The Bitch Slap: You’re Kindly Invited to Eff Off

bitch slap eff offFirst off, apologies if your office firewall blocked today’s post. I tried to keep the word “fuck” out of the title, but I really mean it when I say that you’re invited to fuck off. No hard feelings, no malice. I’ll even buy you an ice cream someday if we meet up on a sunny June afternoon. But really – what I need you to do is consider fucking off. Straight off. Hear me out…

Like many internet destinations, this site has images, thoughts and words that not everyone will like and I own that – lock, stock and barrel. What I hope I’ve built is a place where people who love what I do and pick up what I’m putting down can air their feelings and thoughts and do so without feeling like their comments will be deleted and I’m only looking for a herd of sycophants carrying redheaded Barbies parading in a line behind me like some fucked up centipede, undulating in and out of a digital mushroom maze in 80s video game fashion.

*Announcement: that is possibly the longest sentence I’ve ever typed. W00t.*

It’s called branding. It’s called free speech. I invite you to enjoy what I’ve prepared to share and I open the doors for your feedback. If you would rather be pelted by thousands of angry bees than read what I write, you can block my website, unsubscribe and vow to never partake in my musings again. I’ll call that the Off Button. It’s yours for the turning or pushing. You can also use the Off Button on the TV, your radio, your local or national newspapers, books and any business of your choice.

Today’s Bitch Slap was prompted by an article I stumbled across yesterday.

Headline: Parents Television Council Up-in-Arms Over NBC’s ‘The Playboy Club’

Their argument (according to the article): “Citing statistics that 200,000 Americans are “porn addicts,” and 56 percent of divorce cases can be blamed not on lack of love but on “one person” having “obsessive interest” in pornography, the PTC blames Playboy, and NBC for supporting it, for the demise of the American family.”

Their argument (according to their “file a complaint with the FCC” call to action about the series):

The Playboy Club is the latest and most obvious example of the way the entertainment industry is mainstreaming and even glamorizing pornography. While episodes of the program have not yet been screened, the mere fact that the show uses the word “Playboy” in the title, and that its stories take place in an exploitative, sexist setting demonstrate that the show’s creative staff – and the NBC network – are eager to push a pornography-based show into every home in America.

This isn’t a pay-per-view program available only to HBO or Showtime subscribers. The Playboy Club will be beamed into every living room in the nation, in prime time, over the publicly-owned airwaves. Do YOU want to explain to YOUR channel-surfing children what a “Playboy Club” is?

If you want to learn more about the Parents Television Council, yeah…just click. You might also find amusing that on their Current Campaigns page where they encourage parents to take action against programs that aired (gulp) in 2003. (I can’t make this up.) When they catch wind of this post in their Google Alerts, I’ll be written off as a foul-mouthed hussy that their children need protecting from as well. Esssokay. I’ve been called worse. You can also learn more about The Playboy Club from NBC.

So, here’s where I’ll begin with a few concepts I use in my own daily media consumption. Yours might differ, and hey – that’s the beauty of the American media, right? We consume by choice.

ARGUMENT #1: I might not agree with your point of view, but I defend your right to have it and express it…unless your simply being an asshat and jumping to conclusions based on your own erroneous assumptions. The episodes haven’t been screened, but you’re jumping to conclusions, calling the show pornography-based? I’m going to help you out here and offer to rephrase your argument so that sheepish and educated parents alike can follow your argument with some sense of intelligence: “We are reticent to believe that there can be value in our children viewing a program based on a brand empire built on the distribution of ‘pornography’. While Hugh Hefner and Playboy were at the forefront of the civil rights movement, ignoring racial segregation and offering multiracial bands a performance venue along with offering black standup comics their first venue to perform alongside caucasians during segregation, we choose to ignore those points (and many others in the vein of civil rights) in favor of playing the “pornography-based show” card. Nudity preempts all reasonable arguments and we can’t condone it under any circumstances, even though the network broadcast program is highly unlikely to broadcast any sort of nudity at any point in the programs (the ones we haven’t seen). Oh, and we won’t be viewing any of the programs once they air, either, out of fear of breaking up our American Family via porn.”

ARGUMENT #2: “…the mere fact that the show uses the word “Playboy” in the title, and that its stories take place in an exploitative, sexist setting demonstrate that the show’s creative staff – and the NBC network – are eager to push a pornography-based show into every home in America.” This is ignorant on so many levels that I’ll have to begin on the first and work my way further down the stairs until I arrive in Dipshit Alley. The use of a brand name like Playboy elicits different responses from different people. For me, it elicits thoughts of wondering what it was like to be a struggling writer like Ray Bradbury, sitting around with a story no one wanted to buy, only to have it published by Playboy Magazine. That little story? Fahrenheit 451. You might have read it (but you probably burned it). For others, especially during the time the magazine was up and coming in the 50s and 60s, it meant access to musical acts (like jazz) that could be seen and heard nowhere else if it weren’t for the magazine and events it recorded and promoted. And I can assure you – the creative folk at NBC aren’t looking to push a “pornography-based show” into every home in America. They took an icon from American history – the Playboy clubs and their requisite bunnies – and shaped a storyline around it. It’s not a 13-episode documentary.

