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Old 07-01-2011, 10:10 AM
 
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Originally Posted by hildare View Post

when boys are encouraged to be active in their play, while girls are encouraged to play passive sorts of games that are centered around appearances.


I guess when I see kids (boys or girls) playing princess, I don't see them overly focusing on appearances, any more than kids focus on their appearance when they play dinosaur, cowboy, star wars, etc. We have an extensive dress-up collection, and my kids (a boy and a girl) and all the kids of both sexes we have over regularly emerge from our dress-up closet in all kinds of crazy mash-ups, with a tutu and a dinosaur mask or whatever. And they look at each other and giggle, and then run around and play. So yeah, they notice the appearance, because it's fun, and sort of a major point of dress-up. And I've just never seen these passive girls everyone talks about -- IME, most kids are active and most parents encourage that.  

 

My son and one of his (boy) friends, in particular, looove dressing up in all the pink frilly stuff we have, and somehow I think the posters in this thread who are anti-princess-play for girls would think that was adorable instead of concerning...

 

ETA: I guess my point is that, while I can understand the theory surrounding this issue, and acknowledge that it has validity, I don't necessarily see that theory play out as expected in practice. I think it takes a whole constellation of things to make a girl (or boy) turn out to be appearance-obsessed, and if s/he grows up in a well-balanced, healthy home I don't think the odd bit of princess play mixed in with alllll the other kinds of play is a problem. Part of my feeling this way, interestingly, comes from having a boy who has always been interested in stuff that is typically "girly." I've always made sure to send the message to him that this is perfectly fine, so it would be really odd in our household for me to suddenly start steering his little sister away from that stuff. 


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Old 07-01-2011, 10:49 AM
 
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i have an only dd.

 

boys ARE princesses in our house. whenever boys come over to play the moms have to realise they are going to go  back with makeup on. or at least remanents of it. in fact i think they get their 'girl fix' when they come over. almost all of them played with poly pockets, dress up AND makeup. 

 

but yes boys are looked down upon if they are interested in princess stuff by themselves. i guess that's why dora creators came out with diego. which is why a lot of boys got dolls as birthday presents. 

 

i have faced the opposite too. why is my dd into bob the builder or spiderman? even that she was superprincess spidergirl did not make a difference. eyesroll.gif


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Old 07-01-2011, 11:54 AM
 
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Good thoughts and I have been meaning to buy that book but I haven't gotten around to it--a project for my lunchhour!

 

I wouldn't mind her playing with that stuff if it was pretending in that way but she puts it on and flounces around with this demure look on her face and talks constantly about getting married.  Honestly, I have not idea where that came from and I don't think she even knows what it means but boy, is it making me crazy!  I think that we are going to put the dresses away for now and I am going to go to goodwill to find some new dress up clothes. 

One thing my mom told me that is hard for me to always wrap my brain around, but I think it's true:  She's so young she doesn't know what any of it really means experientially and it's just pretend, if it wasn't princess it might be something else you didn't like like robber or bull in a china shop lol...j/k, I hate the princess stuff too and I LOATHE the marriage stuff, but I know she doesn't have a clue what any of it really means and she is just trying stuff on to see how it feels, what she likes now is not neccessarily any indication of who she will be when she grows up kwim?

 

 

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Old 07-01-2011, 11:57 AM
 
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This is sooooooooooooo true at our house as I have an only dd as well.  Her bff is a boy and his dad doesn't like that aspect of his sons trips to our house but it is what it is and he heads STRAIGHT for gowns and gloss the second he gets in the play room, should I assume where his future is headed because of it?  No, i don't think that path is quite so straight and narrow.

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Originally Posted by meemee View Post

i have an only dd.

 

boys ARE princesses in our house. whenever boys come over to play the moms have to realise they are going to go  back with makeup on. or at least remanents of it. in fact i think they get their 'girl fix' when they come over. almost all of them played with poly pockets, dress up AND makeup. 

 

but yes boys are looked down upon if they are interested in princess stuff by themselves. i guess that's why dora creators came out with diego. which is why a lot of boys got dolls as birthday presents. 

 

i have faced the opposite too. why is my dd into bob the builder or spiderman? even that she was superprincess spidergirl did not make a difference. eyesroll.gif



 

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Old 07-01-2011, 11:57 AM
 
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I guess when I see kids (boys or girls) playing princess, I don't see them overly focusing on appearances, any more than kids focus on their appearance when they play dinosaur, cowboy, star wars, etc. We have an extensive dress-up collection, and my kids (a boy and a girl) and all the kids of both sexes we have over regularly emerge from our dress-up closet in all kinds of crazy mash-ups, with a tutu and a dinosaur mask or whatever. And they look at each other and giggle, and then run around and play. So yeah, they notice the appearance, because it's fun, and sort of a major point of dress-up. And I've just never seen these passive girls everyone talks about -- IME, most kids are active and most parents encourage that.  

 

My son and one of his (boy) friends, in particular, looove dressing up in all the pink frilly stuff we have, and somehow I think the posters in this thread who are anti-princess-play for girls would think that was adorable instead of concerning...

 

ETA: I guess my point is that, while I can understand the theory surrounding this issue, and acknowledge that it has validity, I don't necessarily see that theory play out as expected in practice. I think it takes a whole constellation of things to make a girl (or boy) turn out to be appearance-obsessed, and if s/he grows up in a well-balanced, healthy home I don't think the odd bit of princess play mixed in with alllll the other kinds of play is a problem. Part of my feeling this way, interestingly, comes from having a boy who has always been interested in stuff that is typically "girly." I've always made sure to send the message to him that this is perfectly fine, so it would be really odd in our household for me to suddenly start steering his little sister away from that stuff. 


Yes, especially to the bolded parts.  In my experience the whole dress-up thing has been about drama, high drama to be sure.  My DD and the neighbor kids get together and share costumes, and combined with non-toxic face paint, they end up looking like characters out of a Fellini movie.  I think children have less inhibitions about expressing themselves than adults.  I mean, I just can't see myself scootering down the street wearing fairy wings, even if I had two martinis.

 

I also agree with the part that appearance obsession is a result of a combination of influences.  I don't blame my life long eating disorder on Barbie, but rather on a number of factors growing up (primarily my father's continual insistence that I lose a few more pounds before track season and my mother's own disordered eating patterns). 

 

I do recognize, however, that the way toys and such are marketed are completely over the top.  We don't have a Toys R Us near us, so it is rare that I shop there.  However, I had the opportunity to go in one recently when visiting relatives and was quite amazed (in an unsettling way) at how much Disney princess stuff and other commericalized toys were on the shelves.  What I saw immediately was lack of choice.  That being said, when I was young, the only princess movies that were around were movies like Snow White and Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty.  It is interesting to see those films (which were beautifully animated) and compare them with current Disney princess films.  Hands down, the current films really do focus on strong women/girl characters (Princess and the Frog is one of my favorites).  Watching the old films makes me cringe a little. 
 

 


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Old 07-01-2011, 11:59 AM
 
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I really like the way this series handles this issue:

 

http://beneaththerowantree.blogspot.com/2011/03/princess-proofing-introduction-of-sorts.html

 


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Old 07-01-2011, 04:06 PM
 
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... you really think that the lack of women in computer science isn't a bad thing?  what? dizzy.gif i am not even sure how to respond to that.

Why is it a bad thing? Is it your opinion that every field of study should be chosen equally by men and women? Why?

 

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the fact that some consider things to be "male brained" shows a huge problem, one that's not improved by the princess stuff.

