Monday, March 31, 2014

Talking Points #5 on Orenstein: Argument/Reflection

Peggy Orenstein argues that princess culture is marketed to young girls in a way that teaches them what it means to be female. Femininity is thus defined to young girls and boys as whatever they see in advertising and merchandise based off of toys and movies created by Disney, FisherPrice, MGA, Mattel, and more. In her book, Orenstein discusses this in relation to young girls' images of themselves, the effects is has on self-image and standards of beauty, the early sexualization in girlhood, and how parents are impacting the exposure their children have to princess culture. Orenstein closes in our readings with the question of why parents feel the need to amplify the differences between boys and it biologically driven? Are girls born loving pink and princesses? She concludes by leaving the audience with a lingering and eerie question: "what impact might this new seperate-but-equal mentality have on children's perceptions of themselves, one another, and their future choices? (p.53)"

I would like to discuss one of Orenstein's main points in detail here:

  •  The Princess Industry is damaging towards the image girls have of themselves and femininity: 

Orenstein brings up several examples of merchandise and industries that support this claim, such as:  1. The Disney Princess Industry, which supports female competition, the "have it all, be it all" mentality, and the "innocence" that parents want their children to keep as long as possible. 2. Bratz Dolls which combat this innocence with a sultry and edgy image of girls that defines "cool" as synonymous with "sexy" and as growing out of the "princess stage" and becoming less innocent. 3. American Girl Dolls which support materialism and consumerism by making their products so expensive, and leaving parents little choice but to choose their cheaper toy options, like Barbie and Bratz dolls. 4. Barbie dolls which support ridiculous beauty standards, and lost their once reputation as a new feminist product by (although making her figure less "sexy" and more achievable) limiting Barbie to all things pink and less career options.

All of Orenstein's examples and discussion of the new developmental stages created by companies (like the toddler and tween stages) had something in common that stuck out to me. Orenstein touched upon how young girls are now exposed to Barbie dolls and Princess Culture much sooner, making them identify "innocence" as a "baby" thing. Therefore, they grow out of their "baby stage" sooner, by playing with the "cooler" toys by their tween ages of 6 and 7. Once young girls leave this innocent stage that parents attempt to last as long as possible, their only other images of femininity are the hypersexualized ones of women in media and pop culture. Here, girls adopt and imitate two widely opposite images. Orenstein brings up Linsey Lohan who rebelled dramatically from the cute and innocent Disney world she was trapped in for so long to a suddenly very sexual one. This made me think of Miley Cyrus and other stars who were and are attacked for their sudden shifts out of the pure and innocent Disney world. These contrasting images don't just affect girls, though. I think we could look deeper into how these images affect male perceptions of women and the affect it has on rape culture. The innocent to sexy spectrum is shown to boys and girls and when girls imitate it, boys are shown that all girls have to be innocent and also sexual. I can argue that "secret education" taught through these texts ultimately support the virginity myth, and the idea that women are purse but also willing-- that they're always "asking for it".

Outside of the toy industry and the industries marketed at younger audiences and parents, I began to think about businesses that supported this innocence but also sexy ideal that's marketed for a young adult/adult, or specifically teenager audience, and I immediately thought about Victoria's Secret. Their "PINK" brand and "Angel" lingerie line proudly model (haha) the innocence factor, but their products include lacy bras and underwear displayed by able-bodied, extremely thin, attractive women. What do you guys think about this?

Lastly, I personally couldn't relate to this article very well, because my mom kept me from Princess merchandise, American Girl Dolls, Bratz, etc. pretty well and I recall reading specific books like this and this. I suggest you all check them out!:)

My question for the class is the same Orenstein asks at the end of our readings: "what impact might this new seperate-but-equal mentality have on children's perceptions of themselves, one another, and their future choices? (p.53)" Let me know in the comments below! Do you think you've seen any possible impact on yourself or others? Also, do you know of any good examples of merchandise, books, TV shows, etc. that fight princess culture and define a better model for gender roles?

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Talking Points #4 on Exhibit Outline: Teen Pregnancy

For my Midterm Project, I will be doing Teen Pregnancy in regards to history, discourse, and policy. My focus will be to challenge dominant discourses of teen pregnancy by suggesting a more positive outlook on teen pregnancy that could be achieved through more support systems in institutions and family life, a better representation of teen pregnancies in popular culture, and avoiding negative language about teen parents (immature, irresponsible, slut, etc). This positive outlook could lead to a shift of the image of teen parents, and possibly even the teen pregnancy birthrates.

I'm thinking about doing a poster with 5 pregnant teenagers displayed, each representing diversity through different genders, races, classes, etc. Each of these teens will also represent a different time period, and I want to display my information on their pregnant stomachs some how, but I'm not sure how to properly display my info...thoughts?

Some of the sources I plan on using are:






I also plan on pulling from our Gilbert piece, because he discusses trends in teens and sex and marriage: "From the middle of World War II into the 1960s, adolescent behavior changes abruptly and distinctly in several categories: sex and marital behavior, work habits, consumption, and attitudes to peer institutions." (p.17)

Here are some info graphics I've found: