Open letter to One Million Moms

Dear One Million Moms,

I want to support your dedication to ridding the media of “trash” and “indecency.” Because I, too, have seen (for example) magazines that promote unrealistic female beauty ideals, or TV programming that doesn’t seem appropriate for family hour (Two and a Half Men comes immediately to mind, though it could be argued that children wouldn’t understand 60 percent of the jokes, and pretty much any little-girl beauty pageant show is a definite candidate for boycotting).

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I read your “About Us” page, and this line resonates deeply:

“Our goal is to stop the exploitation of our children.”

Yes, please!

Like I said, I want to support the broader mission expressed on your page, but two things appeared in succession in my Facebook feed this morning that make me, instead, want to plead with you to pray for guidance:

  1. A USA Today story about the United States approving “thousands of child bride requests over the past decade.”

Marriage between adults and minors is not uncommon in the United States, and most states allow children to marry with some restrictions.

2. You, One Million Moms (Facebook page likes: 92,000; Twitter followers: 3,606), asking for signatures on a petition to express your disapproval of Parents magazine’s latest cover, which features gay parents enjoying time with smiling twin boys.

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Shaun T. and Scott Blokker “went through all the things that couples struggling with fertility go through: tests, doubt, grief, not knowing, waiting.”

When looked at one on top of the other —1. a story about child brides (with “bride” as a technical title given to a little girl so a grown man can legally rape her and make her do “wife” stuff); 2. One Million Moms putting their force of thousands behind the petitioning of a magazine in order to shame a couple taking loving care of their children — it’s impossible not to question whether One Million Moms is more interested in its own form of exploitation than in protecting children.

I would love to believe it’s not true, because I think you could have a significant impact on the lives of thousands of helpless, truly endangered children. All it would take is a refocus your efforts on changing legislation to protect those who are actively, unquestionably being exploited, raped, enslaved…

Here are some examples of how you might use your power to help children in actual danger of being physically harmed, and/or to encourage the proper, loving care of children:

1. Buy an ad campaign to shame men who want to marry girls.

“Based on state marriage license data and other sources, advocacy groups and experts estimate that between 2000 and 2015 alone, well over 200,000 children — nearly all of them girls — were married. In nearly all cases the husband was an adult.” NPR

2. Petition states to draft harsher child abuse laws.

A Sarasota woman was recently sentenced to just eight years for abusing her one-month-old child. “Skeletal scans showed numerous body fractures.”

3. Become active in reducing sexual exploitation of American (“our”) children by Americans.

“The United States not only faces a problem of foreign victims trafficked into the country, but there is also a homegrown problem of American children being recruited and exploited for commercial sex. […] Many recovered American victims are street children, a population of runaway or throwaway youth who often come from low income families, and may suffer from physical abuse, sexual abuse and family abandonment issues. This population is seen as an easy target by pimps because the children are generally vulnerable, without dependable guardians, and suffer from low self-esteem. Victims of the prostitution of children, however, come from all backgrounds in terms of class, race, and geography (i.e. urban, suburban, and rural settings).”

4. Petition the TLC network to remove Toddlers & Tiaras from its website so that other wannabe pageant momagers (or dadagers) won’t be encouraged to involve their children in such competitions.

“Karen Kataline, a mental health professional near Denver [and author of the memoir FATLASH! Food Police & the Fear of Thin — A Cautionary Tale] who participated in child pageants in the 1960s, says … [the] problem ‘is not just the pageants, it’s the parents’ who support and encourage the sexualization of their children.” — USA Today

Martina M. Cartwright, author of a paper published in Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, said she “worries that the competitions sexualize young girls by encouraging them to look like grown-ups. She recalled in particular one young contestant, wearing a Playboy bunny costume, being carried onto the stage by her father, dressed as Hugh Hefner.” —

