Thursday, May 19, 2011

Kids Censorship and Being PC..

Thing Two goes trolling through the iPad netflix list at tutoring and all of a sudden, "BOOBS MOM", at that capitalization volume level. Yep, on the netflix list was a movie cover that showed a girl near topless, we talk about nudity a lot the context of it isn't good to be naked in front of the mailman, but not much about movie nudity. 

Sexual content, violence, swearing, drugs, being sensitive to other differences; these are all things we are having to talk to our kids about constantly and sometimes I wonder what is sinking in and what kind of neurosis we are passing on to our kids. 

We have a lot of flexibility in regards to swearing, the general house rule is adults swear and you are welcome to as long as it strictly occurs only around mom and dad only. When swearing is used in music, performance art, books, and the like it is artists discretion and if an artist really feels the need to express something with swearing that is there choice, for the time being that is not your choice in your art.

Sexual Content is something we have not talked a lot about, we just don't see a lot in cartoon movies and we don't watch much else.  As much as Thing One has dealt with sexual things in the way of, I'll show you mine if you show me yours we have not dealt with it that much.  We have talked puberty a little, but not sex, like movie sex. They giggle at the nude paintings and we just talk about what moves artists is what they express, The Things are horrified at a person being moved by nudity except to barf. 

Violence is something we have talked about a fair amount, especially in TV, movies, and the graphic novels Thing Two loves.  The whole violence conversation started with Bugs and Daffy and has moved on to X-Men.  Now I struggle with what movies and graphic novels are OK for Thing Two, what isn't going to make him a serial killer? I am not planning on letting him watch Friday the 13th anytime soon, but when and what is or isn't OK?  I don't want to be paying for a therapist in 10 years or have him conditioned to be unmoved by violence.

Being PC or sensitive to others is the one thing I really struggle with, particularly as it pertains to banned art or books and people.  Listening to Mark Twain some months back there was a large discussion around 'The N-Word'; what did it mean, why hadn't they heard it, why was it bad, those questions were answered with relative ease. Last week Thing One came home and started talking to me about banned books, I have no idea where this comes from, probably the older kids at daycare. The banned art/book discussion is a lot more difficult. I don't believe in banned books, I believe in discussions around the content, but not in outright banning. The banned book conversation centered around some people not being comfortable with words in books, like the Mark Twain discussion, but quickly led beyond words to some books being banned for the things they talk about. We talked about peoples fear causing a banned book, people wanting a book banned because they don't agree with the content being read by kids, and also the idea that because one person thinks it is gross or violent doesn't mean you will think the same thing. At the end of the conversation I liked that Thing Ones take away was, every book should be able to be read by anyone cause everyone thinks different. 

Though everyone thinks different just like a banned book/art being sensitive to other individuals with our words can also be a complicated web.  Those who know me, know I am crazy blunt and frank and frequently put my foot in my mouth, but honestly I do try to be sensitive to things others may not like me saying.  When Thing One describes a friend at school she calls her tan, another friend has slanted eyes, these things are not meant to be hurtful or insensitive or racists they are the words she uses to describe the differences between people. We talk about words and how some words can hurt some people because they don't like their differences or find the words mean. We try and give both Things the words that are more appropriate, but ultimately I think part of being a kid is sticking your foot in it or using the wrong words and seeing how they can hurt or hurt you.  A great example is the kids who calls the lady at the pool fat, thankfully neither of mine have done that yet, but there is a lot of discussion right now around the new one eyed SSA at school. Identifying someone by their difference though not always good is the way I think kids parse their world. They are not being hurtful, or not going to play with them; they just want to identify one Josh from another in class. At this point both Things want to identify as a little different, but I remind them how would it feel if someone described them by the thing they don't like about themselves. Will all this make a difference, make them be sensitive to those around them, allow them to speak freely and still be aware of their words?  Who knows but I hope so....

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