ARGUMENT #3: “Do YOU want to explain to YOUR channel-surfing children what a “Playboy Club” is?” I would venture to guess that many parents wouldn’t want to be burdened with this task, while others would handle it begrudgingly. Others, I’ll bet, would take to the task with fervent honesty. Here’s an idea: be a fucking PARENT and stop asking the networks and public schools to do it for you. If there’s one thing I know, there was NOTHING on that TV in my house while growing up of which my parents did not approve. And guess what: they’re divorced. Why? Not because of pornography. They just didn’t get along. And that’s fine. Dear god, I WISH porn had broken up my parents. At least I would know they’re sexual beings and I wouldn’t have had to spend my adolescent years wondering if I was the product of immaculate conception.

Maybe if we lived in a culture that didn’t treat everything with an inkling of sexual undertone as taboo, we’d have fewer fucked up kids who felt the need to hide their diddly-doos from their parents. If you don’t want your kids to watch something on television, be a parent. Tell them no. Set up parental controls. Take the TV out of their bedroom. And while you’re at it, you should probably take away their computer access because they’re just going to stream it online. And when the computer’s gone, they’ll go stream it at a friend’s house. Or watch it on their friend’s DVR. The more we treat things as taboo, the more desirable and tempting they become. And what’s so bad about explaining what a Playboy club is? Here’s the simple answer: In the 50s and 60s, these were clubs where men and women alike went to listen to jazz and standup comedians. They were entertainment clubs and the waitresses wore costumes to make them look like bunnies. (And if you want to get a little deeper with your middle and high school aged kiddos) These clubs were the some of the first during the segregation era to allow black musicians to appear onstage beside white ones and also were the first place that let black standup comics perform for white audiences. Membership was a status symbol and it’s reported that only 21% of members actually ever visited the clubs.

There. That wasn’t so hard, was it?

ARGUMENT #4: “…its stories take place in an exploitative, sexist setting…” Subjective at best. Do you want to know what I find exploitative and sexist? Corporate America. Recent reports from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show that female executives earn 29% less than their male counterparts. I sit around and watch Mad Men and think – wow…a secretarial pool…such subservience…few women in positions of power. That doesn’t mean I have to like it. It means I can be proud of where our country has come in the past 60 years. The TV show you’re complaining about is set in the 1960s. That was an era where women were still new fixtures in the workplace and generally took service-oriented roles: secretary, waitress, receptionist, counter clerks, sales girls at department stores. I’m pretty sure that no one ever put on a little bunny outfit and felt it was their last resort. And here’s the thing: women continue to do it today, and by choice. Who are you to insult their choices? Your parameters above and current labor statistics indicate that we should also be protesting all legal and corporate-themed shows and any one in which both parents work (because the wife is almost certainly earning less than her husband). Be a parent. You’re entitled to your ideas of how your daughters and sons should grow up. Use them. Be honest with them. If you raise kids to be afraid of certain words and actions, you’re priming them for a life of fear. The more they know about the world, the more they’ll come to appreciate your honesty with them about it. It’s big when they walk past your front doors – prepare them. It’s a pretty rude awakening.

So you’re kindly invited to fuck off. Exercise the Off Button.

I’m not a parent, though I do hope to be one someday. I’m the person who looks around a restaurant and shuts down my mouth when kids are around. I’m also the person who walked up to three loudmouthed teens in the San Francisco airport not so long ago, introduced myself, and asked them to keep the f-bombs dialed back. WAY back. Especially since there was an entire junior high school basketball team sitting at the gate with us. While I might get paid (and well) to brandish certain terms, it doesn’t mean I use them all the time and in every situation. It means we should all be adults, use our heads and respect a few things:

  • Parenting (not unlike friendship) is an active role, not one that you can delegate to other people.
  • It’s up to us what we consume, from whom we consume such, and the frequency.
  • You’re not going to like everything you see. (Believe me – failure to understand THIS concept destroys more marriages than porn.)
  • And as the late George Carlin said – there are two knobs: one to change the channel, and one (d’oh) to turn it off.

It’s Branding 101: the consumers choose. If you don’t want your kids to eat Frosted Flakes, you simply don’t buy them. You don’t go on a whole letter writing campaign to tell Kellogg to stop production because they’re poisoning our youth with high fructose corn syrup and fantasies of talking tigers (which we all know lead to porn addictions). If you don’t like what’s on the TV for your kids, set up parental controls and play an active role in their viewing habits. Don’t subscribe to cable TV. Hell – get rid of the TV altogether (I lived without one for the past two years – it was lovely). When you’re angry by choice, it’s difficult to gain sympathy or even empathy. And that’s why I’m inviting you to fuck off. Stop the yelling and start the parenting. And if you’re not a parent, put your own boundaries into place. Start owning your roles and responsibilities. It’s not up to everyone else to stop doing what you don’t like. It’s up to you to figure out how to coexist with those things, beliefs and decisions.

We don’t live in the United States of You.

We consume by choice – and just because it’s on doesn’t mean you have to tune in. That goes for parents and non alike. You know what’s on your kids’ bookshelves. You see their cell phone bills. You get their report cards. You check their homework. At least, I hope you do those things, because I’d love to have such opportunities. It’s not everyone else’s responsibility to be parents to your children. It’s yours. And one day, I hope it’ll be mine, too. We are an economy that votes with our wallets. If viewership sucks, ads get pulled and those things you hate die on the vine. And if it goes on for another season, well, you’re just going to have to find something to do at 10pm EST/9pm CST…when your kids should probably be in bed anyways. I’m old – I’m usually in bed by 9:30pm, but that’s what DVRs are for.

