I can be uptight about the TV Azita, and eventually Ada, will watch. I can wait until Ada is two to introduce cartoons like I did with Azita (because of speech development and ADD/ADHD– 20 minutes a day of TV is the AAP’s stand until age 2).
I can let them watch Food network and Animal Planet. We knew that we let Azita watch plenty of Food network, when at the age of two, she pointed at the Harris Teeter fish counter and said “crab!”
But its going to be pretty hard to keep them from picking up on those subtle clues about gender. They are all over commercials. Every commercial for a cleaning product or kitchen appliance reflects a stay at home mom cleaning up or cooking.
I actually base whether or not I like a cartoon and let Azita watch it based on its gender portrayal. On Nick Jr (formerly Noggin), the wonder pets have a girl character, but she is not identified in any way by her clothes or activities. Then, you’ve got Max and Ruby, where Ruby is the bossy older sister who dresses “girly”, does girly things and tells Max, her younger brother, that he needs to do “boy” things, like when she is playing a tea party.
On disney, you’ve got Handy Manny, where the hardware store is owned by a knowledgeable woman, so it passes the test. Disney movies are definitely out as far as gender roles go, but they are about pervasive in this society!
I actually do know someone who only lets their child watch Planet Earth DVD’s and no TV, so she’s avoiding the commercial issue I started this post about.
I do know that we were reallygood with being selective about what Azi watched, but then when she turned two and we let her watch cartoons, all bets were off. Now a nature show rarely appeases her and she definitely wants to watch cartoons.
I let her watch “Jack’s Big Music Show” which I like because it has real people, and lots of music varying from Reggae to Jazz to kid’s stuff. “Toot and Puddle” is all about traveling to world, so that’s cool. She really likes “Little Einsteins”– the girls are def girly and the boys aren’t, but there is a lot of music on it, so I guess that’s good. “Imagination Movers” is cool too, they play decent music. Much unlike the ridiculous manufactured music of “The Fresh Beat Band”.
I was certainly raised on Disney and shows with gender messages I may not agree with, and I always have felt the way I do. It didn’t make me think woman are supposed to only define themselves by marrying a man or cleaning a house. Me and Payman will be bigger determinents of how our girls see men and women acting together.
But sometimes she says these things, and I can’t think of an example, that just make it SOO clear she soaks up every little morsel she watches on TV, and it reminds me to keep screening what she sees.
Yesterday she said some great things. We pulled into the Apple Crate and she said “if they don’t have samples, we’ll just go home, Momma.” And the she said, as we ate some red Thai Curry I made for dinner, “I like spicy food. I growed up.”