By Becky Brinkerhoff, Emerson College student, MLN intern
I didn’t get cable until I was in the seventh grade. Before moving to a public school, I lived in the middle of the woods in Alabama, went to a private school, and really didn’t know much outside of that world. My parents limited my Internet access, and that was all fine by me. I was happy in my little bubble. My media really consisted of what I was learning in school and the books that I read. That lead to many an after school day of me pretending to be Joan of Arc with my stick sword (during our medieval unit) or Athena the Goddess of Wisdom and War (when we learned Greek Mythology). Lacking outside influence, I attached myself at a young age to the strong women historical characters that I was exposed to in school. After all, who wouldn’t want to run around freeing France?
When seventh grade rolled around, I was introduced to the world of Disney Channel and Nickelodeon. I had a TV time limit and I spent that valued, sparse TV time watching shows like Kim Possible or Recess—shows that involved strong females ruling the world around them. I don’t necessarily think that this attraction has anything to do with who I am innately; I think it has to do with the media pattern that I began to set when I was young.
The media influences I received when I was younger were out of documentaries and books, given to me by teachers who saw my spunk and a curriculum that wasn’t afraid of strong women. I latched myself to this and it has translated itself through my entire life. From the beginning, the women I looked up to weren’t known for their beauty or any other superficial trait—they were known for ruling countries and fighting the bad guys. And I believe, as I always have, that I can do the same thing.
I’m not saying that it’s beneficial, or even possible, for parents to restrict the media influences on kids. But, maybe watch what they are watching and make sure that the way they see the world is shaped by characters that are strong and complex. It creates a pattern, so why not have that pattern be positive?