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And it’s not just about princesses, though we could make a start there… July 30, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Feminism.
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And given what was posted earlier, here’s a piece on Slate that argues that women (and it’s women it’s arguing about) should stop being ‘tortured about pink and princesses’.

It is a given that if you are a mildly feminist mother (or father, but more mother), you are going to do everything within your power to steer your daughters away from anything that has the stink of “girly” on it. I shudder to think how many pink ruffled onesies, gifts from less enlightened relatives and sexist friends, have gone unworn because America’s feminist mothers could not stand to dress their 3-week-olds in the color of oppression.

I don’t know. Again as the father of a daughter there’s a bit of me inside that finds the massive emphasis on pink and princesses depressing (and indeed the massive emphasis on blue and black for boys equally so). I’m not against ‘girly’ though that’s a term whose meaning and application we can parse out in multiple ways.

And as was put to me the other day, it’s amazing how even the overt political connotations of kings and queens and princes and princesses is problematic in relation to y’know, the small fact we live in a democracy – however imperfect. Problematic? Sure, if only because of the massive simplification that that then engenders in the understanding of political processes at an early age, one which depends on hierarchical structures. You think I’m exaggerating? Recently my daughter when asked who she thought the Taoiseach was replied ‘the ruler’. Fine, she’s five going on six – that is a logical extension of how she understands power is exercised – but how does that feed into understandings of the world around her?

The article continues:

Why is it any likelier that your daughter is going to end up thinking that a prince will save her than it is that my son will think he should kill bad guys? Why is one of those fantasies considered harmless and the other damaging?

I’m not convinced. Let’s put the political to one side. There’s further problems ahead. Consider the issues about the nature of princesses (certain more recent Disney one’s excepted), and hitherto issues as regards passivity, expectations as regards princes and completion and so on.

And that point about Disney underlines how these issues are actually so problematic that in Tangled and Frozen the tropes are taken out, examined and reworked to some considerable degree.

But those go only half the way, in almost a parallel of how where there’s a nod towards girls, as with versions of Nerf guns directed towards them – perhaps a sort of echo of the influence of the Hunger Games – it’s amazing how pink steals in in the designs. And sometimes that obliterates all else. Lego Friendz, pink and purple and lilac coloured lego ‘for’ girls is a perfect example. Almost parodically there’s this, where the girls are working or what have you and the male figure is lounging outside their ‘house’.

Granted I’m not wading in to prevent my daughter from dressing up or playing with My Little Pony though you might be surprised how often spaceships and aliens figure in a sort of genre shifting where and when its possible. And while not much of a fan of Peter Jackson’s curious reworking of The Hobbit I find myself applauding the creation of a female elf – not least because although neither of the films has had a showing in the house for the daughter that caught her eye in the trailers and the absence of female elf warrior was a source of disappointment to her in the original text when read to her over the past month or so.

In a way this is about choices, about expanding the role and scope of play so that it isn’t channelled into constrained and constraining expectations as to what gender roles are or should be. Or as a comment under the Slate piece puts it – and in doing so gets to the heart of it for me:

Because things are sold to kids as the “normal” , ie “boy’s” version, and the pink girls version. 

And that’s the problem.

Fixing it? Well, I’d hesitantly suggest it’s not about preventing the manifestation of princesses – that’s a given for quite some while to come short of a fundamental rearrangement of the society. But it seems to me that it is about not being tied to the expectation that a girl shouldn’t want to kill the bad guys, or at least – this being U rated, lock them up. Or to put it another way, that she should be encouraged at all times to understand she has choice both to have and exercise agency.

Comments»

1. workers republicu - July 30, 2014

My eldest daughter was the only “girl” ( in this part of the island you are either a boy are a girl, no matter what your age;) who didn’t wear a morter board on her head at her Uni graduation., because the” boys” weren’t wearing g them.
Interestingly not only Grimms folk tales, and they were republicans , and jailed

for their beliefs, but then they were
collecting the stories , not making them
up. Aesop’s fables are are democratic,
indeed pacifist/ anarchist, When a donkey is told by his master: “Run the enemy is coming “, his retort is: “wwould I be treated any worse?”, “would I not have to work from dawn ti dusk?” So why should I run”!

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workers republicu - July 30, 2014

Are there alternatives to Princes and Princesses?. The original tarot cards were printed by powerful Italian familes during the Renaissance. they have Emperors and Empresses.
There are many, many modern versions of the Tarot, Cards,Celtic, Wicca, Tantric Zen, and so on. It would be iinteresting to see what alternatives they have for Emperors and Empresses.
One could easily imagine a “Stalinist “Tarot , but where would we find a Bolshik Empress or L’Papess ? Certainly very male dominated

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