My blog has moved!

You should be automatically redirected in 5 seconds. If not, visit
http://thegirlrevolution.com
and update your bookmarks.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Empowering Girls: Choosing Princess

B42D9ECB-89E7-4B1A-9DE6-04B5C35D6F23.jpg

I was thinking about what I hate about the Princess Culture. It's the same reason I hate The Bachelor, Rock of Love and Flavor of Love - all Princess Culture derivatives.

All the princesses wait to be CHOSEN. They never do the choosing. That's a passive position to take when considering who to marry.

Instead of conditioning girls to pick the person that's best for them, the paradigm encourages girls to wait to be chosen. Will he like me or the step-sisters? Will he choose me if the slipper fits?

That's a self-defeating way to teach girls how to pick a spouse.

No wonder there's a one in two divorce rate. Half the women realized they got picked by a wrong or incompatible prince.

The Princesses are willing to spend the rest of their lives someone they don't even know.

Try as I might I have verbally, and by way of example and distraction, done my best to steer Ainsley away from Princess Culture. I tell her to pick another movie or book. I tell her what's wrong with the Princesses choices and assumptions about her capability to save herself. I expose her to better and more powerful characters in literature, movies and television.

I stop short of completely forbidding all Princess Pretend Play because I don't want to make it more attractive - as the forbidden often is. I want her to be able to talk to me about anything and obviously if I can't take a little Cinderella chat then sex will be out-of-the-question later. I want to keep the dialogue open.

Still, for all my talk, I send a Princess in the Pea to school on Favorite Character Day and she comes home Sleeping Beauty. For Halloween we dress up to be caricatures of 1980s beauty queens and she declares herself Cinderella.

Same pink frilly and pouffy thrift-store dress.

Very different idea of who girls and women are. I hear the argument that mothers are the biggest influence in their daughters lives - I make the argument all the time - but all evidence suggests there is no amount of magic on earth that's going to negate Disney's GIRL CRACK message that girls should be a b-l-e-e-p-i-ng Princess.

Empowering Girls: Enchanted: New Generation Princess Fable

Empowering Girls: Princess Culture Examined

Cinderella Should Have Saved Her Self

Ariel - The Little Mute

Belle - Battered Codependent

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Tracee, she's not facing the problems and dilemas you're trying to prepare her for right now. I'm not saying the time and effort is wasted by any means - but maybe you won't really see the fruits of your labor until the time comes for her to date and explore men (not sexually explore men - I mean look around and figure out which kind she wants)

I love what you're trying to do here. I truly believe if more parents would be more conscious of these issues with their daughters we would have far less teen pregnancies, teenage std's, domestic abuse and divorce. Don't get discouraged. I understand where you're coming from. We are facing similar issues with the boys concerning violence and respect issues in the media. It's so difficult to weed out bad influences (in childrens' media) without robbing them of a 'normal' childhood..

Ashley

Tracee said...

We condition children for how to choose a mate from the minute they enter this life.

How many married women do you know who want to get a divorce because their husband isn't living up to the expectations they developed when they were 5?

My daughter explores boys, the idea of what kind of person she wants to marry, every day. She has "boyfriends" and crushes at school and has since she was 2 at her first preschool.

All the kids play "housekeeping" in kindergarten and they role play the entire boy-girl choosing a mate, experience constantly.

I think what I tell her about marriage NOW carries probably 1,000 times more weight than what I will tell her when she gets engaged.

Anonymous said...

No, you misunderstood me - I wasn't saying 'save it' for when she gets older. I was saying maybe you'll see her really use it, when she's older.

Tracee said...

Oh I hope so.

JayMonster said...

I have one problem with this. You see it as "waiting to be chosen."

However, the lesson I have always tried to instill with this, is that eventually you will find the RIGHT person (Prince), and that you do not need to settle for anything less.

Knowing far too many women (both real life and in the virtual world) that have "settled" for whomever gave them some attention at the time, I think it is a worthwhile lesson to teach.

Tracee said...

If they are waiting to get picked the "right person" could just be whoever all the other girls want - right?

But that person could be completely incompatible with who they are and what they really need in a mate. Right?

Take Cinderella. She wanted to be picked over her step-sisters. The whole story revolves around whether he will pick her over all the girls who also want him.

What makes Prince "right?" Is he "right" because all the girls think he's the richest and the cutest?

It would be more beneficial, to our girls, if we taught our daughters to pick someone because he has compatible habits and values and traditions and needs and desires and hobbies and subjects of interest?

JayMonster said...

I'm so glad you chose Cinderalla as an example, because I see far different messages (or at least I try to instill them) than what you see.

Look at it from the point of the king. He is not looking to have his son marry "the most beautiful" girl in the kingdom, nor is he looking for a princess. He wants his son to be happy, to find that one girl that he can truly fall in love with.

