Let’s Talk About Sex — With & For Youth With Disabilities & Special Needs

As a parent, I’ve long been upset with the sad state of sex education in this country. As a parent of a (now adult) child with special needs, I’m even more upset. Children and even adults with special needs, especially those with disabilities which are not physical or so easily seen, receive even less sex ed than their mainstream counterparts. And this lack of knowledge apparently extends to the professionals and staff which work with those who have disabilities.

This has been made quite clear to me over the past few years in staff meetings for my daughter — especially when I have broached the subject of getting my now 25 year old daughter a vibrator or other sex toy. I don’t find it odd or irresponsible to teach young adults, especially young women how to please themselves; like former Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders, I believe a lot of good can come from masturbation (pun kind of intended?). Or at least a lot of bad, including bad relationships, can be avoided if a person knows how to thrill and please themselves. But while I have often been reminded by the professionals in my daughter’s life that “those with disabilities have the right to fail”, few, if any, have any comprehension that part of a full life is the right to a sexual life — and a pleasing one at that.

This was why I was so astonished and delighted to find this series of videos produced by KIDS, a charity which works with disabled children, young people and their families. While broken-up into three parts, the videos are from The Love Programme – Relationships and Sexuality, a Young Person’s Perspective, a film mad by and for young adults with disabilities. These young adults discuss good and bad relationships, personal space, forms of birth control (including which ones prevent sexually transmitted infections and diseases — and which do not), how to buy and use a condom — and part three even has a section for parents, with links to resources, and an amazing glossary (which even includes the word “consent”!).

Watch and be amazed.

[Be prepared to turn up the volume after the intro song (Let’s Talk About Sex, of course); the voices are a bit quiet.]

But, of course, the KIDS organization is in the UK.

Meanwhile, we in the US still fight over whether or not there should even be any sex education for “regular kids”. Never mind that if there’s one expectation in the “family values” culture, it is to produce a family. So shouldn’t one know just how that happens?

For the sane among us, we also know that there’s more to sex than pregnancy. There are health matters to contend with, such as STIs and STDs. And there are relationship issues as well. Which is why I so applaud the KIDS videos. The icing on top is the frank and accepting matter of sexual orientations as well.

Recommended Reading

Sex education: young people with learning disabilities are being left out:

“Learning about sex and relationships equips young people not only with the skills to say yes, but to say no, too,” [Gill] Leno says. “Understanding emotions, boundaries and how to stay safe are vital for people with learning disabilities. A good, well-rounded awareness of sex and relationships is important as it helps to protect against abuse and exploitation as well as providing a solid framework for appropriate behaviour, both sexually and socially.”

Sex Education for Physically, Emotionally, and Mentally Challenged Youth:

Myth 1: People with disabilities are not sexual. All people—including young people—are sexual beings, regardless of whether or not they live with physical, mental, or emotional disabilities. And, all people need affection, love and intimacy, acceptance, and companionship.

…Start talking with your children about sexuality while they are very young. Do not wait until they reach puberty (or later) for these conversations!

Additional resources on Sex & Disability at the Sexual Health & Disability Alliance (SHADA).

FireShot Screen Capture #397 - 'The Love Programme - Relationships and Sexuality, a Young Person's Perspective Part 1_mov - YouTube' - www_youtube_com_watch_v=4ASCysU1wto&feature=plcp

Check Out Girls #YesAllWomen

I’ve written / ranted about this sort of thing before. If I let myself shop a lot, I could make a whole website devoted to this subject of inappropriate clothing that sexualizes children. That’s sad. And infuriating.

At the Mall Of America, in a shop called Rainbow, I spotted this tee-shirt for girls, sized 7 – 16, which features a bar-code graphic and says, “Check Me Out”. As if our girls need to be further scrutinized and evaluated as commodities. See Also: Remembering Retro Risque T-Shirt Iron-Ons.

check out girls tee

More #YesAllWomen Backlash & Myth-Information (It’s Math, Really)

If you don’t follow me on Twitter, then you may not have noticed how in love I am with the #YesAllWomen phenomenon. Personally, it became very difficult for me to maintain such conversations when Maya Angelou passed, but despite that, and the hashtag’s bump off the top trends at Twitter, I manage to maintain conversations. (My goal, and yours, should be to talk about the realities of women’s lives daily to ensure the conversations continue. The hatred and misogyny, the misinformation and bad defensive attitudes, they all continue so the conversations must.

