to think a school party based on Cinderella is sexist and hardly positive promotion of women?

(146 Posts)
NewNameForThisThreadOnly Tue 20-Nov-12 17:23:06

I've name changed as this will out me.

DD's teacher read Cinderella as the class book last week. She is in Reception. I shuddered when she told me as I'm not a fan of stories where women are judged on their looks (ugly stepsisters, pretty Cinderella) and need to be rescued by a man.

Anyway, one week of reading a book that is morally questionable isn't going to hurt dd so I didn't say anything when the teacher told me at parents evening.

However, dd1 has come home today with a letter informing of a 'Fairytale ball' and the children are encouraged to go dressed as a fairytale character. When I read this, I thought ok, we can try and pick a positive role model for her to go as. However the letter also says the Ball is based on their Cinderella week and on the letter is a picture of (what I think is) the Disney prince and princess from Cinderella in all their finery holding hands. So dd (who has never had any inclinations towards pink and princess tat) now wants only to dress up as a princess and I quote "get married and live happily ever after" [anger]

Honestly I never thought I would be this annoyed but the more I think of it, the more disappointed in her (very nice) teacher . Am I in a time warp? Is this 1974? Shall I just tie dd to the sink now and tell her the brains in her head count for nothing and the way she looks and getting married are all that are important in life?

I'm trying to raise a strong and independent woman. I understand that playing with a barbie and dressing as a princess doesn't prevent me from doing that. But I really don't expect the school to be promoting those outdated ideals.

I am fully prepared to accept IABU, and I actually hope I am so I can let this go, but surely in this day and age they could have found a story where boys and girls are equal and looks don't come into it.

So AIBU? If so, why? If not, would you mention it at school?

Try to cook dinner and be outraged, that sounds like the title of a feminist tract!

NewNameForThisThreadOnly Tue 20-Nov-12 17:46:08

She has been given a free choice. But the message from school is so strong that she only wants to be Cinderella. Which is strange as she never had any inclination to do this before.

It's the same as giving girls only pink toys, or providing dressing up clothes where girls can be nurses but boys can be doctors IMHO.

What MrsTP said.

And for all of you saying she could be another character, what reaction do you think she is most likely to get at school at a party that they've been told is about Cinderella?

ps. Bet Disney are loving the way that schools are encouraging children to pester their parents for official Disney Princesses items!

NewNameForThisThreadOnly Tue 20-Nov-12 17:50:22

She isn't in a Princess stage. If she was, then fine. I would go along with it.

What has happened , is that she has been introduced to a negative role model from school (of all places) and this influence is now affecting the way she thinks.

I'm not questioning girls that want to dress up as princesses. I'm questioning the judgement of the school to place such emphasis on a role model that in no way promotes equality.

SingingSands Tue 20-Nov-12 17:52:59

When I was growing up and reading fairy tales with my mum, she taught me that the main character (the princess) was the hero of the tale. The princesses had to overcome hardships and work hard to get what they wanted, it wasn't handed to them on a plate. It was only because fairytales were written long ago that their main goal was "find a suitable husband" as that was the main role of women long ago. Mum also told me to look for the hidden meanings, e.g. your friends can become your family when your own family let you down (snow white) or to always keep sight of what you want, even when others try to take it from you (cinderella). I didn't grow up to be empty headed or tied to the kitchen sink. Fairytales can teach our kids more than "happily ever after".

Sorry if that was rambly, I'm on my phone and maybe not explaining myself very well...

BitOutOfPractice Tue 20-Nov-12 17:53:17

I think you may need to calm down a bit and do more cooking dinner and less being outrages grin

If you want a "Disney" princess who doesn't need rescuing, try Beauty and the Beast where Belle refuses to marry the town hunk because she wants to have adventures, goes out to rescue her father, bravely offers herself up to be imprisoned, and rescues the beast from his spell

Or Mulan - who goes off to war I think I may have snoozed through that one

NewNameForThisThreadOnly Tue 20-Nov-12 17:54:05

Thanks for the great list KurriKurri.

I'm tempted to take this in and give it to dd's teacher to balance out the impact of spending so much time on weak Cinderella I won't though

featherbag Tue 20-Nov-12 17:57:09

Erm, YABU and a bit... odd. I grew up loving the princess fairytales, including Cinderella, and I'm fully aware that I do not need rescuing by men. I'm happily married in a equal relationship, and in our house I'm the main breadwinner. As I am intelligent and was encouraged by my parents to think for myself, I can tell the difference between fairy stories and real life. And I still love fairy stories!

Adversecamber Tue 20-Nov-12 17:57:16

Cinderella was my favourite fairy tale as a child. I am a strong woman and was an active trade unionist involved with helping to write equality legislation for many years. Seriously I loathe sexism of any sort but you cannot shield your DD from it , you just have to explain situations and guide her.