You’ve been slapped.

PS: When that parenting day comes for me, I think I’ll dedicate a whole day to Hugh Hefner, bunnies in various forms, and American History. What kids learn in school is sanitized and they deserve to know the truth so that the bad shit has less of a chance to repeat.

PPS: And I’d love to hear from the parents – how do YOU manage the wilds of the interwebz, movies, literature and whatnot in today’s society? My parents had a cable TV lockbox but the good sense to let me wander the bookstores of the world in an unleashed fashion. Lay it on me.

PPPS: Damn, this was a long post. Thanks for hanging in there!

148 comments
Lewis LaLanne aka Nerd #2
Lewis LaLanne aka Nerd #2

Aww man, I had to comment to the "Porn addiction" bullshit. I think anytime someone goes to porn, it's because they can get freaky dark side energy there (dirty talk, taboo, rough play, complete open energy, etc.)  that they are too chicken shit to bring out of their lover. And I mean heart-connected, ravishment-style dark energy. None of that, "You need to have your testicles and wanger separated from your body with the jaws of a freshly dead piranha and then forced fed them bite by bite and then popped nine times in the head and dumped in a river dark shit - kids, rape, etc." I believe turning to a prostitute or porn is a communication/expression wimpiness issue, not an addiction issue. Blaming it on addiction is convenient way out, but I bet it's not the case in the majority (56%) of instances. And yeah, this coming from someone who is far from an authority on the topic but someone who uses the common sense part of his brain too and doesn't excuse away my weaknesses. Marvelous post as usual Erika! Can't wait to come back. :)

Andrews222
Andrews222

Where were you when my sister-in-laws were pissing and moaning about the coverage of the royal wedding on TV? Really? You don't like coverage about true love, romance and fairy tale weddings? Then turn the TV off, I said. Your choice, I said. Well, I got a bitch slap in return! I suppose they became very productive once the coverage was over and they were out of reasons (on that topic anyhow) to piss and moan. Thanks for keeping it real and making me right:O) Diana Andrews

Bibliophile Girl
Bibliophile Girl

Holy hell, I can't believe I missed this post!  I know you aren't looking for an army of people to agree with you, but someone would have to be hell bent on not seeing the logic in your argument in order to disagree. While I'm not a parent (but I am an adoptive parent in waiting), I sincerely hope that I will have the necessary bravery to address "difficult" subjects with my kids with as much brutal honesty as possible. To do less would be a great disservice to them. Just FYI - you can bet that I'll be starting the Playboy questions with the explanation you gave above. Don't worry, I'll attribute it to you. :) This kind of reminds me of the Young Adult Fiction argument that was started by Meghan Cox Gruden of the Wall Street Journal not long ago. Same kind of thinking - she was "concerned" about the "darkness" found in literature for Young Adults, but didn't have a single solid argument behind her statements. It all comes down to parenting and using that off button if people feel they need to. In the meantime, I am off to re-tweet this gem. Rock on, sister.

Mauricio
Mauricio

The post is very Useful. I like the post. Thank you, this advice will come in handy. It made me understand something, and it is that I never knew before.

Rachelle Wells
Rachelle Wells

Thank you, Erika. Thank you. My husband and I don't have kids yet, but we greatly look forward to the day we do, and we often discuss how we're going to raise them. First off, thank you for these statements about parents taking responsibility. It is ridiculous what parents what to blame on "the world." They are simply too lazy to control their children's entertainment (among other things) and so when something goes on that they don't like, they blame it elsewhere. The blame rests squarely on their own shoulders. Secondly, I think parents also need to consider their children's ages and what is appropriate for them to know at what age. Yeah, maybe a two-year old doesn't need a sex talk. But kids are growing up FAST, scary fast. If you haven't talked to your child openly and frankly about sex, alcohol, drugs, and that kind of important stuff by the time they're 13, they're hearing it from someone else. Better to have a slightly awkward conversation and have been the one who told them first. Establish yourself as the authority, and you have more hope of having them talk to you when they are faced with sex and drugs and eating disorders and life anxiety and all that wonderful teenage stuff. Anyway, fantastic post, and it's encouraging to see so many likeminded people commenting here.

Marian Schembari
Marian Schembari

When I was a kid, my parents didn't let us watch TV. They couldn't stand it, didn't want our brains to rot... At the time I of course hated it. As I got older, I realized that because of it I read more, did more, experienced more. Now, years later, I sort of hate them again for it. I understand their intention, and I'm still glad I didn't grow up glued to a screen, but because I was "sheltered" in a way, I became completely addicted to TV after I left home. Name a show, I've seen it. Now, my parents let me drink starting at age, like, infant. A few sips here, a few sips here. While many of my high school friends were getting carted off to get their stomachs pumped because they over did it, I calmly drank my one beer and to this day I rarely drink. My point is that everything in moderation. Protecting your kids is one thing, but study after study shows that if parents are open with their children and nothing is ever off limits, those kids grow up healthier, more well-balanced and more aware of the world. Just my two cents. I loved this posts. One of my favorites of yours. Nicely done.

