Media Literacy – Kindred Media https://www.kindredmedia.org Sharing the New Story of Childhood, Parenthood, and the Human Family Mon, 28 Sep 2020 19:37:18 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.1.6 https://www.kindredmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/cropped-Kindred-Black-Logo-square-32x32.png Media Literacy – Kindred Media https://www.kindredmedia.org 32 32 Why Doctors Are Increasingly Prescribing Nature https://www.kindredmedia.org/2019/08/why-doctors-are-increasingly-prescribing-nature/ https://www.kindredmedia.org/2019/08/why-doctors-are-increasingly-prescribing-nature/#respond Wed, 28 Aug 2019 23:47:51 +0000 http://www.kindredmedia.org/?p=22802 As rates of chronic disease among children have skyrocketed over the past few decades, pediatricians have increasingly looked for solutions beyond the clinic. Sometimes that means actually prescribing time outside. Special correspondent Cat Wise reports from Oakland on the medical evidence that indicates escaping modern urban life, even temporarily, can yield health dividends. Read more […]]]>

As rates of chronic disease among children have skyrocketed over the past few decades, pediatricians have increasingly looked for solutions beyond the clinic. Sometimes that means actually prescribing time outside. Special correspondent Cat Wise reports from Oakland on the medical evidence that indicates escaping modern urban life, even temporarily, can yield health dividends.

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The Blind Leading The Blind – A Reaction To The AAP’s New Screen Time Policy https://www.kindredmedia.org/2015/11/the-blind-leading-the-blind-a-reaction-to-the-aaps-new-screen-time-policy/ https://www.kindredmedia.org/2015/11/the-blind-leading-the-blind-a-reaction-to-the-aaps-new-screen-time-policy/#respond Mon, 16 Nov 2015 22:01:58 +0000 http://www.kindredmedia.org/?p=17291 Kindred’s Contributing Editor and FCL board member, Michael Mendizza, responds below to the American Academy of Pediatric’s new screen time policy statement, Beyond “Turn It Off”: How To Advise Families On Media Use.  Normal isn’t necessarily healthy or natural,  or the road to hell is paved with good intentions. It is so much more demanding […]]]>

Kindred’s Contributing Editor and FCL board member, Michael Mendizza, responds below to the American Academy of Pediatric’s new screen time policy statement, Beyond “Turn It Off”: How To Advise Families On Media Use. 

Normal isn’t necessarily healthy or natural, 
or the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

It is so much more demanding for parents not to substitute virtual for real experiences; no wonder a recent essay applauded the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) for softening its position on screen time. This essay is the latest edition of the blind leading the blind, looking at water from inside the fish bowl and not at the true nature of the child, that is, after all, nature, not FaceBook, Sesame Street or the criminally misleading Baby Einstein. The arguments go like this:

For years, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has adopted an on/off switch mentality when it comes to children and screen time. It used to recommend that children, ages two and under, have absolutely no exposure to screens. For older kids, the AAP recommended limiting ‘screen time’ to just two hours a day. Now, the guidelines have been changed so that they reflect a more nuanced approach…

Last month I wrote, Parents Don’t Need To Worry About ‘Screen Time’ Anymore In that post, I argued:

Screens are now a ubiquitous part of our lives. It is a technology that has been completely integrated into the human experience. At this point, worrying about exposure to screens is like worrying about exposure to agriculture, indoor plumbing, the written word, or automobiles. For better or worse, the transition to screen based digital information technologies has already happened and now resistance is futile. The screen time rhetoric that accompanied the television—when this technology was still in its formative age—is no longer relevant.

The AAP now seems to agree. “In a world where ‘screen time’ is becoming simply ‘time,’” the update reads, “our policies must evolve or become obsolete. The public needs to know that the Academy’s advice is science-driven, not based merely on the precautionary principle.” Of course, that’s exactly what most experts in children and digital media previously thought, that the AAP guidelines seemed like they were the result of familiar technophobic paranoia that always accompanies new technologies.

“Familiar technophobic paranoia that always accompanies new technologies.” Really? I guess that’s me. I’m old enough to remember when bell bottoms were new and TV was going to revolutionize education. Referring to television, Jerry Mander noted way back in the 70’s; no invention or technology is neutral. Each seduces the human body and nervous system to adapt to its new norm. The new norm may be normal but that doesn’t mean it is healthy, natural or optimal.

For millions of years the human body adapted to the natural environment. There wasn’t anything else. As the imaginative and creative capacity of sapiens grew they altered the environment with their tinkering and the human body and brain mutated to stay in balance with these creations. The greater the tinkering the more the human body and brain adapted to mirror the new normal. To catch the enormity of our hubris, remember that nature has been creating us for billions of years. Rather than expanding our potential Joseph Chilton Pearce maintained for decades that each new technology diminishes our innate and near infinite capacity. Technological counterfeits are not substitute for the development of our vast human potential. The issue is the development of capacity, not content.

As many now realize BPA and other plastic molecules are dead counterfeits of estrogen. When present these counterfeit molecules displace natural living estrogen thus disrupting normal and healthy development. The same is true of screen technology. Remember, screens are dead but mimic living systems. Compared to a living face the same face on a screen is sensory deprivation, containing a distorted fraction of the information and meaning of the living system it mimics. The more we interact with the dead counterfeit the less attuned, sensitive and empathic we are when relating with a real face.

Our nature is nature, not FaceBook, InstaGram or World of Warcraft. Ideally the dominate environmental influence that shapes human development during the most formative years, preconception to around age eleven, would be alive, in a word ‘nature.’ The more the developing child interacts with dead counterfeit screens instead of living systems, the less aware, sensitive, connected and empathic that child will be to living systems. Less sensitive and less empathic translates into more aggressive and violent towards themselves, other children, or girlfriends and wives (domestic violence and rape come to mind), birds, bunnies, fish and trees. And this developmental pattern translates into culture and society. A perception-behavior system that is highly connected and empathic to living systems will respond differently, less selfishly and aggressively than non-empathic body-brain, and all this is established very early in life. First person shooter games do little to open and expand empathy.

Developmentally appropriate is another factor. Experiences appropriate for a twelve year old are not necessarily appropriate for a three year old. Well-duhhh, but why? Each stage of development rests on the previous, developed fully or not. When technology is concerned we tend to look at content or the program and ignore how interacting with the device itself impacts a child’s development and when. This has been a major blind spot since the development of television in the 50’s. Most damage, developmentally, is caused by interacting with the device and not its content or programing.

Plus we have the compulsive-addictive nature of the device, something well established, in fact a dominate force driving sales. The device literally grabs and holds the child’s attention years before they have the discrimination to make informed choices, similar to tobacco companies pandering to teens. The addictive-compulsive time invested in consuming commercial and culturally conditioning messages displaces the natural experiences nature expects young children to have: making up stories, playing with trees and grass, just being alone, quiet, staring at nothing at all, learning to listen, being aware of each sense, day dreaming, feeling the feelings others are having. Displacing these natural and organic experiences with dead counterfeits profoundly alters the way the brain and body develops. That is the point.

During early development the brain is packed with unused neural potential waiting to form connections based on experience. Use it or lose it is the law. The nature and quality of the experiences determine and shape how the brain grows and the capacities that are developed. After a few billion years of trial and error nature expects by age eleven that brain-body has experienced all that nature has to offer and washes away the unused neurons, neural-pruning it is called; bring the house to order where the child of the dream gives way to new forms of abstract logic. The question is: what is the nature of the house that is being pruned? Has this child spent appropriate time with complex living systems? If not, that brain will not have an empathic relationship with its own nature. Has he or she spent appropriate time reading the faces of other children and adults? If not their emotional intelligence may be stunted.

The central argument for limiting as much screen time as possible from birth to age eleven is to fill that body and brain with as many natural, non-technological, self-generated imaginative play experiences as possible therefore building what for millions of years would be considered a natural-normal sensory-emotional foundation for the more abstract processes that develop later.

