Sunday, May 24, 2009

American Princesses

"When women shave their heads, cut out the make-up, and stop wearing high-heel shoes, they will take over the world."

That is how many of my students would characterize one of my standard rants in class each year. While it is a bit of my standard hyperbole, the spirit of the argument is sincere. There is much that girls and women do which adheres to historical subjugation of the rights of women, and there is much in those areas that adhere to control by men. The "princess fantasy," or expectation is another symptom of this dichotomy, and it is making the news lately, especially with the onslaught of marketing from Disney over the past decade. Is this "princess syndrome" a hindrance to the growth and independence of identity in young girls? Or is there a positive
side to the "ideal life" image of the myth?

My students would laugh at the possibility that I could see anything positive about representations of girls and women by Disney. I've written before about my opposition to my children seeing Disney movies - actually they've never really seen any movies. However, my daughter just turned four and received several Barbies from her friends. It didn't bother me, and I concede that much of the opposition to popular culture is overblown. Of course, the standard rational response - of which I am always a fan in any discussion - is the use of moderation and common sense.

We'll see what the pundits and sociologists have to say. I'm not worried about my daughter, or my students, precisely because of the openness and discussions we have.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm honestly not sure if the hype concerning the Disney Princesses is overblown enough.
I suppose that I am biased,as i would love nothing more than to see a culture enforcing any views for women to break out of their shells and reject the stereotypical view of women as being dainty or in need of rescue.
At the same time, as i say that i am acknowledging the difference between men and women, probably enforcing the stereotype myself. By trying to move against such a factor that has followed women since the birth of man, and stateable in precedents such as equal rights clauses in the US, struck down because women wanted to contain the role they used to play, some unhealthy factors can come into play.
Absolutely rejecting ideas like women being dependent on other people or, possibly a little more rude, ideas like cleanliness aren't bad for anyone.
I guess it is all about moderation.