The Redhead
The Redhead

I do what I can, Welyne. Welcome to the blog!

Tom
Tom

Only 200,000 Americans are porn addicts? Shit, I'm pretty sure that many subscribe to my midget-on-chubby fetish blog. Not to mention I work with at least 6 at my day job. And for the record Playboy is as much porn as The National Enquirer is factual. 

Welyne Thomas
Welyne Thomas

I never knew all that about the Playboy Club - thanks for enlightening me!  I couldn't agree more on your ideas about choice.  And in these days of increased government intrusion in my life by the people who want less government, I appreciate your sentiments.  Thanks!

Caryn
Caryn

My biggest problem is ELEVATORS. Who the heck designed the emergency alarm buttons right on the bottom... the easiest buttons for little fingers to reach. Just saying...

Kim Doyal The WordPress Chick
Kim Doyal The WordPress Chick

This post was an awesome way to start my day! Found you through Ash Ambirge'.... you rock. My laugh out loud line that I will use over & over again? "We don't live in the United States of You". I've been parenting two kids on my own for 8 yrs., (widowed at 32- so I have zero empathy for parents who whine about, well.... anything. nuff' said). And my kids simply rock. Because I work from home for myself I am able to monitor things a little more (not a dig at any parent who works outside of the house- because I did too. And it was through a lot of hard work that I go here. But don't think I'm not counting the days until summer vacation is over and my house is quiet!). I talk with my kids CONSTANTLY about everything. My daughter (14) knows that I'm online all day, but I don't preach to her about FB- we talk about it. She even points out how stupid her friends are with the things they post. (NOTE TO parents: Colleges and employers WILL look at their social media accounts!). You know you're doing something right when your daughter says "I'm glad I can talk to you about everything. I can't imagine not having someone smart to talk to!" When my 10 yr. old asked if he could create his fb account? I said "nope. Not until you're 13". His reply? "O.k". No attitude, no tantrums (I could barely tolerate them when he was little). Honestly, I'm a little disappointed in many of the parents in the community where I live (also counting the days till I can exit suburbia, whether through frequent travel or just a better view!). Quit hovering over your frickin' kids and giving them everything they want!!! Expect a little more from your kids and you may just be surprised. I'd rather be the one talking to my kids about sex, drinking, relationships, etc. (and let's stop treating masturbation like a four letter word. Maybe then there would be less "16 & pregnant" shows). I know the things I did when I was their age- and we didn't have the web, social media or god forbid, cell phones (did I just publicly write god forbid?). And lastly, Mad Men is absolutely one of my favorite shows- and I feel IMMENSE gratitude for the women who stood up to shift that perspective of women in the workplace. Enter reality TV: ugh. I put the brakes on her watching "Kimora Lee Simmons" or whatever the bucket her name is now. Talk about garbage in? Required reading for my daughter? "Bossy Pants" by Tina Fey. btw- just haven't hit some of these challenging times with my son yet. But he's perfectly good with talking to his mom about all this- and if/when he needs to chat with a guy? We'll cross that bridge then. My kids do their laundry, clean bathrooms, mow the lawn, do the dishes... you name it. Because I expect them to and they just GET IT. And while it's not easy, it's a hell of a lot easier when you set the expectations when they're little. Think I'm starting to ramble. Think this is one of the longest comments I've ever left! ;-)

ColinP
ColinP

To be honest my first response to these people would be "And?"  Followed by  "I believe that the E! Channel has been showing Playboys "The Girl Next Door" for many years.  How exactly is this something new? Additionally every TV since the mid 90's has been built with a V-chip installed, you should really learn how to use it."

Melanie Seibert
Melanie Seibert

Well, here's the thing. I'm no fan of porno. My male friends look at me like I'm nuts whenever I tell them I think it's unhealthy, I think it perpetuates a toxic view of women, and I think it's an industry built atop the crushed remains of the broken psyches of abuse victims. However...  I can't argue with what you say here. Parent is a verb.  My kids are too young to ask these questions right this minute, but your approach of explaining things (in an age-appropriate way) and telling the historical truth sounds about right. Tell them about the civil rights wins. Tell them about the negatives too. Tell 'em everything as they get old enough, and they'll learn to sort out the good from the bad.  Thanks Erika!

The Redhead
The Redhead

Well said and thanks for stopping by today!

The Redhead
The Redhead

Hey - kids are for talkin' to, methinks! Thanks for stopping by :)

Dominic
Dominic

I hope you posted this at the Parents Television Council site, as well. Well said. 

Kmhilden1
Kmhilden1

I love my children and talk to them every day. I don't want them to be afraid of nudity or bunnies! I also want them to talk me about anything and everything!

Jenny Floria
Jenny Floria

There is nothing wrong with The Playboy Club being on at primetime, and the ads for it that I've seen are no racier than ads I've seen for other  shows. My girls are 6 and 8. Know what I can't have them watch? The news. Pictures of people being carried off covered in blood, stories of children being murdered by their parents, other people being put into or released from jail for heinous crimes, all make for much more difficult conversations than soft porn. Last holiday season our family watched A Charlie Brown Christmas. Just after it was over while we were getting the kids up and reading for bed, Grey's Anatomy started. It began with a disclaimer about the adult content of the show and that it may be disturbing to some. The opening act was of a person with blood spurting from his chest being wheeled into surgery, and having one of the docs being covered in said spurting blood. I didn't even have 3 seconds between the disclaimer and the start of the show to grab the remote and turn it off. Wow, thanks for that one, that was "easy" to explain. I would've rather been explaining why women are wearing bunny ears and fuzzy little tails -- THAT at least makes a little sense in a child's world.

