I started a Princess battle at preschool - Mothering Forums

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Old 10-18-2007, 04:09 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My son's preschool (University model lab where I work) has a policy of NO superheros. No backpacks, lunch boxes, or clothing with superheros on them. No superhero play.

The handbook rationale says Superheros don't use "good problem solving skills". I think they are trying to get around the idea of violence/fighting/aggression. Which I can applaud.

BUT.... little girls have lunchboxes with Cinderella, Barbie, even Bratz Dolls. They wear princess logo t-shirts. The school even has a dress up chest with princess dresses and tiaras!

The preschool just sent out a mass e-mail reminding parents kids were not to have or wear anything Superhero. I wrote back to the entire list serv saying "How about we add Princesses to the policy also? Or simply changing the policy to no licensed characters."

You would think I was asking for Andrea Dworken to be the assistant teacher. No one responded to the e-mail, but evidently dozens of moms have called preschool to say that it is ridiculous, girls will be girls, and there is nothing wrong with princess play. We are now having a school meeting about it - in which people who "are afraid to voice their opinion may send it in a word document and the director will make sure their opinions are represented" (because evidently a lot of the people who like princesses are afraid to speak up in a meeting... maybe some man will rescue them though, and they won't have to speak, LOL).

What you do think?

My point is, what is fair for one gender should be extended to both. It's hard to tell a child "superhero lunchboxes are not allowed" when a girl child has a Barbie lunchbox.
It's hard for me to reason that using beauty for problem solving is any better than using physical power for problem solving... (the girls often play Sleeping Beauty - I'm dead, someone needs to kiss me and bring me back to life, I'm so pretty in my coma.... HAHA)
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Old 10-18-2007, 04:17 PM
 
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I dunno...my barbies were pretty violent!! My sister and I had them fight, and they were kidnapped and imprisoned and had to escape, etc. Plus, doesn't the "hero" in princess stories have to fight??

So, what your preschool wants is for a girl to learn that she needs to be "rescued" .....ridiculous at best.

A better idea would be to allow boys to "play superhero" if they want to, just make sure there's no truly "violent" play....

The whole thing seems kinda ludicrous seeing how my 3 yr old makes a "sword" out of pretty much anything. Including his tooth brush.
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Old 10-18-2007, 04:25 PM
 
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My first reaction is:

Our home will be princess/barbie/bratz free when DD is older. I think these toys promote self-esteem through looks, they promote girls to be passive, and are the building blocks for girls to allow themselves to be objectified.
BUT. I think no one should be able to tell me what kind of lunchbox I buy for my child within reason. Like, I don't think it's appropriate for a school-aged child to carry a Nightmare on Elm Street lunch box to school (if it exists) but an Incredible Hulk lunchbox? Dumb, but still falls within the parameters of freedom of speech/expression while being "age appropriate" (I guess).
This is my stance on the princess thing, too. Dumb - I disagree with the principles promoted by princess "stuff" - but it's freedom of expression and the implications in banning it makes me more nervous than the idea of exposing young girls to the images encouraged by princess paraphenalia. As long as this expression isn't harmful to another or overtly offensive (I mean, everyone gets offended by SOMETHING - this is obvious on MDC ) then I don't think it should be banned.
Here's what I mean: I have a peace pin on Hazel's diaper bag. I believe in peace. I might even put something peace-related on Hazel's lunchbox in the future if she likes it. I don't want someone telling me I can't do this. KWIM?
HOWEVER, I think it's great that you opened up a dialogue at your school. I think it's important that women don't just buy these things because "girls will be girls".
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Old 10-18-2007, 04:26 PM
 
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I agree that their policy makes no sense. At the meeting perhaps try to focus on WHY they don't allow superheroes but the girly stuff is ok. Make them actually explain it. Using words. Poke holes in their logic.
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Old 10-18-2007, 04:27 PM
 
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I think you are doing the right thing!!! Good for you! I would have done the exact same thing... keep us posted and keep your chin up!

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Old 10-18-2007, 04:27 PM
 
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I personally wouldn't have a problem with superhero play/characters, either (ds1 has always been a huge Spider-Man fan). However, if they're going to ban one, I don't see why there's a problem with banning the other. I'm with you.

