Exene Cervenka is a writer, visual artist and punk rock pioneer. The OC transplant is the lead singer for X, the Knitters and Original Sinners. If you want to ask the legendary vocalist for advice, send an email to
As a relatively new parent in my mid-20s, I've become more and more aware of things other parents do that annoy the shit out of me. And it doesn't have to do so much with how other parents my age raise their kids, but more how they dress them. I go to a shopping center and see 1-year-olds sporting Dead Kennedys T-shirts or stuff with Wu-Tang or the Clash logos slapped on them. It's as if through their kids' clothing, parents are trying to let you know exactly how cool they are and what kind of records they buy.
Didn't a band shirt used to mean something when you put it on? What kind of baby listens to or really cares about punk? Why not let him get old enough to decide to put down the money for a band shirt? What are these parents trying to prove? I guess you could just write them off as childbearing hipsters and think nothing more of it, but I find intolerable the overcommercialization of music that was so radical for its time and is becoming just another ornament you can buy for your kid at Target. As a punk legend yourself, does it bother you how a lot of old-school music is being turned into nothing more than a cute logo?
I know what you mean–babies as accessories. It's like carrying an expensive handbag with some logo all over it. But to each their own, right?
I think what's even worse is seeing 5-year-old girls with hip-huggers and tiny T-shirts exposing their stomachs. Have you seen the bikinis with padded tops for toddlers? How about the cheerleader outfits for little girls? That's a great message: “Just be sexy and stay on the sidelines while we boys play the game.” Not to mention messages such as “JUICY” across the back of their pants. Do parents really want people staring at their little girls' butts? At a drugstore chain, I saw these shirts for toddler boys saying, “Pick Me Up–I Like Older Women” and, “My Mom's a Hottie.”
Sexualization of 2-year-olds or 10-year-olds or any age is one of the worst aspects of our corporate-controlled society. There is a terrible reality here: We have not protected our children, and we have not given them a safe place to BE children.
So maybe lay off the logos, the slogans, the role-playing, the sex, the brainwashing. Get 'em some overalls and a couple of cotton T-shirts, and let 'em play in the sandbox. Turn off the TV and make up songs together. Don't indoctrinate; let 'em be who they are–not who you hope they are.