Monday, February 11, 2008

Girl Power

This new girl power thing is perhaps the worst version of feminism I've ever seen. You know the one? The I-m-a-girl-with-all-my-precious-girlie-ways, and I watch sex and the city, and I-go-learn-pole-dancing-because-Im-such-a-badass, version.
There's a baby-teen version too and its evident in the marketing of the 'Little Princess Culture' that will encourage girls to grow into self-obsessed brats. The kind who go on TV to talk about what strong and beautiful women they are.
I'm a woman and I'm crying on TV because I've lost so much weight and had a makeover. Makeover, makeover, makeover. I have a right to look sexy and pretty and h o t.
I'm a princess. And I better not look a day older than 45.
Let me be seen deriving no satisfaction from any pursuit that does not involve me flogging my tired sexuality, legs, face or hair. I'm sick to death of it, I'm sick of my friends talking about it, I'm sick of being marketed products that promise to fix it all so I can be the woman I was always meant to be, I'm going to stamp on the credit card meant EXCLUSIVELY for today's woman and jump up and down like a mad feminist, Yeah.

Anyway, mid-rant I came across this interesting bit of information from the New York Times that makes me wonder about the roles we take on:

According to a study of how children ages 5 to 13 spend their time, by Isabelle Cherney and Kamala London, psychologists at Creighton University and the University of Toledo, respectively, and published in the journal Sex Roles, girls tend to become less stereotypical in their play as they age — choosing more neutral toys, sports and computer games — while boys remain emphatically masculine in theirs. There was one exception to that trend: television-watching. The viewing habits of girls become strikingly more feminine in their tween years.

Whether girlie or girlist, girls, because they’re allowed more latitude in their identities, can still be girls: Boys, on the other hand, must be boys — unless no one is watching. In another study of younger children, Cherney and London found that if ushered alone into a room and told they could play with anything, nearly half the boys chose “feminine” toys as often as “masculine” ones, provided they believed nobody, especially their fathers, would find out. That made me question whether any more expansive vision of girlhood can survive without a similar overhaul of boyhood, which, apparently, is not in the offing.