick, means that you've got more control of your life. Aces, Kings and Queens have the highest value; ones, two and threes the lowest.

Hearts show the start you had in life; whether you were born into a rich or poor family, your sex and your race.

Spades show whether your schooling helps you to pass exams or not.

Clubs show whether you stand a chance of getting a job

Diamonds show whether you can find friends who share your point of view, and can help out when things get tough.

A joker means that you've lost control often because of things you do very little about - like discrimination or unemployment

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Jane needs to test her feminist views in the outside world, where she will constantly get up people's noses.


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King of Hearts: Trendy parents give Jane every encouragement.

10 of Spades: A private all-girls school enabled Jane to get good exam results

King of Clubs: Jane is likely to go to university and get a good degree, and the chance of swell-paid job.

8 of Diamonds: Jane has left-wing and feminist views, and spends as much time with girl friends as with boys and listens to Joan Armatrading and Joni Mitchell.

The Joker: Jane slowly realises that she's more attracted to women than men. She's happy to be a lesbian, but will encounter all sorts of prejudice from those who think she's 'abnormal'.


Tricks won: Becoming a feminist allows Jane to understand why most women get a rotten deal. Jane is confident enough to enjoy the times when she is not 'going out' with anyone. She does not fell odd for being on her own.

Tricks lost: It's difficult succeeding as a feminist in a career dominated by men. Jane drops out from law-school.

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Coping with a job-market that rejects him, and a society that dismisses his views as just a 'phase'


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Queen of Hearts: Both parents would prefer Sean to stay on at school

7 of Spades: Went to an inner-city school which didn't help him pass exams, but opened his eyes to how politics affects us all.

2 of Clubs: Sean has little chance of being kept on after his apprenticeship finishes.

8 of Diamonds: Sean became a punk-anarchist wears black, listens to bands like The Ramones and has lots of friends.

The Joker: Because he has his hair cut in a Mohican, Sean will encounter prejudice and hostility at work and on the street.


Tricks won: Unemployment doesn't affect Sean's life-style. 0 Sean gets support from hanging around with other punks. By ignoring others' disapproval he has found a set of life-long friends

Tricks lost: Sean's lack of money, due to unemployment, will mean that he has to eat cheaply and that he can't afford new clothes or records.

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If Mark is to make friends and be more fulfilled he needs to change. But with everything going his way, why should he?


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4 of Hearts: Mark's Dad shows \mark no affection. His Mum is very fashionable but often ets depressed being stuck at home.

9 of Spades: Mark attends a local school in and expensive suburb but it doesn't teach him much about difficult issues like why the third world is poor.

King of Spades: As a computer-buff, Mark will be able to work as a programmer and earn a high salary when he's 21

2 of Diamonds: Mark's father has taught him that winning matters most. His school friends don't like his competitiveness.

The Joker: Pressure at work, without support from close friends, means Mark will be an alcoholic by the time he's 45.


Tricks won: Mark's wealth will finance businesses and earn vast sums of money. His life-style means he will easily find a woman willing to marry him

Tricks lost: Mark will depend on his wife to give him the emotional support that he can't get from friends; but she will leave him as he does not return her affection.

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Monique feels she won't be a real adult until she is earning a wage. She needs to develop a political understanding of how the racist job market excludes her if she is not to become hopelessly depressed and despairing.


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5 of Hearts: Monique's parents have found that racism means they can only get low-paid jobs, they are continually hard-up.

2 of Spades: An ill-funded and badly equipped school, which Monique left without passing any exams, made her think she is stupid.

2 of Clubs: In the inner-city where Monique lives, unemployed amongst young black runs at 85 per cent.

10 of Diamonds: Monique get a lot of support from the black community, especially from the church where she sings.

The Joker: Monique thinks that marriage and motherhood will solve all her problems; but she forgets the loneliness of caring for a baby, especially when you're poor.


Tricks won Monique's stylish appearance is a way of showing that she values herself, despite rejection by employers. Monique is 'discovered' as a soloist in the choir. There is a chance of becoming a professional singer.

Tricks lost Monique loves reading, but shies away from night-schools or libraries, so only finds out when she is much older that there have been many brilliant black writers and artists

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Name the biggest problem or conflict that faces you.


Hearts: What do you think of your family?

Spades: Your schooling?

Clubs: Your job oppertunities?

Diamonds: Your friends?


Tricks won Which two aspects of your life-style are you most proud of?

Tricks lost What's the worst decision you've ever made? Why did you take it?

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This feature was published in the June 1986 issue of New Internationalist. To read more, buy this issue or subscribe.

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This article was originally published in issue 160

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