This post is going to be a lengthy one. It is for those who choose to delve into the subject of children's books more thoroughly. If you are someone who knows how to navigate rabbit holes, I encourage you to use this article as a springboard to do your own research.
Parents are beginning to wake up as to the content of children’s books. Until recently, most assumed that kiddie books were safe and neutral. Now, seldom a day goes by that another School Board meeting isn't posted online in which thousands of viewers watch and listen to parents from various states voicing their concerns.
First, I encourage you to actually read books, rather than reading about them. There are many questions that need to be asked about children's books. These are a few of them:
Let us begin with James St. James. In an interview with Gay Action News in 2010, St. James, the author of Freak Show, admits that the book was written in response to Dutton, the book publisher, approaching him about “doing something for teens.” Freak Show introduces the first drag queen character in young adult history.
James St. James mentions Michael Alig and their time as Club Kids in the first minute, eight seconds of this interview. Spend some time looking up:
James St. James wrote a book about Michael Alig’s murder of his pusher and their time as Club Kids. Disco Bloodbath was later made into the movie, Party Monster, starring Macauley Culkin. It was after this that Dutton “approached” him about writing a book for kids.
How about Meredith Russo?
In May of 2013, Meredith Russo filed for a marriage license with Jennifer Marie Russo using his name, Travis Stroud. By late 2013, Stroud was living as a “her.” In January of 2015—less than two years later—Stroud, now going by the name, Meredith Russo, was given a six-figure deal from Flatiron Books, a division of Macmillan, to finish writing the young adult novel, If I Was Your Girl. This book is about a transgender girl, written by Russo, a transgender, and includes a transgender model on the cover.
Stroud’s wife, Jennifer, filed a petition in July 2015 that she had allegedly been repeatedly sexually assaulted and raped by Stroud. In October of the same year, an affidavit was filed that indicated Stroud could only see his child under the supervision of a relative, who was required to swear that the child would never be left unattended with Stroud.
Despite the above allegations and the MeToo Movement in full swing, Flatiron books also published Russo’s next book, Birthday: A Novel, in May of 2019. Is there a different set of rules for those who identify as transgender?
Junauda Petrus, author of The Stars and the Blackness Between Them, “was awarded [by the Jerome Foundation] $4,335 to travel to Port of Spain, Trinidad and St. George, Tobago for 18 days to research queerness, LGBTQ experiences, African spirituality and magic to inform her young adult novel exploring these intersections.”
On their About the Author page, Simon & Schuster describes Jason Myers:
Jason Myers is the author of five teen novels, including his debut, Exit Here, which became a cult classic. He lives in San Francisco, California.
What is a “cult classic?” A cult classic is “typically a movie or book, that is popular or fashionable among a particular group or section of society.” (Oxford languages) Simply put, a cult classic has developed a cult following. Read Exit Here and ponder the mindset of this “cult following.”
Taking a deep dive into the just the material above will take a considerable amount of time. Reading the actual books and writings of these authors will make the picture much clearer.
Mass Resistance has written an excellent series of articles about library books in a middle school in Massachusetts. One such book is Sex is a Funny Word, by Cory Silverberg. I wrote an article about Silverberg and his What Makes a Baby? book seven years ago. The book was funded through a Kickstarter campaign. $65,516 was pledged.
Making Babies in the 21st Century
By Debbie DeGroff
June 19, 2014
Several months ago I read an article in my local newspaper about lesbians and pregnancy. One lesbian mom provides the egg and the other lesbian the uterus so that they both feel a part of the pregnancy. I am unclear as to whether the sperm donor feels like he is a participant, although if he was a paid donor, he probably earned less than a female counterpart.