We have two possibilities. The early sensory-emotional foundation for adult forms of abstract thinking and feeling is naturally and fully developed – or not. How that brain-body will react, meaning the nature and quality of perceptions, how that person interprets his or her experiences and therefore behaves is sculpted by the quality and quantity of experience with living systems or dead technology.

Technology has also placed unbridled and undisciplined human imagination on steroids, turning everyone it touches into the Sorcerer’s Apprentice without having a clue what they are doing. The social-cultural images we have about ourselves and others that social media amplify is not who or what we really are. We can say that the intent of true spiritual practices is to first recognize the exponential self-inflicted dangers of ‘not knowing thy self.’ Media-technology is an extension of this ‘not knowing’ and deeply conditions the individual brain and by implication the culture that brain creates to deepen humanity’s identity with false images and the murderous behavior these images induce. To think that early exposure to technology will provide a remedy to the increasing isolation and disassociation virtual reality is, is a perfect example of the blindness induced by our increasing and compulsive identity with virtual reality.

The second intent of true spiritual development, which is simply mature development free of narcissism and ego, is to dissolve all the false images, false beliefs and false identities we have miss-created, returning the cognitive, emotional and physical body-brain to its natural order with its billions of years of unimagined sensitivity and vast unknowable intelligence. Accessing and expressing this unadulterated, sensitive, awake and aware empathic intelligence depends on the experiences children have very early and extend to age eleven.

The less screen time before the great neural pruning around age eleven the better. Fill their life with safe, challenging natural living experience, open, develop and expand their capacity to imagine by immersing them in story and rich descriptive language, and model empathy for all living things; with this as the dominate influence during the early years let them have all the technology they want as teens and watch them soar.  Retard the development of rich, deep empathic intelligence by substituting techno-counterfeits of living experience as the early brain grows and the narcissistic mass egos that result will eat themselves.

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Astroturfing: How To Spot Fake Grassroots Messages Funded By Corporations, A TED Talk By Sharyl Attkisson https://www.kindredmedia.org/2015/02/astroturfing-spot-fake-grassroots-messages-funded-corporations-ted-talk-sharyl-attkisson/ https://www.kindredmedia.org/2015/02/astroturfing-spot-fake-grassroots-messages-funded-corporations-ted-talk-sharyl-attkisson/#respond Thu, 19 Feb 2015 00:43:22 +0000 http://www.kindredmedia.org/?p=15736 So you think you’re informed?  Done your due diligence? “What if the reality you found was false? A carefully constructed narrative by unseen special interests designed to manipulate your opinion? A Truman Show-esque alternate reality all around you?” asked veteran investigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson in this eye-opening talk.  “Special interests have plenty of money to […]]]>


So you think you’re informed?  Done your due diligence? “What if the reality you found was false? A carefully constructed narrative by unseen special interests designed to manipulate your opinion? A Truman Show-esque alternate reality all around you?” asked veteran investigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson in this eye-opening talk.  “Special interests have plenty of money to discover new ways to spin us while cloaking their role.  These astroturf messages are now more important that the traditional methods of lobbying Congress.”

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Attkisson shows how astroturf, or fake grassroots movements funded by political, corporate, or other special interests very effectively manipulate and distort media messages.   She shows you how to spot these fake messages, including those fake messengers who quickly pop up on social media pages, like Kindred’s Facebook page, to make disparaging remarks about people who question mainstream media and cultural accepted mythologies.  Attkisson gives you the basics of astroturfing, how to spot it and how to find real sources of reliable information, usually from alternative media outlets. (You’re on one now.  Please support our nonprofit work below.)

Sharyl Attkisson is an investigative journalist based in Washington D.C. She is currently writing a book entitled Stonewalled (Harper Collins), which addresses the unseen influences of corporations and special interests on the information and images the public receives every day in the news and elsewhere. For twenty years (through March 2014), Attkisson was a correspondent for CBS News. In 2013, she received an Emmy Award for Outstanding Investigative Journalism for her reporting on “The Business of Congress,” which included an undercover investigation into fundraising by Republican freshmen. She also received Emmy nominations in 2013 for Benghazi: Dying for Security and Green Energy Going Red. Additionally, Attkisson received a 2013 Daytime Emmy Award as part of the CBS Sunday Morning team’s entry for Outstanding Morning Program for her report: “Washington Lobbying: K-Street Behind Closed Doors.” In September 2012, Attkisson also received an Emmy for Oustanding Investigative Journalism for the “Gunwalker: Fast and Furious” story. She received the RTNDA Edward R. Murrow Award for Excellence in Investigative Reporting for the same story. Attkisson received an Investigative Emmy Award in 2009 for her exclusive investigations into TARP and the bank bailout. She received an Investigative Emmy Award in 2002 for her series of exclusive reports about mismanagement at the Red Cross.

This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at http://ted.com/tedx

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Is Facebook Wrong for Manipulating Moms and Dads in “Unethical” Science Experiment? https://www.kindredmedia.org/2014/07/facebook-wrong-manipulating-moms-dads-unethical-science-experiment/ Wed, 09 Jul 2014 00:56:13 +0000 http://www.kindredmedia.org/?p=11636 The Facts: – Facebook Manipulated 689,003 Users’ Emotions for a Week for Questionable “Science” Research – 42% of new mothers and 26% of new fathers exhibit signs of clinical depression, states a JAMA article.  – Seven out of 10 moms have a Facebook profile and check their pages more than any other demographic. – Research […]]]>

The Facts:

– Facebook Manipulated 689,003 Users’ Emotions for a Week for Questionable “Science” Research

– 42% of new mothers and 26% of new fathers exhibit signs of clinical depression, states a JAMA article. 

– Seven out of 10 moms have a Facebook profile and check their pages more than any other demographic.

– Research editors admit, “Facebook may have involved practices that were not fully consistent with the principles of obtaining informed consent and allowing participants to opt out.”

While the jury is out on whether Facebook’s manipulation of its user’s emotions for “science” – without their knowledge or permission – is technically a human rights violation or business as usual, there is little doubt that damage was done. If you missed the story, a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences revealed that Facebook intentionally manipulated the news feeds of nearly 700,000 users to study “emotional contagion through social networks.” In short, the social network hid either good news or bad news from users’ feeds to see how it affected their emotions. As a Forbes article stated, “If there was a week in January 2012 where you were only seeing photos of dead dogs or incredibly cute babies, you may have been part of the study…’*Probably* nobody was driven to suicide,’ tweeted one professor linking to the study, adding a “#jokingnotjoking” hashtag.”
42% of new mothers exhibit signs of clinical depression.

New Parents Are An At-Risk Population – #notjoking.

Perhaps you didn’t notice the Nuremberg Code-bashing experiment, or maybe you are on the “business as usual” side of the ongoing and heated argument. But for a moment, imagine you are one of thousands of new American parents who, unlike their counterparts across the globe, are isolated because of the lack of a Family Leave Policy and disconnected culture and therefore an at-risk population for clinical depression. Not a slight risk either. As a 2010 article in the Journal of the American Medical Association, JAMA, states, “Three to six months postpartum — 42 percent of mothers and 26 percent of fathers exhibit signs of clinical depression.” Read more on The Trauma of Parenthood, in this NYT’s article.

Now imagine being one of these at-risk parents logging onto Facebook in dire need of  human connection only to find an exclusively depressing stream of images and despondent posts from friends in a week-long science experiment you were unaware you were participating in because no one asked for your consent.  What isn’t hard to imagine is, what if that mom hanging on by her fingernails skipped making that family meal, popped a Xanax or her kid, put everyone and herself to bed early hoping for a better day only to reach out for human support the next day, and the next, for a week of high-tech engineered doom and gloom? As the privacy activist Lauren Weinstein chillingly wrote in a Twitter post, “I wonder if Facebook KILLED anyone with their emotion manipulation stunt. At their scale and with depressed people out there, it’s possible.”