Today’s example comes from the Washington Post: One way to end violence against women? Stop taking lovers and get married.

Oh, sure, they went and changed that horrible title & subtitle…

yesallwomen backlash

But that’s not much better, is it?

The general point of view in the article itself is one of victim shaming. Along with that, there’s the whole shaming of single women, especially single mothers (see history of this here). — and the assertion that “single women who date more” are the problem is rife with problems. Simple, obvious problems.

Yes, it may be safer for women (& their children) if they remain with one man — but that’s because the majority of gender-based violence is committed by someone the woman knows. Ditto child abuse. So, even as the percentage of abusive men remains the same, the more men a woman knows, the greater the number of bad men she knows and so grows the likelihood that she will be attacked, raped, abused, etc.  Yup, that’s how math works.

So what W. Bradford Wilcox and Robin Fretwell Wilson proclaim is that women, the victims and potential victims, once, must again, be the ones taught to control rape culture & misogyny. That way, if it happens to them, they are to blame. We give permission to men because the women didn’t protect themselves enough.

Why can’t the men be the ones educated and blamed?

One of the fundamental points of #YesAllWomen is that our culture has it all backwards. The burden should not be on women to take actions to prevent themselves from what men do, but that men need to cut this shit out. And we all need to stop justifying bad & violent behaviors.

When Cowboys Wore Pink

To modern eyes, this is surprising. “Pink is a girls’ color,” we think. This association has become so firmly entrenched in our cultural imagination that people are flabbergasted to learn that until the 1950s, pink was often considered a strong color and, therefore, was associated with boys.

Deanna Dahlsad‘s insight:

See also, When Did Girls Start Wearing Pink? at the Smithsonian: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/When-Did-Girls-Start-Wearing-Pink.html

See on thesocietypages.org

Women & Children Should Be Scene & Not Heard

We’ve all heard the expression “Children should be seen and not heard”, an expression particularly aimed at girls. Well, apparently it was updated in the 1970s to be “Children should be scene and not heard”. Enter Exhibit A, a vintage advertisement for Mary Maxim needlecraft kits which features a little girl dressed to complete a festive holiday scene:

mary maxim vintage ad 1978

The girl wears a floor-length red dress, much like the table wears a red floor-length tablecloth. Both decorative small female child and small table each wear overlays of fancy white crocheted creations (the Mary Maxim pinafore and tablecloth kits).  If anyone can show me an example of this done to boys or men, please do.

The ad was found in the September 1978 issue of Decorating & Craft Ideas Magazine.

Sexism In Collecting Vintage Valentines

Today we celebrate Valentine’s Day. I wrote about why many collect old Valentines at CQ; but wanted to share this one from my own collection.

As a feminist, I obviously take issue with a woman professing “I’d like to be your little homebody.” And there she sits, knitting socks, with the ever-present female-as-feline domesticated cat.

Since these little vintage Valentine’s Day cards were, then as now, passed out in schools all over the USA, it’s only natural that you’ll find some cards not only signed by boys but presented to boys. Still, the fact that Edgar signed this gender stereotype card to Ralph makes me take pause…

This literally is how gender stereotypes have been passed along — and it’s just another example of the rote mechanical nature of boys getting the task of forced Valentines sending over with.

More of my vintage Valentines here and here.

The Political Shades Of A Colorpillar

When I grabbed this Romper Room Colorpillar toy, I had vague memories of the Romper Room TV show…

But not enough, apparently. A quick look at the Wiki entry and it turns out this toy is most fitting for this political season.

First, there’s the whole problem with children’s television shows and hosts pitching product during shows. Romper Room was the first target of the newly formed watchdog group Action for Children’s Television who leveraged the power of an threat FCC threat into ceasing “host-selling”.

Then there’s the whole Romper Room abortion scandal.

In 1962, the hostess of the Phoenix franchise of Romper Room linked her own name with that of the ongoing controversies over abortion. Sherri Finkbine, known to television viewers as “Miss Sherri”, sought hospital approval for abortion on the ground that she had been taking thalidomide and believed her child would be born deformed. Finkbine made a public announcement about the dangers of thalidomide, and the hospital refused to allow an abortion, apparently because of her announcement and its own fear of publicity. Finkbine traveled to Sweden for the abortion. Upon completion, it was confirmed that the fetus had no legs and only one arm. The incident became a made-for-TV movie in 1992, A Private Matter, with Sissy Spacek as Finkbine.