Dana Fortier
Dana Fortier

I catch such hell from "well-meaning" grandparents who want to spoil my kids. Screw that - I was raised to respect everyone that was older than me and I am raising my kids to do the same. I'm kind of a "throw-back" parent, which is so totally out of character with the hippy-dippy "let's all be friends with our kids" parents in the area where I live. Some of them turn out okay, but the majority of them - not so much. I'm so glad to see so many posts from parents with my views, too!!!

Nepal1025
Nepal1025

Good, good article. As a parent of three daughters, now ages 17-24, I wholeheartedly agree with the practice of saying no and keeping crap out of the house. Learning that most things are permissible but few are beneficial has been a mantra these double decades. Common sense and protecting our children from harm should be included in the hospital manual newbie parents get. Um, you did get yours? Right? Home should be the place that's safe and that means as the grown up, I have to say no to it too. That's a lot easier said than done. Ok so this is one thing I did that even now my girls thank me for: they were NOT allowed to watch PG 13 movies before they were 13. I know, I know. Sounds perfectly awful. But wait, before you think that's crazy, Hollywood is recommending 13. And we all know how that place is just loaded with "values". Surely I could abide by that. So how did that work out for me/them? No one has been in jail, they work, study hard, pay their bills and don't have rehab on speed dial. They are normal young ladies... Got their tats, got an extra piercing or two, certainly have had a legal buzz or three and love each other madly! Oh, and their mama and daddy too. So get a babysitter when you need a fix of violence, sex and gore and just say No to the drivel that's being marketed to your kids.

Bill Green
Bill Green

I try to remind myself that our country was founded by Puritans and their values. For anyone who forgot their history, the Puritans were a group of people so freakishly uptight that even the Brits told them to get the fuck out. In reality, most of these "faith-based" watchdog groups -- that all seem to have ties back mega churches whose preachers probably have some gay porn action going on the side -- just need an enema. It is funny how they are so fast to legislate morality and make the FCC responsible for their parenting failure, but as you astutely point out Erika, the "off button" seems to elude their intelligence.

Toby Neal
Toby Neal

Heee hee! I tend to the conservative side, and interestingly I posted on the problem of cellphones and constant texting with kids just today... http://www.tobyneal.net/2011/07/28/kids-should-read-more-adults-too/ Which is not exactly same topic but related. As a child/family therapist I see how tough these things are and can't recommend enough that parents get a sense of their standards early and enforce it early and often, otherwise by sixteen... good luck. Playboy explanations are going to be least of their concerns. Its a bold, brave, scary new world out there and parents need to get into the mix and understand the culture, stay at least two steps ahead of the kids at all times. And, remember that whoever has the wallet makes the rules. I'm always shocked at how often parents are actually giving away their power and hoping someone else will teach and train their kids.

Leon Noone
Leon Noone

G'Day Erika, You can't get bloody rid of me that easily!  Every blogger needs a curmudgeon among their readers. I'm yours. Good God woman! Anyone who writes a sentence that long and uses "reticent" when she means "reluctant" needs all the support she can get. Not only that, my eldest grandchild turns 18 next week . And my youngest child is the same age as you. I remember when cool was a word used to describe Dizzie Gillespie and "suck" was used to describe activities that took place in "Playboy" and were written about in blogs like yours. And Danny Brown reckons you're OK too. I'm not going anywhere......... Yet Make sure you have fun, Regards Leon

Brenda
Brenda

I love you!  All this political correctness and self entitlement drives me crazy.  It is nice to see that I am not the only one who thinks that people should take responsibility for their lives rather than expecting the whole world to change for them.

Gary Oakes
Gary Oakes

Damn,       You must still have that migraine. ;))

Kosmicegg777
Kosmicegg777

I have to add also another opinion about cell phones, and the digital age. If you PARENT then you don't have to worry about what they're going to do with technology. My kids have got it all thanks to a divorce and they view technology as a very secondary thing in their life. Not interested in wasting their time on games or texting because they have work to do, they have a purpose in life. My son is working on a blog about superhero inventions. He's ten. My daughter is writing her first novel and we're writing a movie script together.  She's fourteen. I don't expect professional level work, but that isn't the point. The point is learning is their job. I tell them everyday not to wait for approval to start living their dreams.  They don't need a degree. They don't need to turn a specific age. They do all the kids' stuff (swimming, basketball, reading, and playing) but they are already learning who they are and what they're interested in, and how to share it. Come on people. Our kids are inheriting a hard-ass, we are the world reality with competitors not on SAT tests, but on ingenious behaviors in China, India, Malaysia, Japan, and before you know it the big bad world is going to shove that reality down their throats.

Kosmicegg777
Kosmicegg777

Yes. When will parents stop foisting parenting off onto everyone else? Yes. When my kids have friends over I have to say I am often very pleased with myself...because even my kids parent better than their friend's parents sometimes. No kids come visiting my house and get away with peeing on the toilet seat or mucking up the sink with toothpaste. My kids are happy to share, even give away their crap to their friends, but they will not tolerate abuse. And, the best part is that I don't usually have to say a word. The worst part? They still do...and my kids are getting older...so I fear for the future.