Do tell? Men and women do, on average, have somewhat different abilities. It isn't some vicious theory invented to keep wimminfolk away from computers; it's scientific fact, confirmed by brain scans in repeated large studies. The research is there for the reading. It's not in any way a "problem", unless a) people start believing that all women are better than all men at interpersonal communication, or all men are better than all women at computer programming, b) male-dominated fields are considered more worthy of respect/money/power than female-dominated fields, or c) women define their worth by their ability to work in male-dominated fields, and thus enter male-dominated fields out of a sense of duty to womankind rather than true preference and enjoyment.

 

And how this has anything to do with princess stuff, I have no idea. Unless you're claiming that Disney has failed to provide a computer-science-major princess as a role model...? Or that watching Disney movies will somehow prevent girls from learning computer science...?


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Old 07-01-2011, 04:25 PM
 
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i just avoid the mainstream princess stuff, although we both love Disney's Mulan. (if you want the warrior Mulan, you have to search for "warrior" and those sets tend to have both of her outfits.) she's got a blue belt in martial arts, at her dojo's kid parties she'll sometimes wear a tutu and a tiara and sparkly necklaces, then she takes off whatever gets in her way of kicking. rather than buying dress up sets, i go to thrift stores or the Salvation Army to get large, shapeless clothes (like broomstick skirts) and she makes up any kind of dress-up outfit she wants. she'll go out in "full drag" *laughs* makeup and all, then bring home a toad - not to kiss, but to keep as a pet. last week it was a slug. ew! the one thing i absolutely will NOT let her wear is shoes with heels, she has her whole life to develop a shoe obsession thumb.gif

 

when William and Kate were going to get married, i found some good stuff on Kate's duties, we watched a bit of how hard it is to really be a princess!

 

since birth, because she's genuinely "model type" pretty, she only gets complimented on her looks. i've always added "and smart, too!" now she speaks for herself, "yeah and i'm smart! thank you!" hopefully she'll keep that attitude with her throughout her life.

 

i've been criticized by some parents for my girl "running around "all muddy." inevitably they're the ones with the girls in the full princess get-ups, including the high heel shoes, moms saying "don't do that you'll ruin your dress," "don't get dirty" and so on. well, dirt happens. happily, it washes.

 

oh! i almost forgot ... what's so great about princesses? mine is the Empress!


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Old 07-01-2011, 09:13 PM
 
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Well, the limit comes from the english language.  Yes, boys can put on a poofy dress and PRETEND to be a princess.  But boys can never BE a princess.  That's just the english language.  Same reason a female can never be a king.

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AR: are you referring to my post?  the one in which i said "when boys are encouraged to be active in their play, while girls are encouraged to play passive sorts of games that are centered around appearances.  there is a difference. 

i guess, though, i feel like it's more of a symptom than a problem.  it concerns me, because the more these limited options are given, the more girls embrace them and self regulate in group settings-- where ALL girls play princess, or something is wrong.  this also excludes boys, who are being limited in a whole other way."  I thought I was making it pretty obvious that i feel that the limitations and harmful sterotypes affect ALL children. 

it's NOT good for boys to be told that they can only play active games/activities.  And that, and by your own admission in an earlier post, 'boys can't be princesses.' i wonder why not?



 


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Old 07-01-2011, 09:38 PM
 
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I also have a 3.5 and a 1 yo.   While the 3.5 is not totally into princesses, she does know who they all are and has a decent about of princess items.  Mostly Cinderella b/c it rhymes with her name.  :)  She likes to dress up and wear jewlery and every so often she insists on wearing her high heels (church shoes with a 1/4 inch heel! lol).  She will put on her "make up" (chap stick and a blush brush) at her vanity.  Sometimes she'll go outside and ride her Disney Princess bike in a dress and her brother's gym shoes.   Or play in the sandbox in a pair of plastic dress up shoes.   She wears tutu's and dresses to climb trees and dig in the dirt with me, to her brother's baseball games...with her pink glove!  

 

It's just a girl thing.   While I didn't play up the "your a princess" to my DD's and I never told DD she could only be pretty if she wears make up or a dress.  She just likes it and why would I take away something that makes her happy?   I encourage her to be herself, and if that's a girly girl princess or a rough and tumble tomboy then so be it. 

 

She has many other interests besides getting girly and pretty.   I think it's probably also something like a new concept to your DD.   Her BFF is talking about these wonderful beautiful balls and so on, well DD is interested b/c she's never been exposed to that.  kwim?   

 

I would add some other items to the dress up box.   hats, purses, necklaces, silks, scarves, back packs....etc.   We have a silk that has went from a ball gown to a cape in a matter of moments.   Sometimes she's a ballerina, sometimes she's a teacher w/her brother's outgrown suit coat,  She's using her imagination and that's good!   next time she says she's not pretty b/c she doesn't have make up, tell her you are beautiful w/o make up!   The next time she says about going to the ball, ask her if


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Old 07-02-2011, 01:48 AM
 
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Would you have the same concern if your child were dressed as Superman? A fire-fighter?

 

I was at a picnic a couple of weeks ago, and there was an adorable 3 year old girl with an amazing Superman costume (shirt, cape and skirt) that someone had clearly made for her. My son spent much of his time between 4 & 5 dressing up in fire-fighter suit and having me be the dispatcher so he could go fight fires or take care of medical emergencies. My daughter spent nearly all of her 1st year of preschool (age 3) wearing a leotard with a skirt.

 

Princesses are fun because they have power. They get to wear cool clothes. What's more fun than to get to wear cool clothes and order people around?

 

Kids like to dress up. It's healthy for kids to dress up. It's perfectly possible to pretend that you're a princess without being a Disney princess. The only problem comes, in my mind, if the child only has Disney princess stuff to dress up in. If they've got a variety of things to choose from, but choose the princess outfits, who cares? You can, as a parent, play with your child and help them expand their play so that their princesses do interesting things. But unless they're watching the movies, reading the Disney books or buying the Disney costumes, then they'll do what kids naturally do: Pretend.

 

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That was a turning point for me where I feel like I have totally gotten away from what I wanted for her and that I did this.  How can I fix this?  I know I can take it all away but I feel really bad considering how much she loves it but am planning to take away at least the dress up stuff. I know that we can't do much about the girl at daycare but what can I do to fix this or is it inevitable?



What about expanding her dress-up repertoire instead of taking it away? We had a whole dress up box when my kids were little -- everything from doctor's scrubs and dresses to a builder's hat and vest.

 

Sometimes I think we overthink things. I finally broke down and bought my 7 year old some lip gloss. Why? Because she was coloring on her lips with washable marker. I do not use lipstick. Yet she was fascinated with the concept. A little bit of pink sparkly lip gloss has made her happy and kept her from ingesting washable markers (while non-toxic, probably aren't the best things for your lips).

 

My 7 year old spent most of the day in a ballet dress -- she was dancing across the lawn, putting her hair in a bun, and then went to jump on a neighbor's trampoline with it on. I bought it for her because she was wearing a couple of her old dresses and pretending to be a dancer in them and they were getting too small. I could fret about the 'ballerina' obsession. Most ballerinas don't have a very healthy body image. But right now, my daughter is 7. She's got a great imagination and is pretending to be a dancer. So she's built more like a hockey goalie and less like a ballerina. She's having fun.

 

Is your daughter having fun? Can you work toward expanding her play rather than forbidding it?


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Old 07-02-2011, 06:43 AM
 
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Why is it a bad thing? Is it your opinion that every field of study should be chosen equally by men and women? Why?

 

Do tell? Men and women do, on average, have somewhat different abilities. It isn't some vicious theory invented to keep wimminfolk away from computers; it's scientific fact, confirmed by brain scans in repeated large studies. The research is there for the reading. It's not in any way a "problem", unless a) people start believing that all women are better than all men at interpersonal communication, or all men are better than all women at computer programming, b) male-dominated fields are considered more worthy of respect/money/power than female-dominated fields, or c) women define their worth by their ability to work in male-dominated fields, and thus enter male-dominated fields out of a sense of duty to womankind rather than true preference and enjoyment.

