Grrrls Raising Girls, vol. 2

This weekend, Lola was showing her Beauty and the Beast Squinkies (AKA Little Brother Choking Hazards) to her grandpa.  She said “This one is the princess.”  And Grandpa said “Just like you are.”  To which she replied “I’m not a princess; I’m Lorelai.”  And it made me feel a little bit proud of her.  How nutsy is that!?

There are several sides to the whole Princess thing.  And I know that just typing that makes me sound like the world’s most obnoxious parent.  I can hear people everywhere saying “There don’t need to be any SIDES to the ‘whole Princess thing’ you wack job.  Find something more important to over-analyze.”  And well, that’s definitely one side that I can see some merit in.  But I’m gonna talk about it anyway.

Why does everyone seem to assume that the pinnacle of happiness for little girls is to be princess-like?  I’m sure this was discussed ad nauseam when the book Cinderella Ate My Daughter came out.  I actually haven’t read the book, and I probably should.  I also missed all the hoopla, so I didn’t read all of the much more eloquent discussions of the topic.  I only know my own feelings and experiences.  And I see several sides.

Now, part of the reason I haven’t read the book is that I can see where some people can be a little psycho about this.  I mean, little girls like to play princess; grown ups like to encourage it; what’s the problem?  It’s just silly stuff.  Have we REALLY come to this, now, with parents being in a huff over every flippin thing?  I can see that side.  I really can.  I am not going to dress down every poor well-intentioned person who calls Lola princess or buys her princess stuff.

But I am biting my tongue.

Here’s why.  Try not to roll your eyes too hard.  Your face might stick like that.

Basically, I don’t think princesses are particularly good role models.  I mean, in pretty much every instance I can think of, they mostly spend their time being rescued by men, or told what to do by men, or looking for a man, etc.  Tangled is a big hit in our house.  Which is not entirely Lola’s doing; I love that movie and that damn “I’ve Got a Dream” musical number is INFECTIOUSLY HAPPY!  But even that one- she needs a boy to come along to make her realize she can leave the stupid tower.  Princesses are also representative of a very narrow view of beauty and femininity.

There’s something more to it for me, though.  Something to do with the assumption that all girls aspire to be princesses and that’s it.  It’s the stereotypical gender role thing that pisses me off.  I have had people dismiss my suggestions of, say, pirate books as “for boys” in favor of something pink and princessy.  But Lola likes pirates.  She also likes many many other genres of toys and books and whatnot.  Some of them are “girly,” some of them are not, but she is much too complex to be reduced to Girl = Princess.

Now, Lola certainly has princessy stuff.  It started with a hand-me-down Cinderella dress.  My very generous cousin passes on a lot of her girls’ things as they outgrow them, and when she gave me the Cinderella dress, I told myself to stop being such a weirdo and just give my kid the damn gown.  And then Lola repeatedly begged to wear it.  I’m not going to tell her No, obviously.  I just want her to make her own choices.  And sometimes she chooses princess stuff.  Maybe she is just inherently drawn to it.  Maybe her sizeable brain power is still no match for the marketing evil geniuses.

Over the years, mostly via gifts, she’s acquired some princess things, and she really likes them.  (It’s cute, too.  When she hangs out in her Princess tent with her Cinderella dress on and her hair in a bun?  Holy Super Adorable!)  Fortunately, she’s also been gifted lots and lots of other toys.  She hasn’t been pigeonholed.  My favorite is that two separate people have now given her swords.  This particular thing warms my heart, because the whole “medieval” thing is FULL of troubling gender issues, and I love that her loved ones are subtly telling her she can enjoy wielding a sword just as much as wearing a gown.  She can even do both.

We went to Disney World last year.  Lola was just as content having lunch with Pooh and friends as meeting Snow White. 

Also, see? Piracy and swordplay:

IMG_1309.jpg

Not sure that the Dread Pirate Lola is going to be very successful with TWO hook hands, but don’t tell her.

I hear those days are numbered.  Apparently, if I take her to Disney World again, I should be prepared for the ENTIRE trip to be about princesses.  Those damn Disney marketing people are RUTHLESS.  So maybe she will want to spend half the day at the Bippity Boppity Boutique, and she’ll shun Donald Duck.  I suppose that I will bite my tongue.  But I’ll silently beam with pride if she tells them she’s not a princess, she’s Lorelai.

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Exposed midriffs no longer a job requirement

I’ve always enjoyed baseball.  Beyond that, I’ve never been much of a sports person.  And then I caught on television one day the coolest thing!  Women’s beach volleyball.  Those women are AWESOME!  I was COMPLETELY sold when I saw this commercial.  Can any girl watch that and not want to be them!?  Not I, I’ll tell you that. 

Sadly, my athletic capabilities fall somewhere just short of mediocre.  Okay, I’m actually even worse.  Daria would kick my ass at volleyball. (Please tell me I’m not the only one who remembers Daria.)  So, sadly, I’ll have to force my daughter to play volleyball.  I’m just kidding about forceing her; why don’t we say “suggest.” Strongly.  Okay, I MAY have considered what would suit a professional volleyball player when picking her name (and almost went with C.J. instead because of it.)

