Raising Trouble: Thanks for Reading

Liza Featherstone
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"Raising Trouble" is signing off for now, and wants to thank you for being such great readers. You must be the most courteous and intelligent in the blogosphere, to judge from the comments here and on Bitch's Facebook page. I've so much enjoyed my time as a guest blogger here.

But "Raising Trouble" also wants to comment on, and explain, a few omissions.
One, we didn't discuss TV much. That's because while the "Raising Trouble" author is the happy owner of a TV, she thinks young children should watch as little of it as possible. Even if the content is educational, and neither sexist nor racist. Indeed, the content of most TV for little kids (that is, programming rated TVG) is better in this respect than TV for older viewers -- with the best male/female balance of characters, also the highest proportion of non-white characters -- according to a study conducted by Annenberg for the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media.

But your author doesn't care about the content. She'd rather her kid read a sexist book or play disturbingly masculine, violent pretend-games with his friends than watch an enlightened TV show like "Dora the Explorer," because TV is a passive and stupefying activity. It's well documented that when kids watch too much of it, they have social problems, language delays, and obesity-related illnesses. More obviously, they miss out on all the other fun stuff that kids enjoy doing. TV makes her mad for the same reason that school sometimes makes her mad: kids make such inspiring use of their time -- they compose original songs, make up stories, put on crazy outfits, fall in love with other kids -- and it often seems that the adult world is embroiled in a conspiracy to get them to waste it instead.

As a society we're becoming dumber, less literate, less creative and more egregiously lacking the critical thinking skills we need to solve the world's problems and challenge the creeps running this place. Anyone who teaches kids these days, no matter what the age level -- no matter how privileged the students -- complains that students can't pay attention and don't know how to read. "Raising Trouble" can't guarantee that turning off the TV will help make a smarter, more focused and more humane next generation, but it can't hurt. (And don't email me about how awesome you are even though your mom let you watch as much TV as you wanted back in the halcyon permissive 1970s when we all drank lighter fluid for breakfast as toddlers. Of course you are awesome.)

We also didn't discuss video games because the "Raising Trouble" author is even less open-minded about those. Interestingly, girls are now playing video games almost as much as boys. There's much to be said about gender in kids' TV and video games. But I'm not the best person to analyze it, just as the Amish probably shouldn't write about zippers.

One omission that "Raising Trouble" regrets is that of sex. Not as in biological sex, but the other kind (the fun kind). Kids wonder where babies come from, but their curiosity certainly doesn't stop there. This material is highly relevant to a blog on gender and culture, but I have to admit, I was a little scared to discuss it publicly. Children's sexuality is real, but you can get in big trouble for saying so; people assume that kids are "innocent" unless they're abused. That's asinine, but I know a couple who was prosecuted by local authorities for years after a Wal-Mart photo lab employee took issue with some snapshots of their young daughter playing in the tub. It's not always wise to underestimate the depth of American ignorance and paranoia on this subject.

Anyway, "Raising Trouble" is planning to address all these issues and more in the future, at Bitch and elsewhere! Stay tuned.

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8 Comments Have Been Posted


Just wanted to say thanks for your posts. I've really enjoyed the "Raising Trouble" series, and look forward to any future blogging from you. I hope that the folks at Bitch will steer us in the right direction if you're blogging at another venue!

Thanks again for sharing your thoughts with Bitch readers!

We'll miss you!

Thanks, Liza, for a series of always-thought-provoking posts. I for one would be fascinated to read your thoughts on kids and sexuality -- obviously, you're right that it's an incredibly difficult subject to talk about without freaking people out (or inciting accusations of creepiness and much worse), but it's such an important subject in the context of discussions about gender and raising smart, aware kids.


<i> Anyway, "Raising Trouble" is planning to address all these issues and more in the future, at Bitch and elsewhere! </i>
Does this mean your series is returning after a break? Maybe? I hope? Either way, thanks for your pieces; I especially appreciate the introduction to TOADY. (This morning, I was notified that addictinggames.com "won" the title of Worst Toy and was surprised by how much I cared. Sure, they're vile, but the gross subject matter is familiar in the realm of video games, while I found the fake cubical to be a unique kind of depressing.)
As for the TV issue, I know what you mean, though my own feelings are conflicted. I think it was Madeleine L'Engle who said that TV is not the visual version of books; it is far lazier, since a central component of reading is forming images and filling in details in your mind. I think that in very small doses, TV or movies can prompt small children's imaginations (like ours!) in some of the same ways as stories in other mediums. Then again, so can looking at a flowerpot, and in no way is TV a reliable learning tool or a substitution for reading or social play.

I am sorry to see your

I am sorry to see your series end. : ( Will you be blogging elsewhere? I'd like to keep reading. : )


Adult Michael: Great Valediction.

Little boy Michael: Why? Why why why why why? Whyyyyyy? Come back soon!


Thanks everyone, so much, for the appreciation!

Thank you Andi Z for the encouragement on the sex issue - I agree, it must be written about. I do plan to get brave and tackle it in the future.

Totally agree with the commenter who pointed out that TV and movies in small doses can inspire kids' imaginations. I do in fact take my kid to movies now and then, because it's fun for both of us, and while the viewing part of the experience is essentially just as passive as TV, I feel like "going to the movies" is easily understood as a special treat, whereas watching TV can become a way of life.

So glad people would like to see more of "Raising Trouble." I'm taking the summer to finish writing a book on another subject, and then will return to writing regularly about raising kids in a f**cked up world. Most likely, collaborating with a friend who also blogs about this subject -- we're plotting some sort of joint blog/website/book project. And I'll certainly be in touch with folks at Bitch about doing more here.

Great posts

Just wanted to add my thanks for your wonderful posts too.
As a feminist mother of meanwhile grown sons, there were often times when I felt very lonely with my views and decisions about raising my children. Sometimes I suspected that the people who thought I was crazy were right. Reading your posts has given me a kind of retroactive affirmation, for which I am very grateful.


I have to admit to sentement about TV, there is a delight in watching you children imagine, play and create. TV stifles this.

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