The Redhead
The Redhead

Indeed, and thank you for stopping by to share, Kathi.

Ellen
Ellen

I have so much love for you for this rant.  I'd like to hire you to sit beside me during parent conferences to blast some of the crazy shit I hear from parents.   It's like we've become a victim culture powered by lawyer-think.  I had a kid tell me a few years ago that something was only wrong if you were caught and they could prove you'd done it.  His mama spent the entire year blaming his teachers for his aggressive and antisocial behavior until we were sending him to the expulsion process.  All of a sudden she remembered a psychiatric diagnosis he'd gotten a year before he'd come to us that stated he didn't experience reality the way the rest of us did, that he heard voices, that he couldn't tell right from wrong.  Yet up until then, it was my fucking fault her kid terrorized and bullied others. Public education needs bigger balls because teachers seem to be everybody's bitch these days.  Raise your fucking child.  Admit s/he is not a perfect little snowflake.  Screwing up is a part of learning, so let's not fuck up the opportunity by misplacing blame.  Gah.

Craig Comeau
Craig Comeau

This so called concerned parenting group would have a meltdown if they saw what's on the CBC here in Canada. Once in a while, there may even be a scene with "evil" boobies. My kids (4 and 1) aren't old enough to like anything other than the Backyardigans or Sponge Bob, but that doesn't mean that my wife and I haven't started building a framework of trust, honesty and open communication with them. I'm positive there's going to be hard questions and situations ahead, but I plan to confront every question and situation head on. The fact of the matter is parents have a unique ability to influence their children and help guide them through the early years of their life. Shielding them from the realities of the world won't help them, it will only mean they'll  learn about them in a manner that is far beyond our control as parents. Better to deal with them all as parents and don't let somebody else do the dirty work.

Doyle Albee
Doyle Albee

Great post, Erika! I can tell you as a parent of two (now 21 and 19, so they pretty much watch what they want now) they had boundaries. They also knew that if they got sneaky and got caught watching something they weren't supposed to, they lost TV privileges altogether. Same story with the computer -- surf where you know you shouldn't, and no more surfing for a while. At our house, we never even had "dirty" or "bad" words. There were "adult" words and "kid" words. If I chose to use an adult word, that was something I earned through my adult status. Did I change my vocabulary around my kids? Of course! But the occasional slip in traffic, etc., was not a complete show-stopper. I simply explained that when you're an adult you can make the decision to use those words, or not. But now? You're a kid, it's my call and you're not allowed to use that word.The bottom line? THAT'S MY JOB AS A PARENT! I don't want network television or HBO or the Internet or what magazines and books my local bookseller carries to be only appropriate for kids. I really have no interest in watching "The Playboy Club," but I want to make that choice for myself. I really like football, but if you don't, I'm not going to make you watch it. That's no more appropriate that you telling me "that's too violent for you, we need to take football off the air to protect you." No. Shut. The. Hell. Up. All of us -- kids and adults -- will do much better if we make our own choices based on critical thinking. That's what we need to teach our kids. Doyle Albee www.metzger.com

Heather Atton Cook
Heather Atton Cook

... also? I already am a Redheaded Barbie Trooper... I even have the camo to prove it :)

Heather Atton Cook
Heather Atton Cook

I don't have a problem with people advocating for their own point of view (like this parent counciil group) ... I think they end up becoming "those people" and people stop listening. I'd much rather be an advocate for my own personal children in my own personal home and no I don't mind at all explaining terms to my kids.

James Mueller
James Mueller

"Do YOU want to explain to YOUR channel-surfing children what a “Playboy Club” is?" *** "Daddy, what's a playboy club?" "Well, Son, it's a place where men go to look at pretty women."  Bam. Easy.

Tara D.Coomans
Tara D.Coomans

All I could think while I was reading this post is "Damn, this is a long post...and I'm still reading it. Erika is my writing icon." Only to be delivered with a cherished "thank you" at the end. Once again, great post..I'll be forwarding it to some parents I know in lieu of writing it less brilliantly myself!

Kathi
Kathi

You know, this was a great post!  My kids are parenting their own kids. I'd say don't hide things from your kids, talk and listen instead.  That might be awkward at first, for everyone, but hey, who guaranteed that parenting was easy? Be the example of what you want from them. You might find that your kids will turn it off on their own!!  REALLY, trust them!! Kathi