Egg donation is one of the very few jobs where females make more than males.1
Another article describes a popular egg donor who is also an attorney. “She’s the girl next door,” says a staffer. Four couples have bought her eggs over the last two years, earning Melissa $28,000. Melissa says she’ll donate as many times as the clinic will allow her to: “I was surprised by how easy it was.” 2
Julia Derek was a broke college student at George Mason University when she saw an ad in the Washington Post: “Infertile couple searching for tall (5’8” minimum), athletic, green eyes, brunette egg donor between the ages of 18–30. Preferably from Northern or Eastern Europe . . . Compensation: $3,500.” . . . Ultimately, they didn’t choose her. But a few months later, Derek, a five-foot-eight Swede with model-good looks, moved to Los Angeles, where she was recruited by an “egg broker” who sold her eggs for top dollar. Derek donated 12 times over the next four years, earning about $50,000. That was several years ago. Today she could earn double that.3
I googled numerous sites about becoming an egg donor. One site had pictures of prospective donors that looked like ads from a dating agency. These are actual donors with our program *Please note that on occasion certain photos have been cropped or retouched* 4
A 2008 article tells of two lesbians who both wanted to be connected to their child biologically.
So, four years ago, they harvested Ms. Rutherford's eggs, inseminated them with a donor's sperm through in vitro fertilization and implanted the embryos into Ms. Parish's uterus. Today, Ms. Rutherford is the genetic mother and Ms. Parish is the gestational mother of twin three-year-old boys - and they both feel equally "related" to their kids . . .
"We both wanted to be legally recognized as parents," Ms. Rutherford says. At that time, a child born to a same-sex couple had to be adopted by the non-gestational parent. The women hoped that, given their demonstrable biological ties to the children, they would be able to win the right to both be recognized on the birth certificate—something that already had precedent in three U.S. states. After their sons were born, they were part of a legal challenge that led to Ontario's same-sex mothers winning that right as well.5
Obviously, there are risks involved in becoming an egg donor. One site lists seven dangers of donating eggs.6 Julia Derek, the broke college student mentioned previously wrote a 2004 book, Confessions of a Serial Egg Donor, to address these concerns.7 The description on the Amazon site is as follows:
Growing by nearly 20 percent annually, the business of egg donors is exploding in the United States. Demand for young women’s eggs keeps outstripping the supply in an ever accelerating pace, prompting the compen-sation to skyrocket – from $250 per donation in 1984 to $100,000 in some cases today. Every year more outlets are created to satisfy this demand.T hese infertility businesses are at war to attract top donors, virtually unsupervised by either government or private association. In fact, they have established their own guidelines. And their primary targets are vulnerable college girls . . .
Confessions of a Serial Egg Donor tells the true and disturbing story of how an independent college girl got so caught up by the tens of thousands of dollars she was making on her eggs her body shut down.8
Advertisements in campus newspapers and on websites plead daily. “Egg Donors Needed. $10,000,” says one in The Daily Californian, the student newspaper at the University of California, Berkeley. The ad, from a San Diego broker called A Perfect Match, seeks women who are “attractive, under the age of 29” and have SAT scores above 1300.9
Apparently, there are many young women selling their eggs due to the fact that the demand is increasing. Yes, there are husbands and wives who are not able to have children, but now there is a new market for eggs and sperm----the homosexual community and both straight and LGBT singles desiring to have a child or children.
How will this ever be explained to children? One young adult book has the son of two lesbian moms asking about his father:
“Do you know who my father is?” I know I have to have one.
Mom and Jo exchange a look . . . and I think I’m sorry I brought it up. Jo clears her throat and says, “Uh, yeah. He’s a syringe full of sperm."10
Another book available for pre-school through age-eight children is called What Makes a Baby? by Cory Silver-berg.11 This thirty-two page book is illustrated by Fiona Smyth. The book illustrates that some bodies have sperm and some have eggs. You cannot tell from the pictures if the body with the sperm or egg is a male or female. They all look alike. Silverberg explains that it takes a sperm from one of those bodies and an egg from another and, additionally, they will need a uterus. Mr. Silverberg describes the “dance” that brings the sperm and egg together. The book culminates with two babies being born---one naturally and one by caesarean.
