'You can’t avoid sex and cigarettes': How Indonesian Muslim mothers teach their children to read billboards


Muslim mothers in Indonesia find many roadside billboards confronting, especially those advertising harmful products such as cigarettes or using sexualised images of women. This unease is exacerbated by the fact that during daily commutes neither they nor their children can avoid seeing these billboards. However, while billboards pose a challenge to Islamic sensibilities, some Muslim mothers use these billboards as sites to educate their children about piety, modesty and tolerance. Such reflexive engagement is informed by an ongoing dialectic between mother’s interpretations of Islamic teachings and the realities of contemporary Indonesian media culture. This article explores this dialectic through interviews with Muslim mothers in Semarang, Indonesia.

Keywords: advertising, billboards, communication, culture, Indonesia, Islam, Muslim mothers, parenthood, piety, public space, reflexive media engagement, religion

Author Biography

Sharyn Davies, AUT
Associate Professor, Social Sciences


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How to Cite
Hartono, H., Davies, S., & MacRae, G. (  ). ’You can’t avoid sex and cigarettes’: How Indonesian Muslim mothers teach their children to read billboards. Pacific Journalism Review : Te Koakoa, 23(2), 179-196. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.24135/pjr.v23i2.309