The Soapbox: No, Nickelodeon, Mothers Do Not Need Our Own TV Channel

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I’m a TV junkie. Once my kid finally falls asleep, you’ll find me splayed out on the couch, flipping through the over 800 channels we apparently subscribe to. And my tastes run rampant: I’m just as happy sitting through an hour of “Alphas” on the Syfy channel as I am watching Barry’s antics on “Storage Wars” or crossing my fingers for a “Charmed” marathon on TNT. I DVR “30 Rock” to watch each week as well as the latest episode of “Top Chef.” Truly, there is very little I won’t watch.

Oh, except Nickelodeon’s new channel for moms, NickMom. You probably won’t find me watching that anytime soon, despite being a mom. On October 1st, NickJr — a channel originally created to provide age-appropriate programming for preschool children — began airing a block of nighttime programming “just for moms.” When I heard the news, I started wondering what I, a self-professed TV fiend and mom, was lacking from my already jam-packed television watching schedule. 

Apparently what I was missing was this:

NickMom’s website promises to bring the funny. In fact, it goes as far as to say that the shows they produce are “motherfunny.” (Heh. See what they did there?) I would say this is actually not-really-funny stuff. There are only so many mom and kid-centric jokes I can laugh at before it starts becoming stale and slightly uncomfortable.

And then there’s this:

Nothing annoys me more than the “moms hate sex” jokes. Which is it? Are we all just tired, frigid housewives? Or hot and horny ones who can’t get enough naughty”books?

Some of the stuff is so bad that it’s birthed a website dedicated to calling out everything that is wrong with NickMom. Cancel NickMom launched last week and has started two different petitions as well as filed a formal complaint with the FCC to try and remove NickMom programming from the NickJr channel.

Many of the complaints coming from Cancel NickMom have to do with the fact that NickMom is airing content that is inappropriate for children on a channel that was created for young children. I’ve spent a bunch of time on NickMom’s site, and to be honest, I’m not as concerned with the fact that kids might watch the programming and be exposed to awful jokes and words like “penis” or “bitch.” What’s more problematic for me is the assumption that mothers need or even want special programming, and what that says about how society views mothers.

The NickMom website and TV programs somehow manage to simultaneously continue to push the divide between women (promoting themselves as the “bad mommy” network — ugh) while putting down and minimizing fathers. Their Facebook page is rife with eyeroll-inducing cliches that pain me as much as the term “mommy porn” does. (It should be noted that the pictures that ragged on fathers has since been taken down — perhaps evidence that even NickMom knows that they’re swimming in shallow waters.)

As a mom, I already have to deal with enough crap from the government (mandatory maternity leave anyone?), advertisers (when’s the last time you saw an ad for cleaning supplies or yogurt aimed at a man?), and a society that views women with children as a mother first, and person second — something men very rarely have to contend with.

So when it comes to television, I guess I do have my limits: I do not want a channel that not only purports to be specifically for me, but that does so in a way that simply trades on tired stereotypes.

Avital Norman Nathman is a blogger at The Mamafesto.

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