Are All Baby Pics on Facebook Appropriate?

When browsing Facebook and looking at friendss updates there is one thing that keeps creeping me out and that is the photos some people post of their children. As summer is here, many people post very cute photos of their children playing in the pool or taking a bath. I cannot keep from reacting every time I see photos of naked kids displayed online. I do not view children as sexual beings, but let us face the facts; there are certainly some people out there who do. I would be very cautious of the fact that the photos I post online are not in fact all that private and can be viewed by many more than just the people I have selected as my Facebook friends.

For example, if I post a photo and one of my friends comments on it, all their friends can possibly see the photo and the number of people who the photo becomes available to increases dramatically. Photos can also easily be copied and saved by any person who can view it.

Obviously parents just want to share the wonderful moments they have with their children with friends and family but I believe that parents have a responsibility to their children and to the safety of their children. Children themselves certainly cannot consent to these pictures but parents should be more careful of what they post. I have seen plenty of photos that are in fact very cute and harmless but that I still react to and deem unsuitable for Facebook. Again, not because they show naked children but because some people enjoy looking at photos of naked children.

I have not heard, but I certainly can be wrong, discussions about what is suitable in regards to posting photos of one’s children on Facebook. Facebook do have a clause stating something like the fact that explicit nudity is not welcome on Facebook and I think that this should extend to photos of children. It is of course the parent’s rights and responsibilities to chose what they post online but I also believe that there is great naivety about what can and cannot be seen and the privacy of one’s photos and one’s profile. What do you think?

Be Fruitful and Multiply Capitalism: Children as Economic Items

According to a recent online article in U.S. News and World Report, “… one of the great strengths of the U.S. economy, especially compared to Europe and Japan, is a relatively high birth rate.” This statement is pretty clear:  procreation equates to production. Thus, why–or rather, for whom—could birthrate be a problem? Isn’t the angst about fertility hiding the real difficulties faced by population?

Is a falling birthrate a big problem?

Others in the media have also warned that if women don’t have higher numbers of children, the economy could suffer. New York Times columnist Ross Douthat compared the decreasing American birthrate to France’s higher one: “America has no real family policy to speak of at the moment, and the evidence from countries like Sweden and France suggests that reducing the ever-rising cost of having kids can help fertility rates rebound.” But while benefits such the ones in France obviously could help those rates rebound, they aren’t the key to economic growth. [Read more...]

Gendered Sexualization in the Young!

In many ways gender construction begins very early in life, often even before a child is born. Many parents tend to design the space around their child in ways that indicate gender belonging. Whether or not we agree with the notion that pink is for girls and blue is for boys (it did not used to be that way), we are likely to follow “accepted” norms and performances of gender, which are further built upon with the use of toys, clothes, and other items for young children and infants.

[Read more...]

Slut-shaming – my story

I was eight  years old and – truth be told – a pretty easy victim if you were looking to pick at a vulnerable kid. I had large pink glasses and braces on my teeth. I was smaller than the other kids and talked funny. We had just moved back to Poland after two years in the US and I spoke better English than Polish. And when I did speak Polish, it was with an accent other school kids only knew from American movies which were just beginning to be shown in a newly democratic and capitalist Poland. One might say, “I was asking for it.”

Things sort of went downhill after my first day of school. We had a Catholic religion class (yay secular state!) and I had a notebook with a kitten on the cover. Apparently, the previous summer the nun teaching the class announced we’re supposed to bring in a notebook with the Virgin Mary on the cover. I hadn’t known about that (which might have had something to do with the fact that when she was making the announcement I was living in Illinois a few thousand kilometres away…) and brought in an obviously very religiously offensive kitten. The nun decided she cannot put up with this sort of behaviour and threw me out of class calling me the devil’s spawn (I wish I was making this stuff up!). I didn’t know what was happening and a girl who spoke some English had to take my hand and lead me out of the classroom explaining I’m not supposed to come back until the bell rings again. Boy, was I confused…   [Read more...]

Is Sex Work a Viable Job Path?

A friend of mine and I recently got into a debate about the messages we send to children about their career aspirations. My friend said that her main goal in life is to teach her kids to stay off the street corner and stay off the pole. I told her that I didn’t have a problem with sex work, and that if my hypothetical daughter wanted to make money giving hand jobs when she grew up, I wouldn’t have a problem with it. My friend was a little appalled at my point of view – and I’m guessing I won’t be getting any babysitting requests from her.

Let me start out by saying that there is a big difference between people who are sex slaves and people who consensually enter the sex trade. My argument is not that I would force anyone into prostitution. My argument is that sex work is a legitimate profession for the folks who choose it.

I am also not saying that kids should be sex workers. I’m talking about adults in the sex industry. I am decidedly against child pornography and little girls giving non-consensual blow jobs to grown ass adults who should learn how to keep their peepers to themselves. [Read more...]