How would you feel if this happened to you? Did it? How do you feel about the moms and dads you know and love being treated as guinea pigs? And more importantly, why doesn’t it occur to Facebook or its Frankenstein researchers to play out to the end their manipulative experiments on humanity to discover who is really impacted, not just the next post the Facebook mom reported for the sake of capturing advertising data? What consequences will never be quantified into Dr. Facebookenstein’s outrageous, morally and intellectually indefensible “research?”
7 out of 10 moms have a Facebook profile and check their pages more than any other demographic.

Is Facebook Unaware? 

Is it possible that Facebook didn’t realize that its emotional manipulation of news feeds could impact vulnerable families, meaning mothers and their children? Not likely. The well-cited Edison’s 2013 Moms and Media research report reveals that 7 out of 10 moms have a Facebook profile and moms check in more than any other demographic at an average of 5.1 times a day. Moms are driving force behind all forms of social media. They knew.

Is Facebook Sorry?

No. They are “sorry” you are “upset,” said CEO Sheryl Sandberg in the Wall Street Journal, but not sorry about the lack of consent for the “scientific” research. “This was part of ongoing research companies do to test different products, and that was what it was; it was poorly communicated. And for that communication we apologize. We never meant to upset you,” said Sandberg.
And what does she mean by “poorly communicated” when the details of the study are displayed in great detail in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences — whose forward now contains a note from the editor’s stating it is:
 “…a matter of concern that the collection of data by Facebook may have involved practices that were not fully consistent with the principles of obtaining informed consent and allowing participants to opt out.”

Is Facebook Evil?

Sorry to answer a question with a question, but why does it sometimes appear easier to look at the Bill Murray character, Frank Cross, from the movie Scroogedand name his actions as evil as he manipulates his television viewers with frightening imagery to make them “too terrified not to watch” the network’s Christmas show? I’d love to read your opinions below.

Why Use Facebook At All? Excellent Question.
Is there any viable reason left to use Facebook? Not really.  Like many nonprofits and small businesses over the past few years, Kindred began to rely on Facebook to help us connect with our followers: a growing segment of the population called Cultural Creatives, families exploring the possibilities of conscious living in an unconscious culture. (Yes, there is some irony in that statement.) This past year, Facebook’s desperate attempt to please its investors by killing organic reach in exchange for sponsored ads began to have a devastating effect on activists as well as small business owners. Currently, less than 1% of a page’s followers see unpaid posts and EACH post Kindred shares will now cost eighty dollars to reach the same number of followers, 16,600 (see photo). With 11 million young people already exiting Facebook and ongoing charges of fraudulent ad and LIKE campaigns, how much longer will nonprofits, small businesses and the rest of us stay?

 

Options: What Can We Do? 
While we can hope for a transformation of conscience like Billy Murray’s Scrooged character, we cannot install a conscience in the humanity-shilling nosferatu at Facebook. If we choose to accept the known and unknown risks of  using Facebook, or any social media network, perhaps we can do so with an intention toward developing other forms of connection with people and organizations we love.  It is clear that Facebook is no longer worth the effort or expense of the past for Kindred, so we have expanded our social reach to include a variety of ways to connect, including our Youtube video series, Tumblr and Pinterest posts, Google Plus page, Vimeo channel, Twitter feed and Sound Cloud audio interviews – all are free for subscribers and followers.  If you still want to follow Kindred on Facebook, you will need to jump through a few hoops: 

 

2) Hover over the LIKE button, and
3) Click on “GET NOTIFICATIONS.”

 

You Can Also Skip Facebook Altogether and follow Kindred at one of its many other social media outlets listed at the top of this page, but most importantly, you can maintain your direct contact with us, and other worthy nonprofits, by visiting the website and sharing our e-newsletter. There’s also that old school meeting-in-person-thing you can do at the newly forming Kindred Book Clubs (email info@KindredCommunity.org for more information).

 

Thankfully, Kindred and FCL existed long before social media or the internet and we will continue to exist long afterward, or at least until our mission is fulfilled!
This post was originally published on Lisa Reagan’s LinkedIn blog.  
Photos by Shutterstock

 

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How Media Failed Women in 2013 https://www.kindredmedia.org/2013/12/how-media-failed-women-in-2013/ https://www.kindredmedia.org/2013/12/how-media-failed-women-in-2013/#respond Fri, 13 Dec 2013 18:13:12 +0000 http://www.kindredmedia.org/?p=9987   From the makers of the documentary, Miss Representation, comes the record of this year’s treatment of women in the media.  How women’s body’s are portrayed in the media directly affects how women are treated as workers, citizens, and mothers.  Those engorged breasts are welcome bursting onto a beer or fast food commercial, but not […]]]>

 

From the makers of the documentary, Miss Representation, comes the record of this year’s treatment of women in the media.  How women’s body’s are portrayed in the media directly affects how women are treated as workers, citizens, and mothers.  Those engorged breasts are welcome bursting onto a beer or fast food commercial, but not gently brought forth to nourish an infant: the United States is the lowest ranking developed country in the world for breastfeeding success due to the lack of cultural support according to the State of the World’s Mothers Report by the Save the Children Foundation (among other reports).  As Alice Walker says, “The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.”  Let’s hope 2014 is a year that moms get political and claim their power and rights as women.

Read more about the impact of media on breastfeeding at The Truth About Nursing.

About the Representation Project

The Representation Project is a movement that uses film and media content to expose injustices created by gender stereotypes and to shift people’s consciousness towards change. Interactive campaigns, strategic partnerships and education initiatives inspire individuals and communities to challenge the status quo and ultimately transform culture so everyone, regardless of gender, race, class, age, or circumstance can fulfill their potential

 

 

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The Impact Of Pornography On The Birthing Woman’s Body https://www.kindredmedia.org/2013/11/the-impact-of-pornography-on-the-birthing-womans-body/ https://www.kindredmedia.org/2013/11/the-impact-of-pornography-on-the-birthing-womans-body/#respond Mon, 04 Nov 2013 18:29:16 +0000 http://www.kindredmedia.org/?p=9698 The summer I was twelve, a group of preteen boys in Plain City, Utah started a tree house feud. My cousin explained the details of the conflict while we climbed into his fort. “Greg stole these from his father’s collection and I took them from Greg,” he told me. “I am going to use them […]]]>

The summer I was twelve, a group of preteen boys in Plain City, Utah started a tree house feud. My cousin explained the details of the conflict while we climbed into his fort.

“Greg stole these from his father’s collection and I took them from Greg,” he told me. “I am going to use them for a ransom.” He opened up a box full of pornographic magazines.

I never had seen pornography before. I don’t know how long we sat there leafing through the glossy colored photos of naked adults. The images were strange and disconcerting to my twelve-year-old mind. I only remember one photo. The woman wore a singular of clothing, a small red and white Christmas jacket. Her breasts were exposed and her finger was in her vagina.

Today, young people no longer need to hide magazines in tree houses. They simply bypass whatever safety setting may block adult content on their phone or personal computer. A generation is coming of age having been exposed to an unprecedented amount of sexual content. Most of this content makes my first memory of pornography one that is very benign.

Images indisputably impact us. What we see forms mental impressions that trigger memories, desires, fears, and hopes. Our erotic template is malleable. While certain settings are fixed by nature, much of what we find beautiful or arousing is culturally constructed.

Parenting for a Peaceful World Front Page GraphicPsychologists study the formation of sexual addiction; specifically the way the brain is changed by the rapid and endless images of online porn. Ethicists debate the morality of treating bodies like objects that penetrate each other in myriad of ways for profit. American lawyers split hairs defining the difference between obscenity, which is illegal, and pornography, which is protected free speech. Sociologists reveal a significant percentage of “the talent” in the sex industry have a history of sexual abuse as children. Religious leaders concern themselves with sexual sins and human rights activists work tirelessly to end human trafficking— an illegal industry that creates both obscenity and pornography.

