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History of babysitting

July 18, 2009

SALON: You document pop culture portrayals of the baby sitter as feckless, irresponsible, barely competent. Why do you think this image of the baby sitter developed?

FORMAN-BRUNELL: The emergence of that character is very much informed by a larger critique about teenage girls, and the ways in which teenage girls were developing their own culture, their own identity, and the ways in which adults really feared them. The stereotype that emerges is one that’s created by adults, not by teenagers, and it’s one that casts them in a negative light. During the war, it has a sexual dimension to it. And of course that resurfaces during the 1960s as the kind of sexy sitter who poses a threat to marital stability by being attractive to the male employer.

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