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Dolls and Dolls

Dolls 1:

There she is, smiling, sweet, happy, clutching her live cabbage patch doll to her graduation cap and gown. Bristol Palin has become the poster victim (or child, depending on your outlook) for a variety of strange-bedfellow policies and has been exploited by just about everyone who claims to love her. Her situation is an oxymoronic contradiction: the abstinence-only mentality colliding with “it doesn’t work;” teenagers needing real, solid and correct information on contraception colliding with “well, maybe we did it unprotected sometimes;” so-called “family values” colliding with a father from the wrong side of the tracks; the need for children to have both fathers and mothers in their lives colliding with the reality of a politician’s power to “negotiate” the rights of a father; and the sad reality of a teenager colliding with the perfect picture-bite on the cover of People magazine.

So what is the message our teens are getting from this bizarre, contradictory media circus? Until she and her boyfriend were censored, their message was a sad reality: Abstinence-only education/values are unrealistic because teenagers are hormone-drive creatures who don’t think about the future and don’t believe that it only takes one time to get pregnant. Even as we teach our children that sex is a sacred gift and privilege, not something to be abused or used like hamsters or animals in the meadow that procreate without thinking, we need to be teaching our children how to protect themselves when the urge hits.

But now the message is this massive piece of confusion: Don’t have sex until you’re married because the result could be that I didn’t get to go to my prom and I have this adorable bouncy baby who loves me and I love her and isn’t the baby so sweet and I have my entire family helping me out here, which is a good thing because the daddy doesn’t really matter. Oy.

Our children deserve better than this media charade – and quite frankly, so do Bristol, Levi and their child.

Dolls 2:

On a lighter note, she’s the first of her kind: Rebecca Rubin, the Jewish American Girl doll. Does it matter that the only thing distinguishing her as a Jew from the other American Girl dolls is her hair color and back story? Would it have been better for her to be wearing a magen david, a Star of David, or had her back story revealed that she was an Orthodox Jew living on the Lower East Side, struggling with her religious observance even as she is tempted by assimilation? According to the creators, hers is the more typical story of the immigrant whose family – by necessity – gives up observance for livelihood. The Star probably also had to go because the creators want to sell dolls, and universal looks always trump particularistic traits. I can say this: if my daughter were still young enough to be interested in such things, I’d be buying a Rebecca for her and helping her develop her own Rebecca story. Jewish girls have so few popular culture role models that profess their Judaism publicly that even the remotest glimpse of an obvious Jewish icon is a good thing.

Cantor Penny Kessler
Member: American Conference of Cantors – Clergy committed to Judaism and Jewish music.

Comments

Ira Wise said…
It is a shame that the American Doll folks didn;t google their intended name for this doll. http://www.fbi.gov/wanted/fugitives/dt/rubin_rj.htm will show you Rebecca J. Rubin's wanted poster. She is considered the most dangerous eco-terrorist running free today. Chaval. I just read part of the third Rebecca Rubin (Doll version) books to my niece last night. It was delightful.

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