I guess this really is an educational toy — if you research it, rather than play with it.

In terms of memories of the show, as I said, they are fuzzy. Not all warm and fuzzy; just not clear. Also according to Wiki:

The hostess would also serve milk and cookies to the children, with prayer offered before eating. The famous Romper Room prayer went “God is great, God is good. Let us thank him for our food. Amen.”

Now that’s the prayer I remember saying. But that’s really odd, because our home was not a praying home. Perhaps this praying business is why I don’t recall much of the show… Perhaps when my folks found out prayer and indoctrination was part of the program, they switched the set off. That is something I will have to ask them.

A Poignant Pause

I originally found this photo of Erik Lee Kirkland watching his mother, Gypsy Rose Lee, perform while censor is watching performance on alert for over-exposure when creating Gypsy Rose Lee; but find it poignant enough to merit its own post.

I Read, I Write: The Kitsch Slapped Link Round-Up

A link round-up of what I’ve been reading and writing — not all of it, just the stuff I think you Kitsch Slapped readers might like.

What I’ve been writing:

What Girl Scout Cookies Fund

I wrote about the Girl Scouts celebrating 100 years, which reminds me of this graphic some anti-Girl-Scout, control-all-the-wombs, misogynistic self loathing person made. It’s supposed to make me not buy the cookies. But in fact, had me double my order this year. My hips can totally carry the extra weight; I can’t bear any more attacks on women and women’s rights.

I’m talking about celebrity deaths in terms of capitalism, collecting, and class.

Silent film fans, those who like to collect vintage beauty items, and those who like to consider beauty pageants and/or gender issues may be interested in Of Valentino, Mineralava Beauty Pageants & Pink Powder Puffs.

And I’m back at Collectors Quest, so check out my columns.

What I’ve been reading:

Big busted women talking about bra minimizers and breast reduction surgery; myth and bra busting with facts and insights.

Victorian sex tips, for men and women. It may or may not all be true; but it’s amusing in a twisted sort of a way.

Some facts and collecting tips on Rudi Gernreich’s No-Bra Bra (for Exquisite Form).

The strange and intriguing tale of the “tits tee” begins here, folks!

This I actually read in hard copy — belatedly. Having grabbed a copy in November when I was seeing family for the holiday, the paper remained tucked inside my suitcase until I got home and after unpacking it, plopped it onto the magazine pile. Anyway, it’s still a fabulous read: Daughter Thinks It’s Time To Have Sex Talk With Parents.

Now That You’re Big, Stop Being A Sexist Pig

Now That You’re Big, by Simon Greiner “with apologies to Dr. Seuss,” is an amusing parody of the classic kids’ books with a twist: Now That You’re Big is about sexuality. Including the one activity that is supposed to make you go blind — masturbating.

At first glance, it’s down-right clever; but then something creeps in and creeps you out… Men are having all the fun in this book, not women.

Ms.JayLynn notices and points it out too:

The Dr. Suess nature of this is great, but unfortunately I have to offer a bit of criticism. You’ve done a lot to reinforce standard gender stereotypes.

The section for guys reinforces the idea that it’s ok to ogle girls, and masturbate. The section for girls is all about “be careful because you might be pregnant. Really? Is that the message you want to be sending?

How about teaching girls that masturbating is a good thing and not something to be ashamed of? And what about teaching guys the importance of being respectful and mature about birth control?

Also, where’s the safer sex message? With the millions of euphimisms about condoms, there’s gotta be a way to put at least one of them in a Dr. Suess fashion. Don’t you think that’s an important message to put out there?

Maybe this was all done in fun and games, and you were just amusing yourself with it. Great! I’m glad you had some fun and put together an awesome piece in the style of Dr. Suess. However, there’s a much bigger picture here as well, and I hope you’ll take a few minutes to consider it.

Be well.

Despite her “Be well,” Ms.JayLynn was, of course, bashed for not having a sense of humor.

Hey, Ms.JayLynn, come on over here where we understand that sometimes inequality just isn’t funny. Sometimes even jokes and humorous pieces when just left to their own comedic devices do more than inspire giggles — they perpetuate the stuff that makes us insane. Like treating women as problems not people entitled to their own pleasures. Like not discussing the health concerns by omitting condoms — but still pointing out pregnancy, as if it were “the worst” and something women are responsible for. Ugh.