NewNameForThisThreadOnly Tue 20-Nov-12 17:57:32

grin @ the name of a track!

Thank you SingingSands, I've been trying to find a way to turn Cinderella around in DD's head, to somehow find a positive. smile

RedHelenB Tue 20-Nov-12 17:57:41

I thought the main point of Cinderella was her kindness. And her step mother * sisters were ugly because they were unkind.

Fakebook Tue 20-Nov-12 18:00:41

It's just a bit of fun. I suspect all those objecting to girls and boys toy aisles will be coming along to support this atrocity, but I wouldn't really give a rats arse about it.

But if you turn that around RedHelen that means that ugliness is immoral and beauty is moral. Some children can already be a bit unkind to others who look different or 'ugly' so that message isn't awesome. I like Shrek where the true form of love is 'ugly'.

"It never affected me"

Maybe not. It's affected many other girls/women though. Is it not worth making an effort to reduce those numbers?

How many women out there remain in bad relationships because they think they need a man (need to be rescued)?
How many women think their worth is based only on their appearance (ugly sisters don't succeed)?
How many women think they have to wait for people to do things for them rather than doing it for themselves (Cinders waits for the Fairy Godmother and the Prince to make things happen = successful, the Ugly Sisters seek out the Prince and ask to try on the shoe = failure)?

Think this isn't a fairly common attitude? Think again. There are better role models for little girls.

If Cinderella was the exception to the norm for how girls get represented then that would be one thing. It's not though. And a Cinderella Ball is making poor little pretty Cinders the focus, and the aspiration.

A fairy tale ball would be great, it's the focus on a particularly gendered tale that sits wrong.

Growlithe Tue 20-Nov-12 18:12:15

My DD is in Reception. Whenever there is a fancy dress party in trot a classful of princesses.

Recently, the children were asked to dress as 'What you want to be when you grow up'. There were loads of doctors, nurses, policewomen, teachers, vets etc. Any one who wanted to be a princess, and yes there were a couple, were actually told by the other children that you can't be a princess in real life.

Even 4 yo have a grasp on reality you know.

You only have to look at the scary wedding industry to see how many women never grow out of the happily-ever-after, princess for a day, the wedding is the 'ending' myth.

It may well be harmless nonsense but why is it everywhere? There are reasons it is being marketed to our little girls.

RedHelenB Tue 20-Nov-12 18:15:50

I meant more in the beauty comes from within rather than kind people are pretty & bad people are ugly.

NewNameForThisThreadOnly Tue 20-Nov-12 18:17:52

"Even 4 yo have a grasp on reality you know" - Well yes that's my point isn't it? That my dd is old enough to understand the subconscious messages that are being fed to her.

Re: wedding. Absolutely.

Anyone ever heard a wedding day being described as a woman's chance to be a princess for a day? Still think it isn't aspirational? That it doesn't permeate society?

I know that's the message RedHelen but I wonder if children are sophisticated enough to get that rather than 'pretty = good, ugly = bad'. When Shrek tells Fiona she is beautiful, I think THAT comes across as the message. Not with Cinderella. Although i will admit I may have been beaten into submission by being forced to watch Shrek HUNDREDS of times. Thanks you Madagascar for saving me from Shrek repeat hell.

Goodness yes, MurderOfGoths (great name BTW). Princess for a day. <Shudders>

buggerama Tue 20-Nov-12 18:23:09

OP, you are making a big thing out of nothing. I want my girls to grow up as strong women not reying on men to rescue them too, but I also dont mind indulging them so they can wear pink princess outfits sometimes. I think you are making an issue out of this which could well backfire

LivvyPsMum Tue 20-Nov-12 18:24:02

Its a fairytale! She's not going to be scarred for life!

squeakytoy Tue 20-Nov-12 18:25:40

"What has happened , is that she has been introduced to a negative role model from school (of all places) and this influence is now affecting the way she thinks"

She is 4, for heavens sakes... I wanted to be a princess when I was 4.. by 6 I wanted to be an astronaut, and by 10 I wanted to be a rally driver...

You really do need to chill out a bit and relax..

I read and watched disney as I grew up, and all the old fairytales too, and it certainly didnt turn me into a subservient housewife.

If you daughter is strong minded, she will be strong minded, no amount of Sleeping Beauty or Cinderella will change that.

ll31 Tue 20-Nov-12 18:27:22

think you are overthinking it tbh.. but get some books of legends - celtic, english whatever that have strong woman characters and bring them in... really tho i think you can still immerse ur dd in your beliefs at this age...and hearing other views -albeit in story form-won't stop her hearing what you're saying

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