Out of the Mouths of Babes

The Oklahoma legislature is poised to deal a major blow to non-profits and faith-based organizations who help administer the WIC program.  The Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program is a federally-funded, state-administered nutrition service for low-income women, infants and children under five.  WIC subsidizes nutritious foods, infant formula, education on healthy eating and breastfeeding, and screening and referrals for other health and welfare services.

On average in 2010, Oklahoma WIC clinics provided 133,002 low-income mothers $37.18 dollars in food and formula each month.  WIC clinics are operated by health departments, tribal governments, faith-based organizations, community health centers and non-profits.  For instance, the clinic in Variety Health Center in south Oklahoma City serves an average of 8,066 low-income women and children each month.  The Edmond Ministerial Alliance’s Hope Center Health Clinic serves 1,611 average monthly participants.

Rep. Jason Murphey amended SB 709, a senior nutrition bill, to prohibit non-profits and faith-based organizations in Tulsa and Oklahoma county from administering WIC benefits to thousands of women and children across the state.  Section 2 of SB 709 creates new law that stipulates:  [Read more...]

Why Last Night Was Different

My family’s been fractured for years now, and the youngest of us still on speaking terms have been grown-ups for even longer, so like many empty-nested Jewish families, our holiday gatherings of late have had a certain post-observant, Diasporic ennui about them. We did our time in temple, in Hebrew School, and reclined our way through interminable Seders with gasbag uncles and diva sisters who couldn’t let the “Four Questions” solo gig go to the rightful singer without a fight. (Full disclosure: the diva sister was me, but mine was not the hogging that triggered the infamous inter-familial Seder fist-fight.)

Then our family had kids. Okay, my brother and sister-in-law had them, technically, but they’re ours in the all-important spoiling and non-diaper-changing senses. Suddenly, holiday dinners felt different. Someone was looking. An impressionable someone. And we started wondering what kind of crazy mispachah we looked like.

For my parents, the focus was on the Judaism. Their grandchildren wouldn’t be getting a formal religious education of any kind, just whatever stereo in-house Chanukah/Christmas, Passover/Easter celebrations their parents and their parents’ respective families of origin could cobble together. I was interested in the Judaism, too, but my Judaism has been inseparable from my feminism since the day I learned my temple didn’t let Bat Mitzvah girls face the ark like the boys did.

So last week when my mother said she was studying up on ways to make the Seder more accessible and child-friendly, I was supportive. [Read more...]

Make Over the American Marriage

The big news from the release of The State of Our Unions: Marriage in America 2010 was that marriage is becoming a less important fact of American life. Worse, for the pro-marriage crowd that includes the groups behind the study, The Center for Marriage and Families and The National Marriage Project, it’s no longer just the left-leaning, latte-sipping cultural elite who are losing faith.

Class is no longer a reliable predictor of marital attitudes. Less educated Americans are now abandoning the institution of marriage at the same rate as their more educated brethren.

Conservatives, both fiscal and social, predictably see this as a sign of the apocalypse. If the good old Middle Class can’t embrace an institution as unapologetically bourgeois as marriage, what will become of the children? That is, after all, the biggest and best argument supporters of marriage have: American children do best growing up with two married parents living in the same household.

Fair enough. I’m not math-minded enough to argue with their statistics (though others are). The study has a much bigger problem: the decline in religious observance—also much lamented by the right—has left the National Marriage Project leaning harder on marriage’s secular and civic virtues. But they haven’t realized those virtues demand a different gospel. [Read more...]

CNN’s Special Coverage “Black or White: Kids on Race” Airs Tonight at 10pm ET

This week Anderson Cooper 360 will be airing a four-part series on a CNN commissioned study that examines the way children feel about race. Not surprisingly, the results of the study reveal that white children show a significantly high bias towards white skin. Even worse, black children also show a similar bias towards white skin. Here are a few details about what the study revealed.

A 5-year-old girl in Georgia is being asked a series of questions in her school library. The girl, who is white, is looking at pictures of five cartoons of girls, all identical except for skin color ranging from light to dark.

When asked who the smart child is, she points to a light-skinned doll. When asked who the mean child is she points to a dark-skinned doll. She says a white child is good because “I think she looks like me”, and says the black child is ugly because “she’s a lot darker.” [Read more...]

A Lazy Lesbian Mom’s Guide to Sex Ed Books for Kids

paige schiltGuest blogger Paige Schilt is a dyke mama, a “low-femme” nerd, an activist, and a part-time professor of Feminist Studies. She holds a Ph.D. in English and Cultural Studies from the University of Texas at Austin and has published scholarly articles on queer culture at the intersections of race and class. She lives in Austin with her partner, Katy Koonce, and their son, who is named after a certain country music legend.

Before I became a mom, I knew—intellectually–that sexuality education in the United States was dominated by social conservatives. After all, I live in Texas, the “flagship state” of abstinence-only sex education.

But, as a lesbian mom in my mid-thirties, I have to admit that I thought of access to effective information about bodies and sexuality as an issue for teenagers and young adults. I hadn’t thought too much about how the religious right’s stranglehold on sex education was going to affect me.

Then my son, Waylon, turned 5. [Read more...]