Caryn
Caryn

Again, love this post... your writing style, your points, and how you made those points. Here's some random comments I want to add to the mix: 1) To say that porn destroys marriages is, in my opinion, a bit ignorant. If one person is into something that another isn't, that's a difference in character and you're pointing fingers in the wrong place. I say this because I am going through a divorce, because we were different people. I'm not blaming any of his faults because they were his characteristics and we were not compatible. Period.  2) As a result of the divorce, I am adopting a 15 year old girl (formerly known as my stepdaughter) so I can continue to be a positive influence and role model instead of the bad example her father was. That's parenting in a nutshell... kids are little people in training and they do look to you (the Parent) for what's right and what isn't. They will form their own opinions and deserve respect, even if their opinions are wrong or highly misinformed.  So my kids (I have two boys of my own as well) do have a clue.  There is an open conversation policy and I strongly recommend it for any parent out there... it's better to know than pretend it doesn't exist because it does... whatever "it" is. Shoot, I might even watch that show (Playboy Club) with my daughter and answer any questions she might have.  Wonder if those same parents have a gripe against 'Secret Life of an American Teenager' which involves young girls actively having sex and talking openly about it. Gasp. (Thanks to THAT show, I have weekly talks with a 15 year old girl about sex, drugs, and every other awkward topic imaginable. We both hate it but it's great to know exactly where her own mind is at, and to be giving her better advice than another 15yo girl would be giving.) 3) I too will defend your right to have and express any opinion, even if it is different from my own, and the same courtesy should be expected in return. It's common sense... if you don't want your kids to learn something the wrong way, you should teach them the right way first. Just saying...

Tracie E.
Tracie E.

Like Stacey, I am a divorced parent of 4 . I own one TV. Its in the living room. No cable. Yep, I turned it off.  The kids would rather play video games anyway, and I thought the cash was better spent on a gaming system than a box that delivers hours and hours of senseless blather straight to my living room.  I also own one computer. Its in the living room, too, and I keep one eye on what they're getting themselves into on the net.  The older ones have cell phones they can use for calling/texting only.  Trust me, they HATE hearing 'no and 'how the heck did you find THAT site? Out. Now!', but that's part of being an adult and a parent, and someday they'll understand why I said it. I try to be as open as I can with the kids about the nastier aspects of being an adult, because I don't want them to walk out my front door when they're all grown up and be blindsided by the nastier aspects of being alone in this wide world, my ex-other-half tends toward overprotecting them.

Erica Allison
Erica Allison

We keep it pretty simple at my house (parent of an 8 y.o. boy and 3 y.o. woman child).  We have one tv and it's in the living room. My son knows his way around Netflix, but he also knows the rules and that I know every trick in the book for going around them.  Sitters know what he can and can not watch; there are parental controls on videos over a certain age; and he doesn't get to watch things that I think are stupid.  Sorry, when he's an adult and buys his own TV, DVR and DirectTV satellite, then he can rule the remote. We also have one computer in the house and it's in the kitchen.  (He's not allowed on mine - lap top that travels around with me).  He has to ask to use it and he can only visit sites we approve of.  He loves YouTube and finding funny animal videos; we've learned that's a tricky one b/c there's some really crude shit out there in that realm.  So, we have to watch along with him or screen them before he can just go surfing. If something "questionable" comes on and he asks about it, we EXPLAIN it.  We don't pretend it doesn't exist.  When I was pregnant (Very pregnant) with his little sister, he studied me one afternoon and wanted to know how we were gonna get her out.  Perceptive dude, isn't he?  I explained it in black and white terms to him, without using nicknames or cutesy terms, and afterwards, he looked down and said that hole's gonna have to get a lot bigger.  Told you he was smart. The point there is that I don't let him (or the little one) have free reign, but we also don't pretend things don't exist or hide them if the kids see it.  We explain.  We drink wine in front of them.  We don't smoke, so that's not an issue.  We try not to curse in front of them, although I've been known to let a Dammit come forth when the eldest ignores me...only to have it come back to haunt me later when he tries it out in front of my husband.  Nicely done, son.  So, we're ( I mean me) are dialing it back on the cursing. When your day comes, Erika, you'll be a fine mom.

Kara Gray
Kara Gray

I'm no prude and I totally agree with every single point that you make here. The problem I have is when the networks *don't give you the opportunity* to choose not to let your kids see it. Instead they blindside you with commercials dropped into otherwise benign TV programming that show a close up of a Playboy bunny's ass as she walks away or a clothed lapdance. Or how about the ads for another NBC show about some idiotic tart where she asks "Why aren't we tapping this every night?" in the middle of Americas Got Talent? That also pisses me off. Same with the "Up All Night" ads where Christina Applegate and her on-screen husband discuss why she doesn't want to have sex and proceed to discuss their "sex face" with gestures. What's the point of showing this at 8 p.m., other than to demonstrate that the show has no entertainment value without resorting to sex humor? I'm not saying they should stop offering these shows, just that they should be more careful with the advertising (same goes for KY and Viagra, BTW). It seems like the networks make a concerted effort to circumvent those of us who do try to take responsibility for the media our children consume.

Marta Spendowska
Marta Spendowska

No kids, just public TV + Netflix sometimes and — beware — a fast internet connection. I can see whatever I want, whenever I want. Which really mean only this : up to me how I want to spend my time+money. If I'd have kids, it will be similar; we'd need to activity choose what to watch, for them and myself, until they are big enough to decided for themselves.  I have to admit, from the commercials I had an impression that it's going to be another glorification of "available women in pony tails". The only thing that get's me intrigued is the awesomeness of the typography + the show's logo:)  Every day, by buying stuff, turning my Netflix on, off, yelling at or loving Fox, I vote. I've already lived in the country, that regulated everything. And, as I can remember, the trick was to figure out how to do it anyways.  So, Parents Television Council, get the fuck out of our lives.

Margaret
Margaret

Same here. My oldest two (now 20 & 18) did not get cell phones until they had jobs and could pay their own bill. My youngest will be the same way.