As for those leaving nasty comments to MsJaylynn, here’s something for you to consider: Now that you’re big, stop being a sexist pig.

A Chilling Cold War Reminder Of The Freedom Of Media

Making Democracy Work & Grow: Practical Suggestions For Students, Teachers, Administrators, and Other Community Leaders, from the Federal Security Agency, Office of Education, Bulletin 1948 No 10, Oscar R. Ewing, Administrator, John W. Studebaker, Commissioner.

A more subtle Cold War publication, preaching that we must do more than “learn the values & working habits of democracy,” we must “live it” to “strengthen national security and to win the peace.” “We must also work together — to keep democracy free and make it strong and positive.” On the last page, advice on “cooperating” with the Motion Picture Council to “encourage the showing and reshowing of movies that stimulate an understanding and appreciation of American democracy” in your own community. Other media is included in this vintage propaganda booklet; but the film section rather covers it all — the seemingly benign advocacy setting darker things in motion…

In Which Gardasil & I *Almost* Make The News (Or, Ethics In Medicine & Media)

Last week I watched The Republican Debate at the Reagan Library. I found myself astounded by the fact that these people with limited intellectual reasoning, if not limited intellectual functioning, were in positions to actually be running for President of the United States of America. I’ve more to say on that subject (expect another post soon), but for now, I’m just going to focus on the one subject in which I found myself even more shocked: the one time when I found myself agreeing with some of the things the potential candidates said.

Faux Vintage Gardasil Ad

The subject was mandatory use of the Gardasil HPV vaccine; something I’ve long considered dangerous — especially as it’s equated with crony capitalism. Now, to be clear, I’m not one of those who thinks that preventing a disease which is linked to sexual behavior is akin to giving young women (or anyone) a Go Out & Screw card; you should know by now I’m not that kind of silly. But I’ve been concerned for a long time about the dangers of Gardasil, a drug pushed through quickly and forced upon young women and their families who are kept ignorant of the dangers — including deaths — of the vaccine. However, as I was soon to be traveling, I decided I didn’t have time to write about this subject again. Until…

Not long after I arrived home last night, my father in law called me. A reporter, Kristin Helgeson from Valley News Live, had left a message for him, asking if he was related to a Deanna Dahlsad. Yes, he is; yes, I called the phone number Helgeson left, and left her a message. But it wasn’t until this morning that the reporter and I connected.

Seems Michelle Bachmann stepped in it again, this time taking one individual and unverified comment and making the claim that “Gardasil led to mental retardation,” and Helgeson, having found my coverage of Gardasil at my other blog, wanted a comment from me. However, now that it was the next day, the story is “over.” While Helgeson was interested in pursuing the information I had, her boss, News Director Griff Potter, felt new and more accurate information wasn’t warranted — at least not enough to continue the story on air. Instead, Potter feels that I should just add a comment to the news story on their website.

It’s here that my story turns, for the moment, from one of the dangers the Gardasil vaccine, to that of the problems of The Media.”

In Valley News Live‘s coverage of the story, they reported:

On their website, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has a review page for this vaccine. None of the serious side effects have been linked to the vaccine and there have been no reports of mental disability. In fact, the most serious side effect they found was fainting. They now ask patients to sit down for 15 minutes after they get vaccinated.

This may be true — but it’s clearly not the whole story! As I’ve uncovered, there are deaths linked to Gardasil — in the US and India.  While Valley News Live may not find their omission “retraction worthy,” surely they should present the other information that the public ought to be informed about.  And they should do so in the same format as their original coverage.  One hopes that the folks at Valley News Live know that their television viewers are not necessarily those who will turn to the Internet and look for updates on earlier stories (or trust the comments left by some “kook” like me); if there was something important to add to the story, they’d show it on the news right?  Wrong.

I want to be clear here and state that Helgeson wanted/wants to proceed with the story.  And I did call Mr. Potter to voice my concerns too; as of this writing, he has not returned my call.  I hope he is out to lunch in the literal sense, not metaphorically, and that I will hear from him — or from Helgeson, saying Potter has reconsidered.  But until then, this whole thing just makes me so angry.

How long will the arbitrators of news continue to dismiss the issues in this story?  How long will they continue to discount women — not just as part of their audience, but in general?  For cutting or ignoring the facts from stories like this only perpetuates the problems of poor ethics in everything from medicine and politics.