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Old 10-18-2007, 04:28 PM
 
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Originally Posted by ChristyMarie View Post
I agree that their policy makes no sense. At the meeting perhaps try to focus on WHY they don't allow superheroes but the girly stuff is ok. Make them actually explain it. Using words. Poke holes in their logic.
:

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Old 10-18-2007, 04:29 PM
 
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Originally Posted by silly_scout View Post
This is my stance on the princess thing, too. Dumb - I disagree with the principles promoted by princess "stuff" - but it's freedom of expression and the implications in banning it makes me more nervous than the idea of exposing young girls to the images encouraged by princess paraphenalia. As long as this expression isn't harmful to another or overtly offensive (I mean, everyone gets offended by SOMETHING - this is obvious on MDC ) then I don't think it should be banned.
I tend to agree with this, but it doesn't apply to the OP's situation, as the preschool is already banning what lunchboxes, toys, etc. the kids can have.

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Old 10-18-2007, 04:31 PM
 
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I agree with your approach, from the perspective of - if they're going to ban one, they need to ban the other. Or neither. Definitely seems like a double-standard going on there.
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Old 10-18-2007, 04:35 PM
 
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I tend to agree with this, but it doesn't apply to the OP's situation, as the preschool is already banning what lunchboxes, toys, etc. the kids can have.
Yeah, I know. I'm just saying that bans in general make me a little nervous.
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Old 10-18-2007, 04:37 PM
 
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If you read batman comics, or even watch the critically acclaimed and widely respected late 1990s batman cartoon, you will see why the original title was "Detective Comics". Batman is a detective first and a butt-kicker second.

Spiderman was the first superhero with real problems. He is a scientist, a teenager, and a super hero. In the comic world he INVENTED the web shooter device and the fluid that gives him web (even though in the movie it is an organic mutation). He is a problem solver who uses his inventions and his powers in an attempt to solve problems without hurting people, people who want to hurt him.

The most appealing heroes are the ones we can relate to. The ones who use their brains to solve problems, and happen to have super powers. In the case of batman, careful planning, problem solving, and inventing ARE HIS ONLY POWER. He is a normal human who uses his brain, determination, and lifestyle to fight crime.

Anyone who does not understand the basic human need for mythology should be against teaching shakespeare, Roman and Greek history and mythology, religion, and basically all fiction. It is disturbing to me that a university research lab lacks basic understanding of human psychology, or at the very least does not care about it.
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Old 10-18-2007, 04:38 PM
 
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Personally, I don't really see the issue with superheroes. We play "superhero" at our house all the time. Which pretty much entails running around as though we are flying. So, no problem solving skills needed!

Since your preschool bans superhero play, I think it IS fair to also ban princess play. How do princesses represent problem solving? Grow your hair long so a man can climb up it (BTW, ouch!)? Go and be a housekeeper for 7 small men? Hmmm. I'm not digging those "problem solving" skills.

It IS hypocritical to allow the one while banning the other. I think the parents who want to keep princess play but ban superhero play need to justify themselves.
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Old 10-18-2007, 04:39 PM
 
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I would argue that princesses often don't use good problem solving skills- passive aggressiveness, feigned weakness, constantly needing rescue... blech!

What about Xena, would she be allowed?

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Old 10-18-2007, 04:44 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I am so glad you all understand my point!!

I just want the policy to be fair and consistent. I don't allow either aggressive heros, or passive princesses, in my house.

I'm the only lesbian mommy at the school, so I am *positive* some of the parents are wanting to reply anonymous because they are saying "it's NORMAL for little girls to do this..." etc. As if I don't understand "normal" because my own sense of gender rightness is warped.
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Old 10-18-2007, 04:46 PM
 
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I think you are doing the right thing. I think it is ridiculous to ban superheros in general. If they want to do that, they should ban all characters. You can play violently without superheros, and you can play non violently with superheros. One thing has nothing to do with the other.
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Old 10-18-2007, 04:49 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Anyone who does not understand the basic human need for mythology should be against teaching shakespeare, Roman and Greek history and mythology, religion, and basically all fiction. It is disturbing to me that a university research lab lacks basic understanding of human psychology, or at the very least does not care about it.
I think you have made an incorrect jump in logic. They do NOT ban myth, or fiction. They certainly encourage fantasy play to a huge extent! They do not lack a basic understanding of human psychology because they don't want spiderman backpacks

I think what they tried to get at is a ban on "licensed characters", but they only knew how to rationalize the Superhero ones (blaming "violence").
My suggestion is for them to take it a step further and ban ALL licensed characters. They still offer a rich variety of fables via stories, books, etc. It's just not that marketed stuff that inundates kids.