 

And how this has anything to do with princess stuff, I have no idea. Unless you're claiming that Disney has failed to provide a computer-science-major princess as a role model...? Or that watching Disney movies will somehow prevent girls from learning computer science...?

actually, yes.  equality means having the playing field open to everyone, and having all options available.  And there is also research that shows that the biological differences between all the sexes are quite slight, and that society and self censorship can also lead to permanent brain changes, and career selections, and the loss of natural abilities (of girls, who do quite well in science in math during early years, and then decline sharply, presumably because they are either not encouraged or outright discouraged by peers and teachers alike) are not a biological phenomenon at all, but a social one. 

but, hey, you know.. believe what you want. 

and again.. how this has to do with princesses is this:  when girls and boys and all the other in-betweens are given only one of two options, options that encourage social hegemony, it limits the fullness of self expression and exploration.  a person taught that because of non-ownership of a penis, that person has to perform in a way that is superficial and focused on appearance, is going to find it extremely difficult to break those social norms and become a scientist, for example, when so many factors are discouraging and against this.  sorry if that doesn't make sense.  i'd be happy to direct you to a bibliography of scientists and academics who can express this much better than i. 

i think that participation in the culture of princess certainly can cause people to internalize the messages that are present.  why don't you make a list of princess characteristics and tell me what those are and how they are compatible with intellectual development.  ask your kids to help you make the list.  i guarantee you your kid will tell you a princess is "pretty."  and.. that's pretty much it. 


 

 


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Old 07-02-2011, 09:51 AM
 
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I was into Disney princesses when I was a kid - granted, not merchandised stuff... the movies themselves. I didn't pretend to be them, I was a bit older than to be playing pretend, but I did enjoy the movies and felt strongly about them. I didn't ever see them as characters that needed to be saved. I saw Belle as strong and willing to go into the world on her own. (OK, at the end she ends up settling down anyway, but at least she gets her adventure in first. Sort of.) Ariel was a sort of a rebel who did what she wanted to regardless of the consequences - possibly not the best message in the world, as she does end up needing her father in the end and she messes up a lot, but I saw her as brave too. Then there was Jasmine - and she stands up for herself and doesn't want a man unless it's on her terms, plus I just saw her as very exotic. I don't see them as needing saving. I was never very into Snow White, excepting the dwarves, and Cinderella was just sort of meh. Nice movie but didn't really touch me. Never saw Sleeping Beauty until I was an adult. I don't see where the ingrained messages comes into it. I mean, yes, OK, I do *see* that if you're looking at the overall messages, then sure, there's some iffy messages. I'd be more bothered by the fact that all these girls have horrible relationships with their parents for the most part. As a teen I was pretty headstrong too - was that because of an ingrained Little Mermaid message? Maybe, who knows. But that rebelliousness is in no ways tied to the Disney series.

On the other hand I don't get why they would lump the princesses together in one big merchandising thingie. We tend to avoid that because it just doesn't make sense. DD has a hairbrush that she adores with the princesses on it, but we don't do character "stuff" generally - and so far she has never pretended to play princesses. She will sometimes play fairies, or fairy princess, but she never once said "I'm Snow White" or anything. Even if she's a fairy she's a fairy, not Tinkerbell. I don't understand why a lot of kids pretend to be specific characters instead of more generic ones. When I was little I used to play Sound of Music where I pretended my grandmother's yard was the mountains and abbey, but then I didn't pretend I was Maria or the children, I pretended I was a wolf who just tagged along. I was the weird kid though, lol.

ETA: And I never really thought of any of them as "pretty" - maybe they had some pretty dresses but they certainly didn't define them. They all had normal clothes too - with the exception of Jasmine, who just wore cool clothes regardless. EVERYONE is a Disney movie is basically pretty - even the ugly characters are aesthetically pleasing in some way, due to the fact that the whole cartoon world is one of fantasy. I thought Barbie was pretty but I never aspired to look like her, either. At the same time, I was reading the Clan of the Cave Bear series which has Ayla as the main character - she is VERY strong, almost Mary Sue-ish, but she is also described as beautiful. I guess if I thought pretty I'd think of her, not a Disney princess. Just because someone is attractive doesn't mean kids only identify with that aspect of her. As a kid, I hated dresses. As a teen I could care less about appearances, and now as an adult I barely do, although I don't enjoy looking scruffy either. Either your DDs will be obsessed with the girly-girly pretty things with or without Disney - or they won't be, even with it.

ETA2: My two best friends were much more obsessed with the princess movies than I as a kid. One grew up to be a biologist and the other a vet. Anecdotal evidence and all that, but I still don't put a whole lot of faith in the "zomg their brains were permanently altered cos they played with Barbies" or whatever.

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Old 07-02-2011, 10:04 AM
 
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Re: The Pigtail Pals story on the blog, I'm not entirely sure I'd be so proud of my daughter in that scenario. First, I think "stifling a snort" is a bit snobbish to begin with, but when the nurse gives the DD a present and she literally says "ugh" and tells the nurse off for not having science stickers? OK, what happened to manners? If someone gives my kids a present, I'd expect them to graciously receive it, even if it's not something that they are crazy about. Must be my ingrained repression speaking, though. I guess what seems rude to me seems empowered to others. It's still not behavior I'd encourage in my own children.

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Old 07-02-2011, 10:14 AM
 
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I also think it's absurd the lengths people go to to promote early sexuality in children. An acquaintance mentioned that she does her make-up with her 7 year old DD in the mornings, and I was afraid to ask whether that was pretend make-up for the child or real. My mother was the opposite - she didn't let me wear nail polish, shave my legs, etc. when it was clearly the norm. I stood out like a sore thumb and got teased. I wouldn't artificially hold DD back if she wanted some "innocent" things - but I'm sure as heck going to encourage her to focus on activities and skills other than looks. If a little lip gloss and nail polish means she fits in when she's 9 or something, whatever. If she doesn't want to wear those things, then I wouldn't force it, but I also wouldn't do what my mom did - stick to a zero tolerance policy because those were her ideals, and leave me miserable in the process. Of course, I'd draw the line somewhere - for me that would be revealing clothing or outright make-up.

I'm still not sure what this all has to do with Disney princesses, though. To me, saying that playing with Cinderella dress-up shoes at 3 means that in a few years she'll be wearing "sexy bunny" hotpants or something, doesn't strike normal. Live-action shows like Hannah Montana or whatever is popular these days, would translate to that to me I think. That kind of stuff I outlaw from my house altogether. Cartoons, not so much. Everyone has their comfort zone.

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Old 07-02-2011, 08:13 PM
 
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actually, yes.  equality means having the playing field open to everyone, and having all options available.

How is that not the case currently? Women are allowed to do computer science if they want - hence the 15%.

 

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And there is also research that shows that the biological differences between all the sexes are quite slight, and that society and self censorship can also lead to permanent brain changes, and career selections, and the loss of natural abilities (of girls, who do quite well in science in math during early years, and then decline sharply, presumably because they are either not encouraged or outright discouraged by peers and teachers alike) are not a biological phenomenon at all, but a social one. 

The inferior-parietal lobe is significantly larger in men than in women; the areas of Broca and Wernicke are significantly larger in women than men. Those aren't particularly "slight" differences.

 

I'm familiar with research that links gender equality to girls performing better in math (I haven't read anything similar about girls and science); however, I haven't found any studies that state that girls who like Disney princesses do worse in math than girls who don't, which is the issue in question here. Liking Disney princesses isn't generally a girl's sole interest and influence for her entire childhood.