What is unique about this book is that there is no mention of boy, girl, man, woman, mother, or father. That leaves the book open-ended to discuss all the ways the baby may have been conceived. Amazon describes it this way:
What Makes a Baby is a book for every kind of family and every kind of kid. It is a twenty-first century children’s picture book about conception, gestation, and birth, which reflects the reality of our modern time by being inclusive of all kinds of kids, adults, and families, regardless of how many people were involved, their orien-tation, gender and other identity, or family composition. Just as important, the story doesn’t gender people or body parts, so most parents and families will find that it leaves room for them to educate their child without having to erase their own experience.12
Cory Silverberg developed a reader’s guide13 for parents as a supplement to What Makes a Baby? This guide is approximately sixty pages. He writes about children confusing body parts and gender. On page forty-seven of the guide he even states that gender may not be fixed, but fluid for some. Page fifteen explains that some men have ovaries and some women have sperm, these being trans men or trans women. Page twenty-nine describes a lesbian mom explaining that she donated the egg and “Uncle Jack” the sperm in a cup. Then she helped the other lesbian inject the sperm into her vagina.
There are several pages of resources listed at the end of this guide. These include links to books with LGBT characters and identities. Seven organizations are described including Gender Spectrum, PFLAG, and Trans Youth Family Allies.
Just who is Cory Silverberg? He is a founding member of the Come As You Are Co-operative, located in Canada. What in the world is that?
We are proud to be operating the store in this anti-capitalist, egalitarian way, as well as having the distinction of being the only co-operatively run sex shop in the world!14
The Come As You Are Co-operative even lists their Core Values! The first value is Sex The Way You Want It:
Whether you want to have lots of sex or no sex at all, our approach goes beyond being non-judgmental; we positively and actively affirm diverse sexual choices, and support the radical act of asking "what do I want sexually?"15
Value two is: Customer Service That Helps:
We think the most radical thing we offer is information, with sex toys, books, and DVDs coming in a close second . . . We consider referrals, including referrals to free resources, sexual health clinics, and even other sex shops, a crucial part of building trust.16
Value four is Be Accessible:
Sexuality is part of everyone's experience, regardless of age, gender, race, sexual orien-tation or identity, disability, ethnicity, religious affiliations, how we move, talk, or think. We work hard so that anyone and everyone can come to the table . . .17
Listed in the books section is a Sexual Device Manual for Persons with Disabilities called PleasureABLE that was created in collaboration with Cory Silverberg.
This manual was created as a practical resource for persons with disabilities and health care clinicians, providing information on modifying sex toys, positions for greater ease and comfort, pleasure anatomy, safety and deconstructing myths around sex and disability.18
This Come as Your Are Co-operative also sells The Ultimate Guide to Sex and Disability by Miriam Kaufman, M.D., Cory Silverberg and Fran Odette, as well as Silverberg’s What Makes a Baby? The website also lists the Sex Workshops available, as well as their list of instructors. I will mention two of the instructors---Annie Sprinkle, Ph.D and Tristan Taormino.19 Dr. Annie Sprinkle is well known for her performance piece, “Public Cervix Announcement”.
Annie toured to theaters and venues putting her cervix on display with a speculum for the crowd and inviting individuals up to take a gander with a flashlight.20
Annie Sprinkle Ph.D. is the prostitute/porn star turned artist/sexologist. She has passionately researched and explored sexuality in all of its glorious and inglorious forms for thirty- six years, and has shared her findings all along the way through producing and starring in her own unique brand of sex films, photographic work, teaching workshops, and college lectures. . . . Annie has long championed sex worker rights and health care. She was one of the pivotal players in the 80’s “sex positive feminist movement”. In 2002 Annie earned her Ph.D. in Human Sexuality, making her the first porn star to get a Ph.D, . . .