FYI
Since Disney re-marketed their female characters as "princesses" in 2001, the sales of their girl characters increased from 300 million annually to 3 BILLION. They attribute this to the repackaging and marketing of princesses. Kids aren't even getting the fable of it any more (that Snow White was a housekeeper, not a fairy princess). They are getting the marketing only.
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Old 10-18-2007, 04:54 PM
 
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[QUOTE=Kincaid;9473262] They do not lack a basic understanding of human psychology because they don't want spiderman backpacks

QUOTE]

I think their policy does demonstrate a lack of basic understanding, because it is illogical. Is it the commercialization of characters they don't like? If so, then all the Disney princesses and Bratz dolls most definitely would be included. Is it violent play they are trying to avoid? If so, then they need to ban pirates and pretend swords and finger guns and cops and robbers and space aliens and all other type of play that has nothing to do with superheros. (I personally think that if this is their rationalization, then they most definitely have a lack of understanding of basic psychology.)

Question: Do they allow Buzz Lightyear? There is "violence" associated with that character, and as my 6yo exasperately points out to my 3yo all the time, "Buzz Lightyear is not a superhero, he's a Space Ranger!"
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Old 10-18-2007, 04:54 PM
 
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I agree with your approach, from the perspective of - if they're going to ban one, they need to ban the other. Or neither. Definitely seems like a double-standard going on there.
My thoughts exactly.

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Old 10-18-2007, 05:02 PM
 
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My point is, what is fair for one gender should be extended to both. It's hard to tell a child "superhero lunchboxes are not allowed" when a girl child has a Barbie lunchbox.
It's hard for me to reason that using beauty for problem solving is any better than using physical power for problem solving... (the girls often play Sleeping Beauty - I'm dead, someone needs to kiss me and bring me back to life, I'm so pretty in my coma.... HAHA)
I have to agree with you here. I personally don't mind either but you are right about princesses not modeling good problem solving
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Old 10-18-2007, 05:03 PM
 
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I'm the only lesbian mommy at the school, so I am *positive* some of the parents are wanting to reply anonymous because they are saying "it's NORMAL for little girls to do this..." etc. As if I don't understand "normal" because my own sense of gender rightness is warped.
How annoying - beyond annoying. I'm not a lesbian, so they wouldn't have that particular piece of asinine "ammo" in my case, and I'm 100% with you on this. I never liked princesses or Barbie or whatever. However, I devoured superhero comics as a kid (ShaggyDaddy - my two favourites were Batman and Spidey - wonder why?). I'd have been soooo upset if I'd been at a preschool where there was a bunch of princess and Barbie play, but I wasn't allowed to have a Batman lunchbox.

I think it's abnormal to think that our gender defines every single thing about us, from what we want to wear to what games we want to play. I mean...I loved dress-up, but I was as likely to dig out a cape and "swordbelt" as a long dress or old pair of high heels.

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Old 10-18-2007, 05:04 PM
 
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If you read batman comics, or even watch the critically acclaimed and widely respected late 1990s batman cartoon, you will see why the original title was "Detective Comics". Batman is a detective first and a butt-kicker second.

Spiderman was the first superhero with real problems. He is a scientist, a teenager, and a super hero. In the comic world he INVENTED the web shooter device and the fluid that gives him web (even though in the movie it is an organic mutation). He is a problem solver who uses his inventions and his powers in an attempt to solve problems without hurting people, people who want to hurt him.
HA! I was JUST going to point this out when I got down to your post!

My DS is a Batman fanatic! He's never seen any Batman TV shows, but instead devours the comic books. Batman is SMART! He has no superpowers, but he invented all this super cool stuff and became an incredible athlete in order to fight crime. He never beats up the bad guys, but rather puts them in jail.

Even cooler - Batman is his real persona; his Bruce Wayne character is fake. He plays Bruce Wayne as a playboy jerk so that no one will suspect that he's Batman.

He has to use his wits alone to figure out whodunit. He's a detective, but one with a cool cape!

We're big Batman fans around here, and IMO, it's absurd to outlaw superheroes!

But I agree with the sentiment of what's good for the goose is good for the gander. If superheroes are gone, then princesses should be, too. I agree 100% with the idea that all licenced characters should be banned.
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Old 10-18-2007, 05:07 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Question: Do they allow Buzz Lightyear? There is "violence" associated with that character, and as my 6yo exasperately points out to my 3yo all the time, "Buzz Lightyear is not a superhero, he's a Space Ranger!"
I think they did not have time or inclination to sit down and decide which hero uses fists/guns/lasers/swords/intellect... so they just lumped all BOY HEROS together and banned them.
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Old 10-18-2007, 05:09 PM
 
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I agree with your approach, from the perspective of - if they're going to ban one, they need to ban the other. Or neither. Definitely seems like a double-standard going on there.
:

Total double standard. Sick.
The waldorf school near us allows no licensed characters of any kind. I applaud that; school should be a commercial-free zone.
It would be cool if they could allow any kind of PLAY and dress-up, as long as they are not using licensed character costumes.