 

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but, hey, you know.. believe what you want. 

No need to be rude. If you present a rational case, I'll engage with it.

 

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and again.. how this has to do with princesses is this:  when girls and boys and all the other in-betweens are given only one of two options, options that encourage social hegemony, it limits the fullness of self expression and exploration.  a person taught that because of non-ownership of a penis, that person has to perform in a way that is superficial and focused on appearance, is going to find it extremely difficult to break those social norms and become a scientist, for example, when so many factors are discouraging and against this.  sorry if that doesn't make sense.  i'd be happy to direct you to a bibliography of scientists and academics who can express this much better than i. 

This doesn't make sense. You've read this thread (presumably); of all the princess-permitting parents on the thread, do you see any who've indicated they present their daughters with only the option to be a princess? (I'm not sure what you think the other option is: prince for boys?) Any parents who've said "Sorry kid, you don't have a penis so you need to put down the microscope and get your lip gloss on"? No; pretty much all the parents here have indicated that a) their daughters chose to participate in princess play off their own bat, and in many cases against their parents' preferences, and b) those same daughters also participate in plenty of other types of play, which are non-appearance-based and gender-neutral or even stereotypically male.

 

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i think that participation in the culture of princess certainly can cause people to internalize the messages that are present.  why don't you make a list of princess characteristics and tell me what those are and how they are compatible with intellectual development.  ask your kids to help you make the list.  i guarantee you your kid will tell you a princess is "pretty."  and.. that's pretty much it.

Wow, that's a loaded question. Why should Disney princesses have characteristics "compatible with intellectual development"? Do the characters in the Narnia series have characteristics "compatible with intellectual development"; and if not, should we withhold those books from our daughters? What about characters in Beatrix Potter, Winnie-the-Pooh, the Faraway Tree series, The Hobbit? I can't see that Jemima Puddle-Duck portrays females in a particularly intellectual light; should I hide that book too? Is a children's book or film not allowed to be a simple adventure story or fantasy? When there are literally millions of books and films out there, why put the burden of having each separate piece of media perfectly psychologically balanced on the media-makers? Sherlock Holmes certainly promotes intellectual development, but not interpersonal communications; so is he a bad influence or a good one? Why not just expose kids to a broad variety of characters in fiction - flawed, clever, naive, vain, caring, lazy, hard-working, ambitious, content, malicious, kind - instead of choosing only characters who are paragons of all the virtues we hope our children will emulate, in the correct proportions? 'Cause the latter seems like it would lead to an extremely restrictive media list. Elsie Dinsmore.... and that's about it?

 

Since you ask, though, Belle in Beauty and the Beast is an avid bookworm and a capable teacher. Mulan learns the art of warfare along with her male companions, despite being physically disadvantaged. Ariel refuses to accept the party line about the world above the sky, and finds out the truth for herself. Pocahontas similarly rejects the party line about the American settlers, and learns about their motivations and culture for herself. Tiana is a freaking business entrepreneur. Rapunzel is insatiable for knowledge and self-taught in everything from painting to ventriloquism, charting stars, chess, ballet and guitar. Nothing vapid or anti-intellectual about those characteristics, even if the girls in question are pretty.

 

ETA: Also, it's worth mentioning that none of the princesses themselves is vain. They don't define themselves by their looks; they don't spend their time preening. We see Belle dealing (rather well) with the unwanted attention her looks get her; Tiana so busy planning her restaurant that she's oblivious to the guy planning to sweet-talk her; Mulan cutting off her gorgeous hair so she can pretend to be a man. Cinderella does revolve around a ball dress, but that's more of an 'I can't turn up to a royal function in rags" issue than a vanity one. So if a young girl did become looks-obsessed because of the princesses, one could point out that on Disney's terms, she was acting more like one of Cinderella's stepsisters than any of the actual princesses.

 

In other words, being pretty does not equal being vain or vapid. It's not fair to condemn characters for being attractive. (Plus, if you take that line consistently... should we not watch Star Wars because Leia's attractive? What about feminist icon Sigourney Weaver in Alien - she's pretty! And so on...) Sure, Disney could do a better job portraying different types of beauty - the only slightly squishy heroines are in Lilo and Stitch, and they're not part of the princess canon - oh, and the good fairies in Sleeping Beauty, I suppose, but you get my point - but if we start condemning beauty qua beauty, that leads down a rather nasty road. "She must be a bimbo, look at the size of her chest"-type thinking.


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Old 07-03-2011, 01:02 PM
 
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How is that not the case currently? Women are allowed to do computer science if they want - hence the 15%.

don't women comprise a number that fluctuates around 50% of the population?  does it not seem to you as though there is a disparity in those numbers?  there also (off topic) happens to be a disparity in racial composition for folks in fields like computer science.  i am pretty sure you'd agree that those discrepancies are due to social inequities, right?  having nothing to do with actual brain structure or aptitude, but based upon opportunity.

 

The inferior-parietal lobe is significantly larger in men than in women; the areas of Broca and Wernicke are significantly larger in women than men. Those aren't particularly "slight" differences.

and my answer to this is that most of those scans are of adults, as you said.  i'm sure you know that when neural pathways are not encouraged then our brains prune to eliminate and emphasize particular things.  therefore, and there is research to suggest this, once a child is discouraged or lacks the ability to make use of particular areas of the brain, those connections fall away.  no surprise that the brains of adults appear differently once this happens. 

 

I'm familiar with research that links gender equality to girls performing better in math (I haven't read anything similar about girls and science); however, I haven't found any studies that state that girls who like Disney princesses do worse in math than girls who don't, which is the issue in question here. Liking Disney princesses isn't generally a girl's sole interest and influence for her entire childhood.

it is my opinion (yes, it's an opinion) that a culture that is pervasive with the sexism that is apparent (to me) in the qualities and narrow choices present in the disney princess-ing of america, is certainly not on a path to improve opportunities  for girls (or boys) or women, or people in general.  i honestly feel like we're not even keeping the status quo, but moving backwards towards the gender-segregation of society.  one which tells children repeatedly that appearances are of the utmost importance.

 

No need to be rude. If you present a rational case, I'll engage with it.

 

This doesn't make sense. You've read this thread (presumably); of all the princess-permitting parents on the thread, do you see any who've indicated they present their daughters with only the option to be a princess? (I'm not sure what you think the other option is: prince for boys?) Any parents who've said "Sorry kid, you don't have a penis so you need to put down the microscope and get your lip gloss on"? No; pretty much all the parents here have indicated that a) their daughters chose to participate in princess play off their own bat, and in many cases against their parents' preferences, and b) those same daughters also participate in plenty of other types of play, which are non-appearance-based and gender-neutral or even stereotypically male.

 

i've stated several times in my posts that i'm not saying that mamas are to blame, or are doing something harmful in encouraging princess play.  my issue, rather, is with disney, and the other capitalists who are pushing this crap to our kids.  in a very extreme way, so much so that there is little choice out there, and what remains is a focus on consumerism, appearance, and the early sexualization of children, girls in particular.  most kids enjoy dress-up.  for me, there's a distinction in a normal activity and the obvious prevalence of the disney phenomenon.