Currently Sprinkle’s main ongoing project is The Love Art Laboratory, loveartlab.org, in which she collaborates with her partner Elizabeth Stephens. She also does many college lectures about her work. Her newest DVD, Annie Sprinkle’s Amazing World of Orgasm teaches people lots more about orgasm . . .21
The other sex workshop instructor I’ll mention is Tristan Taormino. Tristan Taormino is the author of seven books including The Secrets of Great G-Spot Orgasms and Female Ejaculation, The Big Book of Sex Toys, The Anal Sex Position Guide, Opening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships, True Lust: Adventures in Sex, Porn and Perversion, Down and Dirty Sex Secrets, and two editions of The Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex for Women. She is the editor of 25 anthologies including The Ultimate Guide to Kink: BDSM, Role Play and the Erotic Edge and Take Me There: Trans and Genderqueer Erotica. She was the founding editor of the Lambda Literary Award-winning series Best Lesbian Erotica.
Tristan has taught hundreds of classes (on everything from negotiating relationships to female orgasms) at conferences, community events, and retail stores throughout the world. As a keynote and guest speaker at events, she’s spoken about community building, sexual liberation, and GLBT issues. She has given over 75 lectures and presentations at top colleges and universities all over North America (including Yale, Cornell, Princeton, Brown, Columbia, University of California-Santa Barbara, University of North Carolina-Greensboro, and NYU) on subjects ranging from erotic empowerment to challenging the social construction of monogamy.22
Well, enough about Mr. Silverberg being a founding member of that anti-capitalist Come As You Are Co-operative. He is currently chair of educator certification for the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselor, and therapists (AASECT) and teaches across North America on topics including sexuality and disability, technology, access, and inclusion.23
I’m Hot for Myself is an article Silverberg wrote in 2003 for Now:
It’s a lie that we can’t be happy alone. May is National Masturbation Month. Over the past five years, it’s become my favourite holiday. . . . The last time I decided to stop having sex with other people, I learned several interesting tricks you can do with an ordinary wooden spoon and some Jell-O (tricks I no longer partake in now that I know what’s actually in Jell-O). One thing I love about masturbating is the fact that I can still surprise myself. You’d think that after f--king yourself, oh, a few thousand times, you’d pretty much know everything there is to know about how you get off. But you’d be wrong . . . Cory Silverberg is a worker-owner at Come as You Are. He will be in this year’s Masturbate-athon and at the annual Jerk Off! Cabaret at Buddies in Bad Times . . . 24
What about the illustrator of What Makes a Baby? Let’s begin with the fact that if you click on Smyth’s website, the message comes up that it is for adults only.25 I cannot begin to describe Smyth’s art. There is a video on youtube called Fiona Smyth--The Wilding.26 This will surely give a more accurate portrayal of the type of work she does.
The publishing date for the second book in Silverberg’s series is May of 2015. The title is Sex is a Funny Word: A Book about Bodies, Relationships, and You.
The second book from sexuality educator and author Cory Silverberg, Sex Is a Funny Word reimagines "the sex talk" for the twenty-first century . . . Sex Is a Funny Word provides an essential resource for children ages 8 to 10 who are now able to understand more of the world around them, and for their parents who often aren't sure how to start the conversation.
Areas covered include bodies, gender, touch, and relationships. Specific topics covered include what is sexy, developmentally appropriate names and functions of body parts, personal boundaries and sexual safety, and information about gender and sexual identity.
Sex Is a Funny Word is written to be inclusive of parents and children regardless of gender, sexual identity, sexual orientation, or family makeup. Notably it is the first sex education book for this age group that is inclusive of gender nonconforming and trans youth.27
One of the reviewers of What Makes a Baby? had this to say:
“It’s an informative and entertaining read for kids of all parents, straight or queer. And, hey, even if your kids were conceived the old-fashioned way, they should know not everyone was—and why.”—Queerty28
This review actually sums it all up. These people want all kids to be taught these things. Silverberg is just one of many available self-appointed sexperts who will teach, even very young children, these practices through books, television, movies, music, and sex education in government schools.
