Is there anything worse than mommy bloggers? That is a rhetorical question because if you have two firing synapses, you know the answer to that question. Now one of them is all up in arms about a Manhunt billboard that dared to be on the way to her child's school.
Oh, poor mommy bloggers. Here is one who doesn't want to explain why two shirtless men are almost kissing on a billboard for a gay hookup iPhone app. But you don't understand. It's near her kid's school and they have to see it when they go to school. And the men are almost kissing! And they have on dog tags. That means they might be army men. Her kid loves army men. How, oh how, does she talk to her 9-year-old about gay people?
Ugh, I wish I was making all that shit up, but it's right there.
You try explaining the "Zero feet away MANHUNT MOBILE" phone application to your 9-year-old son. A 9-year-old who loves Army guys, and so noticed the dog tags right away.
It's not the blatant porn-iness of the over-lit image, or that it is of two men. It would be equally annoying if it were hetero. It's the fact that I am forced to figure out a way to frame to my fourth-grader the fact that some people like to find causal sex partners fast using their mobile phones.
This writer is trying to paint herself as a liberal, sex-positive, feminist, but, guess what, the fact that the billboard depicts two men is the entire story here. You say that you would hate it if it was hetero but, since we still live in a very heterosexist society, you wouldn't even notice it. You don't notice all the times that straight people making out are shoved in your face, whether it's PDA on the street, sucking face in movies, or some snuggly lingerie ad or KY Jelly commercial or some other bullshit. Straight people making out is everywhere and that is probably the reason your son doesn't ask about it, because he is totally inundated.
Now a gay ad is something different. Most companies are too ashamed to put them up there because they're afraid of people like you, people who lose their fucking minds as soon as a kid might see a display of normal, natural adult homosexual sexual expression. Your son is nine. He might have had a gay teacher in school already. He might have had a gay babysitter or a gay cousin or a gay uncle or a gay daycare worker. Gays are going to be a part of his life, especially if you live in a metropolitan area like L.A. (where this billboard is). So, take this chance to talk to your kids about gay people.
You don't have to get into the mechanics of gay sex. Tell him that some men fall in love with other men and like to kiss those men. Tell him that some of those men are in the Army and that is a right that they fought long and hard for and it is one they just acquired recently and it was a big victory. He's going to need to know these things.
All this knowledge doesn't even consider that your son might be gay right now and this could be a formative experience in his life. If you say this billboard is shameful but all the ones of men and women kissing (that you don't even notice) aren't, how is that going to change how he feels about himself? Yes, your freaking out about this billboard and demanding it be torn down is contributing to homophobia, both internalized and externalized.
What if he asks what it's an ad for? Tell him it's for a way for men who fall in love with other men to meet. Easy as that. You don't have to tell him it's for sex. You can tell him it's for love. The author says she doesn't like to lie to her son, but lying to kids that only people in love have sex is one of the great lies that our society perpetrates. It's like Santa Claus, "it's what's on the inside that counts," and "if you try really really hard you can become President." None of those things are true, but you tell him anyway. The problem isn't that this author didn't want to lie, it's that she doesn't want to tell the truth, or the truthiness. The author says it's not the gay people that bother her, but the casual sex. Your kid probably doesn't even know about sex yet, so he'll only know about casual sex if you explain it to him. Guess what, leave that part out! Problem fucking solved.
This is "mommy blogging" at its worst. It is someone who is trying to deny the rights and free speech of others because she thinks her kid is in danger. The only thing he is in danger of is learning about the world, and it is your job to guide him through it. Some things you're not going to like, but you're going to have to do it anyway. And don't give me that, "But I'm so liberal," bullshit because, when it comes down to it, when it comes down to the thing you care about the most—your kid—your political beliefs go right away and you're just another privileged heterosexist asshole. You are part of the problem. If you're too weak to stand up for what you believe in, and instill those beliefs in your child, then maybe you should be the one reading about parenting instead of writing about it.
[Image of unrelated scolding mother via Shutterstock]