For more, see my other related posts, at varying sites:

Is Medicine At Odds With Women’s Health?

Controlling Parts Is Controlling The Sum Of Its Parts

The Dark Side Of Medicine

What If Everything You Knew About The Corset Was Wrong?

And do see my Gardasil coverage.

“Unsolicited Advice To Adolescent Girls With Crooked Teeth And Pink Hair”

I absolutely adore this piece by Jeanann Verlee:

Unsolicited Advice To Adolescent Girls With Crooked Teeth And Pink Hair

When your mother hits you, do not strike back. When the boys call asking your cup size, say A, hang up. When he says you gave him blue balls, say
you’re welcome. When a girl with thick black curls who smells like bubble gum stops you in a stairwell to ask if you’re a boy, explain that you keep
your hair short so she won’t have anything to grab when you head-butt her. Then head-butt her. When a guidance counselor teases you for handed-down
jeans, do not turn red. When you have sex for the second time and there is no condom, do not convince yourself that screwing between layers of underwear will soak up the semen. When your geometry teacher posts a banner reading: “Learn math or go home and learn how to be a Momma,” do not take your first feminist stand by leaving the classroom. When the boy you have a crush on is sent to detention, go home. When your mother hits you, do not strike back. When the boy with the blue mohawk swallows your heart and opens his wrists, hide the knives, bleach the bathtub, pour out the vodka. Every time. When the skinhead girls jump you in a bathroom stall, swing, curse, kick, do not turn red. When a boy you think you love delivers the first black eye, use a screw driver, a beer bottle, your two good hands. When your father locks the door, break the window. When a college professor writes you poetry and whispers about your tight little ass, do not take it as a compliment, do not wait, call the Dean, call his wife. When a boy with good manners and a thirst for Budweiser proposes, say no. When your mother hits you, do not strike back. When the boys tell you how good you smell, do not doubt them, do not turn red. When your brother tells you he is gay, pretend you already know. When the girl on the subway curses you because your tee shirt reads: “I fucked your boyfriend,” assure her that it is not true. When your dog pees the rug, kiss her, apologize for being late. When he refuses to stay the night because you live in Jersey City, do not move. When he refuses to stay the night because you live in Harlem, do not move. When he refuses to stay the night because your air conditioner is broken, leave him. When he refuses to keep a toothbrush at your apartment, leave him. When you find the toothbrush you keep at his apartment hidden in the closet, leave him. Do not regret this. Do not turn red. When your mother hits you, do not strike back.

Via PANK Magazine.

Image via.

Crunk, Talking Genitals & Childish Fashion Crimes (or, A What I’ve Been Reading Link Round-Up)

Just a good old fashioned link round-up — yee-haw!

1.) At The Crunk Feminist Collective, a thought provoking post on self care for the feminist or liberal activist:

Talk about crunk. Bambara gives the side eye to the notion that you can attack capitalism, racism, or other systems of dominance out in the world without challenging those same systems (especially hetero-patriarchy) within one’s own relationships. That, in fact, leaving your own house “out of order” not only jeopardizes but it, in fact, undermines both your potential for good work and your potential for intimacy and happiness. Indeed, for me, Bambara’s call for us to essentially get our ish together charges us to recognize how important—how revolutionary—it is for us to love (and love on) each other and ourselves fiercely and fearlessly.

I started a group for just this sort of thing at Bliss Connect. It’s called Seeking Progressive Social Bliss; so far it’s a circle of one. *sigh*

2.) I was meaning to write about the horrible Summer’s Eve “Hail To The V” Campaign, but then Stephen Colbert did this:

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Vaginal Puppeteering vs. D**k Scrub
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog Video Archive

I felt nothing could really top that. (Especially as I have a thing for puppets. Really!)  However, I highly recommend this post about the hideous ad campaign at Sociological Images. It’s especially good to show those who don’t understand satire; it’s a mental illness, you know.

3.) As I’ve oft complained about the sexualization of children, especially when it comes to clothing (NWS), I found this bit of fashion news across the pond fascinating:

The review, conducted by Reg Bailey, chief executive of the Mothers Union, was published in June. Bailey’s report, ‘Letting Children be Children,’ looked at cultural influences on children and children as consumers but particularly significant for the clothing sector was its examination of clothing, products and services for children.

