What We Missed

Sisters are one of the keys to happiness. Can’t argue with that…

Arizona: a land of “opportunity” for the prison industry where immigrant detention is a market to be tapped and exploited.

Is “princess culture” damaging our little girls?

Colorado conservatives equate abortion to slavery because they are clearly the same thing. *insert side eye*

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9 Comments

  1. Posted October 28, 2010 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

    Re the Tannen piece, I’ve never cared for her generalizations, about women’s speech, or here, women’s relationships.

  2. Posted October 28, 2010 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

    The princess phenomenon is disturbing. Would it help if parents made its expression less consumerist? Parents with some craft or artistic skill could teach their daughters to sketch designs, stitch by hand, use and maintain a (sewing) machine, even do some pattern making. These activities build fine motor skills and develop spatial reasoning. Maybe they could build a theater set and write a play that required them to make swords and practice in mock swordplay, etc. Or write screenplay, shoot it, and edit it. Or do a “princess” blog that goes beyond the usual helpless princess swill. These are just ideas off the top of my head.

    At least these things would introduce new and different skills and be an experience of doing and developing, not just having and displaying. And of course, they’re a lot of fun.

  3. Posted October 28, 2010 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

    If anything comes across as being like slavery, it’s people trying to subjugate and force others to do things they don’t want with their bodies.

    • Posted October 28, 2010 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

      Right! In fact, I’ve heard of people who equate abortion with slavery or rape. It’s ridiculous.

  4. Posted October 28, 2010 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

    Also, reading the commentary on the “Princess” article it occurred to me that whenever someone critiques the princess culture aimed at little girls these days, they invariably get accused of denigrating femininity all together. So now I’m wondering–why does being “feminine” have to solely be defined as pink and princesses?

  5. Posted October 28, 2010 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

    Speaking as what was once The Femmiest Toddler On The Planet, one who would not wear a dress that had less than three crinolines and can still recite Disney’s Sleeping Beauty completely by heart, but who’s now a graduate of a not-quite-but-so-close-to-Seven Sisters college and a very outspoken feminist, I feel like I have not yet read one article on princess culture where the authors don’t display overt hostility and resentment of their daughters’ identification with any element of princess culture and glib gloating about all their attempts undermine it, based on their own discomfort with the color pink or dress-up or whatever. My mother didn’t TRY to raise me in a particularly gendered way (I too had mostly “made-of-wood-in-Denmark” toys), but she said that being flouncy and princessy was just something that I gravitated towards. Then when I was a younger teenager and started dressing and acting totally the opposite of flouncy and princessy, she let me do that too. Ultimately, my mother didn’t see my exploring the spectrum of my gender presentation as some kind of assault on her (indeed, as even being remotely connected to her) and attach any associations with “less than” or “undesirable” to being princessy or not princessy. So if I had ever said something about wanting to be a princess, she would never have snarked back that I’d need a graduate degree in international relations such that I’d immediately have to switch to a ballerina and then a butterfly or whatever. She would have just let me play that out on my own terms until I lost interest myself, which is bound to happen with toddlers. And I’m really thankful for that, because now that I’m an adult, I know that my mother is one less person that I have to have the “how can you be a feminist, you wear make-up” conversation with. Appreciation of ultra-femininity and feminism are not totally mutually exclusive, and I wish more writers who dealt with this topic had the same opinion.

  6. Posted October 28, 2010 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

    I really like the piece on princess culture. Harris, in my opinion, has a healthy view of the influence of the “princess culture” – she accepts that it can’t be avoided entirely and that kids don’t always think entirely critically about what they’re seeing (“But right now, I’m not sure Bess is getting any message from princesses other than ‘sparkly!’ with which I cannot argue”). I was raised in the Disney Renaissance and I know that what I took away from The Little Mermaid was “I wish I was a mermaid! I could swim all the time!” and I definitely liked her sense of rebellion. I don’t even think I thought much about the idea of giving up her voice for man (thought that is undoubtedly disturbing, now that I’m older and thinking about it more critically). I liked Jasmine (From Aladdin), too – she stood up to Jafar and refused to get married except for if she was in love (she even says “if I marry” as opposed to “when I marry”). Also, she had a flying carpet. I spent a lot of time pretending throw rugs could fly as a child.

    Harris also mentions that her daughter has other interests and that she herself had other interests as a kid. That really resonates with me. I loved the princesses, but I also loved keeping up with the boys (my 3rd grade teacher always sat me with boys, and she told my mom it was because she knew I could hold my own against them – I am still proud of that!) In fact, me and my best friend had a favorite game: Runaway Princess. We’d put on our favorite play dresses (my mom’s old dresses and costume pieces and rummage sale gems) and pretend to be princesses who ran away from home to live in the woods and have wild adventures and beat up bad guys. I think we only tacked on the princess label for the pretty dresses and the ability to sneak around the “castle” as we “escaped”.

    I definitely don’t think that the princess culture is the healthiest thing, but as long as girls are getting lots of other (stronger) messages about what they can be and do and don’t earnestly believe that they are princesses (as in, that they can get whatever they want whenever they want and their main goal in life should be to get a man), they’ll be just fine. I loved the princesses growing up and I turned out fine (and feminist).

  7. Posted October 28, 2010 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

    If you are a princess, you do not work for your power. It is because of your birth.

    Unfortunately, the real world doesn’t exactly work like that.

  8. Posted October 29, 2010 at 2:55 am | Permalink

    Tannen’s article has the problem of generalizing the way men and women interact (which is not to be confused with how they would interact if society was not dictating that people should act according to gender roles), but it does beg the counterpart question: “How does having a brother affect one’s happiness?” Or more relevantly, how effective are various types of interactions in helping happiness? If we can pick up on what types of support work, we may better understand the full range of options available to us (and not discount the less obvious forms).

    The prison industry article about speaks for itself.

    The framing by certain advocates of Amendment 62 illustrates how desperate some of them are to pass a bill that is all-but-destined to be defeated by a wide margin (by seeking justification from an immoral institution).

    Playing princess isn’t an activity you want to impose on kids, but they should have freedom to explore activities (traditional or progressive). As long as it is fun for them (and not producing self-destructive anxieties in themselves or others), then it’s okay to let them play. Kids have a funny way of reacting to the stuff they play with. I mean, I enjoyed violent video games even before I was a teenager (and periodically still do as an adult), but I have been free of violent tendencies — nor do I bother people sexually even though the Quake 1 rocket launcher kind of looks like a penis.

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