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Feminism: Sex and gender discussions

whats wrong with being a princess?

21 replies

pregnantpause · 25/02/2012 08:05

My mil has asked me why I don't like dd being called princess- I can't find an articulate answer to her question. Dd is struggling atm with girls bullying her for being 'boyish' and I'm questioning whether this might not be happening if I'd given her more 'girlish' toys and clothes, if I'd let her be a little princess. Yuk.

Can anyone give me a good reason Not to just go to Claires and pink my dd up?

OP posts:
AThingInYourLife · 25/02/2012 08:11

Princesses (in popular culture) are weak, vain and spoilt.

They are valued entirely for their looks.

They don't do things, they are things.

Sorry your DD is being bullied :(

What does she say about it? Would she want to go to Claire's and buy loads of pink crap?

If it would make her feel better (not your MIL) I might do it. But I wouldn't want to give her the dangerous and false message that giving in to bullies means they leave you alone.

PattiMayor · 25/02/2012 08:20

Being a princess (in popular culture) is about passivity. Princesses have no control over their own destiny and are usually men's possessions. They are married off to men against their will by their fathers and then their fate is sealed unless a handsome prince comes along to rescue them. Without men, they are nothing, spending their days trailing around towers, doing pointless busywork.

If I had a DD I would not want her being a princess either. How old is your DD?

StewieGriffinsMom · 25/02/2012 08:24

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Dustinthewind · 25/02/2012 08:29

I've just ordered it SGM, Amazon had run out of stock the last time you mentioned it and so it's been on my wishlist. Arriving soon. Smile

pregnantpause · 25/02/2012 08:33

Dd is four. Just started reception. She doesn't really understand what's happening, and keeps asking me if she is a boy, asking me to do her hair 'like a girl' and asking 'are these girls clothes' etc. Because I haven't raised her to see a gaping difference between boys and girls. She's not wearing clothes bought in the 'boy' section but she's not wearing pink sequins flowers and bows.

I just find it so depressing that these little girls are already expressing their perceived difference to boys. Already they are choosing not to play trains because that's for boys etc. What hope is there?

OP posts:
Pozzled · 25/02/2012 08:52

I agree with the comments about princesses being passive, basically just property of the men- their sole purpose is to look pretty and no other personal qualities are valued.

Your post saddens me. I wonder if my own DD1 will be facing the same thing soon. She is 3.6, her favourite colour is blue and she wears a lot of 'boys' tops. She's already had one or two comments from others at nursery. It's awful that children are expected to fit stupid stereotypes and made to feel uncomfortable or unhappy if they choose not to.

PattiMayor · 25/02/2012 08:55

My DS is the same pregnantpause. He's 4 too and he is very concerned to ensure that the toys he chooses are boys toys which is something he's never been concerned about before he started school. It's really depressing and very sad too, especially if it's upsetting your DD.

I just keep telling him that boys and girls can do whatever they want to do and that there is no such thing as boys toys and girls toys - children can play with whatever looks fun to them. I'm not sure I'm having a lot of impact, feel like I'm in a tiny canoe, paddling against a great wave of sexist toy marketing :(

StewieGriffinsMom · 25/02/2012 08:56

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

pregnantpause · 25/02/2012 09:30

Stewie- you'd get a bit of money today if you were on commision- I've just ordered it too.

Patti- Thats exactly what I'm doing with dd atm, if she asks, is that a boys toy? I ask is it your toy? and when she says yes, I advise that as she is a girl and it is her toy, it is a girls toy. But when you are paddling this hard already what will it be like when their 6-7-12- etc. I'm in for years of this soul destroying fight to raise my dds.

World book day is coming and of the 6 other girls I know in the class, three will be cinderella, one snow white, a tinkerbell and a mermaid. I was sending dd as a cat (Mog) but now I'm not sure as its genderless and all the other little girls will be pricesses and I dont want her to stand out.

We have a pirates and princeses party to go to at the end of the month- she wanted to be a pirate, and ive made a costume but I'm questioning whether sending her as a pirate is cruel and just aking for the other girls to bully her.

OP posts:
WidowWadman · 25/02/2012 09:46

I'm so glad that this is not an issue for us (yet) - despite being in contact with lots of other children, just because of nursery. My daughter turned 3 in December but only just about started to realise that "boy" and "girl" cannot be used interchangeably for "child".

On some days she likes wearing dresses, on others trousers, sometimes hair just open, sometimes pigtails and "pretties", whatever takes her fancy. She has a gruesome pink fairy costume she loves, but she'll team that with a viking sword shouting "I'm the king of the castle"

Her nursery is certainly not reinforcing stereotypes at all, which I'm glad about.

To the OP - from how I remember my childhood my guess is that the bully girls will not stop, even if you throw the whole of Claire's at your daughter. They're looking for something to pick on, and if that's removed they'll find something else. They possibly even will be bestest mates for a while, to then just turn against her for whatever ridiculous reason. So there's no point in trying to make her conform to evade bullying. What you need to try is to encourage her to stand up to it, and stick to what she likes.

Nyac · 25/02/2012 09:48

Think you should talk to the teachers/nursery assistants. Why are they letting this go on amongst four year olds of all people. Four is far to young to even be thinking about how someone looks.

It also might be worth talking to some of the other mothers. These little girls aren't picking up their attitudes from nowhere.

Pozzled · 25/02/2012 10:15

I would let her go as a pirate to the party if that is what she wants. Maybe have a word with the parents of the birthday boy/girl beforehand so that they can be prepared to jump in with some compliments on her amazing costume. Oh and read her 'The Night Pirates' as well, so that if anyone says 'Girls can't be pirates' she can argue that they can, and she's read a book about girl pirates!