In my Ethics classes, students often chose pornography as a unit of study. We read articles from multiple points of view and have important and honest conversations. More of this is needed in our culture. Yet, one significant angle of study has been overlooked.

How does pornography impact cultural visions of a birthing woman’s body?

In preparation for this article, I reached out to thousands of parents, midwives, and doulas. I spoke to my husband and trusted friends. Gathered reflections and stories combine with my own experience as a mother, scholar, and a birth doula. How does the pornographic attitude toward the female body– constructed by a multibillion-dollar industry– impact our collective vision of birth? Certainly, this is worthy of study. What I present below are my best thoughts to date on the subject. My hope is that they inspire you to reflect on the topic, even if you come to differing conclusions.

All of us are born of women. We each emerge– either through her vagina or through major abdominal surgery– from our mother’s body. Today, elective cesarean surgery rates in the US are beginning to decline. Yet, some pregnant women so profoundly fear vaginal birth they continue to choose a cesarean delivery, even though this entails a much greater impact on the body overall. Such a choice may be due to previous sexual trauma, or to the erroneous belief that birth is a significant threat to a woman’s sexual value– pornographically reduced to the tightness of her vagina.

Future anthropologists will look back with interest on the juxtaposition between our culture’s unnaturally high cesarean rates and the plethora of sexually explicit material focusing on vaginal penetration. Removed from its function in birth, the vagina is associated with sex alone. Consider that a specific genre of fetish pornography even features “pregnant sluts”. As far as I’m aware, images of birth have not been co-opted by pornographers. The intensity and beauty of a healthy, vaginal birth serves as a stark upset to the libido of a voyeur. Birth reminds us that a woman’s body is the gateway to human existence and worthy of respect.

Not long ago, routine shaving of the pubic hair was standard to hospital procedures that involved unnecessary episiotomies and forceps delivery. Today, many midwives note that a growing number of birthing women shave their entire pubic region. An action, once associated with harsh hospital procedures, is now voluntarily embraced. Why?

 “Healthy childhood attachment bonds are central to development of the limbic brain, the part of the brain associated with the capacity to experience empathy. We are raising a generation with a weakened capacity for kindness and an unnamable hunger for connection. These characteristics make people prime targets for companies marketing endless images of ever-increasingly explicit depictions of anonymous sex. The cycle then repeats.”

Today, most of the women in pornography are completely shaved. Heterosexual men masturbate and fantasize about hairless women. A friend of mine in her 50s told me that her boyfriend wanted her to shave her entire pubic region. Why should a 50 year old strive to look like her preteen self? Certainly a hairless body doesn’t impact the power of a woman to birth with dignity and strength. Yet, it does highlight a dominant vision of beauty in our culture, a vision largely shaped by pornographers.

A doula colleague reported working with a woman who wore make-up and lingerie in the delivery room because she “always wanted to look sexy”. Such behavior is rare, yet the underlying concerns are shared with other birthing women. As a doula, I’ve worked with women who are afraid of “looking ugly” in birth. They don’t want their partners or husbands to watch the delivery of the child. They fear the vision of vaginal birth will forever disrupt future desire for their body. Sexuality and birth, so linked by nature, are completely separate in their minds.

Birth transforms women as they move through the challenging rite of passage of becoming mothers. In labor, women cry, moan, sway, sweat, and enter very primal spaces of being. It isn’t “sexy,” but there are few things as real or beautiful. I fear for a culture where women are conditioned to see self worth as mirror deep or reduced to being a source of genital pleasure.

Once a child is born, a powerful biological system of bonding transforms a mother. Levels of oxytocin, the “love hormone” associated with care and intimacy, are at their highest in a woman after a natural birth. Oxytocin is essential in labor, delivery, and breastfeeding. Oxytocin connects people through attachment bonds. These bonds can be expressed through sex, but not exclusively. Human attachment and care play non-existent roles in porn culture. What does it say about our society that much of our collective sexual fantasy is divorced from attachment, so essential to our very survival?

Since the birth of my son nearly two years ago, I’ve spent hours offering, and receiving, support in breastfeeding groups and online breastfeeding forums. Two themes relevant to the topic of pornography come up consistently. One relates to the confusing mix of our culture’s hypersexualization of the breast and the disdain women fear when breastfeeding in public. The second relates to the heartbreaking and intense pressure many breastfeeding mothers face from male partners to wean their child before the child is ready.

Kindred TextThroughout human history, children naturally weaned at some point in the later toddler years. While breastfeeding rates during the first year of life are steadily increasing, few American women breastfeed toddlers. Most little ones are weaned before their natural time. The absence of federally mandated maternity leave laws, our culture’s confusing presentation of the function of the breast, and pressure to wean are all culprits at work in explaining our disjointed breastfeeding practice in light of human evolution.

“She’s too old to nurse,” my friend’s husband told her. “You need to stop.”

Women facing this intimate and difficult situation have shed many tears. Men certainly can feel sidelined in the breastfeeding relationship. Rather than focus on supporting this vital contribution to the health of their child, in many cases, a possessive sense of the woman’s breasts results in demands to wean. Certainly the theme of male control and ownership over the female body, portrayed in much of pornography, plays a role in this dynamic.

My aunt used to say that you can take a lance to a boil once and expect healing. However, if you keep taking a lance to the boil, an even greater wound will emerge. This is an apt metaphor for the potentially healthy use of sexually explicit material and our culture’s current sickness.

For people stifled and alienated from their own sexual energy, mindfully chosen adult material can bring a lance to a wound. Consider the company Adam and Eve. This company sells sexually explicit material, all of which is vetted through sex and relationship therapists. A significant portion of their proceeds is donated yearly to help stop the exploitation of young people in the prostitution industry, make condoms accessible in poor communities, and reduce the risk of HIV/AIDS. However, few companies making pornographic material can claim this moral high ground. Rather, like a lance that keeps touching a boil, our once sexually repressed culture has turned into a sexually obsessed one where fetish pornography is the most rapidly growing subsection of the adult industry. This impacts many areas of our lives. Our vision of the birthing woman’s body, indeed our vision of the human body, is consequently distorted.

This distortion fuels practices that hijack the natural course of birth, breastfeeding, and the development of a healthy mother-child attachment. We ignore the vital importance of these foundational building blocks of human life at our own peril. Healthy childhood attachment bonds are central to development of the limbic brain, the part of the brain associated with the capacity to experience empathy. We are raising a generation with a weakened capacity for kindness and an unnamable hunger for connection. These characteristics make people prime targets for companies marketing endless images of ever-increasingly explicit depictions of anonymous sex. The cycle then repeats.

We owe it to birthing women to examine this topic. We owe it to all twelve-year-olds with cell phones. We owe it to the next generation.

