The suburbs of the Midwestern United States hold their family values close and their religious values closer. This region has long been defined by a set of moral values with Christian roots that play into lifestyle and political beliefs. Things deemed inappropriate often lead to the question “What will we tell the children?” The 45 symbols describing the Suburban Midwest show the shift in cultural acceptance that differs from longstanding moral values.
The Midwest is a mysterious place to most. Some couldn’t even name where it is located on a map. The suburbs of this region hold their family values close and their religious values closer.
The Midwest region of The United States has long been defined by a set of moral values with Christian roots that play into lifestyle and political beliefs. Things deemed inappropriate often lead to the question – What will we tell the children? 45 symbols of the Suburban Midwest represent longstanding moral values the social challenges they face.
Meet “The Smiths,” the ideal suburban family. The Smiths symbol is named smith•rectus in this set of 45 symbols. This symbol occurs throughout Suburban Midwest and is re-appropriated to convey ulterior meanings and show the shift in cultural acceptance occurring in the Suburban Midwest region.
Whether they are related to family, religion, sports, local towns or close friends, traditions are not taken lightly in the Suburban Midwest. Not only do they honor tradition, they also respect traditional aesthetic. This comes as no surprise with values that are today considered too traditional by the rest of the nation.
[annual•memory/splurge] These two symbols show the evolution of Christmas. While it used to be about the birth of Christ, it is now spent by shopping months in advance to splurge on friends and family. Although Christmas may have lost a sense of direction, Midwesterners always enjoy the traditions that accompany the holiday and the memories that are made when joining together friends and family.
[smith•good•drink] This symbol shows the tradition of communion, the Christian service where bread and wine are consecrated and shared.
The Midwest region is often recognized for their love of hunting and the second amendment. Fifty-one percent of the population in the Midwest region owns a gun.With all the tragedies surrounding guns and shootings in 2013 (Sandy Hook, Washington Navy Yard, Nevada Middle School, Boston Marathon) there has been a lot of debate on whether or not tighter gun laws are necessary and if it should be legal to own and carry a firearm. Regardless of legislature, reported gun ownership is up to 47 percent in 2013, which is the highest seen in two decades.
[smith•protect•father] Shown as a father protecting his family, this symbol visualizes the argument for the right to own a firearm.
[smith•protect•child] This symbol shows a possible outcome of owning a gun with children.
stay at home mother vs. working mother
Studies show housewives suffer more depression and alcohol abuse than mothers who work. Being a stay at home mother used to be the norm, but with economic trouble this norm has shifted dramatically in the past few years. This is a separation from the traditional roles of husband, the breadwinner, and wife, the homemaker.
[work•right] This symbol shows the traditional roles of husband and wife. The woman as the homemaker and the man as the breadwinner.
[work•wrong] This symbol shows a shift in the traditional roles of husband and wife. If a woman can get a better job than the man, should he be the one to stay at home?
male dominant sports
From a very young age, girls are encouraged pursue cheerleading. They wear bows as big as their head adorned with glitter and perform in a sleeveless top and miniskirt. Meanwhile, boys are pushed into contact sports like football, wrestling and basketball. They are trained, many by their fathers, as their grow into teenagers and can play sports at the high school level.
[young•bad•play] This symbol shows what is not widely accepted, a young girl playing a contact sport and a young boy practicing as a cheerleader. Many who play the less popular sport for their gender often get harassed about their sexual preferences and are given a stereotype.
[all•play] The roots for “all” and “play” were chosen to for this symbol because local football provides entertainment for the entire town. The term Friday Night Lights is often used to describe the event. All the players on the team are glamorized as local heroes.
same sex couples, marriage and families
The Westboro Baptist Church from Topeka, Kansas protests same sex couples by protesting funerals claiming “God Hates Gays.” In contrast, the Midwest has three states (Iowa, Minnesota and Illinois) who have legalized gay marriage. Mayor R.T. Rybak of Minnesota has encouraged other states in the region to do the same.
[two•straight/female/male•together] These three symbols represent the acceptance and rejection of same sex marriage legislation in the Midwest region.
[smith/two/mothers] By taking the symbol of the well-rounded smith family and replacing the father with another mother, the change is slight enough for the viewer to miss it.
[smith/two/fathers] This also uses the image of the well-rounded family and re-appropriates it with two fathers.