Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Orenstein "Cinderella Ate My Daughter"


 I highly enjoyed this article, because not only did it play into my intense feelings that Disney is mostly bullshit, but because Orenstein's writing style is funny, accessible, and not densely theoretical (I needed a break from that!), and she points out things I have never even considered when it comes to the princess phenomenon.

1. “I had never seen a study proving that playing princess specifically damages girls’ self esteem or dampens other aspirations. There is, however, ample evidence that the more mainstream media girls consume, the more importance they place on being pretty and sexy. And a ream of studies shows that teenage girls and college students who hold conventional beliefs about femininity – especially those that emphasize beauty and pleasing behavior – are less ambitious and more likely to be depressed than their peers. They are also less likely to report that they enjoy sex or insist that their partners use condoms. None of that bodes well for Snow White’s long-term mental health.”
           None of this surprises me, but I think it's a good, succinct description of the downward spiral girls face today when it comes to the media. American media is directly built upon patriarchal demands that women either have no outward sexuality (but a private one which caters to the sexuality of men, no matter what), or if they do, that it must still exclusively cater to men. 

2. “Dressing up fancy, at least for now, was something she felt she got to do, not something she had to do. It was a source of power and privilege.”
            This was really interesting to me, as I haven't really ever thought of this princess phenomenon like this. I've always that it seemed negative, a way to keep girls in traditional gender roles and not much more. It's nice to see little girls might often feel this way about dressing as princesses and etc., but I wonder how long this idea really lasts - because it doesn't last, at least not entirely. I suppose I've heard some women my age comment that getting ready to go out is often the best part of going out (which, depending on where they go, is easily true, when I recall all the times I've been dragged to bars that are out of my normal routines and the near- fights I've been in with sexually aggressive men). But I do think there comes a point when little girls stop dressing up for fun, and it becomes more of an act. Of course it isn't the same for every girl, but I think perhaps teen girls face this struggle the most.

3. "The simplicity of American Girl is expensive, while the finery of princess comes cheap. In the end, though, the appeal to parents is the same: both lines tacitly promise to keep girls young and 'safe' from sexualization."
             I also hadn't considered that many parents recognize the dangers of Disney princess culture, but opt into it because they don't want their daughters to grow up too fast. At face value, I think maybe both lines do promote childhood free from sexualization, but when we go back to the first quote listed, it doesn't matter anyways - which is horrifying to think that the media has that much power over gender roles and sexuality.

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