Sexuality on Sesame Street

Learning Womanhood from Child's Play

Lisa Anchin

By Judy Brown (Eishes Chayil)

Published October 05, 2012.
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We met Bert and Ernie first. Then Cookie Monster strolled in, declaring that C is for cookies. My three-year-old son giggled, my daughter waved her toes in the air. Elmo entered, giggling and hugging anyone he could get his hands on. But then his toy radio broke, and he could not fix it. He banged his furry paws on it but nothing happened. His head drooped sadly. He stared at the toy. Right then, from behind him, a tall, dark lady slithered in.

“Hi Elmo,” she said. “What’s wrong?” I stared at her in shock.

The woman was dressed in a halter top and a mini skirt. She smiled brightly, seemingly oblivious to the mortifying fact that her halter top did not fully cover her midriff. And then she began singing the ABC song. She waved her hands in the air as the camera zoomed in on her. Her midriff loomed onscreen.

“Elmo,” she said, “Won’t you sing with me?”

Elmo sang along. I stared at the lady’s cleavage and then worriedly at my children. They did not seem to notice. Still, who knew what insidious influences were now creeping into their pure minds?

And then it happened. The lady with the bare midriff, with the mini skirt and uncovered thighs swayed her entire body. She shook her hips to the right, to the left, side to side, carelessly, suggestively, and all without a shred of embarrassment.

I stared at the screen in disbelief. I heard my cousin, the one who is holier than I, come down the stairs, and I jumped. I ran to the computer.

I frantically pressed at random keys. My daughter whined angrily, “Mommy! Moooove!” I fumbled, bending protectively over the screen and pressed the forward button, hard. My toddler wailed. She wanted the hip-shaking lady, only the hip-shaking lady, now.

“More, more, more,” she screamed. “Like dat.” She stood on the chair, shaking her hips right to left, side to side, to show me.

I laughed nervously. I quickly explained: “The DVD broke in the middle, the whole screen started jumping, I’m forwarding it —”

“Jumping? You just bought it today.”


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