The report stated that the marketing of “sexualised and gender-stereotyped clothing, products and services” for children were “the biggest areas of concern for parents and many non-commercial organisations contributing to the review.”


As the report was published, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) unveiled a set of guidelines governing the design, commissioning and marketing of clothing ranges for children under 12 years old.

The article continues to discuss the practical and impractical issues involved. As citizen of the USA, I’m left wondering if such clothing prohibition is the answer. After all, the problem isn’t the garments glutting the market; it’s the consumers with horrible judgement who pay for clothing in such poor taste. At what point does the law need to protect us from our bad choices? Or, more pointedly, at what point does the government need to protect children from the bad choices of their parents?

Image Credits: Via eBay. (You’d have already seen it if you visited my Tumblr.

The Sexual Segregation Of She-Ra; Or, Why I Love Thundarr

I’m too old to claim to have logged hours of watching She-Ra or He-Man — or any childhood memories from that MOTU period. But that won’t stop me from having an opinion.

In The Problem With She-Ra as a Feminist Text, Renee Martin considers the retro ass-kicking cartoon vixen in terms of various female identities:

As adult, I can look at She-ra and still appreciate the positive role that she filled for some young girls. I say some, because as a WOC, She-ra is not a show that I would particular encourage my children to watch, and even more so if I had a daughter. You, see when feminists start talking about women’s advancement, my first question is which women are we talking about? If we’re honest, no matter how many times the great unified sisterhood is pitched by feminism, there are always going to be some women, who somehow don’t fit the mold, because they are poor, of colour, trans, lesbian, older, disabled etc.

…I love her even though she is flawed and continues the erasure I feel as a marginalized woman in many spheres, but I will not dismiss her, because I don’t have the right to take away heroes from little White girls, who need their heroes too. Even though their challenges will be much different than mine, I will not deny that these challenges exist, and by so doing erase the threat that they pose to me. There are very few positive role models for young girls of colour to look up to but erasing the few White images will not change that.

When I read Martin’s post, I found myself nodding my head in understanding and agreement; however…

I’m still struck by something Hillary DePiano, author of The She-Ra Collector’s Inventory: An Unofficial Illustrated Guide to All Princess of Power Toys and Accessories, said in my interview with her:

Interestingly enough, I started somewhat backwards. He-Man predated She-Ra by quite a few years and as a kid I just LOVED He-Man. I had quite a few of the toys. But when the spin-off show, She-Ra came out, my parents decided that since there was now a “girl version” that I had to give all my He-Man figures to my brother and that he would play with them and I would get the She-Ra. God, was I bitter about that. I think there is some feminism lesson in there.

I can’t help but wonder, then, if She-Ra was a means of sexual or gender segregation.

She-Ra was part of the Master Of The Universe world but she was relegated to her own corners of it, kept out of the “Males Only” areas just because they had lady parts. (The usual over-emphasized comic book figure lady parts, of course. He-Man had his own exaggerated maleness too; it’s the earmarks of such works.)  I can’t say that watching the complete She-Ra series and all the He-Man episodes, we could count how many bubblers water fountains She-Ra and crew couldn’t drink from, how many buses these sheroes rode in the back of; it’s far worse than that.

The simplicity of making an “all female version” of the popular Saturday morning cartoon series completely removes coexistence. Women on one side; men on the other — the original side.  Almost like parallel universes, really. What does that say about gender equality?  Not much. Especially if parents, the kids’ overlords, were interpreting these two shows and their accompanying toy sets as “one for boys, one for girls.”

(If there were any super-cross-over MOTU episodes, those might be more interesting; but I doubt I’d be surprised.)

That’s maybe (partly) why I liked Thundarr The Barbarian. There may not have been complete equality, but at least Princess Ariel and Ookla the Mok existed along side leading man Thundarr.

Sadly, there were no Thundarr The Barbarian toys. *heavy sigh* Which means I cannot discuss the parental interaction. Nor can I collect the toys.

PS For the record, I was — and forever remain — an Ookla fan. Ookla was a formerly enslaved a leonine humanoid with fangs and yellow eyes. Whatever a Mok may be in this cultural equation, I guess that’s how I’m identifying.

While Ookla’s guttural, growling language may seem unintelligible, and therefore not appear well suited for blogging writing, “he” is also, according to those who know, “the most likely of the heroes to charge right into an enemy attack or to be enraged by unusual nuisances or threats.” And that, my friends, is how I see myself. (Plus, I will also go quite out of the way to avoid water on my face as well.)