 

Wow, that's a loaded question. Why should Disney princesses have characteristics "compatible with intellectual development"? Do the characters in the Narnia series have characteristics "compatible with intellectual development"; and if not, should we withhold those books from our daughters? What about characters in Beatrix Potter, Winnie-the-Pooh, the Faraway Tree series, The Hobbit? I can't see that Jemima Puddle-Duck portrays females in a particularly intellectual light; should I hide that book too? Is a children's book or film not allowed to be a simple adventure story or fantasy? When there are literally millions of books and films out there, why put the burden of having each separate piece of media perfectly psychologically balanced on the media-makers? Sherlock Holmes certainly promotes intellectual development, but not interpersonal communications; so is he a bad influence or a good one? Why not just expose kids to a broad variety of characters in fiction - flawed, clever, naive, vain, caring, lazy, hard-working, ambitious, content, malicious, kind - instead of choosing only characters who are paragons of all the virtues we hope our children will emulate, in the correct proportions? 'Cause the latter seems like it would lead to an extremely restrictive media list. Elsie Dinsmore.... and that's about it?

this was my attempt to suggest to you what children might be learning from princesses.  if you ask a kid to define the characteristics of a princess, there is lots of insight to be gathered.  i'm not suggesting that everything has to do with intellectual development, rather trying to emphasize that kids are learning some pretty awful lessons through unlimited exposure to princess-ism.

 

and there's lots of criticism that has been written about the characters in the disney films themselves.  you seem to have found some things of value in them, so, cool.. i personally think some of the other things (like the abuse in B & the Beast and Ariel giving up her voice to please a man, etc) kind of outweigh any sort of sweet touches of a condescending 'you're so smart' mentality.  throughout history, disney has created racist and sexist films.  plenty of em.  the more recent films are certainly not feminist, not by any stretch of the imagination.  and like i said earlier, this is a problem for my family, because our values are pretty much the opposite of what's represented in the disney films... that's not necessarily the case for everybody. 

 

Since you ask, though, Belle in Beauty and the Beast is an avid bookworm and a capable teacher. Mulan learns the art of warfare along with her male companions, despite being physically disadvantaged. Ariel refuses to accept the party line about the world above the sky, and finds out the truth for herself. Pocahontas similarly rejects the party line about the American settlers, and learns about their motivations and culture for herself. Tiana is a freaking business entrepreneur. Rapunzel is insatiable for knowledge and self-taught in everything from painting to ventriloquism, charting stars, chess, ballet and guitar. Nothing vapid or anti-intellectual about those characteristics, even if the girls in question are pretty.

 

ETA: Also, it's worth mentioning that none of the princesses themselves is vain. They don't define themselves by their looks; they don't spend their time preening. We see Belle dealing (rather well) with the unwanted attention her looks get her; Tiana so busy planning her restaurant that she's oblivious to the guy planning to sweet-talk her; Mulan cutting off her gorgeous hair so she can pretend to be a man. Cinderella does revolve around a ball dress, but that's more of an 'I can't turn up to a royal function in rags" issue than a vanity one. So if a young girl did become looks-obsessed because of the princesses, one could point out that on Disney's terms, she was acting more like one of Cinderella's stepsisters than any of the actual princesses.

 

In other words, being pretty does not equal being vain or vapid. It's not fair to condemn characters for being attractive. (Plus, if you take that line consistently... should we not watch Star Wars because Leia's attractive? What about feminist icon Sigourney Weaver in Alien - she's pretty! And so on...) Sure, Disney could do a better job portraying different types of beauty - the only slightly squishy heroines are in Lilo and Stitch, and they're not part of the princess canon - oh, and the good fairies in Sleeping Beauty, I suppose, but you get my point - but if we start condemning beauty qua beauty, that leads down a rather nasty road. "She must be a bimbo, look at the size of her chest"-type thinking.



 


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Old 07-03-2011, 05:59 PM
 
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Some thoughts from a mom with a princess of her own:

 

1. I like the suggestions from this book on feminist parenting.  Namely, validate it!  Depending on her age, use it as a springboard for discussion.  Would she be willing to do as Ariel did and give up her voice in order to get a boy?  (Really?  Let's see how long she can stop talking and making noise.... winky.gif)

 

2. RE commercialization, you'll never be fully able to live Disney-free (@$#@! relatives) but you could sway her toward non-Disney princesses?  Melissa & Doug have some alternatives, and my DD loves the dresses that this company makes.

 

3. Keep offering up other interests and options.  DD still loves snakes and dinosaurs.  I'll check out books on these topics from the library....as well as the requisite "princess" books.

 

4. As a PP suggested, empathize with whatever need it fulfills....to feel special, powerful, etc.

 

Good luck!  I'm counting the hours until this phase ends, but I'd never let her in on that fact...


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Old 07-03-2011, 06:06 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Mittsy View Post

I really like the way this series handles this issue:

 

http://beneaththerowantree.blogspot.com/2011/03/princess-proofing-introduction-of-sorts.html

 

 

Although a little girl with an interest in princesses isn't necessarily a victim of commercialization..... It's not that dichotomous! 
 

 


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Old 07-03-2011, 06:06 PM
 
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don't women comprise a number that fluctuates around 50% of the population?  does it not seem to you as though there is a disparity in those numbers?  there also (off topic) happens to be a disparity in racial composition for folks in fields like computer science.  i am pretty sure you'd agree that those discrepancies are due to social inequities, right?  having nothing to do with actual brain structure or aptitude, but based upon opportunity.

Of course there's a disparity. I just don't see why that's a bad thing. If women don't want to do computer science, they shouldn't feel obliged to do it just to keep the numbers even. Computer science is a very male-brained field, so much so that even most men don't have the interest or aptitude for it (hence the whole autism-in-Silicon-Valley phenomenon). And given that women have, on average, a greater ability and inclination for jobs involving interpersonal communication, it figures that the rather solitary world of computer science might not appeal as much as other jobs. I was recently reading a book about the biological differences between men's and women's brains, and the author noted that women in male-brained, solitary fields (lab research, for example) often switch careers after several years; not because they're not as talented as their male counterparts, but because they no longer find the job fulfilling and want to interact more with other people.

 

As far as I know there's no biological reason to believe different races would have different aptitudes for computer science, so it makes sense to look for a sociological explanation. There are biological reasons for women to choose computer science less often than men, and good evidence that male- and female-brained differences occur very shortly after birth, if not before; when social conditioning is unlikely to play a role... and Disney princesses even less so.

 

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and my answer to this is that most of those scans are of adults, as you said.  i'm sure you know that when neural pathways are not encouraged then our brains prune to eliminate and emphasize particular things.  therefore, and there is research to suggest this, once a child is discouraged or lacks the ability to make use of particular areas of the brain, those connections fall away.  no surprise that the brains of adults appear differently once this happens.

Have you researched this at all? Boys' and girls' brains have significant differences even (some researchers say especially) as children. Girls and boys use different areas of the brain when performing the same language-related mental tasks; girls reach the "inflection point", the halfway point of brain development, at 11 years, while boys reach it at 15; girls are better able to coordinate left-brain and right-brain usage, thanks to a structural difference in their brains; and so on, and so forth. Girls and boys do not have identical brains until Disney mysteriously robs girls of their desire to be computer scientists.

 

It's certainly true that brain function can be improved through practice, and get rusty with disuse. But how exactly is this related to Disney princesses, again?

 

Quote:
it is my opinion (yes, it's an opinion) that a culture that is pervasive with the sexism that is apparent (to me) in the qualities and narrow choices present in the disney princess-ing of america, is certainly not on a path to improve opportunities  for girls (or boys) or women, or people in general.  i honestly feel like we're not even keeping the status quo, but moving backwards towards the gender-segregation of society.  one which tells children repeatedly that appearances are of the utmost importance.

What evidence do you have to support this opinion? Are schools refusing to admit girls to male-dominated fields? Do women have fewer employment or study opportunities than they did, say, 20 years ago (or whenever you feel Disney was less pervasive)?