The New York Public Libraries have 23 copies of What Makes a Baby?, San Francisco Public Libraries have 22 copies, The Free Library of Philadelphia owns 55 copies, and the Dallas Public Library has 7.
The first kid’s book with a homosexual character, I’ll Get There. It Better Be Worth the Trip by John Donovan was published in 1969 by Harper & Row. Now children’s books flaunt intercourse, oral sex, anal sex, sadomasochism, straight, homosexual, lesbian, bi, and trans sex. After forty-five years of pumping out these types of books, the public has accepted abnormality as normality and a book such as Silverberg’s was deemed necessary to “explain” the resultant confusion.
Sex: A Book for Teens was written by Nikol Hasler and endorsed by both former Surgeon General, Joycelyn Elders and infamous and recently deceased, Betty Dodson, author of Sex for One.
I would never have been able to compile the accurate and useful information found in this book without the support of Cory Silverberg, Heather Corrina, Judith Steinhart, Dr. Jeffrey Klausner, Morty Diamond, Tristan Taormino, and Miriam Kaufman.
Taormino, mentioned in the above article, describes herself as a feminist pornographer. Her website is for adults only.
Dr. Annie Sprinkle, also mentioned in the article, is not a medical doctor. She received her doctorate degree in Human Sexuality from the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality. She is a porn star. Click here to read her dissertation.
While researching the National Sexuality Education Standards years ago, I ran across the SPARK Reproductive Justice Now website. They produced a ‘zine (online magazine) called Fire in 2010. This was “An Art/Resource Zine by and for Southern Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans, Same Gender Loving, Questioning Youth and Our Allies. One section of this zine was “Sex Worker Information.” This crucial information for today’s youth, which included the “Attitude Adjustment Chart,” was written “by Dr. Annie Sprinkle, St. James Infirmary Board member. Courtesy of the Saint James Infirmary Occupational Health and Safety Handbook. The Saint James Infirmary is a medical and social services for female, transgendered, and male sex workers in San Francisco, CA.” (Page 84 of this online magazine)
Note that without the aforementioned explanation of Dr. Sprinkle’s degree, readers would assume that she is a medical doctor. This, most certainly, would give this article a level of credibility with teen readers.
Dr. Sprinkle addresses “How to Cure Sex Worker Burn Out (S.W.B.O.)” in the "Sex Worker Information" section of the book. One suggestion—TO THE YOUTH—is to:
Be willing to take less money. Decide what kinds of people you want to work with, and be willing to let those that don’t fit the bill go by. Develop your own style. Don’t let the client determine the service, but let them know what you offer. Practice saying NO. Clean out your little black book and work to expand your business. You may in the short run seem to make less money, but taking care of your personal needs will give you longevity in the business and you’ll surely come out ahead.
Some days normal people wake up and wonder what planet they are living on. How did we ever get to a place where people could identify as anything they wanted and others are coerced into playing along? A time in which the word “pandemic” was uttered and the whole country fell to its knees? A world in which wrong is now right and right is now wrong?
It didn’t happen overnight. Ideas, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors were strategically shaped. It’s not just the books. The advantage with taking a dive into the children’s book world, however, is that you can examine this for yourself. Once you see how this was applied in kiddie books, it becomes easier to recognize in the various other venues.
Before closing, I want to point out something that happened to me over the weekend. I was in Maryland and saw a church yardsale. I noticed several of the Fifty Shades of Grey series. When no one was around but the church workers, I brought it to their attention the content of these books. I quietly said that “I thought they would want to know.” The woman said I would have to talk to the man standing by the table. The man said that he doesn’t look inside the books and was obviously angry at me. I didn’t purchase what I intended to buy, and quietly left. Perhaps the books had been donated by one of the church members. The church wouldn’t have made more than a couple of dollars in selling these books. Was it worth it?
Years ago, I bought three of the Jason Myers’s books at a Christian thrift store. They are at the top of the vilest books for minors I have ever read.
