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Old 11 January 2013, 09:28 PM
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Royalty One Dad's Ill-Fated Battle Against the Princesses

There's no room in my family's life for any more princesses. Despite seeming to have no princess saturation point, my three-year-old twin girls don't need any more space in their imaginations taken up by poofy gowns, sparkly slippers, dainty manners, and gilded palaces. Though I tried to protect the twins from the Princess Industrial Complex, I'm afraid that they ó that we ó have developed a princess problem.

http://www.theatlantic.com/sexes/arc...cesses/267000/
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Old 11 January 2013, 09:32 PM
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So this parent used to believe that much of gender was socially constructed, but after failing to single-handedly oppose the entirety of the world's conception and marketing of gender he changed his mind?
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Old 11 January 2013, 09:48 PM
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Does it matter?

I don't think it's cute when five year olds have eyelash curlers. I think it's nauseating. But if they want to be princesses? There's absolutely no point discouraging it. Stay neutral, ask why, and then ask what else they want to be and be enthusiastic if it shows some courage or imagination. Better thinking they can be a princess and a judge than popping on a tiara and thinking that's that.
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Old 11 January 2013, 09:55 PM
Ryda Wong, EBfCo. Ryda Wong, EBfCo. is offline
 
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The issue with the whole "princess" culture tends to have more to do with the subcontextual gender ideology it encourages, which tends to be one of passivity, objectification, and heterosexuality.
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Old 11 January 2013, 10:00 PM
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Ryda, I doubt my 2 year old granddaughter has any of that in mind - she simply wants to be a princess!

Too many cartoons I guess. We had to convince her the other day that her new shoes WERE princess shoes, just without the sparkly.
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Old 11 January 2013, 10:01 PM
Ryda Wong, EBfCo. Ryda Wong, EBfCo. is offline
 
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Oh, it's not so much about your kid wanting to be a princess as it is what the accompanying princess narratives suggest to her.

With proper explication, that can easily be cancelled out.
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Old 11 January 2013, 10:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrokenBiscuit View Post
Does it matter?

I don't think it's cute when five year olds have eyelash curlers. I think it's nauseating. But if they want to be princesses? There's absolutely no point discouraging it. Stay neutral, ask why, and then ask what else they want to be and be enthusiastic if it shows some courage or imagination. Better thinking they can be a princess and a judge than popping on a tiara and thinking that's that.
Oh, sure. Some girls are going to want to be princesses and some won't. But this isn't the first article I've read about a parent who started out believing that gender was socially constructed and that THEIR kid was going to be some sort of experiment where no influence would ever corrupt him/her.

And when it doesn't work, invariably it's..."Oh, well I was wrong. Gender is inborn."
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Old 11 January 2013, 10:11 PM
Ellestar Ellestar is offline
 
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Speaking as someone who did want to be a princess, it's not necessarily about being "girly." It seems synonymous now, but even as I grew up in the 80s with liberal exposure to Cinderella, Snow White, and Sleeping Beauty, I didn't want to be a princess in the same way those ladies were princesses.

Being a princess, at least through the Disney lens, to me meant getting discovered for the extraordinary girl I was. It was my fantasy that I was Cinderella, but that years of backbreaking cleaning and being ordered around by my evil stepmother and sisters had made me the strongest person on earth. I was beautiful, too, but more important was the fact I could lift entire carriages and horses off the ground if I needed to. Then, what happened next is that the prince "discovered" me not because of some silly dance or because he found my shoe, but because I saved his life in some dramatic way. Basically, I was Buffy before I knew about vampire slaying.

Some girls (and boys) are drawn to the Disney princess culture because they like the frills and the sparkles. But that's really only the beginning. I think any parent that encourages their children to think beyond the "happily ever after" will see those children get creative when it comes to what would happen next for them in their own unique worlds that they build.
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Old 11 January 2013, 10:16 PM
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Don't get me wrong. I believe that people are essentially people. Gender's a big part of your life, but far from the most important thing about you. I despise the whole princess palaver and I completely despair at some of the expectations tiny little girls are exposed to. And I have no illusions that even if you're a female judge, the full force of societal contempt will come down on you if you're not also feminine and adherent to the unspoken social laws thrust upon you.

I'm just a cynic by this point. If they have any gumption, they'll grow out of it and if you crack down on their likes and dislikes, where does it end? Unless they start going for heroin chic, just gently question it, ride it out wait for their 18th birthday to embarrass them with their memories of demanding everyone calls them princess mcmuffin or whatever.
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  #10  
Old 12 January 2013, 12:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ellestar View Post
Being a princess, at least through the Disney lens, to me meant getting discovered for the extraordinary girl I was. It was my fantasy that I was Cinderella, but that years of backbreaking cleaning and being ordered around by my evil stepmother and sisters had made me the strongest person on earth.
This really nails it, I think. It's common for children of both genders to fantasize at times that they were adopted, and that their real parents (who are endlessly rich, and who love and miss their kids too much to ever lose their patience or deny them anything) will someday show up and take them away from chores, boredom, and "we can't afford that." Another common fantasy is being "discovered" as having some extraordinary talent, or inventing something brilliant or committing some incredible act of heroism, after which comes fame and fortune and the perfect life. I wouldn't say it's about passivity, entitlement, materialism, or submissiveness, but rather the entirely normal human desire to be special. I agree with Ryda that there's a lot of baggage associated with the whole Princess thing, but that's a larger cultural problem with the way we view and value women. Even if you could somehow raise a daughter to adulthood without her ever knowing what a princess was, she'd still be affected by those same harmful ideals.
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Old 12 January 2013, 12:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MapleLeaf View Post
Oh, sure. Some girls are going to want to be princesses and some won't. But this isn't the first article I've read about a parent who started out believing that gender was socially constructed and that THEIR kid was going to be some sort of experiment where no influence would ever corrupt him/her.

