January 21, 2011

Feminist Drives Princess Industrial Complex Off Road

The New York Times has given New York Times writer Peggy Orenstein's new book, Cinderella Ate My Daughter, a very nice, if slightly meta review. The book is based on an article Orenstein wrote about the Princess Industrial Complex a couple of years ago--in the New York Times.

Considering how dear and annoying this topic is to my heart, I was surprised to learn that there is:

developmental psychology research showing that until as late as age 7, children are convinced that external signs -- clothing, hairstyle, favorite color, choice of toys -- determine one's sex. "It makes sense, then, that to ensure you will stay the sex you were born you'd adhere rigidly to the rules as you see them and hope for the best," she writes. "That's why 4-year-olds, who are in what is called 'the inflexible stage,' become the self-­appointed chiefs of the gender police. Suddenly the magnetic lure of the Disney Princesses became more clear to me: developmentally speaking, they were genius, dovetailing with the precise moment that girls need to prove they are girls, when they will latch on to the most exaggerated images their culture offers in order to stridently shore up their femininity."
That may help explain princess, but pink and this externalized gender signaling begins long before a kid's self-awareness kicks in. It's societal, which is to say, parental or--so the grandparents aren't let off the hook--familial.

I think I must actually buy this book and read it. Stay tuned.

Is Pink Necessary? [nyt]
Previously: Princess Industrial Complex drives feminist crazy

1 Comment

I'll give you that it is societal, but in a world of day care, internet and television, societal != parental. We went out of our way to encourage our daughter to wear black and blue, and we bought her nothing pink her first couple of years in this world. Plenty of matchbox cars, too. By the time she was three, she was just as unwilling to wear anything but pink as any other three year old.

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