Image credits: Photo from Hillary DePiano’s book and used with permission.

William’s Always Wanted A Doll

Remember William Wants A Doll from Free to Be, You and Me?

Well, William — and millions of little boys just like him — have wanted dolls through the ages. Some were lucky enough to have had parents who weren’t freaked out and let them have dolls. Some parents even took photographs of their boys with their dolls, like these from 20s and 30s.

Images via bondman2 @ eBay.

Punished For Parenting, Blue Laws, 1884

Jim Linderman presents this original court document from Williamsport in Lycoming County, Pennsylvania, dated June 3, 1884 in which Mrs. Susan Johnson was arrested and charged with being “addicted to scolding,” including the habit of using profane, vulgar and abusive language.” Given that, it seems obvious — or odd, depending upon your parenting views — that Mrs. Johnson also instructed “her children to insult, abuse and injure children and persons in general.”

At the bottom, or second page, of the court document, it is also noted that Mrs. Johnson dared to keep her business establishment open on Sunday, “the Lord’s day” — in violation of Blue Laws.

Me thinketh the open store, the audacity of a woman to make money on the sabbath, was the real problem.

But I’m a biased feminist.

In fact, without anything else to go on, I daresay Mrs. Susan Johnson was a strong woman, an independent woman with her own business. One who didn’t tolerate crap from anyone and was raising her children to do the same — in a time and place where women were like children and so should be seen and not heard.

But I have no proof of this.

According the arrest warrant, Mrs. Johnson had to pay bail in the amount of $200…

Despite my best attempts at research, I could not find any report of how the court story ends. However, it appears that poor Mrs. Johnson died shortly after tornadoes struck and leveled her house along with several others — “not a timber left standing” — according to a newspaper story in the Daily Gazette And Bulletin, Williamsport, Pennsylvania, on February 23, 1884.  I can’t be absolutely certain this is the same Mrs. Susan Johnson, but it’s the only trail I could find. Rest in peace, Susan.

Little Jumping Joan

I always found this nursery rhyme a little unnerving…

Little Jumping Joan

Here am I, little jumping Joan,
When nobody’s with me
I’m always alone.

Apparently photographer Jonathan Hobin thinks so too; this is Jumping Joan, a little girl wearing a straightjacket, from his Mother Goose series.

Confessions Of Culture Shifts & Gender Bias

Sometimes being 46 years old — and a woman — is an amazing thing. I’m often fascinated by the cultural shifts I’ve witnessed; too often dismayed by the cultural shifts promised which have not occurred, been set further back even… But it sure has been a shifty four decades.

I often wonder if other individual women in other generations have anything to compare…

I’ve thought my Great Aunt M had lived through some amazing changes — suffrage, working during WWII and returning back home when the men came back to claim “their” jobs, the choice not to have children in the atomic family age… Amazing cultural shifts in one lifetime.

I’ve long been aware of my mother’s experience — but usually from the point of view of what it’s been like to have been her daughter. She was the first and only mom I knew who consistently worked outside of the home. At first it may have just been for the money; waitressing and the like. But by the late 70’s she was progressing from “just an office job” to reading The Assertive Woman, attending workshops on how-to-dress-for-success, and actively pursuing a career. As the only kids in the neighborhood — and in our family — with a wanting-to-work mom (and a father who supported her choice and her work), my sister and I had a different perspective of women’s lib: equal parts of liberation, greater responsibilities, and increased expectations. …This could be a long post by itself.

But just a few days ago I had an astonishing talk with my mother which made me reexamine just what it must have been like for her…

She and I had been discussing how different my sister and I are (I’ve always said that if we hadn’t been born sisters, we never would have met), and I said, “I could understand it better if she and I had been born further apart, but there’s only a year and a half separating us — we were raised by the same parents, at the same time in their lives.”

And then that’s when my mom shared some stories that rocked my brain.

When my mom was in high school, this would be the late 1950s, she wanted a summer job. Her father said he would recommend her to the diaper washing service next to his auto-body shop if she promised to work every single day — not miss one day, or ever be late. She agreed, he made the recommendation, and she got the summer job.

She went in to work every day, all summer long. Then one night, she and her boyfriend — her first love, broke up. She spent all night crying, as teenage girls will do. When she woke up and her father spotted her in the hall, he asked her why she wasn’t yet dressed for work. She responded that she was a mess, that she could barely see through her puffy eyes, that she wouldn’t be going into work that day. Her father looked directly at her, said, “You gave your word,” then turned on his heel and left.

