Monday, March 23

Sex and the Single Eight Year Old GIrl

Uh-oh.  You've known that this one was coming.  Hey, give me credit.  I made it 23 days.  

This is where you find out that I'm old.   This is where you find out that, deep in my heart, I am a baffling combination of conservative old-fashioned mom and radical lesbian feminist. How's that for a combo (hold the pickles, hold the lettuce)?  

Here's what I REALLY don't get.

Bratz dolls.  Redeeming features?  Anyone?

Tight, revealing, suggestive, clothing for little girls.   Pants or shorts for young girls with writing on the butt (could someone please explain to me why ANYONE would want strangers focusing their gaze on their six--or eight--or ten year old's butt?).  Black lace and thong underwear for children.  The total absence of any adventure or science related imagery on girls clothing.   

Hannah Montana, High School Musical, the Cheetah Girls, Britney Spears as programming and role models for five, six, seven year old girls.

Beauty pageants for children.  (or for adults, for that matter, but I'm getting off topic)

The baffling inability of Disney to produce a movie that does not have compulsory heterosexuality as its primary theme.

Denial that any of this makes a difference, despite plentiful research and evidence.

What I don't get the most is the abdication of parents.  

"That's what she likes!" (That's nice, or better yet...of course) 
"What can I do?" (You can say no)  
"It's the only thing she'll wear!" (Do you really think she is going to go to school naked?)  
"Who am I to tell her she can't watch that?" (You're the parent).

What else can you do?  Tell your kids about the deception of advertising.   Tell them it's a business.  Explain why all the movies have accompanying toys distributed through fast food restaurants.  Tell your kids, as one of my friends did, that if Disney (or Nike, or Nickelodeon) wants usto advertise their products, they can pay us, just like they would anyone else.  Short of that, we're not going to be walking billboards.  

In our house, since our daughter was tiny, every time the ads came on (which we avoided for many years with the help of PBS), we would laugh and say "We don' t need that!".  In pretty short order, she started saying the same.  When she got a little older, we explained that commercials made things look or work differently than they really did.   She is a permanent skeptic of all commercials.  It's not that hard.

Tell your daughters that it's okay to shop in the boy's department, since that's the only place they can find the same jeans they got in the girls department when they were four, and the only place they can buy a t-shirt that won't cut off circulation in their upper arms.  If it was okay at four, it's okay at six.  

In the end, people are going to buy what they buy, whether I get it or not.  But I can dream.  I can dream of the day when we all think of the potential long-term messages and ramifications of the seemingly insignificant choices we make in early childhood, and examine whether those messages match our values and goals.   Sure.  Of coure.  You're right.  It might not make any difference--you had Barbies and you turned out fine (well, all things considered).  Or it might make a difference--in many cases it does.  The important thing, to me, is to be able to defend your decisions and accept responsibility for fallout, if and when it occurs.

But really, stay away from those Bratz dolls.  Yick.


Jill said...

Here's what I don't get... Why call these dolls 'bratz', which implies these 'girls' are something out-of-the-ordinary, rebellious, and somehow different, when they are classically stereotypical (even 'hyper-stereotypical')in their femininity and (hetero)sexuality? Really, what is a brat; the girl who conforms or the one who doesn't?

Robin said...

I think of a brat not on the conformity spectrum, but more as someone (are brats always female?) who demands everything they want, and is obnoxious about their entitlement. These dolls are exactly that--girls who are focused on possessions, makeup, looking the "right" way (make me gag), flashy clothes, bling, etc. I don't know about their sense of entitlement (I mean, they're DOLLS), but it's hard to imagine real people who dress and look anything like that who don't come off as entitled, yes?

And the word "femininity" gets me too....even its "hyper" form. Is that femininity??

ConverseMomma said...

I am so with you on this one. My daughter is not going to play with plastic porn that sends the message that tarting it up is the way to be popular. Gag!

I want my daughter to know that looks are well and fine but what matters is her heart, and that damn fine mind of hers.

Audrey said...

Did you know that the "creator" of Bratz designed the line while at Mattel? I guess trying to out-Barbie Barbie. Then he left and went elsewhere. Barbie (Mattel) won $100 million in a lawsuit against Bratz. The headlines were awful, about girl fights, etc. Oy.

I'm so with you on this. And on the flip side, all the war toys for boys. Is it any wonder we live in such a violent society? Macho boys and "feminized" girls. Where are the parents, indeed! With their heads up their butts, is what I say.

Thanks for writing this.

Audrey said...

OK--check this out. I googled "brat definition girl" and found this: