Rave : 2009 : Parenting and Responsibility

Staff Only
Edit Item
Add Item

Perhaps you've heard about the storm-in-a-teacup story of the mother of a six-year-old boy who was shocked to find a comic book depicting Mary Jane in a bikini in her school library. The comic in question was Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 2) #39, the 2002 'Nuff Said issue written by J. Michael Straczynski and illustrated by JR JR.

Gosh. A debate over inappropriate books in a library? Well there's a fresh new debate for society to tackle in this modern age.

The KETV site features a not-very-insightful read poll, which is in fact a confused waste of electrons. The title of their poll is "Does a Spiderman Graphic Novel Belong in a School Library?". But the question you are invited to respond to is "A Millard parent believes a Spiderman graphic novel was too explicit for her 6-year old son. Does the book belong in the school library?".

The single Yes/No poll response totally muddles the two questions - is it (in)appropriate because it's a comic, or is it (in)appropriate because it has cheesecake in it. Of course you also need to ask yourself how many of the enlightened readers of the KETV website will happily extend their uninformed opinion on this important matter having never read the actual story in context.

Let's assume for now that the question being rehashed this time is the one of "inappropriate content" (rather than yet another rehashed attempt to claim the impossibility of a comic possessing literary value).

Then to this woman I would say: If you don't trust your child to choose age-appropriate books from a library, then you had better go with him yourself. The library does not exist for your child alone. It exists for many children - some of whom are certainly old enough to handle viewing the sketched form of a semi-clad human being without suffering permanent mental scarring.

Ms. Physha Svendsen - if your fear that your precious child might observe such shocking sights is so deeply entrenched, please ensure that you do not leave copies of "Woman's Day" and "Hello! Magazine" lying around the house, since they contain equally offensive photographs. Do not take him to the supermarket, hairdresser or Doctor's waiting room where he may view the cover of a magazine proudly displaying the latest celebrity nipple-slip or grainy topless beach paparazzi privacy invasion.

Also do not take him into a department store, where he may see posters in the lingerie section. Do not let him watch TV during the daytime or after 6pm, read newspapers, and do not take him out into a public street where he may see billboards or posters. Do not take him to the beach or the swimming pool, where he will doubtless see women in bikinis. Real women. With breasts - luscious and swollen, or firm and fresh. Pert and perfect or sagging, soft and pale. Boobs in all their glorious forms!

Face facts, lady. At six years old your precious kid has Tits & Ass in his future from now to the grave. You can't keep it out, unless you want to move to the wilds of Afghanistan, where men learn to treat women with the utmost respect, and very rarely flog them to death for infidelity.

If the idea of emigration doesn't appeal, then your best alternative is to purchase a nice sturdy cardboard box and some packing tape. Restrain your son in safety, and feed him mashed bananas through a hole in the side until he reaches the age of sixteen. At this age he can safely emerge, ignorant and hormonal, to go and lose his virginity during spring break in a drunken rampage of clueless, unprotected sex.

Seriously, Ms. Svendsen. YOU are the parent. Attempting to blame the library for owning a comic book containing a bikini-clad woman is a naive misdirection. By looking to others to guide your child, you are abdicating your responsibility, pure and simple. It is your child who needs your direction, not your local librarian.

It's up to you to give him the guidance he needs. Teach him that violence solves almost nothing. Teach him to look both ways before he crosses the road, and to visit a dentist every two years even if his teeth don't hurt. Teach him that sex is a heady mix of fun, danger, and responsibility... and teach him (assuming he turns out heterosexual) to treat women with a wise mix of love, respect, passion and joy.

As an aside, I'd like to point out that Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 2) around that time featured numerous violent assaults, a stalking and kidnapping, murders, numerous beatings and other situations featuring disturbing violence. But no objection on that front is mentioned in the article. So... Murder = OK? Bikini = Bad?