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March 09, 2009

Nickelodeon Thinks Using Your Fists Makes You Cool

800px-Clenched_human_fist I went to school with bruises on my arms. Bruises in the shape of his hand. His fingerprints left on my scrawny arms in the form of ghastly purple islands. The sour taste of my own blood seeping from a lip bashed into the door jamb. I begrudgingly played field hockey and lacrosse just to have an excuse for my injuries. Bruises on my arms, my shoulders, and up and down my back. The sprained ankle that required crutches was easy enough to blame on hockey practice. The unseen sores hurt me still.

I was 14 years old.

Ninth grade.

For about eight months I lived in my own private hell, mute but not deaf. My dad had moved overseas, and my mom was living her new life in a new city. My dad arranged to have a wonderful couple come live with me and my brother to take care of us. They were basically housekeepers who eventually became like family. My own family was never close to begin with so it's not like we palpably missed our parents' presence. They essentially were just care givers anyway. What I had needed was a protector.

At 14 I was starting anew, leaving behind my terribly geeky years and feeling the twinge of new blossoms. Attention from an older boy was everything the ABC After School Specials lead me to believe. It started innocently enough. Meeting up at football games, the arcade at the mall, the local pizza joint by school. Then his rages would start. I had no clue what sparked them or how to deal with them. I became his physical and verbal punching bag. He begged forgiveness and brought me trinkets of apology. Over and over again. Of course I knew it was wrong. It only took one slap upside my back to know that I had to run. But where? And how? And to whom?

And so began my personal hell.

I simply didn't know where to turn. Here I was, a straight-A student with the weight of Atlas heaped on my 85 pound frame. My parents were gone. My older brother was checked out. I had few friends. I was alone. I suffered until he left school that spring. I promptly begged to go to boarding school, far far away. My parents don't know this story, and I am sparing many details.

My hope is that someone might read this and seek help, or offer help. In retrospect, I displayed textbooks signs of abuse. Were my peers and teachers and care givers oblivious, scared, or helpless? I'll ever know. All I know is that I was all of the above.

And now Nickelodeon, the bastion of children's programming, puts abusers like mine on a pedestal. Chris Brown, Rihanna's alleged abuser, is up for two Kids' Choice Awards. In fact, the same day he appeared in court in front of a judge he was stumping for votes from his fans. This blase attitude clearly indicates that this man has no clue of the gravity of his actions. And from Nickelodeon's reaction, they don't either. The network states that Brown "was nominated by kids several months ago, and the kids who vote will ultimately decide who wins in the category." Yeah, Nick, and kids should get to dictate whatever the hell they please because they clearly know what's best for them.

Does turning a blind eye not condone this abuse? Shame on you, Nickelodeon. This could have been an opportunity to stand up and speak out. Abuse is rampant. Your viewers have likely seen and experienced their share first hand. Now your actions further victimize them by keeping a beast like Chris Brown in the award poll. Do we not teach our children not to hit from the first time they toddle onto a playground? What kind of role model is a man who lashes out with his fists? And since when do we leave life lessons in the hands of children? Our culture is demeaning enough to women. We've learned to live with demeaning, though we fight it at every turn; it's another thing to live in a culture that is also dangerous to women. Nickelodeon, are you saying that beating the crap out of your girlfriend still qualifies you to be in the Cool Kids Club?

I for one will be turning off the Nick Jr. in my house. If anyone deserves to be slimed, it's the executives at Nickelodeon who clearly don't give a damn about the children who make them rich.

And Rihanna, Chris will hit you again. Trust me on this. I have the scars that tell my tale.

This is an original Deep South Moms Blog post.

Ilina is raising her two boys to be gentlemen. They have borrowed the book Hands Are Not For HittingDirt & Noise. from the local library several times and would be happy to send a copy to Chris Brown. She chronicles her life as the sole woman in a house full of dirt and noise at the aptly named blog,


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