 

Quote:

i've stated several times in my posts that i'm not saying that mamas are to blame, or are doing something harmful in encouraging princess play.  my issue, rather, is with disney, and the other capitalists who are pushing this crap to our kids.  in a very extreme way, so much so that there is little choice out there, and what remains is a focus on consumerism, appearance, and the early sexualization of children, girls in particular.  most kids enjoy dress-up.  for me, there's a distinction in a normal activity and the obvious prevalence of the disney phenomenon.

I don't live in America, so I can't speak regarding the "other capitalists", but judging from the Disney merchandise available here - which presumably is along the same lines as the stuff marketed in the USA - how exactly does it limit choice? Obviously Disney merchandise will be tied into Disney films, so it's hardly surprising that there's a lot of princess stuff out there. But availability doesn't imply exclusivity. Disney is not a) forcing kids to buy princess gear, b) forcing girls to ONLY buy princess gear, or c) stopping other companies, WAHMs or parents from producing non-princess-related dress-ups. Kids can have every Disney princess dress on the market if they want, OR they can have a Snow White dress to go along with their archaeologist outfit, nurse outfit and spaceman outfit. That's a parental choice. Just because one company only sells popcorn doesn't mean a kid can't eat a balanced diet.

 

Plus, Disney doesn't only sell princess stuff anyway. I've seen Lilo and Stitch merch, The Lion King merch, Fantasia merch... So there's more "choice" right there.

 

Consumerism, sure. But we do live in a capitalist society. Every company is trying to make money, whether they're selling wooden Waldorf toys or Pocahontas lunchboxes. So that's hardly a problem unique to Disney, or one that would be solved by avoiding it. DD loves Disney films, but knows we don't buy the pencil cases and backpacks and T-shirts, just because our general philosophy of life is not to buy stuff we don't need (and not to buy new if we can buy second-hand or make something ourselves). It's a total non-issue. She'll pass a Cinderella T-shirt in a shop and say "Look, it's Cinderella!", I'll say "Wow, it is too, cool!", and we go on our merry way. It's doable.

 

As for early sexualisation, I don't recall seeing any particularly skanky Disney outfits (not that I've investigated them too closely - I think they're shoddily made and don't like the sweatshop aspect). Kids I've seen wearing Disney dresses just look like kids... no padded bras or anything like that... and the one Ariel outfit I've seen had a full top with flesh-coloured fabric, instead of just the clam-shell bra. The only other Disney clothes that spring to mind are T-shirts, and again, the ones I've seen for kids have just been regular T-shirts, no tighter or shorter or otherwise more salacious than usual.

 

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this was my attempt to suggest to you what children might be learning from princesses.  if you ask a kid to define the characteristics of a princess, there is lots of insight to be gathered.  i'm not suggesting that everything has to do with intellectual development, rather trying to emphasize that kids are learning some pretty awful lessons through unlimited exposure to princess-ism.

How do you think a kid would respond if you asked her to define the characteristics of Jemima Puddle-duck? Would you then assume the kids were learning "some pretty awful lessons" from her, and that Beatrix Potter was therefore evil/misogynistic/anti-computer-science? You're making a lot of assumptions about how kids process things. Even of a young child did say that princesses are pretty, it doesn't follow that she therefore MUST be processing that as "Being pretty is the only important thing in the world", or "I shouldn't try hard at math because I can just grow up and marry a prince", or "Because I don't have a penis, I will have to rely on my sexuality to succeed in life". She may well simply process it as "Pretty dresses are fun to dance about in" - especially if, like pretty much all children in not-totally-weird families, she's exposed to a variety of media in day-to-day life, not just Disney princesses. "Unlimited exposure", you say - but I just don't think that's an issue in the average family, as this thread demonstrates. You seem to be arguing against a rather dystopian version of reality in which girls are kept in a pink bubble and force-fed Disney and nothing but Disney 24/7, and I just don't think that exists.

 

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and there's lots of criticism that has been written about the characters in the disney films themselves.

There is; I've read a bunch of it. Some of it's valid, and some just comes across as reactionary oversimplification by people who aren't honestly engaging with the text. I've read, for instance, that Belle's only defining characteristic is her sexuality - which is simply absurd - and statements along the lines of "All the princesses are just wasting their lives away waiting to be saved by a man", which again is patently ridiculous. Lumping a wideish range of female characters created over a span of, what? Eightyish years? together and making broad generalisations about them all is just sloppy scholarship. So anti-Disney criticism needs to be read with that in mind.

 

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  you seem to have found some things of value in them, so, cool.. i personally think some of the other things (like the abuse in B & the Beast and Ariel giving up her voice to please a man, etc)

Those are points against Disney, certainly. Although again, it's not really engaging with the text to say that Ariel "gives up her voice to please a man". She was fascinated with the world above the sea before she even met Erik, and her transformation was as much to do with feeling repressed in her current life as with following him. And she didn't give up her voice to "please" Erik; she gave it up because that was what Ursula demanded, and it didn't please Erik at all that she was mute (despite the insinuations of Ursula that men prefer women silent - you know, Ursula, the evil character...) That said, Ariel is definitely the brattiest princess in the Disney canon, and there are legitimate feminist issues there.

 

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kind of outweigh any sort of sweet touches of a condescending 'you're so smart' mentality. 

Specific examples, please?

 

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throughout history, disney has created racist and sexist films.  plenty of em.  the more recent films are certainly not feminist, not by any stretch of the imagination.  and like i said earlier, this is a problem for my family, because our values are pretty much the opposite of what's represented in the disney films... that's not necessarily the case for everybody.

Yes, Disney has created films with racist and sexist elements. So has any studio that's been around for that long; do you also boycott all films by MGM, Paramount and so on? Like those studios, Disney's films have on the whole improved in that regard as they've gone along. What are your specific problems with, say, Tangled and The Princess and the Frog - the two most recent Disney films?


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Old 07-03-2011, 11:21 PM
 
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The problem with the idea that a field is geared toward the 'male brain' is that it reinforces itself. The field is dominated by men, so men must have the right kind of brain for it, so if a woman is interested in it she has obviously got to have a masculine brain, so few women will consider themselves even a candidate for that field of study, thus the field is dominated by men. 

 

I say this as a woman who has worked in computer science (and then Physics), I promise you it is not a thing that men do better than women. I've met sooo many smart young women who scoff at the idea of going into either field, and it is never because they had trouble understanding previous courses in computers or math or science. It is a thing that is made out to be unfeminine and undesirable for women to do unless they are ok with being considered unfeminine. Then you get into issues where: of course there is sexual harassment in this workplace, didn't you know this was a male-dominated field? Dudes will be dudes, emirate? ROTFLMAO.gif

 

I've spent so much time in science outreach events just trying to convince young girls that you don't have to be a genius man like Einstein or an ugly friendless girl in order to do science. It is a major roadblock. Yes, every person has different natural tendencies and personalities, but we do not do enough to foster the scientific/technical tendency in young girls to truly know what the real gender division of those tendencies would be.

 

ETA: The idea that you need 'male-brained' approach to scientific and technical fields also hampers innovation in those fields. A different perspective or a unique approach can unlock so many mysteries. Extroverts, artsy creative minds, outdoorsy athletic types, they all bring a richer understanding to problems that a stereotypical male in the field cannot approach.

 

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Why is it a bad thing? Is it your opinion that every field of study should be chosen equally by men and women? Why?

 

Do tell? Men and women do, on average, have somewhat different abilities. It isn't some vicious theory invented to keep wimminfolk away from computers; it's scientific fact, confirmed by brain scans in repeated large studies. The research is there for the reading. It's not in any way a "problem", unless a) people start believing that all women are better than all men at interpersonal communication, or all men are better than all women at computer programming, b) male-dominated fields are considered more worthy of respect/money/power than female-dominated fields, or c) women define their worth by their ability to work in male-dominated fields, and thus enter male-dominated fields out of a sense of duty to womankind rather than true preference and enjoyment.