Mom quickly got dressed and to work on time.  She never missed one day of work and lived up to her word.

When it came time for her younger sister Vickie, mom’s junior by nine years, to get a summer job, Vickie only worked four days before she quit. Years later, when having some sister-chat, my Aunt Vicki asked her sister, my mother, “Why didn’t they teach me to be responsible, like they did you?”

My mom’s response was, “You came along at a different time in their lives; you were their baby and they had different expectations of you.”

That is probably a fair analysis. And an amazingly insightful, non-spiteful, response from my mother to boot.

But my mom wasn’t done sharing her stories.

A few years after the summer laundry job, my mom worked full-time as a secretary at a finance company. This was at the same time that her brother, Mike, just two years her junior, was working at Pabst. My mom was paying $15 a week in rent to her parents. She thought nothing of it until she discovered that her brother wasn’t paying anything to their parents.

When she asked her parents why she paid rent and her brother did not, the answer (given in that “you’re so silly to ask” tone of condescension) was that “she was working for pin money, but Mike was a man.”

Even though “Mike the man” wasn’t supporting a family (his paycheck went to purchase beer), the assumption was that he was working for a future, that his paycheck and job were more important. He was expected to work; she was not.   The price for her frivolity in dabbling in employment was one she would have to pay for.

Even now when I think about this I am amazed. Not just that this greatly shifts my perception of my beloved grandparents, who were a product of their own times, but that my mother who was raised by and living with these people had the guts to question her parents about this gender bias.

But that’s not even the worst of it.

When I expressed my surprise and shock — including that I’d never heard these stories before, my mother shared one more…

This one is about my cousins, Lisa & Danny, who are my Uncle Mike’s kids.

Recently, my cousin Lisa was out to lunch with my mom and she confessed that both she and her brother felt they never pleased their father; Danny for not being a macho sports guy — and Lisa for not being a boy at all. It was so bad that Lisa said, “You know, my mom never read to me. Not once. She read to Danny.”  And then she rapidly tacked on — as if risking being accused of being unfair or mean-spirited,  “I could listen though.”

Images of a small shy child silently lurking in the doorway while a mother snuggled with a sibling on a bed, reading to him from a book he’d selected… *shudder*

I always wondered why my cousin Lisa was so shy — painfully so. Ill-confident, uncomfortable in her own skin.  How can you be anything else when your own parents don’t think you’re worthy of being read to because you’re not a male child?

It sounds the stuff of the 1950s, not the 1960s and 70s… If  “America” at all.

But here it is, gender bias bullshit, from real lives, not text book depictions; from my family, some of it even in my lifetime.  It’s real. It’s still living here, if only in echos. And poor self esteem.

Image via Steady Mom.

Before There Was Princess Jasmine…

There was this Chinese Princess costume and mask by Ben Cooper.

OK, so maybe she’s not exactly a dead-ringer for Princess Jasmine. And so what if I get more of an Indonesian-vibe than a Chinese one; we could debate such things all day. But not debatable is the fact that this princess is very fair. I also have the vintage Ben Cooper Yogi Bear costume and mask (I also have it up at auction on eBay), which is, if not the same shade, a bit darker.

BBC Resumed Clowning Around

We Americans (at least those who watched NBC) had Marjorie Hellen, color TV “identification girl”; across the pond, BBC watchers had “Carole and the clown” test pattern.

The test pattern, featuring eight-year-old Carole Hersee, was broadcast between 1967 and 1998, amounting to 70,000 hours of screen time — and in January of 2009 that test pattern returned. The BBC has rescanned the original transparency in high definition to help consumers set up the latest TV sets.

Below is a photo of Carole Hersee in 2009, when she was 49.

Pinups Perverting With Pink Plush

This is Jayne Mansfield, surrounded by her pink plushies; but lots of babes of yesteryear posed with stuffed animals and little girl gear (yes, I now are a “tumbl tard”).

I have really mixed feelings about sex kittens taking their “adorable youth” and “cutesy girl” status past shy coy smiles while wearing babydoll lingerie and dresses and move right on into props which promote themselves as children or as having a somewhat diminished emotional &/or intellectual status; then it’s pushing pedophilia and issues of consent. And both creep me out.