Commentary on the New Yorker: Let’s Stop Sexualizing Children & Affection.

Many people are hailing the New Yorker’s latest cover, which commemorating the Supreme Court’s ruling on DOMA, as one of the greatest magazine covers of all time. In fact, the Huffington Post calls the cover “amazing.”

newyorkercoverWhatever your views are about marriage, the New Yorker cover depicting Bert & Ernie snuggling on the couch as a couple is not great or amazing.

It’s a disgrace.

Don’t Use Children to Talk about Sex.

Bert & Ernie are characters in a children’s television show. The New Yorker is hijacking something meant for children and turning into sexual commentary.

Children and sex only go together if you are a pedophile.

Bert & Ernie aren’t real children, obviously, but they are meant to represent two children. Sesame Street has released many official statements driving home this fact.

“They were created to teach preschoolers. They have no sexual orientation.”

It should be noted that Bert & Ernie are children themselves. Their muppet characters represent 5 year olds.

The only kind of controversial cultural commentary to be made about two 5 year olds who seemingly live alone together is one about latchkey children and the lack of parental supervision in society. It’s most definitely not one about sex.

When you see pictures of two toddlers taking a bath together do you think: “Adorable!” or do you think “Sex!”? Bert & Ernie are children. Children understand that affection equals love and love does not necessarily equal sex. In fact, children have zero concept of sexuality.

The New Yorker, and anyone else who looks at two affectionate children and immediately sees sex, needs to reconsider their own issues with sexuality and affection.

You’re not being provocative. You’re not being clever. You’re being gross.

Affection Does Not Equal Sex.

We live in a very bizarre society. It is one where hand-holding, hugs and cuddling immediately equate to sex. Two women holding hands must be lesbians. Two people cuddling on a couch must be sleeping together.

We hug, kiss and cuddle children. We show affection to our siblings and parents. Yet when two adults show affection for each other the outside world immediately cries SEX!

As a society, we need to expand our views on love and affection. We need to get away from the notion that it is only acceptable to express love to certain people, at certain times.

More than that, we need to get away from the notion that physical affection is synonymous with sexual affection.

Otherwise, we are not only limiting our capacity to express love, but also our capacity to love in general. In a society where affection equals sex, simple expressions of love become shameful. By default, simple love becomes shameful.

Love is a multi-layered experience. It comes in many forms. Love is meant to be expressed, not shamed.

It is not ‘weird’ to hug someone that you love. It is not odd to hold hands with another person. We are humans. We crave connections with one another.  We are creatures of love and expression, creatures of community and family.

We should embrace those aspects of our nature, not hide them. We most certainly should not limit them to sexuality.

There is Something We can Learn from Bert & Ernie.

If there is anything we can learn from Bert & Ernie, it’s not about sex, it’s about friendship.

From them, we can learn that we should cherish the people who accept us despite our differences. We should honor the people in our lives who work with us to make us better members of society. We should be grateful for the people who accept us, despite our weird quirks, like singing to rubber ducks in the bathtub.

Put simply: Bert & Ernie teach us that love and friendship are very good things.



  1. Martha Lizik says:

    So proud of you my Daughter!! You are awesome and right on target!

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