And when it doesn't work, invariably it's..."Oh, well I was wrong. Gender is inborn."
This is what drives me bonkers. The parents who say, "we never imposed gender roles on our kids, but what do you know, the boy plays with trucks and the girl dresses up like a princess, so there must be something to it." Totally ignoring all of society, and also all of their own--and their family's--unexamined biases.

One of my nieces is princess obsessed right now, and insists on wearing pink princess costume dresses whenever possible. Her parents don't tell her no, and kind of shrug and say she just likes it even though they don't encourage it. Now, I don't think they need to be saying no, but it isn't like the fact that all the grand- and great-grandparents are buying her these costumes and giving her heaps of attention for wearing them, and calling her "princess" when she does, has no effect on her.

I can't stand to be in regular baby clothes stores for more than about 10 minutes before smoke starts coming out of my ears. The "girl" clothes that have words on them say things that focus on passive traits and stereotypes, like being pretty, being a princess, being sweet, and wanting to go shopping. The "boy" clothes say things that focus on activity, destructiveness, and sports. Gender roles and expectations get put on children from the time they are born.
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Old 12 January 2013, 12:49 AM
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We just try to introduce cooler princesses, like Princess Nausicaš. ('Daddy, is Taranga Leela a real princess?' Of course, dear. So is Bender.)
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Old 12 January 2013, 12:54 AM
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This is what drives me bonkers. The parents who say, "we never imposed gender roles on our kids, but what do you know, the boy plays with trucks and the girl dresses up like a princess, so there must be something to it." Totally ignoring all of society, and also all of their own--and their family's--unexamined biases.
I had a two year old girl who put dresses on trucks. Children are not (or are rarely) androgynous and will sometimes adhere to gender roles despite their environment and it it can happen no matter how much a parent might fight against it.

Last edited by Sue; 12 January 2013 at 01:01 AM.
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Old 12 January 2013, 01:00 AM
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I never wanted to be a princess. I wanted to be a queen. Queens had power and could boss people around.

(I also wanted to be Robin Hood, Alice, a pirate, and a dog. Not all at once.)
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Old 12 January 2013, 01:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Sue View Post
I had a two year old girl who put dresses on trucks. Children are not (or are rarely) androgynous and will sometimes adhere to gender roles despite their environment and it it can happen no matter how much a parent might fight against it.
That's not what I'm saying. I don't think a parent should fight against their child conforming to gender roles if that's what the child wants--some kids will and some won't, to greater and lesser degrees. But there's no way to say that any individual child was just born to be a princess, and that society and gender expectations have nothing to do with it, because you aren't raising your child in a vacuum. And it's particularly galling when those parents use their child's conforming to gender expectations to say that girls in general are innately inclined to girly things and boys to boy things.
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Old 12 January 2013, 01:36 AM
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I never wanted to be a princess. I wanted to be a queen. Queens had power and could boss people around.

(I also wanted to be Robin Hood, Alice, a pirate, and a dog. Not all at once.)
I wanted to be Wonder Woman.
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Old 12 January 2013, 01:42 AM
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I also wanted to be a princess when I was very young - because I was under the impression that if you had a lot of money, then you automatically became royalty. In my mind, being a princess meant never having worry about rent or food or hearing my parents argue over money again. Fancy dresses and sparkly jewelry were what rich girls wore, so rich = princess.

I also wanted to be a dog, a bird, and a dinosaur.
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Old 12 January 2013, 02:19 AM
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I wanted to be a princess only because I like the idea of having a buffer of familiar servants preventing me from having to deal with strangers. I never was into frilly things and despised pink.

As far as the idea of wanting to be strong, I was fascinated by Ayla of The Earth's Children series by Jean Auel. Specifically The Valley of Horses, where she is entirely self-sufficient and alone (other than animal friends) for a few years.

Yeah, I guess I just didn't really want to have to deal with people if I could help it. I didn't care too much if it was because I was being taken care of or could entirely care for myself.
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Old 12 January 2013, 02:21 AM
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I can't remember ever wanting to be a princess - maybe I was deprived as I never saw Cinderella until I was an adult . I wanted to be a doctor from the time I was about 5 until I managed to fail chemisty in high school.
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Old 12 January 2013, 02:40 AM
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As far as the idea of wanting to be strong, I was fascinated by Ayla of The Earth's Children series by Jean Auel. Specifically The Valley of Horses, where she is entirely self-sufficient and alone (other than animal friends) for a few years.
Side note, but those books made me gag. Ayla was such an overly perfect super awesomeness Mary Sue- I kept expecting to see that she'd invented the jet engine and started cloning dinosaurs.
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