5. Organize an anti-bullying campaign

A mother in Kentucky said her 10-year-old son committed suicide after he was repeatedly bullied at school for wearing a colostomy bag. Tami Charles returned home from the grocery store Saturday morning and found her son, Seven Bridges, had hanged himself…

Both bullying victims and those who perpetuate bullying are at a higher risk for suicide. Kids who are involved as both victims and perpetrators of bullying are at the highest risk for suicide. […] Because of the strong connection between bullying and suicide, the development of bullying prevention and intervention programs is vital. — Centre for Suicide Prevention

6. Etcetera.

Boycotting stores over bathroom signs that welcome all genders, creating petitions to complain that two men are on a magazine cover…this does nothing but prove you guilty of exploiting the lives and choices of others through petty, devilish pursuits whose only true outcome is the likely, and indelible, harm to the same children you claim to want to protect:

  • “…many transgender and gender non-conforming individuals are subject to prejudice and discrimination, which can cause stress and potentially lead to mental health problems.” — Medical News Today
  • “…distress (experienced by transgender people) and all types of dysfunction were strongly predicted by experiences of social rejection and violence…”The Lancet

I don’t doubt that your upbringing and socialization have indoctrinated you to believe a certain kind of existence — gay, bisexual, transgender — is “wrong,” or that the biased research you’ve read has persuaded you that children who are not heterosexual (or are not being raised by married heterosexuals) are being “harmed.” A comment left in response to my own comment on your Facebook page, a conversation I’ve since been blocked from engaging in, claimed children of gay parents experience shame and embarrassment — a hardship used to justify your opposition to the Parents magazine cover — and that children need a mother and a father to be properly raised. However,

  1. “Although lesbian mothers reported engaging less in physical discipline and more in ‘imaginative and domestic play’ than heterosexual parents, the children reared in lesbian households demonstrated no significant difference in psychiatric disorder from those in heterosexual households.” —
  2. Children’s painful feelings are not the consequence of their family’s constellation, but of their teacher’s assumption that every child has a father and a mother. Shockingly enough, the research … shows that LGBT-parented children are not only ill-treated by same-age peers but ‘39% heard homophobic remarks from teachers or other school staff in their schools.’ … Such a climate leads to higher rates of depression as well as suppressed identities within pupils and their families.” School Experiences of Children Raised by Same-Sex Parents, and Their Families: A Review of Literature, by Katrina Lautier

[Anecdotal evidence of homophobic teacher behavior: When I was in high school, one of my science teachers sang the following song to our class as freely as if he were singing “Jingle Bells”: Puff the tragic faggon / sat on a shelf / nobody would play with him / so Puff played with himself.]

There is no end to the positive work One Million Moms could be doing that would be a true service to children. You might wonder, “But what can we do, really, when we have fewer than 100,000 One Million Moms?”

Here are the waves you’ve managed to make simply through intolerance-motivated attacks:

There are more, but that’s plenty of evidence that you have a loud enough voice to inspire compassion and loving care toward children. And there’s no reason to feel overwhelmed by that, because there’s no expectation that you’ll alter the nation’s treatment of children in one move. A deacon I once interviewed noted that it’s the height of arrogance for any one of us to think a single action can repair the world (or, in this case, save all the children). It’s the kindnesses as minor as using your turn signal, he said, that can gradually lead to great change. One Million Moms can do its small part, and that small part will encourage others to do their small part. And so on.

Please use your minor voice for good. Please show kindness toward children, even if it’s difficult. Please do something to make their lives better.

They could use you.

Kristen Tsetsi is the author of the novel THE AGE OF THE CHILD: When a pro-life amendment to the Constitution leads to a ban on birth control (and to life sentences for abortion), politicians find babies abandoned on their doorsteps — and that’s just the beginning. “An exciting drama that illuminates the hypocrisies of our time without flinching.”Alan Davis, author of So Bravely Vegetative

Written by

Author, THE AGE OF THE CHILD & others. Former adjunct prof & journo. Co-host, ChildfreeGirls series:

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