Friday, May 06, 2005

I Never Wanted to be a Princess and I Don't want No Prince

I recent study out of Great Britain claims that little girls who grow up reading fairy tales are more likely to be submissive relationships and think that love is all that is needed to make a partner change.

The academic paper goes on to say that young girls of the current generation, exposed to television and movies are less likely to be as submissive than those who grew up solely on literature.

I was never a huge fairy tale type chica. If I had a favorite princess heroine it was the Disneyfied Sleeping Beauty, but not because a prince had to go through a forest, slay a dragon, and save her from an evil witch's spell with a kiss. Seeing my parents' dysfunctional relationship made it very clear that no man was ever going to save me. Hell if Daddy couldn't save my mom or me, no one was. I liked Sleeping Beauty because she danced around in the forest and sang and I wanted to sing. When acting out a scene from the movie with my stepsister, my stepsister fell from a chair and nearly lost her toenail. Fairy tales have never been the same.

I don't think the images in movies and television offer much more for girls. I mean sure there is Kim Possible and Totally Spies, chicas who save the world , but they are still expected to love shopping, cheerleading, and boys and they better look good when they are fighting that evil villain. By good I mean skinny and pretty and in coordinating fashion. The emphasis isn't on how smart these girls are, it's how they balance saving the world from evil while maintaining their expected role as pretty and popular girls.

La MapucheRican, my seven year old daughter, and I, are always at odds with the Fairy Tale thing. She is always clamoring for the latest Disney princess movie or asking for the princess themed accessories that are sold along with the films. I'm not likely to give in, trying instead to offer real life examples of strong women for her to look to for inspiration (i.e. Lolita Lebron).

I have found that in kid-lit , examples of independent girls are lacking but when I find them I give those to her. Suggestions of good books to push on her are always welcome.

The problem for me is also balancing the independent girl thing with the race thing. All my daughter's favorite cartoons are lean light skinned creatures, not looking a thing like her. A study needs to be done not just on the gender roles perpetuated in kiddy lit but race stereotypes as well.


Blogger Ms Cherry Galette said...

Hmmm. I am right with you on how kiddie lit lacks in lots of ways, but I am not feeling that researcher at all.

I think her theories are bogus, and will only further perpetuate misconceptions about violent relationships. The truth is that all sorts of people (including independent, strong, smart, assertive people) of all sorts of genders can experience all sorts of violence in an intimate relationship, and submission has nothing to do with it, but rather the power and control that the abuser will exercise over their partner.

I think that the fact that this woman positioned her argument from this stance is problematic in that she's not trying to figure out why abusers abuse people. Instead I see her blaming the people getting abused. And I think that it is interesting that she positions it in solely a female experience and also really medicalizes their situations. She's a therapist right? It scares me that she is gonna present her research to other therapists. The world does not need more fucked up and misinformed therapists to think more women crazy. Boo on her!

Um, anyways. Sorry for writing my own blogpost in your comments section. :)

5/06/2005 02:37:00 PM  
Blogger fiercelyfab said...

I agree with Cherry Galette, extortion of power and control has more to do with perpetrators of violence (though mostly men, the number of women abusers is increasing (transgender?).

Violence is common in our society starting from financial violence, to institutional violence, not to mention folks upbringing but I believe that people turn to hurt each other when they're marginalized and oppressed feeling hopeless and helpless the only form of power is gained from hurting someone in one's same position or worst off whether that's men on men, men on women, women on women, women on children some form of satisfaction is gained in controlling another, this is a covert conventional message; pushing someone else down to get ahead whether it's financially, prestige, class or power gained by exercising physical/emotional/mental/verbal abuse towards another. That's not to say I condone it but rampant violence towards women is a lot more complicated and deep than what this study suggest.

5/06/2005 05:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Mama JunkYard said...

I grew up in England, in the Eighties. My Kenyan parents had an absolute ban on Disney, Barbie and other mind altering substances.

Instead I was reading the kiddie version of Nelson Mandela's biography. Mao Tse Tung for children and Harriet Tubman the baby edition.

TV was censored too. Actually TV was turned off full stop.

There is no denying that this upbringing has shaped the person that I am. I am more racially aware. I am proud of my heritage and identity.

It would be nice for a study to be carried out but it would be much nicer if there was a lot more choice for those who want to give their children an alternative to disney.

5/08/2005 08:59:00 AM  
Blogger starchild said...

I haven't read the article but I am sure I'd agree with Ms. Cherry. but I will also respond to your racial thing about Disney: when I was a child, Snow White scared the hell out of me. She was, for lack of a better word, a total ninny. She was so, um, WHITE, and pale, and weak and twittering that as a child, I was terrified that such a woman could exist. At least the witch was goal oriented and driven. And why has The Lion King been the only Disney movie that can be half-identified as black because they are lions in africa? Disney is bullshit.

5/09/2005 11:08:00 AM  

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