If we want to protect our children, it isn’t time to throw up our hands and say, “What’s the use?” It’s not up to everyone else. It begins with us. We need to do our homework.
Between the Covers: What's Inside a Children's Book?
1 Waters, Abbie, “How Much Money Can an Egg Donor Make from Donating Eggs?, http://www.fertilitynation.com/how-much-money-can-an-egg-donor-make-from-donating-eggs/#.U59NjvldWSo
2 Foster, Brooke Lea, “The Hunt for golden Eggs: Young Women Donating Eggs,” http://www.washingtonian.com/articles/health/the-hunt-for-golden-eggs-young-women-donating-eggs/ (Accessed 06/16/14)
4 https://www.eggdonation.com/secure_search/login.php, (Accessed 06/16/14)
6 Waters, Abbie, “Become an Egg Donor: Egg Donation Risks—7 Dangers of Donating Eggs”, Fertility Nation, http://www.fertilitynation.com/7-egg-donation-risks-every-donor-should-know-about/#.U59xEfldWSp (Accessed 06/16/14)
7Derek, Julia, Confessions of a Serial Egg Donor, Adrenaline Books, 2004
8 http://www.amazon.com/Confessions-Serial-Donor-Julia-Derek/dp/0974907901/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1402953815&sr=8-1&keywords=Confessions+of+a+Serial+Egg+Donor (Accessed 06/16/14)
9 Hopkins, Jim, USA Today, Egg-donor business booms on campuses, 3/15/2006, http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/money/industries/health/2006-03-15-egg-donors-usat_x.htm, (Accessed 06/19/14)
10 Peters, Julie Anne, Between Mom and Jo, Little, Brown & Company, 2006
11 Silverberg, Cory, What Makes a Baby?, Seven Stories Press, a Triangle Square book for young readers, 2012
12 http://www.amazon.com/What-Makes-Baby-Cory-Silverberg/dp/1609804856/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1402960335&sr=8-1&keywords=What+Makes+a+Baby%3F (Accessed 06/16/14)
13Silverberg, Cory, https://static1.squarespace.com/static/59e57b9529f187abf9bc69e8/t/5a38a16641920265d1cdeef2/1513660796110/WMAB-Readers-Guide.pdf
14 http://www.comeasyouare.com/about-us/ (Accessed 06/16/2014)
15 http://www.comeasyouare.com/about-us/core-values-and-culture/sex-the-way-you-want-it/ (Accessed 06/16/14)
16 http://www.comeasyouare.com/about-us/core-values-and-culture/customer-service-that-helps/ (Accessed 06/16/14)
17 http://www.comeasyouare.com/about-us/core-values-and-culture/be-accessible/ (Accessed 06/16/14)
18 http://www.comeasyouare.com/shop/search-results/ (Accessed 06/16/14)
19 http://stjamesinfirmary.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/annie-sprinkle-dissertation.pdf (Accessed 06/16/14)
20 Butcher, Tina, Annie Sprinkle interview, January 25, 2004https://suicidegirls.com/girls/tina/blog/2678905/annie-sprinkle-interview/
21 http://anniesprinkle.org/about-annie/mini-biography/ (accessed 06/16/14)
22 http://tristantaormino.com/about-tristan/ (accessed 06/16/14)
23 http://www.what-makes-a-baby.com/about-us/ (accessed 06/16/14)
24Silverberg, Cory, “I’m Hot for Myself”, Now, Archives Vol. 22 No.35, May 1, 2003, http://www.nowtoronto.com/lifestyle/story.cfm?content=136500&archive=22,35,2003
26 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AVGHH6kqx4w (Accessed 06/16/14)
27 http://catalog.sevenstories.com/products/sex-is-a-funny-word-a-book-about-bodies-relationships-and-you (Accessed 06/16/14)
28 http://www.amazon.com/What-Makes-Baby-Cory-Silverberg/dp/1609804856/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1402973624&sr=8-1&keywords=What+Makes+a+Baby%3F (Accessed 06/16/14)