What is this site?
This site represents the intersection of many roles in my life: scholarly, professional, and personal.
As a scholar, I am a PhD student studying the rhetoric of difference. I'm interested in how we use rhetoric to shape our identities and cast identities on others. The most prevalent ways we see this play out are racial identities and gender roles, but there are many others.
As a professional, I am an educator who sees many students shy away from some dreams and goals because of how they've shaped their own identities. Whether it's a young woman who thinks she can't be an engineer, a black man who thinks he's not cut out for college, or a parent returning to school after years away raising children who thinks the task is too challenging, the ideas about who they are and how the world sees them affect the decisions they make.
In my personal life, I am the mother of an infant. This infant is both female and the product of a loving interracial marriage between her black father and me (her white mother), so I constantly think about my responsibility in helping her make decisions about crafting her own identity, especially in regards to race and gender.
Because of these interests, I'm very concerned about the messages of children's media. The ways we shape our understanding of ourselves are based in subtle interactions with the world around us, and--for many of us--the earliest and most frequent interactions aren't with living people, but television shows, movies, books, and music. We should pay careful attention to what messages those are sending, and that's what this site aims to do.
Aren't You Overthinking Things?
Perhaps. But all I can do is try to use my best judgment for how to be a good mother, and--for me--this is part of it.
Who Are You to Say What Kids Should Watch?
No one. I give these reviews simply as one perspective, and I would never suggest that someone else is making the wrong decision for his/her family by taking a different stance. I also don't believe in banning media. My hope is that other people will join in these conversations, giving a multi-faceted view.
Furthermore, I hope that by having conversations about these films, shows, books, and toys, we can influence the market with our purchasing power, eventually creating more positive messages on identity.
What Informs Your Judgments?
The bulk of it is personal experience and my years of studying rhetoric and composition. I also read a lot of pop culture criticism, some of which you can find on the Resources page.
Still Want to Know More?
Here's a paper I wrote to explain why I saw a need for this blog.
Childhood is a time of innocence, and it's easy to dismiss children's media as harmless because of the simplicity with which most of its audience will approach it. The truth is all media is created with a message, and the messages we send to our children may be the most important of all. The same innocence with which they approach the world leaves them less equipped to analyze the underlying intentions. As an offshoot to my main blog, See Jane Juggling serves as a place for some analysis on the messages children's media send. My perspective is admittedly biased toward gender and race concerns, but I would love to hear from you about your other viewpoints as well. Rate the media (explanation of ratings to the right) and leave a comment, and together we can shed some light on these complicated decisions.