Children today are constantly exposed to various ideas through the media, and I myself have had to activate my ‘watchful eye’. It’s hard to keep an eye on every single thing that your child ever lays their eyes on! Honestly, it’s just not possible, but really mothers have to tackle this issue from the moment their child enters their life. Every single thing – and I mean everything – that your child is exposed to needs to be questioned, evaluated, and decided upon. What they eat, what they wear, what they see, what people say, the list goes on and on. The bottom line here is that the choices you make for your child affect their perception of the world and how they are going to interact with it in the future. If you have children you probably have had this realization hit home at one point or another. What I want to focus on here today is the choices that parents have to make in regards to multimedia. Parents seriously have to ask themselves what perceptions are being reinforced in the media that their kids are exposed to. What it comes down to here is that when we buy a product or service, we are also buying into an idea.
For example, let’s talk about the Disney Princesses.
These fictional women were put into the spotlight without any regards to the fact that they would become role models to millions of girls who would one day grow up to be women. One of the underlying messages of the stories involving the Disney Princesses is that in order for a girl to “live happily ever after” she has to marry the prince and become a princess. (You can read more about this in the New York Times article What’s Wrong With Cinderella?.) Disney is going to debut their first African American princess in 2009, and it will be interesting to see what the story line is there. Maybe one day they’ll evolve to where the Disney Princess lineup includes a Lesbian Princess!
I try to stay aware of the underlying messages that my children are exposed to through the many different forms of media that are available today.
There are songs on the radio, programs on TV, movies in the theaters, websites online, magazines and books in print, etc. Anything that has an image imprinted should definitely be evaluated, whether it’s an image in a book, a picture on a magazine cover, or a graphic on a t-shirt. Also, any book or song that uses hateful or racist words should be avoided. More than that however, anything produced with the intent of spreading ignorant or derogatory messages should be boycotted. I don’t purchase video games with guns and violence, or magazines with suggestive pictures or racy words on the cover. Any magazines, etc. that my wife and I might have with mature images or suggestive words on it is kept out of the eyes of our children. Music with adult language is also best kept for times when the children aren't with us.
Because I am a lesbian mom, I am especially concerned with media that is anti-gay or that is ignorant of gay families.
Two-mom families, like any other family, need access to media that provides ideas and messages that they can identify with and support as mentioned in this article. We need prime time television shows with real live lesbians in them. We need mainstream magazines with gay and lesbian couples on the cover; and we need games, books, cartoons, and coloring pages for our kids too. I’d like to see a cooking show hosted by two-moms combining their knowledge to feed their family. I’d like to see a sitcom with a two-mom family, something like the show
My point here is that there is a definite need for Two-Mommy Media!
Here is a relevant quote from an article I wrote before on lesbophobia where I address the importance of endorsing companies that share your values:
…every dollar you spend, every website you click on, every radio station or TV channel you tune into lines somebody’s pockets. BE CONSCIOUS of whose pockets you are lining! Avoid endorsing media networks, websites, products, radio shows, and anything else that is produced by people or companies known for gay-bashing or otherwise supporting anyone or anything that is anti-gay. When musical artists like JaRule make negative statements towards the gay lifestyle (article)I refuse to further support their music. Companies like Gannett and General Electric offer health insurance for domestic partners of their employees and I will purchase and endorse their products as long as they continue to do so. –More so than avoiding anti-gay media, it's most important to support pro-gay media.
You'll find that more and more gay and lesbian role models are emerging through the media, and the mainstream perspective is becoming more diverse despite anti-gay protest. You can show your support for the ideas that you personally endorse through the media that you choose, and which types of media you expose your children to if you are a parent. As a lesbian mom, it is important to me that gay families get more exposure in the mainstream media. (Especially when the mainstream media wants my lesbian money!) It would be nice for my children to turn on the TV and see families like theirs - and let’s face it we can’t watch The L Word with the kiddos. *wink
Here is a short list with links of ‘Two-Mommy Media’ available online:
Women In Love: Portraits of Lesbian Mothers & Their Families
Amazon Listmania! of Lesbian Family Books Compiled by Author Kaitlyn T. Considine of TwoMomBooks.com
Dottie's Magic Pockets on DVD and Video Brought To You By Pink Pea Production Company
Two-Moms T-shirts and Gifts on CafePress
Calendars and Coloring Books from the Families Like Yours and Mine Website
Of course these are just a few examples of the types of media that send a pro-gay message.
You can also find a list of about a hundred different items for pro-gay families at FamilyEquality.org. If you are a lesbian mom like me, you are definitely going to want to take some time to browse these items and see what is available to you. You can also keep an eye on lesbian and bisexual women in the media and entertainment industry at the website AfterEllen.com which is brought to us by LOGO. I am looking forward to the day when media like this is available mainstream, and gay families are regarded with the same perspective as any other family in society.
I hope that this post has helped to shed some light on the needs of families like mine and the need for more Two-Mommy Media. Thank you for reading!
About the Author: Julie Phineas is a work at home mom of 2 who lives in Southern California. You can find out more about her by visiting her website at http://www.juliephineas.com/.