 

And how this has anything to do with princess stuff, I have no idea. Unless you're claiming that Disney has failed to provide a computer-science-major princess as a role model...? Or that watching Disney movies will somehow prevent girls from learning computer science...?



 


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Old 07-04-2011, 12:13 AM
 
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The problem with the idea that a field is geared toward the 'male brain' is that it reinforces itself. The field is dominated by men, so men must have the right kind of brain for it, so if a woman is interested in it she has obviously got to have a masculine brain, so few women will consider themselves even a candidate for that field of study, thus the field is dominated by men.

I get what you're saying. I'm Aspie and it tends to irritate me when people tell me I "think like a man", because I think like me and I'm a woman, so by definition I am thinking like a woman... just not, apparently, like most women. :p (Sadly, I do suck at computers and math and other such typically "Aspie" areas, so I won't be adding to any 15 per cents any time soon!)

 

Still, though... men do tend to have brains that are better geared towards computer science, on average. There are numerous studies that confirm this, and I don't think they can be discounted because of ideology. There's a difference between acknowledging a biological tendency and using it to justify sexist school acceptance policies, or media portrayals of science-loving girls as losers - and the one doesn't necessarily imply the other. And yes, of course there are girls who are brilliant at computers, just as there are men who are brilliant at verbal communication. But there are fewer Aspie-brained (is that a better term than "male-brained"?) girls than boys, and I do think that's related to the relative dearth of women in those fields.

 

Anyway, this is all sort of beside the point, given that we're talking about Disney. I can't, off the top of my head, think of any anti-girls-doing-science-or-maths messages in any of the Disney princess films. I can't see any pro-girls-doing-science messages either, granted, unless you count generic "be yourself" messages or Rapunzel charting stars; but that doesn't make Disney any more evil than the authors of most films or books which aren't about girls doing science. Cleverness, even bookishness, is portrayed positively in Tangled and Beauty and the Beast; rebelling against gender roles is portrayed positively in Mulan and even, to an extent, The Princess and the Frog; liking non-stereotypically-girly things is portrayed positively in Lilo and Stitch (not a princess movie, granted). So I don't see how Disney is responsible for girls getting the message that girls who do science are lame. Other shows, maybe: I don't watch a lot of kids' TV. But the princess films? Do any of the girls at the outreach programs you mentioned cite actual shows or films that make them feel that way about science?

 

Quote:

ETA: The idea that you need 'male-brained' approach to scientific and technical fields also hampers innovation in those fields. A different perspective or a unique approach can unlock so many mysteries. Extroverts, artsy creative minds, outdoorsy athletic types, they all bring a richer understanding to problems that a stereotypical male in the field cannot approach.

Maybe so, but surely most artsy creative types and outdoorsy athletic types would tend to gravitate towards artsy creative or outdoorsy athletic jobs, rather than computer science? And surely at least a bare minimum of the stereotypical abilities are needed as well? I can just see myself trying to convince a computer programming company to take me on because "I'm rubbish with computers, but I'm quite good at improvising limericks, so I'd bring a really fresh perspective!" :p


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Old 07-04-2011, 12:46 AM
 
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I agree to not let the tv rule; disney doesn't have to own it, yk? you can get play silks and make yer own beautiful gowns, etc.  We read fairy stores from all over the world, this has really broadened it for my daughter; because at a certain level, they are just universal stories, yk?  it doesn't have to be about looking pretty and getting a man. 

 

I would also recommend the book "Cinderella ate my daughter" It is a good discussion of it.  We just steer it away from disney, or other "characters" and make it more open ended, with fairies and forest animals mixed in and stuff.

 

I think it does help that our school (montessori) bans licensed characters.  Which allows for relationships not scripted by bad movies designed to sell toys.... 


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Old 07-04-2011, 01:03 AM
 
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The problem with the idea that a field is geared toward the 'male brain' is that it reinforces itself. The field is dominated by men, so men must have the right kind of brain for it, so if a woman is interested in it she has obviously got to have a masculine brain, so few women will consider themselves even a candidate for that field of study, thus the field is dominated by men. 

 

I say this as a woman who has worked in computer science (and then Physics), I promise you it is not a thing that men do better than women. I've met sooo many smart young women who scoff at the idea of going into either field, and it is never because they had trouble understanding previous courses in computers or math or science. It is a thing that is made out to be unfeminine and undesirable for women to do unless they are ok with being considered unfeminine. Then you get into issues where: of course there is sexual harassment in this workplace, didn't you know this was a male-dominated field? Dudes will be dudes, emirate? ROTFLMAO.gif

 

I was never considered feminine when I was younger, and I didn't care. (For that matter, I'm not very feminine now, and I don't care about that, either.) I excelled in math and sciences, and enjoyed both, particularly math. I was strongly encouraged to go into a computer related field (this was in the mid 80s). I didn't want to. I didn't know what I wanted to do (still don't, actually), but I simply wasn't interested in computers

 

Years later, I went back to school to take some basic programming courses, thinking maybe I should shift gears into a field with somewhat better financial prospects,without having to do a full degree (I have very little interest in formal education). I took a few of the classes, and there were elements about them that were interesting, but not interesting enough to spend my life on them. It wasn't about some conspiracy to keep the women out. It simply didn't interest me. Of the other noticeably mathematically inclined girls in my class (I was the top female math student, by a wide margin, and me and the two top males jockeyed constantly for first place, but there was almost exactly a 50/50 split between the girls and boys in the honours math class), none of them were interested in computers. One became an actor (surprised me immensely, actually). One became a teacher, although she originally wanted to be a lawyer. One became a doctor. Two of us (that I know of) are SAHMs. One briefly became a police officer...lost touch with her about 15 years ago, but just came across her picture on a mutual friend's facebook, and she recently completed a triathalon. None of these women made career choices based on what's feminine or whatever - we just weren't interested in computer science fields. (And, I have to say that I was the household computer person - installs, troubleshooting, etc. - when I was with my ex, but I'm quite happy to hand it off to dh, since I can. That stuff simply doesn't interest me.)

 

I've spent so much time in science outreach events just trying to convince young girls that you don't have to be a genius man like Einstein or an ugly friendless girl in order to do science. It is a major roadblock. Yes, every person has different natural tendencies and personalities, but we do not do enough to foster the scientific/technical tendency in young girls to truly know what the real gender division of those tendencies would be.

 

I would be so amazingly pissed off at someone who came along and tried to convince me that I could do science and still be pretty and popular. How unbelievably condescending. Why can't women just not be interested in what you want them to be interested in?

 



 


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Old 07-04-2011, 08:22 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Dacks:

 

I've spent so much time in science outreach events just trying to convince young girls that you don't have to be a genius man like Einstein or an ugly friendless girl in order to do science. It is a major roadblock. Yes, every person has different natural tendencies and personalities, but we do not do enough to foster the scientific/technical tendency in young girls to truly know what the real gender division of those tendencies would be.

 

 

 

 

I would be so amazingly pissed off at someone who came along and tried to convince me that I could do science and still be pretty and popular. How unbelievably condescending. Why can't women just not be interested in what you want them to be interested in?


Wow. I'm not even sure how to respond to that, but I will try. 

 

First, there is not an absolute binary that you are either ugly and friendless or pretty and popular. The events included the women faculty, women students, and local STEM employed women who described their interests, life paths, and the cool stuff they did in STEM fields. Prior to this, most of these girls only knew about women in these fields from portrayals on television, and many of them had really negative notions about what kind of people we are. Our 'convincing' was to show them first hand that there are a variety of personalities and we have rich meaningful lives, and I don't know what is condescending about that. At that age, many girls do prioritize popularity and attractiveness above career options, and we have to work with who they are in order to get through to them. Yes, some did specifically point out that you can't get a husband and live happily ever after if you are a nerd. They would say that boys don't like smart girls. 


