Yep, two more reblogs that have to do with girls and consumer culture. Plus expectations we have for girls and women.
The first deals with Disney and how those shows are influencing girls to be cruel, bullies, and buy into a sexist, demeaning stereotype that girls only want to be seen as pretty and that success relies on physical beauty.
For me, growing up, Disney was mostly movies. They didn’t have TV shows and a channel until I was in high school. And it was largely repeats (nothing really original) and showing their movies constantly. But then I grew up mainly watching crime shows and 70s and 80s comedies, such as Bob Newhart and M*A*S*H and The Commish. Really dating,myself, I know. Disney was still Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck plus Aladdin and Lion King. Like I said, movies.
The only kid shows I remember were Wallace and Ladmo which was specific to Phoenix and really awesome and of course Sesame Street. I also remember watching Nickelodeon with such shows as Hey Dude!, You Can’t Do That On Television, and Salute Your Shorts. I remember cartoons such as Garfield and Friends, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, G.I.Joe, and others I can’t remember. But I knew they were fake and not real.
Even if I did want to be the female version of MacGyver. Yes, watched that show too, especially since brains and duct tape rules the day instead of guns.
I remember from about second grade onward wanting to be known for being smart. All, at least most of, my classmates wanted to be smart. While unfortunately by third grade most of those girls thought boys had cooties (I never did; my friends were all boys at this point), they didn’t give up wanting to be smart. They didn’t need boys to figure out if they were smart or not. That was something they could figure out on their own.
I never lost that desire to be considered smart, genius even, though it was challenged and squashed more and more as I grew older and didn’t perform to my mother’s excessively unreasonable expectations. But I didn’t pick this up from watching TV.
So now we have a generation of programming that says girls shouldn’t be smart or kind or helpful. Girls are to be vapid, vain, cruel, and mean. They should wait around to be rescued, not rescue themselves. And girls are picking this up and reinforcing it in their sisters and friends through shaming and through social media.
When I was kid and even in my teen years, computers were around, I grew up with them but they weren’t the center of my life. They were in one room and largely used to type up essays and maybe a little research on the Web. But that was it. TV was limited as well but more through lack of channels and variety than anything else. And I watched a lot of TV growing up. I mainly watched crime shows and sci-fi with the occasional cartoon (yes, I watched Pokemon and Digimon in high school but mainly because it was cute and cheesy). Cell phones were big and expensive. Kids still played outside, for the most part.
To put this in perspective, I graduated high school in 2000 and had my first college degree in 2004. While I used email and the Web, I sill did a lot of communicating in person. Social media like Facebook and Twitter didn’t exist. MySpace was lame and blogging was just taking off. Most often interactions and those of my peers were face to face. If we needed to call about being late or wanting to know something, we used a landline or left a note. Texting didn’t kick off until I was back from Belfast and that was 2003.
So communication and how and means have changed. Cyber bullying is on the rise which isn’t monitored as much and is not as well understood as, what I call, in person bullying. Girls learn bad behavior from TV because they see it, the actresses they admire “are doing it”, and the line between fantasy and reality is so blurred with all the social media they are bombarded with that they bully in person and then go online and bully more. They also are able to shame someone with a larger effect. Calling a girl a name in person, then going on Facebook and Twitter and posting about that girl you just name called, other girls read those posts, engage in name calling, and the vicious cycle grows. It doesn’t help that put downs and verbal abuse have become de riguer, especially with Simon Cowell popularizing it on American Idol.
Basically, being rude is considered acceptable behavior. And that talent and ability don’t really matter as long as a girl is pretty and popular. So Disney and other shows and networks are sending damaging messages to out girls and getting away with it because it’s “entertainment.”
I thankfully.don’t have to watch their garbage because for one, I don’t have a working TV, and two, it’s on cable which I won’t pay for. So I live without TV. Besides, I’ve had the serious misfortune of having to sit through episodes of Hannah Montana and other shores while babysitting. I would label them cruel and unusual punishment and should be banned under the Eighth Amendment. There was little acting and definitely no talent.
The second reblog is about the lack of diversity in female protagonists in Young Adult fiction, especially in dystopian literature. Heck, I never read much YA fiction growing up. I found adult fiction much better.
Female protagonists in fiction overall, I think are lacking. Sci-fi and fantasy tend to do better, largely I think because they are about pushing boundaries and they take place in worlds and universes that are not Earth. So there’s more freedom there. While there are more women, stereotypes are still at play.
Hair color, as mentioned in the post, plays a huge role, as does skin color. White girls with brown hair are the heroine of choice. Red heads are considered too hotheaded and blondes are too pretty. And we all know white is superior to any other ethnicity. And these are all stupid stereotypes that hurt girls.
Then you get publishers who whitewash their covers to make characters, well, white. Because, unfortunately, white sells and it’s that stupid ideology of white being superior. Though considering publishers are in it for the money, this isn’t surprising.
And yet, thankfully, women and girls are protagonists in stories where they get to save the world. Instead of just standing around and waiting to be rescued. Or waiting till some good looking guy shows up and she can finally get married (cause that’s girls are good for: being a trophy spouse) because romantic relationships solve everything. *rolls eyes* So there is hope but there is also much, much room for improvement.