I have two boys. And I’m thrilled. As it was once put to me, when you have a boy you don’t need to worry about everyone else’s penis, you just need to worry about your son’s.

True.

My guys are only 4 and 2, but in a decade I’ll be glad to worry about just 2 boys instead of a locker room full of them.

There’s another reason I’m glad I have boys – the pink princess thing.

The princessification of our girls flows right alongside the mass marketing to boys of Transformers and Star Wars and Cars. Marketers have distilled the gender types into such specific descriptions that we now live in a black and white (blue and pink) world when raising our kids.

Girls are princesses, boys are warriors. Disney likes it like that, in 2009 they made nearly $4B off their princess brands alone.

Still, Riley would like things to change. I mean, why can’t girls have superhero toys and boys have princess toys?

Lego made headlines last week when it announced it was releasing female friendly sets. That immediately led to the questions of “when was Lego not female friendly?”

My niece and son played on Christmas morning for hours with a traditional set of red, blue and green blocks and not once did she pine for something pink.

The princess model creates a world where Barbie says “math is hard” and people like the Kardashians are role models. Princessing our daughters grooms them for Toddlers and Tiaras and teaches 5 year olds to label their 3 year old rivals as “hookers.”

Dr. Melanie Waters, lecturer in English literature and specialist in feminist theory at Northumbria University, absolutely has a problem with the princess culture. “[Princess dolls] are promoting a very narrow and prescriptive view of femininity, and one that ought to be outmoded in the 21st century,” she tells Ebner. “I think they are regressive. They encourage girls to be passive, and to nurture. There’s an aggressive focus on beauty, hair accessories and other images that promote the idea that girls should be concerned with their appearance”.

From an early age, girls are being socialised, it seems, for the caring, soft “feminine jobs” that perpetuate gender stereotypes, job segregation, and lower pay rates.
[Jezebel]

I’m not wanting us to go off the gender deep end by raising a completely neutral child as one couple recently made headlines by announcing this past year, but let’s not stick them in completely separate boxes.

There needs to be balance. I wear pink shirts, as do my sons. I’ve picked him up from school with pigtails and a tutu on because other kids were trying it. My 5 yr old niece asked for tools for Christmas so she could woodwork with her dad. Why can’t we just follow their lead instead of determining their future for them?

Now there is argument to be made that princessing our girls is no more likely to turn them into D-List celebs with a sex tape than Transformers is to turn our sons into machine gun toting maniacs. Active parents who put education and environment above all else will be the guiding forces of our children.

How do you feel about the pink princessification of our daughters?

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3 Comments

  1. Valerie December 27, 2011 at 6:20 pm

    I once gave my neice a book called Princesses Wear Hiking Boots or some such thing, about all the rough and tumble stuff you can still do even when you’re a princess. With 2 brothers she’s learning well all the cool stuff a girl can get into and is quite able to superfly a brother even in a shiny frock.

    I grew up a tomboy, playing with that pinkless lego. It took me a long time to figure out I could be stong and bold and wild and still have that sense of beauty and softness and sparkle being a chick brings to things.

    We need both, courage and a sense of beauty, for the girls AND the boys.

  2. danyelle December 27, 2011 at 6:45 pm

    My daughter was darthvader this year for halloween and requested spy gear for christmas…we have always allowed her to be free with her interests…she has faced some grief at school in kindergarden but was blessed to have a kindergarden teacher that races motorcross in her off season. I found it helped her feel much better about her interests and not to be afraid to be different. I think that as parents we often allow bias to form our children, I find a lot of girls are only exposed to “girl” toys, “girl sports/ hobbies like Dance instead of letting them explore everything. We are expecting are second girl this march, one only wonders what she will be into. My daughter has her own tool kit to work with her Dad.

  3. Amy December 27, 2011 at 7:12 pm

    I like your conclusion that there has to be balance, and particularly your point that education and guidance is the ultimate decider of our children’s fate. I resisted the princess pull (as a tried and true feminist, working single mother), however there is (believe it or not) some nature underlying all that nurture of the princess culture. I have seen it happen in my own and other households, where girls are naturally drawn to pink, frilly things and boys are naturally drawn to blue dump trucks (of course there are many kids like Riley who buck the trend). But, I bought my daughter lego and trucks to play with alongside pink dolls and she went for the pink dolls right from the beginning with no urging from me. Same with the EZ Bake oven (which also reinforces domestic stereotypes of women), but that’s what makes her happy. I have dressed her in practical, non-stereotyping clothes since she was a toddler, yet what catches her eye? The impossibly fussy, sparkling pink dresses and costumes. I could only resist it so long before surrendering to my daughter’s own value system. It’s what she likes – so who am I to force my feminist, gender-stereotype resistant ways upon her? I say, as long as she sees her strong, capable mother out in the work force (she’s been to work with me often), fixing things around the house and generally taking care of business as confidently as any man… then that’s more important than whether she plays with Barbie or Superman. Nobody’s message is stronger than mine; through modelling and education we can counteract the negative parts of princess culture, while reinforcing the positive. There have been some positive messages rolled into it in the past 30 years or so… Rapunzel and Tiana are not Snow White and Cinderella. And Barbie has been a Muskateer as well as a princess. We have made some progress afterall.
    And I’m guessing that Riley’s rant was a word-for-word repetition of something she overheard her parents saying. My daughter repeats my rants too.

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