Now look at it from the Step-Sisters. You cannot, no matter how hard you try make love (like the glass slipper) "fit"

Now let us take Cinderalla. She doesn't have to "settle" she can dare to dream (fairy god mother) and is a beautiful as she believes herself to be no matter what others (step-mother, step-sisters) think or say.

Finally (and slightly off topic), is that your friends, no matter how seemingly insignificant (mice), are always there for you.

Again, it is all how you want to take it and work with it, and what lessons you want to see in it. I understand your points, but I think that trying to force it "out" is not necessarily the answer. Take it mold it and work it to fit a better paradigm.

Tracee said...

It's a shame little girls don't look at it from the perspective of the King. Cause that really would be much healthier.

Or even look at it from the perspective of princesses grow up and run kingdoms to be like Queen Elizabeth.

I just haven't witnessed little girls making these connections on their own.

But, I can see with your examples Jay, that you are having an ongoing conversation with your daughter and helping her sound-out the meaning you want her to get within the story.

Excellent job. If more parents did that we would see a much more empowered generation of girls.

Tracee said...

Oh and I agree. You would have to live in a very isolated bubble to completely escape the Princess Culture.

I thought I could attempt it for a while and realize that it has not lessened her desire to be a princess much at all. It's still her first choice for birthday themes, Halloween and dress up.

You are correct to say it's about changing and molding the paradigm. Because we are likely stuck with princesses.

(But, that doesn't mean I have to like them does it? Does it make it worse to go down kicking and screaming?)

Elizabeth said...

Great topic! Are you familiar with the picture book, The Paper Bag Princess? It's a great story about a princess who rescues herself and tells off the prince! I also love the movie Ever After with Drew Barrymore. Cinderella rescues herself and is a strong, empowered girl!

candeelady said...

I don't care how you look at the traditional "Cinderella". The overall message is some day a man will rescue me and make my life happy. Very stupid!
You need to expose your girls to lots of other movies with more empowered girls, and there are many of these. I was a girl scout leader for 6 years and this is a great program for teaching girls leadership and development of self and helping the community. I highly reccomend it for all young girls and Moms. The focus can be on a million different subjects including careers, business skills, computers and fashion. It really keeps girls busy and helps to delay the "boy crazy" years which are inevitable. these girls enter their teens with a strong self image and this causes them to expect and require a fair and respectful treatment from the males they chose as friends. They see all types of women, single and married, as leaders and role models in the program.

Tracee said...

Thanks for the advice Candee - They told us they didn't have a Girl Scout troop until 1st grade so next year we are signing up!

I think it's a great idea.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Empowering Girls: Choosing Princess

B42D9ECB-89E7-4B1A-9DE6-04B5C35D6F23.jpg

I was thinking about what I hate about the Princess Culture. It's the same reason I hate The Bachelor, Rock of Love and Flavor of Love - all Princess Culture derivatives.

All the princesses wait to be CHOSEN. They never do the choosing. That's a passive position to take when considering who to marry.

Instead of conditioning girls to pick the person that's best for them, the paradigm encourages girls to wait to be chosen. Will he like me or the step-sisters? Will he choose me if the slipper fits?

That's a self-defeating way to teach girls how to pick a spouse.

No wonder there's a one in two divorce rate. Half the women realized they got picked by a wrong or incompatible prince.

The Princesses are willing to spend the rest of their lives someone they don't even know.

Try as I might I have verbally, and by way of example and distraction, done my best to steer Ainsley away from Princess Culture. I tell her to pick another movie or book. I tell her what's wrong with the Princesses choices and assumptions about her capability to save herself. I expose her to better and more powerful characters in literature, movies and television.

I stop short of completely forbidding all Princess Pretend Play because I don't want to make it more attractive - as the forbidden often is. I want her to be able to talk to me about anything and obviously if I can't take a little Cinderella chat then sex will be out-of-the-question later. I want to keep the dialogue open.

Still, for all my talk, I send a Princess in the Pea to school on Favorite Character Day and she comes home Sleeping Beauty. For Halloween we dress up to be caricatures of 1980s beauty queens and she declares herself Cinderella.

Same pink frilly and pouffy thrift-store dress.

Very different idea of who girls and women are. I hear the argument that mothers are the biggest influence in their daughters lives - I make the argument all the time - but all evidence suggests there is no amount of magic on earth that's going to negate Disney's GIRL CRACK message that girls should be a b-l-e-e-p-i-ng Princess.

Empowering Girls: Enchanted: New Generation Princess Fable

Empowering Girls: Princess Culture Examined

Cinderella Should Have Saved Her Self

Ariel - The Little Mute

Belle - Battered Codependent

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Tracee, she's not facing the problems and dilemas you're trying to prepare her for right now. I'm not saying the time and effort is wasted by any means - but maybe you won't really see the fruits of your labor until the time comes for her to date and explore men (not sexually explore men - I mean look around and figure out which kind she wants)

I love what you're trying to do here. I truly believe if more parents would be more conscious of these issues with their daughters we would have far less teen pregnancies, teenage std's, domestic abuse and divorce. Don't get discouraged. I understand where you're coming from. We are facing similar issues with the boys concerning violence and respect issues in the media. It's so difficult to weed out bad influences (in childrens' media) without robbing them of a 'normal' childhood..

