Annotated Bib. #1

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Epstein, Rachel. "Lesbian Parenting: Cracking the Shell of the Nuclear Family."
Resist: essays Against a Homophobic Culture. Ed. Decter, Ann, Falconer, Dionne,
Oikawa, Mona. Toronto, Ontario. The Women's Press. 1994. 70-93.
Rachel Epstein is a freelance writer and a lesbian parent. In her essay, "Lesbian Parenting," she looks specifically at co-parenting lesbian couples, discussing the challenges they face and the innovative family structures and parenting models they are creating. She underlines the importance of the visibility of non-heterosexual families to challenge the dysfunctional heteronormative nuclear family. With personal reflections from other lesbian parents, she examines the complex interplay of these "not-so-normal" families with schools, doctors, reproductive institutions, the law, familial language, division of labor, friends and family, calling for new definitions of parents and family.

A major theme throughout the book is the difficulty of raising children in a heterosexist world. The lesbian parents interviewed pointed to the limited availability of non-heterosexist cultural images for their children. While they often complained about the images mass media had to offer they sometimes commented on the queering possibilities of the media their children consumed. This came mostly in the form of regularly watching TV, reading books, etc. with the child and talking about it afterward.

This source is important to my term because it addresses queer and lesbian issues experienced by youth and their families. I will explore the suggestion of queer and queering media consumption by lesbian families in the further segments of my annotated bibliography by examining a popular childrens' show: Spongebob SquarePants. I will examine an episode and comment on how it reinforces heterosexist hegemony and resists it. I will also address comments by the American Family Association that Spongebob "indoctrinates" children into accepting homosexuality.

You can watch the first and second parts of the Spongebob episode, My Pretty Little Seahorse, on youtube. The links are posted blow.

"My Pretty Seahorse." Spongebob Squarepants. Writ. Kent Osborne and Paul Tibbitt.
Dir. TomYasumi and Derek Drymon. Nickelodeon, 2005. DVD.

One day Spongebob befriends a wild seahorse while trying to plant a flower. This episode is a poke at the usual obsessive marketing of ponies and horses to little girls. While in traditional discourse this story tells of a girl who tames a wild stallion and later gives it up for a heterosexual relationship with a man, here the queer character of Spongebob tames a mare and must later give it up to keep his job at the Krusty Krab. While this version disrupts some dominant discourse it also enforces dualistic displays of culture or man vs. nature and fear anxiety about suggested support for gay relationships is soothed by making the seahorse female.

Is Spongebob Gay?, 6th Jan, 2005.

In this internet article the American Family Association accused a collaberative video in which Spongebob appears as "homosexual propaganda." Distributed by the We Are Family Foundation, AFA "researcher" Ed Vitagliano accuses the video of having an underlying "tolerance pledge," and of using "children's television...... in an effort to indoctrinate children to accept homosexuality." You can watch the Spongebob tolerance video on here:

As I did not think there was anything explicitly queer about this video, I was surprised at the level of anxiety about sexuality it managed to tap into.

1 Comment

In response to your third source, I think this concept of homosexual propaganda, and gay recruiting of children is really interesting. I've never really grasped this concept before, but as we talk about the imperative of heterosexual time the project of producing youth to become capitalists reproducers I understand how people invested in class, race, and heteronormative privlidges could feel threatened. By queer anti-capitalism that is, not so much by sponge bob.