Free to be…?
ARE YOU FRICKING KIDDING ME?
Now that I’ve gotten that out of my system… Well, actually I haven’t. I’m afraid it’s time for yet another rant about how we as women are STILL being trained — and way too young, at that — to believe that our bodies and being pretty are our only truly marketable commodities in life. And I’m so OVER IT.
So apparently Highlights (remember reading their magazine in your pediatrician’s waiting room back in the day?) conducted a survey that revealed some shocking results — kids today have ideas about gender roles that are way closer to “Mad Men” than “Free To Be You And Me.” From the Washington Post and Care2Causes articles:
“There was a strong consensus from all respondents about what boys are better at doing. The highest response, sports (64.1%), was much higher than the next most common response, video games (3.9%). There was less of a consensus on what girls are better at, and the common answers included fashion/makeup (12.9%), cheerleading/gymnastics (10.2%), school (8.2%), cooking and cleaning (5.1%), and listening (3%).
In some of the specific answers, particularly when asked if girls are better at anything, the answers revealed some alarming assumptions… For instance:
Being pretty wearing stuff boys can’t wear and wear make up. Having a lot of pink.
In cleaning houses because boys don’t sweep very well like girls do.
Girls are better at wearing high heels.”
Paging Marlo Thomas and Mel Brooks — we need a “Boy Meets Girl” sketch triage team STAT!
Meanwhile, even some of the sources we’d like to turn to for empowerment are letting us down. Fantasy author Michele Lee wrote this exceptional article for io9, in which her seven year-old daughter responds eloquently to DC Comics’ sexed-up new version of their Teen Titans character Starfire. This excerpt from Lee’s conversation with her daughter speaks for itself:
“Do you think the Starfire from the Teen Titans cartoon is a good role model?”
*immediately* “Oh yes. She’s a great role model. She tells people they can be good friends and super powerful and fight for good.”
“Do you think the Starfire in the Teen Titans comic book is a good role model?”
“Yes, too. She’s still a good guy. Pretty, but she’s helping others all the time and saving people.”
“What about this new Starfire?”
“No, I don’t think so.”
“Because she’s not doing anything.”
“Is this new Starfire someone you’d want to be when you grow up?”
*she gets uncomfortable again* “Not really. I mean, grown ups can wear what they want, but…she’s not doing anything but wearing a tiny bikini to get attention.”
IMHO, Lee’s daughter is one of the lucky ones because she actually recognizes that not doing anything other than posing and showing off your body is *not* the end all and be all for a young woman. Someone needs to teach that to the girls on “Toddlers & Tiaras,” and the kids surveyed by Highlights, before it’s too late. There’s a whole world of opportunity out there for us, ladies — and the best of it doesn’t involve dressing like a pink-frosted prostitute while running a vacuum cleaner.
(I can’t believe I just had to write that in 2011. *le sigh*)