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The Cyber-bully vs. The Cyber-hero: Why Children Need Exposure to the Heroic Face of Cyberspace https://www.kindredmedia.org/2013/04/the-cyber-bully-vs-the-cyber-hero-why-children-need-exposure-to-the-heroic-face-of-cyberspace/ https://www.kindredmedia.org/2013/04/the-cyber-bully-vs-the-cyber-hero-why-children-need-exposure-to-the-heroic-face-of-cyberspace/#respond Tue, 30 Apr 2013 16:39:42 +0000 http://www.kindredmedia.org/?p=7085 Children learn about the world through comparing and contrasting relationships between things. They learn to “be still” when they are told to “stop wiggling.” They learn to “be quiet,” when we ask them to stop “being noisy.” Early on our children learn that a child who picks on another child is a “bully” and that […]]]>

Children learn about the world through comparing and contrasting relationships between things. They learn to “be still” when they are told to “stop wiggling.” They learn to “be quiet,” when we ask them to stop “being noisy.” Early on our children learn that a child who picks on another child is a “bully” and that the child who stands up to the bully is a “hero”.  This concept is reinforced through scenes in cartoon and movies. In the most recent Spiderman movie, for example, we witness a scene in which Peter Parker stands up for a friend who is being attacked by the school bully. Our children’s first lessons about heroism are often placed in this context—that is, they begin to understand the hero as someone who stands up to the bully—someone who is the opposite of the bully.  When our children are exposed to even worse behavior, through cartoons that depict the actions of criminals and villains, their understanding of heroism expands. They learn that heroes not only stand up against bullies—heroes also rescue those in distress and do whatever they can to relieve suffering—whether that be the suffering of an animal or a fellow human being.

Heroes are some of the best role models our children have. What, we might ask, would the world be like without them? A world populated solely by bullies?  To answer this question we need travel no further than the online world of our tweens and teens.  What we find there is an epidemic of cyberbullying. Many educators find the escalating rate of cyberbullying hard to understand, especially in light of the numerous educational programs designed to address it. The problem however is larger than these programs—the problem is that we, as a society, have failed to recognize the cyberbully’s antithesis: the cyberhero.

The cyberhero is an individual who uses digital technology to help other people, animals, and the environment. Nascent research on the cyberhero archetype indicates that millions of people are using digital technology with the goal of relieving suffering and improving the world. There are a lot of cyberheroes in cyberspace—we just haven’t been properly acknowledging and celebrating their activities as such.  The fields of Positive psychology and Humanistic psychology strongly suggest the importance of understanding and promoting the psychological conditions that promote human flourishing.  Because our children learn balance through opposition, if we want them to understand the ways they can use the Internet as a positive force in the world then we must help them gain exposure to the cyber incarnation of the hero archetype. As they grow into tweens and teens they will then be empowered to use digital technology as a means of extending heroic behavior across social media and beyond. When confronted with cyberbullying, they will have a psychological blueprint—the cyberhero—and behavioral construct—cyberheroing—through which to act in opposition.

Recent suicides brought on by cyberbullying have increased public awareness of the seriousness of this form of bullying. In order to bring the cyberhero research out of academic journals to the global community, I’ve designed an award-winning interactive game called the Cyberhero League. The game is particularly appropriate for children because they enjoy the “superhero archetype”. In the game, children learn that cyberheroes have characteristics of heroes and superheroes: they are like heroes because their actions help people in the real world; they are like superheroes because the Internet gives them “superpowers” like shape-shifting, speed, and bi-location. Through game play children learn that for cyberheroes, taking action against cyber-bullying is like warming-up before a strenuous work out. After they’ve taken action against cyber-bullying, they go on to tackle global challenges. To continue developing the game I recently launched a crowd-sourced funding campaign. To learn more about getting your family involved or to support the project please visit our campaign. Through the effective use of narrative and multi- media new mythic frameworks such as the cyberhero will more readily become a part of the human psyche.

The entire phenomenal universe is constructed as opposites: light and dark, good and bad, hero and villain. Psychological wellbeing rests on finding a point of balance between these extremes—a point of equilibrium.  To find that point within themselves our children need to know and understand that the Internet—that cyberspace—is populated by both cyberbullies and cyberheroes. Through helping them recognize that heroic behavior extends into cyberspace, we can empower the next generation of tweens and teens, helping them make better choices. Readers who want to know more about the cyberhero archetype are referred to the links below. I am currently writing a book on the subject, and welcome your questions and comments.

 

Klisanin, D. (2012). Archetypes of Change in a Digital Age, Institute of Noetic Sciences.

Klisanin, D. (2012). The Hero and the Internet: Exploring the Emergence of the Cyberhero Archetype. Media Psychology Review.

Klisanin, D. (2012). Introducing the Cybehero. Psychology Today.

Meloan, Steven and Michael (2012) Rise of the Cyberhero. Huffington Post.

Wach, B. (2012). World Meet the Cyberhero, The New Existentialists.

Jayson, S. (2011). Celebrites: Modern heroes or just famous? USA TODAY.

 

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The Cover Shot Heard ’Round the World, An Interview with Conscious Parenting Revolutionary, Jamie Grumet https://www.kindredmedia.org/2013/04/the-cover-shot-heard-round-the-world-an-interview-with-conscious-parenting-revolutionary-jamie-grumet/ https://www.kindredmedia.org/2013/04/the-cover-shot-heard-round-the-world-an-interview-with-conscious-parenting-revolutionary-jamie-grumet/#comments Mon, 29 Apr 2013 12:59:24 +0000 http://www.kindredmedia.org/?p=7040 Listen to the original interview with Jamie Grumet on her experience as the Time cover advocate for full-term breastfeeding in May 2012.  Lisa Reagan asks Jamie about her family, her international nonprofit work and what she will take away from this experience when she is eighty. Rock singer Alanis Morissette nailed it when she wrote […]]]>

Listen to the original interview with Jamie Grumet on her experience as the Time cover advocate for full-term breastfeeding in May 2012.  Lisa Reagan asks Jamie about her family, her international nonprofit work and what she will take away from this experience when she is eighty.

Rock singer Alanis Morissette nailed it when she wrote during the media frenzy surrounding the Time magazine cover featuring Jamie Grumet nursing her 3-year-old son: “Gotta love it when something meant to instigate, instigates.”

Ignoring Morissette’s caution, as well as worldwide norms for nursing well into toddlerhood and the science of attachment parenting (AP), the mainstream media took Kate Pickert’s Time cover story and its slap-in-theface tagline to mothers everywhere—“Are You Mom Enough?”—and did what it does best: distort, cartoonize and reinforce cultural ignorance with threats of public humiliation.

So what if the Save the Children’s 2012 State of the World’s Mothers report places the United States dead last among 36 industrialized countries for breastfeeding? The report states, “Most mothers want to breastfeed. Breastfeeding initiation rates are high, but breastfeeding drops off rapidly in the early weeks after birth. This happens not because mothers don’t want to breastfeed anymore, but because they haven’t received the support they need to continue. Breastfeeding is natural, but it is also something that requires community support.”

The venerable and comprehensive report also shows just how dangerous it is to be a new mother or infant in the zero-social-support-for-familywellness culture of the U.S.:

In the United States, mothers face a 1 in 2,100 risk of maternal death—the highest of any industrialized nation. …A woman in the U.S. is more than 7 times as likely as a woman in Ireland or Italy to die from a pregnancy- related cause and her risk of maternal death is 15 times that of a woman in Greece.

The U.S. under-5 mortality rate is 8 per 1,000 births. …Forty countries performed better than the U.S. on this indicator. This means that a child in the U.S. is four times as likely as a child in Iceland to die before his or her 5th birthday.

Whether you believe it was a welcome chance or a missed opportunity for a long-overdue national dialogue about our shameful record on breastfeeding and infant wellness, Time’s May 21, 2012, cover made history. Featuring a homeschooling California mom nursing her 3-year-old, the cover instantly went viral and now holds a spot in the New York Daily News’ list of “most controversial covers,” alongside Rolling Stone’s portrait of Yoko Ono and a naked John Lennon, and Vanity Fair’s image of a nude, pregnant Demi Moore. Time, which won the 2012 Magazine of the Year award, serves 3.2 million subscribers and has brought breaking news to the world for nearly 80 years.

How did the mainstream media handle this opportunity for a national dialogue? Well, never mind that the practices of attachment parenting, including breastfeeding, are scientifically shown to support infant and child wellness for life. When the media had an opportunity to raise awareness and improve the lives of American families, they instead chose to milk the cash cow of their own invented mommy wars and ran with their advertisers’ dictates that parents are incapable of deciding for themselves what is right for their families.