@keithprivette
@keithprivette

I am a parent of a 6 year old (boy) and an 8 year old (girl), I will take full responsibility for raising my kids and frankly the organization you mentioned above is a big waste of time, energy, and money.  Go do something worth while, like I dont know volunteer in your communities with families that are struggling these days.  So back you Erika on this point of view!

Scamm33
Scamm33

Much applause for Erika!! I consider myself an 'old-school' parent. We do not have cable or internet in my home. I am asked 'What do you do?' As if I am committing some sin. Well, we read books(remember those?),play games,enjoy nature and so forth. I do not believe in lying to my children;if I don't want them to know I tell them they don't need to know. I tell my children to question everything. Just because you are told,see or hear something doesn't make it true. Raise your kids with morals,dignity and respect. Erika you will be a wonderful mother some day!

SL Clark
SL Clark

Talking Tiger Porn,,, LMAO Sitting in a room with my 13 year old grandson as his mother & grandmother went over *every* expectation they have for him and his future sex life. Heh, he just started "chatting" with girls under the covers.  Playboy! Erika, we don't have PARENTS today, we have the giant NANNY state. Hence, Yosemite & Alaska must be made safe, and CA may soon *require* bicycle helmets on everyone. Choice in all its many forms is vanishing from this land and for that I'm deeply saddened. I sooooo wish you were a standup, the female Carlin - telling it like it is, or at least as it should be. Awesome post, even if it took time away from your all important paid writings. All the best, -Steve  

Annie Sisk
Annie Sisk

Hoo boy. You hit a nerve with me. On the one hand, I just banned my darling web-savvy daughter from Facebook for a week over a late-night lapse in judgment that ended up being publicly aired on her own page. On the other hand, there's another recent incident in which something I was participating in along with several other bloggers hit a speed bump when one of the bloggers asked the person heading it up to ask *another* one of the bloggers to REWRITE HIS POST. Because he used (less) profanity (than you typically use in a single paragraph - like, a few words here and there). That just brought me up short and made me queasy. Fortunately, I thought better of the first email response I'd written to this inquiry, and revised it to take out all the "WTF?!?"s and such. And you'll be heartened (as I was) to know that every single blessed one of the other bloggers who responded basically said "What Annie said." (Yes, the world is SO much better when everyone just agrees with me...) Yes, as a parent, I have an ongoing battle here, controlling what my daughter is exposed to. I view my job as the gatekeeper and bodyguard. I take into consideration her age and her maturity level and her personality. I can do that, 'cause I'm her parent. I don't want anyone else making those decisions, yanno? I mean, hell, I let her watch V FOR VENDETTA which is majorly violent -- I watched it with her, and we talked about that movie for hours. I let her watch it because I knew she could handle it and would be challenged by the premise. Never in my wildest, most desperate moments, though, have I EVER thought it was a good idea for some group of Other People to decide which shows, movies, webpages, etc. were worthy of ever seeing the light of day, just to make my job easier.

Sondrah Laden
Sondrah Laden

First I should state that I agree with your position and enjoyed your post.  I am a married mother of three (14, 10 and 18 months).  I think we see actions like these of the Parents TV Council because they are fighting a losing battle and unable to stop the progression of the clearly consertative network tv of decades ago to the shitfest it is today.  Sitcoms that air at 8pm have inappropriate content for kids and teens and you must decide to turn it off as opposed to fifteen or even ten years ago when you wouldn't have seen it on during that timeslot or any other and the network chose tame shows for you. So with a lack of a better option and little hope of a societal uprising that turns back the hands of time, I think you will see them complain and moan with little hope of achieving anything other than creating discussion topics for well meaning parents to worry and wonder what will become of their children exposed to all the filth and debauchery that is today's pop culture. 

Kseketa
Kseketa

So many times I feel like we just don't give kids enough credit. They are pretty damn smart and if you treat them with respect and instill in them the fundamentals of what is right and wrong they do a good job of making decent decisions. If you try to keep things from kids in the spirit of "protecting" them, they find a way to explore these things on their own only now without your guidance and wisdom. Unless you plan to follow your child around 24 hours a day to make sure they never stray from the straight and narrow, you have to treat them with respect and tell them the truth about what is going on in the world in a way that helps them understand why surfing the net for porn, taking drugs or stealing from the local store is not on the path of least resistance to a decent life.  Call me crazy, some moms do...but so far I have great kids -  so I am told.

Shad Boots
Shad Boots

Wait.  200,000 Americans are addicted to porn. I can believe that. 56% of divorces are caused by an obsessive interest in porn.  Obsessive interest. Addiction. Pretty much the same thing. Is it just me or should those numbers be a bit closer together, if not exactly the same? There are approximately 2.2 million marriages in the U.S. and 1.1 million divorces every year (this does NOT equal 50% divorce rate, by the way). So, 56% of 1.1 million divorces is approximately 616,000 divorces that end because of pornography...  Okay. Away from the numbers.  What's funny, hilariously so, is that these are the same people that are saying the government regulates too much and we're becoming a communist/fascist/pick-your-misused-term. They say, "Government should stay out of religion, school, away from my guns, and out of my life." You know, until it suits them. Then they want the gravy train.  In any case, my mother had a great way of doing things: she explained to us why she didn't want us watching a show, and actively made sure we didn't watch it until we were of the maturity she thought best. Novel concept, this parenting thing.