As for the idea that some parents are "afraid to express their views in public" - because they likely think that "big, bad, hairy, man-hating dyke is trying to take away princess fun for our girly-girls and indoctrinate them to be gay too," well, that is just too sick sick sick for words, and I would address it openly. Call them on that bulls*&t. Any rational, logical, sane person should be able to see that the policy is unfair and inconsistent and needs to be fixed.

Good luck! I can't wait to see the updates.

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Old 10-18-2007, 05:12 PM
 
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I think you have made an incorrect jump in logic. They do NOT ban myth, or fiction. They certainly encourage fantasy play to a huge extent! They do not lack a basic understanding of human psychology because they don't want spiderman backpacks
What do you think roman children drew on their wax tablets? Hercules, a super hero, who happens to now be considered a literary figure, and is part of a historically important rich culture, which basically revolved around super hero worship.

Despite marketing SPIDERMAN IS MODERN MYTHOLOGY, spiderman is modern culture. Spiderman, batman, superman, etc etc are just as important as hercules, Huck Finn, Bilbo Baggins, Aslan the Lion, Alice in Wonderland, King Arthur and Beowolf...

Exclusive control of people's play is a low level form of mind control, and attempting to eliminate subculture, ideas, and themes through mind control is historically looked upon in a very poor light.
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Old 10-18-2007, 05:13 PM
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Wow, I'm jumping off the bandwagon here.

:

In general, I'm all about expanding freedoms, rather than contracting them. I'm all about not legislating morality (or whatever it is that the university believes is at stake here). I hate the argument that, "if we allow this, our values will decline." The same has been said in the past about integration, about gay rights, and the list goes on. I realize princess lunchboxes are not in the same category as gay rights, but I do think it falls into the category of a basic human freedom--freedom of expression--and I think it's the same kind of fearful, dictatorial voice that tries to squelch them.

This also goes to the concurrent thread about control in parenting. I can see that there are lots of different layers to that debate, but one thing I am definitely NOT on board with is giving the reins of "control" to some third party, like my kids' daycare. I don't want them hearing that princesses and superheroes are "wrong" or "bad" or "harmful" anymore than I want them hearing that it's bad for Connor to have two daddies. (Which it's NOT, in case I've been in any way unclear about that. ) They're thinking human beings, and they can decide on their own what interests them and what repels them.

The only thing I agree with here is that the current ban is unfair. If I were in this situation, I'd be sending out e-mails too, but mine would be calling for the ban on superheroes to be lifted. But who knows, it may be that your princess e-mail ultimately has that residual effect.
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Old 10-18-2007, 05:14 PM
 
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Even cooler - Batman is his real persona; his Bruce Wayne character is fake. He plays Bruce Wayne as a playboy jerk so that no one will suspect that he's Batman.
Omigosh! I never quite got that until you spelled it out just now! Now it all makes sense...:

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Old 10-18-2007, 05:15 PM
 
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good for you!! I think it is rediculious to impose rules on one gender, yet let the other one continue. kids that age don't understand either, they see the girls with their character lunch boxes, why cant they have their one?
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Old 10-18-2007, 05:18 PM
 
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good for you!! I think it is rediculious to impose rules on one gender, yet let the other one continue. kids that age don't understand either, they see the girls with their character lunch boxes, why cant they have their one?
See, imo, it's not even really a rule for one gender...a girl who likes Spidey is still penalized under these rules.

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Old 10-18-2007, 05:19 PM
 
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HA! I was JUST going to point this out when I got down to your post!

My DS is a Batman fanatic! He's never seen any Batman TV shows, but instead devours the comic books. Batman is SMART! He has no superpowers, but he invented all this super cool stuff and became an incredible athlete in order to fight crime. He never beats up the bad guys, but rather puts them in jail.

Even cooler - Batman is his real persona; his Bruce Wayne character is fake. He plays Bruce Wayne as a playboy jerk so that no one will suspect that he's Batman.

He has to use his wits alone to figure out whodunit. He's a detective, but one with a cool cape!

We're big Batman fans around here, and IMO, it's absurd to outlaw superheroes!

But I agree with the sentiment of what's good for the goose is good for the gander. If superheroes are gone, then princesses should be, too. I agree 100% with the idea that all licenced characters should be banned.
clark kent is also a persona, and the real man is superman. and if your dc is growing up watching smallville, they are seeing even more problem solving with moral choices to be made and human emotions to deal with.

I think its wrong to ban either one in schools, but if you plan to ban one, ban it for both sexes, dont pick on just the boys.
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Old 10-18-2007, 05:20 PM
 
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See, imo, it's not even really a rule for one gender...a girl who likes Spidey is still penalized under these rules.
very true!
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