My DD has a similar invite, to a 'superheroes and princesses' party. I haven't yet asked her what she wants to wear, but I'll follow her lead. She has another party the same weekend which just says 'superheroes' so we'll probably need a superman costume anyway!

69postssofar · 25/02/2012 10:20

PregnantPause- my DD has a pirate princess costume and she has never had any negative comments about it being either too piratey for a girl or too girly for a pirate, the best of both worlds perhaps?

She is generally very 'girly' because given a choice she will often, but not always, choose the pink, sparkly option. She will also on occasion put on her combat fatigues and join in a Nerf war or dress as a Power Ranger.

In fact at this moment she is wandering round with her combat trousers on her head Confused and a light sabre and is calling herself Jah jah Binks!

Her brother will also sit and play with the Barbie house or the Ponies, so I really don't see that any of this has to be a problem for the child, it is parents trying to prove a point that make it awkward for their child.

I know of several very 'pretty' little boys in DD's class who she presumed were girls when she first met them (she didn't know that their names were boys' names and many girls in her class wear trousers). She was thoroughly confused when she kept calling them 'she' and being told that they were actually a 'he'. In that situation its understandable that a 5 year old might say something insensitive like " but you look like a girl?!" as kids that age are not known for their diplomacy and maybe this is what is perceived as bullying, not anything malicious but just confusion?

StewieGriffinsMom · 25/02/2012 10:22

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

PattiMayor · 25/02/2012 10:29

I absolutely don't think you should encourage her to cave in to ridiculous peer pressure. Make her proud of who she is and if that is going against the tide, then so be it.

I think the very worst thing you could do would be to capitulate.

I think advertising aimed at kids is hugely responsible for all this. Until we had Freesat last year, my DS had never seen ads aimed at kids. But they are all really really gender-stereotyped. Children who have Sky kids channels in their homes tend to come out with this kind of crap a lot earlier IME.

LurcioLovesFrankie · 25/02/2012 10:32

DS has just turned 4, and in the last 3 months has really started to care about whether colours/toys/clothes are boys' stuff or not (after several years when pink was his favourite colour). I take the "only important question is whether it's a fun toy", so we've spent part of this morning playing with my old dolls' house and the set of dolls he got for Christmas.

I takr comfort from 3 things. (1) According to Lise Elliott in Pink Brain, Blue Brain, the "gender policing" phase of childhood is at its worst at this age - unless parents really reinforce restricted gender roles, his views should loosen up again as he gets older (hope this reassures the poster above who worried what our DC would be like at 7). (2) The later we as parents can delay this phase, the less likely children are to grow into adults with strongly stereotyped beliefs about gender (can't remember where I read this, but I'm pretty sure it was a serious study rather than the DM). So having got him to 3 3/4 before gender policing set in, I feel we're doing not too badly (not sure what's happened recently - his nursery is v. good on this, and other parents there are laid back - lots of the boys like pink, including one whose dad is an instructor at the local army base, drops his DS off while wearing camoflage fatigues, and is totally laid back about the love of pink). (3) Whatever social influence have got at my DS, they haven't done a very thorough job. Recently in the local library he turned his nose up at a dvd of Mulan, only to take Angelina Ballerina home instead.

Franziska · 25/02/2012 14:38


"Princesses (in popular culture) are weak, vain and spoilt. They are valued entirely for their looks. They don't do things, they are things."

Look at Kate Middleton, it's not just popular culture

TheSinglePringle · 26/02/2012 15:01

I was brought up as a child as were my brother's and sisters. I was very much a boy growing up. I wore trainers, tracksuits and football tops. I hated anything like princesses and pink. I wasn't told that I was wrong or anything. I used to dress my brother's up as girls and have them show my mum and dad and nothing was said. They used to just laugh.

My son is 2 and likes to nail nails painted and push prams and pretend babies. Im not going to force him to play with just cars and just tools. I have a sister a few month younger then him so when he comes to mine she plays with cars and tools as well.

I was the girl who went to princess and pirate parties as a pirate and I never got mick taken out of me for it. You will be surprised by how many girls turn up as pirates. There move fun then princesses [smiles]

Flimflammery · 26/02/2012 15:17

OP: I feel your pain. My DD is 4 and, having grown up playing with her brother's cars, trains, etc., now loves, not just princesses but Disney princesses (bleurgh) - and don't even get me started on Barbie. She brought home a library book from school the other week on Disney princesses - Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, etc. I was really appalled - in every single story the princess did absolutely nothing except clean up, be good and sweet, and wait for a prince to rescue her. So I bought her Princess Smartypants as an antidote, but I think she's a bit young to understand it.

The princess-loving does come at least partly from peer pressure, but also I think just wanting to be 'special' and 'pretty' and trying to work out what being a girl is. I really really hope it's just a phase. Older girls I know have grown out of princesses and Barbies and don't like pink any more.

I think nostalgically of when she was two and was obsessed with Bob the Builder and diggers.

TeiTetua · 26/02/2012 15:32

Once upon a time, there was a beautiful princess who liked to play with trucks.

I think she lived happily ever after, though some people would still like to chop off her head.

chipmonkey · 26/02/2012 16:01

To be perfectly honest, I would be addressing the bullying issue with the teachers/parents involved. Your dd should not have to conform to a stereotype in order to avoid being bullied. I knew a little girl who refused to even go down the pink aisle in the toy store and I have to say I admired her for being herself! She was four.

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