The Fallout

In the days following the cover release, Jamie Grumet found herself running a gauntlet of national talk shows with chiding hosts intent on defending the U.S. status quo and labeling her willful act of consciousness-raising at best as “extreme parenting” and at worst freakish and pornographic. Jamie also found herself surrounded by celebrity mothers cheering her and the cause of attachment parenting on, including Alanis Morrisette, who penned an editorial to the Huffington Post; Pink, who tweeted an Instagram of herself nursing; and Mayim Bialik, Ph.D., actress and neuroscientist, who took such a beating over her AP advocacy that she quit Facebook.

Bialik, author of Beyond the Sling: A Real-Life Guide to Raising Confident, Loving Children the Attachment Parenting Way, made the talk show rounds with her book’s release in March. But after the Time cover backlash, she bowed out. “The lack of ‘normal’ dialogue in social media has been disturbing me for some time now…. Even the least sensitive person would probably start to crack under this kind of week.… I think it is really sad that social media has beaten me down, and I wish I was more resilient. Maybe someday I will be,” wrote Bialik in her blog on Kveller.com.

In a revelatory moment on the popular daytime talk show, The View, pediatrician Dr. William Sears, author of 1992’s The Baby Book, struggled to present the eight tenets of attachment parenting while host Sherri Shepherd quipped, “The guilt is raining down on me!”

Guilt. Is that what the initial brouhaha and ongoing backlash is all about? Americans feel guilty for not having the social and cultural support they need to provide the best wellness practices for mothers and babies? Was twisting that guilt knife into the psyches of socially abandoned parents Time’s angle for selling magazines? Explaining their choice for the cover, Time managing editor Rick Stengel told Forbes, “To me, the whole point of a magazine cover is to get your attention.” Done! Cha-ching!!! [Pathways asked Time for its sales numbers for the AP issue; by press time the magazine had not responded.]

The editors of Time may have banked on parent guilt and cultural taboos to sell magazines, but the mainstream media’s message following the cover’s release was clear: If American mothers thought they were indeed mom enough to defy the country’s socially reinforced stigma on breastfeeding at any age, they should think again.


Who Does She Think She Is?

This is the national stage Jamie Grumet stepped onto when she stood with her strappy tank pulled down for her son to nurse on the cover of the country’s most popular weekly news magazine. What inspired this young mom to take on the aggressively defensive American culture? Did she know what she was getting into when Time called her after finding her blog online and asked her to join a group of parents to “celebrate the 20th anniversary of The Baby Book” by Dr. Sears?

In this interview, Jamie shares  her reflections on the past few months and how she and her family are faring. “We’re doing wonderfully,” she says. “The attachment parenting community, and just mothers in general, have been so supportive. We have a great extended family system and lots of friends, so we’ve been holding up really well. People were worried for us, but there is no problem whatsoever now.”

What was your reaction to the cover?

“When I first saw the photo they chose for the cover, I was a little worried because the last thing I wanted to do was to hurt what we were trying to do by relieving this stigma of child-led weaning. I asked Dr. Sears about my concerns and he said, ‘Long term, this is going to be great. Don’t worry.’ There were a number of parents who said, ‘Thank you for encouraging me and for letting me know what I’m already doing is attachment parenting.’ There were people who discovered what attachment parenting was and said they would not have known without the cover. That’s exactly what we wanted, and I can’t ask for more than that. There is definitely good coming from it.”

Jamie’s convictions and commitment to child-led nursing organically extend from being a second generation attachment-parented child herself. Her mother— who was not a hippie, says Jamie—nursed her until she was 6 because her father, a University of California nutrition scientist, knew the lifelong benefits of breastfeeding. Currently, Jamie is the homeschooling mom of two boys and the founder and CEO of the Fayye Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the orphan crisis in the Sidama region of Ethiopia.

“Working with the foundation started with phone calls and most of the time at home, but now that everything is picking up I do have to spend a lot of my time at meetings or in-country [Ethiopia],” says Jamie. “We are very fortunate that my husband’s job provides us with the flexibility that he can take over homeschooling during the day (or we can all pick up and travel) without any sort of strain or discomfort in our daily lives.” Jamie is returning to Ethiopia this year with pediatrician and author Jay Gordon, M.D.

The Whole Story of the Grumet Family 

If you want to get to know Jamie personally, you can visit her blog or her YouTube channel that has featured intimate scenes from her family’s life long before the notoriety of the Time cover. In one touching video she and her husband created to tell the story of their family’s becoming to their children, they share how they conceived their adopted child in their hearts years before they met him and then show the moment of her husband embracing their new son, Samuel, for the first time in Ethiopia. While Jamie was told by doctors she could not become pregnant, as the adoption paperwork was approved, she conceived and gave birth to their biological son, Aram.

It was Jamie’s first days as a mother that ignited her passion for attachment parenting. “I ended up developing HELLP syndrome and having an emergency C-section with Aram, who was two months early,” she says. “My son being in the NICU put the fire in me for attachment parenting, seeing what booby traps women and babies face at the beginning of life…. I was bleeding from my eyes at one point and scared for my life. After Aram was born, I was unconscious and I remember waking up and seeing my husband was pumping my breasts for me and the baby. That’s when I said, ‘That is a real man right there!’ He is an attachment parent too, just as much as I am.

“Once Aram was a year old, we brought our son, Samuel, home from Ethiopia. Samuel was nursed up until his day of relinquishment. I was able to breastfeed Samuel, as he wanted, and that gave him the secure emotional attachment that he needed with so much trauma that had just happened in his life. So, that is how our family came to be!”

 

The Grumet family welcoming Samuel home at the airport.

How did your childhood and international work shape your view of breastfeeding?

“My background is anthropology and theology. I have spent time in Western Africa doing women’s research. When I was growing up, my mother nursed me until I was 6 and we thought nothing of it. It wasn’t until I was in Ghana, where the children are nursed to a minimum of 3 years old, and I saw the difference between those children and the children in Sierra Leone, where there is an even bigger stigma attached to breastfeeding than in the U.S., and they had the highest infant mortality rate in the world.

“That is what made me realize why it was so important to my mother to breastfeed me and to be outspoken about it. They said the same thing to her that they have said to me since the Time magazine cover: ‘Oh, she is going to get picked on.’ But my mother did not listen to any naysayers who didn’t understand. I am so proud of her. I don’t know if I would have parented the same way if my mother was ashamed of nursing.”

 

Samuel and Brian at the orphanage in Ethiopia, where they immediately bonded.

What did you think of the “Are You Mom Enough?” tagline?  

“I think it does not coincide with what I was saying in my own interview,” says Jamie. “The reporter kept it word for word, and I did say this is not about mommy wars, we need to encourage each other. I really believe wholeheartedly that everyone is trying to do their best for their children. I think the hate that comes from some mothers is from defensiveness and that they believe what we are saying is that what they do is less or they are hurting their child, which is totally untrue. There are so many ways to parent.”

Do you think the Time article was fair?

“No, because I know Dr. Sears, and I don’t believe that it represented him well at all. It made me sad, because I spoke with Kate [Prickert, the story’s author], and I know she stayed with the Sears family, and I know she is a working mother. My heart goes out to her because I feel like there was some defensiveness in the way that she wrote that, as a mother who did not practice AP. So, I don’t feel like it was a balanced piece, but I don’t know if she meant to come across the way she did.”

What was the cover shoot like and why were you standing up?

“It’s funny, but we went to Milk Studios, which we thought was great. They were great at saying if we felt uncomfortable at any time we could stop. They put us on a stool to illustrate how toddler breastfeeding is different than infant breastfeeding. We were hugging each other, but he dropped his arms because he was tired and it was his naptime. We were moving around and trying different things, but they just happened to catch that shot, and it really wasn’t the direction that the shoot was going in.