So when my homepage came up this morning mentioning an article about women’s volleyball, I clicked on it right away, slow computer be damned.  And 6 minutes later, when the article finally loaded (y’all have no idea how long it takes me to do stuff on this computer.  You should feel VERY SPECIAL when I bother!) it was this one.  Apparently, for our Olympic athletes, bikinis are no longer required.  I didn’t know they were REQUIRED before, but it made me a little miffed to learn.

Now, don’t get me wrong, if I were one of those women, I would LIVE in a bikini.  Seriously, grocery shopping?  Dining out?  Taking in a movie?  Bikini. Bikini. Bikini.  But I would do it because I WANTED to (have you SEEN these women?)  I’m not sure that basically requiring women to wear a bikini to work* was something that should have lasted as long as it did, meaning right up till now.  I’m sure most of them want to, but REQUIRED?  For a job that doesn’t inherently require it?  That’s kinda sexist.   

But, we’re past that now, and other cultures who couldn’t compete due to ideas about modesty are now more likely to participate.  Yay.  The world needs more kick-ass, Amazonian women for me to look up to.  And since my ONE apprehension about forcing encouraging Lola to be a volleyball player was the shorty short shorts, I now can rest assured that “Shorts of a maximum length of [1.18 inches] above the knee” will be accepted.  And I know she’ll be DYING to be the only one in the Amish-wear.  🙂

*Dear Employer, my coworkers would like to sincerely thank you for not requiring me to wear a bikini to work.  Love, pasty, flabby mother-of-two with copious stretch marks.

Grrrls Raising Girls

A while back, I had this idea to start a blog because I wanted to have some discourse with other people about the challenge of raising a girl in our society.  I thought I could call it Grrls Raising Girls, and I would discuss a topic and then I could hear enlightening responses from all kinds of people.  I’m not sure why I thought I was going to just instantly have all these many, varied readers who were going to be so eager to share their comments with me. 

Anyway, now that I have THIS blog here, I thought maybe I could make this a sort of occasional feature.  But I keep mulling it over, and I can’t come up with a great season opener, so to speak. (I love baseball lingo.  I think half the reason I love baseball is because of the lingo.  I have romantic ideals about baseball.  Not romance in the lovey sense; you know what I mean.  Also- watch Moneyball!  If you like baseball.  Which is probably zero percent of my current reading audience.  Not to mention those who hate Brad Pitt.  Jerks.    HOLY TANGENT!!!!  Can you see how I’m having trouble trying to start up this feminism topic?) 

So, I thought what I would do is just make a post.  You know, just go ahead and…break the ice?  Look, I’m trying desperately to think of a phrase that means the same thing as “pop my cherry” without having to use that phrase, because I don’t like it.  But, well, too late.  And it might be rambly or bad, but maybe it will get better with the next one.

Bet y’all are totally jazzed after that setup, RIGHT!?

So the first thing I have to say about feminism is that it’s not evil or even lame.  Seriously.  I know 98% of people hear that word and immediately their mind goes somewhere negative.  And, this is a BIG topic, but let me talk about that.

There is a great website called Tomato Nation.  Once upon a time, the author there wrote a fantastic essay called Yes, You Are.  Let’s look at an excerpt.

“Yes. You are. You are a feminist. If you believe in, support, look fondly on, hope for, and/or work towards equality of the sexes, you are a feminist. Period. It’s more complicated than that — of course it is. And yet…it’s exactly that simple. It has nothing to do with your sexual preference or your sense of humor or your fashion sense or your charitable donations, or what pronouns you use in official correspondence, or whether you think Andrea Dworkin is full of crap, or how often you read Bust or Ms. — or, actually, whether you’ve got a vagina. In the end, it’s not about that. It is about political, economic, and social equality of the sexes, and it is about claiming that definition on its own terms, instead of qualifying it because you don’t want anyone to think that you don’t shave your pits. It is about saying that you are a feminist and just letting the statement sit there, instead of feeling a compulsion to modify it immediately with “but not, you know, that kind of feminist” because you don’t want to come off all Angry Girl. It is about understanding that liking Oprah and Chanel doesn’t make you a “bad” feminist — that only “liking” the wage gap makes you a “bad” feminist, because “bad” does not enter into the definition of feminism. It is about knowing that, if folks can’t grab a dictionary and see for themselves that the entry for “feminism” doesn’t say anything about hating men or chick flicks or any of that crap, it’s their problem.

“It is about knowing that a woman is the equal of a man in art, at work, and under the law, whether you say it out loud or not — but for God’s sake start saying it out loud already. You are a feminist.

“I am a feminist too. Look it up.”

Well said, Sars.  🙂

Why is the notion so prevalent that feminism is such a BAD thing?  I’d like to blame it all on Rush Limbaugh.  But of course, there are so many more people promoting that idea.  The idea that “feminist” translates exactly to “radical, man-hating bitch.”  And anyone who uses the word feminism is going to now be preachy and insufferable and you have permission to just stop listening because, Hello! Women aren’t better than men!, and of course that’s all that feminism means.

Except, that’s not what feminism means at all.

Women today run like Hell from the term feminist.  And that’s a shame.  Because, contrary to popular belief, feminism isn’t a useless, antiquated notion. Just look at what’s been going on politically.  And if I am going to raise a daughter in this world, I want there to be plenty of people who believe in, support, look fondly on, hope for, and/or work towards equality of the sexes.  And I don’t want those people to be afraid to say so.  Those people are feminists, and I wish they’d realize it and say it out loud.

Love this quote