Ashley

Tracee said...

We condition children for how to choose a mate from the minute they enter this life.

How many married women do you know who want to get a divorce because their husband isn't living up to the expectations they developed when they were 5?

My daughter explores boys, the idea of what kind of person she wants to marry, every day. She has "boyfriends" and crushes at school and has since she was 2 at her first preschool.

All the kids play "housekeeping" in kindergarten and they role play the entire boy-girl choosing a mate, experience constantly.

I think what I tell her about marriage NOW carries probably 1,000 times more weight than what I will tell her when she gets engaged.

Anonymous said...

No, you misunderstood me - I wasn't saying 'save it' for when she gets older. I was saying maybe you'll see her really use it, when she's older.

Tracee said...

Oh I hope so.

JayMonster said...

I have one problem with this. You see it as "waiting to be chosen."

However, the lesson I have always tried to instill with this, is that eventually you will find the RIGHT person (Prince), and that you do not need to settle for anything less.

Knowing far too many women (both real life and in the virtual world) that have "settled" for whomever gave them some attention at the time, I think it is a worthwhile lesson to teach.

Tracee said...

If they are waiting to get picked the "right person" could just be whoever all the other girls want - right?

But that person could be completely incompatible with who they are and what they really need in a mate. Right?

Take Cinderella. She wanted to be picked over her step-sisters. The whole story revolves around whether he will pick her over all the girls who also want him.

What makes Prince "right?" Is he "right" because all the girls think he's the richest and the cutest?

It would be more beneficial, to our girls, if we taught our daughters to pick someone because he has compatible habits and values and traditions and needs and desires and hobbies and subjects of interest?

JayMonster said...

I'm so glad you chose Cinderalla as an example, because I see far different messages (or at least I try to instill them) than what you see.

Look at it from the point of the king. He is not looking to have his son marry "the most beautiful" girl in the kingdom, nor is he looking for a princess. He wants his son to be happy, to find that one girl that he can truly fall in love with.

Now look at it from the Step-Sisters. You cannot, no matter how hard you try make love (like the glass slipper) "fit"

Now let us take Cinderalla. She doesn't have to "settle" she can dare to dream (fairy god mother) and is a beautiful as she believes herself to be no matter what others (step-mother, step-sisters) think or say.

Finally (and slightly off topic), is that your friends, no matter how seemingly insignificant (mice), are always there for you.

Again, it is all how you want to take it and work with it, and what lessons you want to see in it. I understand your points, but I think that trying to force it "out" is not necessarily the answer. Take it mold it and work it to fit a better paradigm.

Tracee said...

It's a shame little girls don't look at it from the perspective of the King. Cause that really would be much healthier.

Or even look at it from the perspective of princesses grow up and run kingdoms to be like Queen Elizabeth.

I just haven't witnessed little girls making these connections on their own.

But, I can see with your examples Jay, that you are having an ongoing conversation with your daughter and helping her sound-out the meaning you want her to get within the story.

Excellent job. If more parents did that we would see a much more empowered generation of girls.

Tracee said...

Oh and I agree. You would have to live in a very isolated bubble to completely escape the Princess Culture.

I thought I could attempt it for a while and realize that it has not lessened her desire to be a princess much at all. It's still her first choice for birthday themes, Halloween and dress up.

You are correct to say it's about changing and molding the paradigm. Because we are likely stuck with princesses.

(But, that doesn't mean I have to like them does it? Does it make it worse to go down kicking and screaming?)

Elizabeth said...

Great topic! Are you familiar with the picture book, The Paper Bag Princess? It's a great story about a princess who rescues herself and tells off the prince! I also love the movie Ever After with Drew Barrymore. Cinderella rescues herself and is a strong, empowered girl!

candeelady said...

I don't care how you look at the traditional "Cinderella". The overall message is some day a man will rescue me and make my life happy. Very stupid!
You need to expose your girls to lots of other movies with more empowered girls, and there are many of these. I was a girl scout leader for 6 years and this is a great program for teaching girls leadership and development of self and helping the community. I highly reccomend it for all young girls and Moms. The focus can be on a million different subjects including careers, business skills, computers and fashion. It really keeps girls busy and helps to delay the "boy crazy" years which are inevitable. these girls enter their teens with a strong self image and this causes them to expect and require a fair and respectful treatment from the males they chose as friends. They see all types of women, single and married, as leaders and role models in the program.

Tracee said...

Thanks for the advice Candee - They told us they didn't have a Girl Scout troop until 1st grade so next year we are signing up!

I think it's a great idea.