“A minute or so after they took the shot they used for the cover, they moved my son onto my lap and he did fall asleep. They have that image in their LightBox [a photo viewing feature on the Time website]. That one I heard was almost the cover shot; I wish it had been, because it is absolutely beautiful. It’s the one I want to get framed for our house. It represents what I feel like really happens in our house.”

What was your reaction to the cover?

“I didn’t see the cover until they released it online. I had heard that they were going to use the cradling shot and then at the last minute switched it out for the one they used, probably because they knew exactly what they were doing when they selected it. They knew they would hit a nerve with that photo. The first time I saw it, I just thought, ugh.

Unfortunately, they did choose one of the worst pictures they could. What I really didn’t want to do was to hurt the attachment parents we were trying to advocate for.”

What are you going to remember most about this experience when you are 80?

“Well, I had great friends cocooning me from the negativity of my blog comments, so I didn’t have to read those. I know Sherri Shepherd talked about my son on Leno, and then she talked about having a breast reduction and not being able to nurse, and how guilty she felt. The first instinct you have when someone says something negative about your child is to get angry. But I feel like I have become more empathetic because I feel like we are in the same boat, with the guilt that society has placed on her for not being able to breastfeed at all, and they say I am doing it too long.

“So, I think this experience has made me more empathetic,” says Jamie. “When I am 80 I will remember all of the good things, including the thanks from parents who are adopting children from other countries and have been encouraged to nurse their adopted children.”

 

A Crack in the Cosmic Egg?

As you can see from the Pathways to Family Wellness cover, shot by Los Angeles photographer and former doula Lori Dorman, Jamie and her family are doing fine. In fact, the bonds they established with one another through their daily attachment parenting practices have kept them nourished and supported through the aftermath of what could be described, from a holistic worldview, a profound shift in cultural awareness or, a “crack in the cosmic egg.”

In his seminal work by that name, Joseph Chilton Pearce describes great shifts in human consciousness as instigated by individuals who act from love and selflessness to move humanity to a greater awareness, despite narrow, culturally defended beliefs. Spanning more than forty years, Pearce’s lifelong work advocates for human attachment and bonding, including full term breastfeeding, as the only chance for survival of our species and a planet that is currently suffering from the disconnected industrial worldview that governs the status quo defenders of mainstream media.

With this thought in mind, I asked Michael Mendizza, Pearce’s biographer: Does the Time cover count as a crack in the cosmic egg? Yes, he says, but offers this warning: “Only those with ears to hear will hear.… Culture doesn’t want to lose its perceived power. Sometimes it scars over the crack, ignores it and punishes the messengers, delaying the birth of a new reality.”

Holistic, conscious parenting advocates know that in May 2012, mainstream culture  looked into the mirror of its own consciousness in the form of a second-generation attachment-parented young mother and international children’s activist nursing her 3-year-old son on the cover of the world’s most influential magazine. What was reflected back in the ensuing media madness told us everything we need to know about improving the lives of children in America: It is time to ditch the guilt and forgive ourselves. It is not our fault as American parents that we do not have the social support we need to nurture our children in the ways we would like. But it can be our conscious choice to do better.

 

Pathways Issue 35 CoverThis article appeared in Pathways to Family Wellness magazine, Issue #35.

View Article References

 

TIME_COVER_top_half-page2391

 

Kindred Contributors Respond to the Time and Pathways Covers

Does Time Magazine Have, er… “Attachment Issues?” By Robin Grille

Mother, Interrupted By Tracy Wilson Peters and Laurel Wilson

Pleasure is Bad!  Get Over It! By Michael Mendizza

Are You Mom Enough? (Did They Get You?) By Chris Webb, MS

The Woman on the Cover is Both Madonna and Whore By Jessica Kramer

API Responds:

Why the TIME Magazine cover/article shows that Attachment Parenting is Going Mainstream and Not Extreme

Follow Jamie Grumet on I Am Not The Babysitter

Subscribe the Best of Kindred Newsletter





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A Mighty Girl Collection: Forget Pink, Plastic Pop Culture Dolls (and Their Messages) https://www.kindredmedia.org/2013/02/a-mighty-girl-collection-forget-pink-plastic-pop-culture-dolls/ https://www.kindredmedia.org/2013/02/a-mighty-girl-collection-forget-pink-plastic-pop-culture-dolls/#comments Wed, 20 Feb 2013 01:17:47 +0000 http://www.kindredmedia.org/?p=6292 My daughter is an Ethiopian born kindergarten-age girl growing up in white America, so when the whole princess thing entered our home, I took an anxious, fearful sigh and—as my grandmother used to say—girded my loins. The first reckless gift came hidden beneath gold embossed pink paper: a bejeweled tiara with matching earrings, wand, and […]]]>

My daughter is an Ethiopian born kindergarten-age girl growing up in white America, so when the whole princess thing entered our home, I took an anxious, fearful sigh and—as my grandmother used to say—girded my loins.

The first reckless gift came hidden beneath gold embossed pink paper: a bejeweled tiara with matching earrings, wand, and sparkly plastic high heels. As I gasped in horror, my mind screaming, Oh, God, no, my girl shrieked with delight. Had I known what lurked behind the embellished wrapping, I would have unwrapped it in the closet and, while she stacked wood blocks and played “restaurant” at preschool, taken it to the consignment shop. What she doesn’t know won’t hurt her, right?

In my perfect world, plastic doesn’t exist, and dressing up is saved for Mommy’s closet. Then again, I was born in the 60s, when a mother set seemingly normal limits on what a young girl was exposed to. Back then, apparently in the dark ages, pre-pubescent girls played with Skipper, Barbie’s younger sister. I was proud of my “Twist ‘n Turn” Skipper. And though I did ask why I wasn’t allowed to play with Skipper’s breasted big sister, I accepted my mother’s answer: “Because you aren’t old enough.” It never occurred to me to beg, whine, or cajole. Back then, for better or worse, I knew if an adult said it was so, it was so.

You can imagine the shock when at a local video rental chain when my daughter (barely four at the time), scoped out and grabbed from among the hundreds of options a… Barbie movie?

“Um, what? Barbie has her own movie now? No. I’m sorry, but you can’t rent a Barbie movie. Ever. How ‘bout Dora? She’s an independent, bi-lingual, adventure seeking girl who can teach you to speak Spanish!”

“No! I want Barbie!”

Well, of course she wants Barbie. Wasn’t that Mattel’s mission from the moment Barbie was born? Convince every girl just out of diapers she needs to own a dozen plastic big-breasted, skinny-waisted, longhaired dolls that love fashion and flirting? Though Mattel’s co-founders, Ruth and Elliot Handler, and Harold “Matt” Matsondidn’t intend to create a toy that would become the bane of the Feminist’s existence, Barbie became just that.  But Barbie’s story is not just skin deep.

It was 1945 in a garage workshop in Southern California, when the Mattel brand was launched. Just three years later the company incorporated and moved into a Hawthorne, California warehouse. In 1959, inspired by her daughter’s interest in paper dolls, Ruth Handler created the first non-baby doll and named her Barbie, her daughter’s nickname. Her intention was—according to Huffington Post blogger Dr. Susan Albers in her book review of Barbie and Ruth: The Story of the World’s Most Famous Doll and the Woman Who Created Her, by Robin Gerber, to provide girls with a play doll onto which they could project themselves. This doll would allow girls to pretend they were grown-up with grown-up careers and lifestyle.

“So, in some ways,” Dr. Albers writes, “she may have actually helped women to start practicing other roles, besides being a mother, earlier in their life.” With their Barbie dolls, girls could pretend to go to work, travel, or play, not just be mothers, the only role girls could personify when playing with a baby dolls.