I don't think that there should be some mandatory percentage of girls that must go into a field they don't want in order to serve gender equality. You can't know you aren't interested until you are given an honest chance to try, and that's my goal for girls.

 

This was an event that drew in loads of elementary and grade school girls from across the state to participate in STEM workshops specifically aimed at opening their eyes to the possibilities and opportunities that are available to them. Most girls gravitated toward the biology department's offerings, and only ended up in computers, math, or physics workshops because the schedule didn't allow everyone to have their first pick. We had to spend half the hour just working against the comments that 'I'm just a girl and not smart enough to do this.' In boy/girl groups (at other events), we often see the girls briefly struggle, the boys step in impatiently and do it their way, and the girls sit back and do the data recording (they call it being secretary) and accept that they can't do science. But when we put a group of just girls together, they struggle initially and then get it done just fine and often in really interesting ways. They give insights beyond the worksheets that they don't when they are passive partners, they have more confidence when we see them again for mixed gender projects. Science and technology DO need creativity in order to progress. Yes, you also need a minimum of organizational skill, spatial sense, and math, but the most important attributes are confidence and a willingness to try. The point is that generally not encouraging (culturally) girls to even try or think about STEM career options because it is only really for a certain kind of personality does both girls and science a disservice.

 


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Old 07-04-2011, 09:22 AM
 
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Um, could we take the women-in-the-sciences discussion to another thread?  duck.gif


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Old 07-05-2011, 04:53 AM
 
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While I'm against the idea of real, actual "princesses" (ie: a girl who is considered property to be sold off to a man in exchange for political gain of some sort), I don't forbid DD princess stuff. I don't allow Disney characters into the home for anti-commercial reasons, but generic princess stuff is fine with me. I'm also okay with makeup.

 

There are some areas where I draw a line, however. While I don't forbid it, I make it crystal clear exactly what things are about. I NEVER refer to make-up as making someone "pretty." Pretty is what you are born with. Make-up is "FANCY." You wear make-up to look fancy, not pretty. Same with high-heels and fancy clothes and jewelry. It's dressing up, just like frilly tutus and sparkles and frothy gowns and make-up is no different. Make-up is part of being human. Most cultures paint their faces and bodies to decorate themselves. It's part of who we are as a species. My only rule is that DD isn't allowed to wear it outside of the house because it isn't appropriate for children, but I let her play with it at home. Make-up is something that we, as a culture, set aside as a special ritual for when a girl comes of age.

 

I also make sure that DD understands what a princess actually is. She can pretend play princess if she likes, so long as she understands what it is and doesn't think it's something someone should wish to be. I think it's healthy to fantasize about dressing fancy, dancing and generally having a good time. Heck, I daydream all of the time about having expensive clothes and jewelry and having people wait on me hand and foot as though I were important (not that I'm not important, but you know what I mean). It's a fun fantasy and I don't see how it can have a negative effect on a girls life so long as she isn't ignorant to what the title actually means. Growing up, I was obsessed with pretending I was a unicorn and it didn't screw me up when I later realized I was never going to actually have hooves and a magical horn.

 

Besides that, I read a lot and love children's literature and it seems as though princess books and stories have generally taken a turn towards characters with strong personalities and positive self-image. The girls in these stories tend to be heroes rather than simpering victims. I think that a princess can be a great role model if you approach it the right way and try to weed-out the less savory princess-y characters in literature and movies. If a girl is obsessed with princesses, you won't be able to turn her off of it, but you CAN turn the situation around and make it a fantastic lesson using strong princess role models.


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Old 07-05-2011, 06:06 AM
 
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Not that anything is this easy in practice but my advice is to have a "that's nice" reaction to the princess stuff.  If she tells you about her dress and makeup and the ball, just smile and say "that's nice".  Then when she's not doing the princess stuff and is doing a great job at using her judgement, making decisions, or whatever other positive lessons you want her to learn, make a BIG deal about how great it is that she made a good choice, shared her toys, whatever it is. She will get that the princess stuff is not amazing to you and she will learn for it not to be amazing for her.  Good Luck!

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Old 07-05-2011, 12:23 PM
 
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Um, could we take the women-in-the-sciences discussion to another thread?  duck.gif



Sorry about that...a quick reply to the below and I'm done.



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Wow. I'm not even sure how to respond to that, but I will try. 

 

First, there is not an absolute binary that you are either ugly and friendless or pretty and popular. The events included the women faculty, women students, and local STEM employed women who described their interests, life paths, and the cool stuff they did in STEM fields. Prior to this, most of these girls only knew about women in these fields from portrayals on television, and many of them had really negative notions about what kind of people we are. Our 'convincing' was to show them first hand that there are a variety of personalities and we have rich meaningful lives, and I don't know what is condescending about that. At that age, many girls do prioritize popularity and attractiveness above career options, and we have to work with who they are in order to get through to them. Yes, some did specifically point out that you can't get a husband and live happily ever after if you are a nerd. They would say that boys don't like smart girls. 


I don't think that there should be some mandatory percentage of girls that must go into a field they don't want in order to serve gender equality. You can't know you aren't interested until you are given an honest chance to try, and that's my goal for girls.

 

This was an event that drew in loads of elementary and grade school girls from across the state to participate in STEM workshops specifically aimed at opening their eyes to the possibilities and opportunities that are available to them. Most girls gravitated toward the biology department's offerings, and only ended up in computers, math, or physics workshops because the schedule didn't allow everyone to have their first pick. We had to spend half the hour just working against the comments that 'I'm just a girl and not smart enough to do this.' In boy/girl groups (at other events), we often see the girls briefly struggle, the boys step in impatiently and do it their way, and the girls sit back and do the data recording (they call it being secretary) and accept that they can't do science. But when we put a group of just girls together, they struggle initially and then get it done just fine and often in really interesting ways. They give insights beyond the worksheets that they don't when they are passive partners, they have more confidence when we see them again for mixed gender projects. Science and technology DO need creativity in order to progress. Yes, you also need a minimum of organizational skill, spatial sense, and math, but the most important attributes are confidence and a willingness to try. The point is that generally not encouraging (culturally) girls to even try or think about STEM career options because it is only really for a certain kind of personality does both girls and science a disservice.

 


I just wanted to apologize. I had too many feminists try to decide for me what I should do with my future, because "we need more women in [fill in blank] field", and I was a brain. It left a permanent bad taste in my mouth, and affected my views on a variety of things, and when I hear about things like your "science outreach", my initial reaction is pretty hostile. DH and I were talking about this thread yesterday, and he had a different perspective on it, and he made some valid points. So...not my thing, but I let my emotional reaction carry me away. So, I'm sorry I was so snotty.

 


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Old 07-06-2011, 04:39 AM
 
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I think it is harmful to a child when they think that they are only beautiful if they have makeup on, a pretty dress, etc.  I think that a child should learn that what really counts is what is on the inside, how they are as a person. 

I have heard of a relationship between a persons role models and their thoughts and observation of that role model as a child(for example if their mother is their role model and she is obsessed with how she looks, thinks she's only beautiful if she wears makeup and thinks she's fat unless she diets and exercises all the time) and how they are later in life.  Like the person in my example would be at an increased risk of getting an eating disorder like anorexia, or one of those disorders where you look in the mirror and only see fat, ugly, etc even if that is not true.  Body dismorphic disorder I think it is called.  Anyway I guess my concern would be if the child only thinks beauty is on the outside and thats all that matters, and she has to be skinny and put on makeup, etc, and I hope that does not effect her views and habits later in life....

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