Unfortunately, not unlike Dr. Frankenstein’s monster, once she left her creator’s domain, Barbie took on a life of the mass market’s making. By the year 2013, Barbie barely resembles the original, U.S.A.-made doll. Her clothes now reflect a less career-oriented, liberated woman, and more like one of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.

I am not the only one who feels frustrated over the lack of toys and media offered to a public whose “Big Brother” encourages girls to gravitate towards all things buxom and plastic. There are a growing number of women (including Caucasian adoptive moms like me who are raising brown-skinned girls in a society that would make their ancestors weep) who are thirsty for media that reflect our real lives, both inner and outer.

I did not, however, set out to write a story about Barbie. But in order to account for my zeal about a newly discovered online resource, A Mighty Girl, a backstory was necessary. For, if such multi-dimensional, girl-empowering, thoroughly-vetted and easily-accessible books, movies, toys, and clothing, like those compiled by A Mighty Girl, were as visible as the mass marketed, unoriginal, perpetually stereotypical crap found in our nation’s Walmarts and Targets then this article would not have germinated in the first place.

Thanks to an assignment from my super cool Managing Editor at http://www.inReads.com, I struck gold and I’m here to share the spoils with you, my global gaggle of awesome and smart, cutting-edge mommies. If you check out my posts at the aforementioned link, you will get the basic lowdown/how-to about the site. For all of you especially inspired Global Moms out there, though, below I’ve provided exact links that you can use at your joyful leisure.

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A Mighty Girl was conceived when one young couple became frustrated with how much time they were spending researching the best books to buy for their four nieces every time a birthday or a holiday necessitated gift giving. These tech-savvy social entrepreneurs realized there was an unfulfilled niche that they just might have the smarts to fill.

And so, in early 2012, A Mighty Girl was born, and she’s been rapidly growing ever since to become the world’s largest collection of girl-empowering books, toys, movies, clothing, and music. What makes A Mighty Girl so trustworthy is that they do not sell anything; the operation stays afloat by receiving a small commission from Amazon.com and Café Press when browsers purchase the item via A Mighty Girl. This really is a labor of love, as evidenced by the workhorse team of volunteers, many of them moms who feel compelled to contribute to the mission of providing an alternative to what currently is marketed to girls.

Below, you will find a bookmark-able list to keep on file that just might end up becoming your most useful gift giving/curriculum building tool ever:

*Multicultural Fiction — can be further sorted by region or ethnicity using the left menu (including multi-racial)

* History, U.S. — for history and historical fiction featuring American girls and women — this section can be further sorted by African-American history, Asian-American history, etc.

* History, World — for history and historical fiction featuring non-U.S. girls and women — this section can be further sorted by world region

* A Mighty Girl Dolls — features a diverse selection of dolls of many races

* Books about Mighty Girls and Adoption

* Fairy tales / Folktales — you can sort these by region

* Discrimination / Prejudice — you can sort by five different types of discrimination, including racial/ethnic, on the left menu

Additionally, A Mighty Girl has created special features, which you can find via the “Best of” button on their menu bar, on the following relevant topics:

* Top Asian Pacific American Mighty Girl Books

* Top Latino / Hispanic American Mighty Girl Books

* Top Mighty Girl Books on Civil Rights History

Powerful, expansive, strong, monumental—these adjectives define the word Mighty. Once you take the time to peruse A Mighty Girl’s offerings, you will understand why the founders used that word to describe not only their astonishingly well done website, but also the end user, that Mighty Girl you call daughter, niece, student, or friend. Though the girl in your life may not yet feel ready to kiss her Barbie goodbye, you can at least know you’ve done your very best to ensure she knows there is much more to the female half of the world’s population than her anatomy.

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Facebook Envy: Houston, We Have a Problem https://www.kindredmedia.org/2013/02/facebook-envy-houston-we-have-a-problem/ https://www.kindredmedia.org/2013/02/facebook-envy-houston-we-have-a-problem/#respond Wed, 06 Feb 2013 17:06:06 +0000 http://www.kindredmedia.org/?p=5677 As social media becomes a bigger and bigger aspect of so many of our lives, it is of utmost importance that we remain very self-aware when using it. While some people become quite open and enthused from the experience, a recent study led by two universities in Germany found that many individuals actually feel diminished […]]]>

As social media becomes a bigger and bigger aspect of so many of our lives, it is of utmost importance that we remain very self-aware when using it. While some people become quite open and enthused from the experience, a recent study led by two universities in Germany found that many individuals actually feel diminished after visiting Facebook. To me, this points to one of two choices for a self-loving individual:

1) Choose to limit or completely refrain from social media as the subsequent drop in energy resulting from negative feelings is NEVER worth a romp with Facebook friends, or anyone else for that matter. OR…

2) Choose to utilize social media very consciously as the perfect opportunity for some good ole self-exploration.

The more conscious we become, the more we learn to “trust the triggers” as opportunities for personal growth. One of my favorite self-created Burnside slogans is “GROW is Me rather than WOE is Me.” (Yes, that’s a visual cue in our kitchen.)

Outside triggers—exterior pricks creating emotional pain—point to an unhealed, often subconscious wound within our own psyche that is ready to be cleared. The external world offers us endless opportunities to FREE ourselves from our own past. Seen in this light, social media is just the ramped up juice that we have been waiting for to bring many of our hidden shadows to the surface for healing so that we can get on with living from our SOUL rather than from our wounded ego.

If you are one who often finds yourself envious, angry, sad, judgmental and generally unhappy after a visit with your cyber friends, then I suggest coming at social media from a totally new perspective. Get yourself a notebook, a pen, and an open heart, and each time you go on a site such as Facebook, COMMIT to using it as a vehicle for growth.

When you read a post and feel in your body—heart, stomach, throat—a tightening, make a note of it. Write down the post (trigger). Record how it made you feel. Begin to recognize the patterns. This notebook represents your inner work for the week. It becomes your job, if fully committed to personal truth and evolution, to work with what has now been exposed within your own interior.

Quickly, for most of us, it becomes quite apparent that our angst has absolutely nothing to do with the individual who posted. It becomes obvious that our diminishment is not about his vacation or her promotion or his disagreeable political view. Instead, it has EVERYTHING to do with OUR emotional landscape. If we are pricked by it, then it is ours to own and uncover all the way down to its root.

Most roots stem from early childhood and have to do with universal human themes such as I am not good enough. For some, it is enough to simply shed light on the theme and train ourselves to recognize it and let go of it the minute we feel it coming on. For others, the work of releasing a life theme, while absolutely worth it, may be more laborious with outside help needed.

For me, on Facebook, the powerful pricks for personal growth have had nothing to do with viewing other’s vacations or happy family photos or gatherings where I have not been included. Where I have been plugged in and triggered, and now looked at long and hard through the personal awareness lens, has had to do with others in my field whose work is very closely related to mine. Upon seeing their success, at times, I have felt diminished, not in the sense that I desire my work to unfold in exactly the same way, but rather due to their success, I observe within me a subtle, thread of self-doubt wondering, “Can I do it? Am I brave enough to keep shining my light? Am I willing to offer myself to the world in a big way, too? Will the opportunities arise in my work, like in their’s, for me to do so? “.

All I can say is that it has been liberating, and in an odd way, a JOY to look at this “delicious” trigger (and so many, many others in different arenas) with vigor from different angles including my past, present and future. Once owned, the choice to simply LOVE ANYWAY—both ourselves and the one who “initiated’ the external prick—actually becomes a viable choice rather than an unattainable spiritual tenet.

Social media—Facebook Frenzy— is certainly not going anywhere, and it is always our choice, in this and all things, to partake or to pass. If we choose to pass, hopefully it is not because we are afraid to look too closely at ourselves, but simply because we truly are not drawn to this particular medium of interaction. And if we do choose to participate, then I highly recommend being very open to using it rather than allowing it to use you as an unprecedented vehicle to know thyself deeper and wider.

Much Warmth,

Annie

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