Friday, February 7, 2014

Redefining Girly: How Parents Can Fight the Stereotyping and Sexualizing of Girlhood, from Birth to Tween - Melissa Atkins Wardy

See, THIS is the problem with NetGalley, that your review copies are always expiring before you get around to writing about them, and because you don't take copious paper-notes but just put bookmarks on pages with interesting points, you're left with nothing but a vague idea that this wasn't the book you WANTED to read, but ended up being a Very Good Book after all.

Well done, then.

The book I want to read is one about reclaiming feminine pursuits, about how something like an obsession with fashion is only as vapid as something like an obsession with fast cars, but one seems much stupider than the other because it's stereotypically feminine. About how liking dolls is as (MORE, even) important and worthwhile as liking trucks. I want us to stop feeling like we have to justify our daughters by saying, Yes, she likes pink and pretend-cooking and art, but she ALSO likes pirates and bugs and dragons. Or, at least, I want it to stop feeling like we are justifying them, like we protesteth too much. I don't want to feel like the most socially interesting thing about Eleanor is her abiding fondness for dinosaurs, when she loves unicorns just as hard.

Who doesn't, though.

This is SORT of that. But it's more about how to think about and protect your children (daughters especially) from over-girlifying, in the negative sense. Over-princessing, over-Bratzing. And, unlike other books and articles I have read on the subject, instead of just being like, Talk to your daughters about why a Bratz doll is inappropriate (leaving me disinclined to use the phrase 'shameless street-walker' in front of a child but unsure how else to frame it), Wardy actually suggests rationale to offer. That doll's clothes doesn't look like she would be able to run and jump and play in them, and that's what we use our bodies for, to have adventures, so maybe let's try to find a doll who looks like she could keep up with you. That sort of thing.

And I had SO MANY PAGES bookmarked, because I'm just starting out on this. I'm only now realizing that I have to praise the strength of Eleanor's toddler legs as much as their adorable nommability (they are so nommable). We watch The Jungle Book and she loves the girl at the end, singing 'I will have a handsome husband, and a daughter of my own/And I'll send her to fetch the water, I'll be cooking in the home' and I'm like,

I will probably have to go buy this book, to keep it next to Cinderella Ate My Daughter and re-read them every year or so just to stay abreast.

ALL OF THIS TO SAY, I forget almost all of Redefining Girly because my brain is a sieve. But it is well worth a read, whatever the age your female offspring.

Eight caterpillars.


Amanda said...


Elisa Bergslien said...

Me too. Toys, clothing, everything has gotten so gender segregated and proscriptive it makes me nuts. A book that helps me have a better framework to discuss why I hate some of those toys or why that isn't a boy toy or girl toy would be lovely.

Elisa Bergslien said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
donttakemybooksaway said...

I want to read books like these so that my daughter (10 mos) can grow up with a mom who is conscious of and prepared to talk about gendered nonsense, but I am also scared to read books like these because I know a lot of gendered nonsense is out of my control and I probably can't save her from it. This one sounds practical and useful, though, so maybe I ought to try it.

Sandy Nawrot said...

These books just make me heave a big sigh. You really can't stop these influences. And if you did? If your kid goes to school and doesn't know what this is or that is because you have "protected" her from it, they will be laughed at. Then their friends will show them what it is anyway. The best thing to do, in MY mind, is be yourself Raych, in front of your daughter, and things should take care of themselves. While my daughter owned every Disney movie and every Disney princess costume as a kid, now she is strong, independent, runs like an animal in cross country, and doesn't tolerate any crap from boys. I like to think that is because she has lived with me for 16 years!!! LOL

Trisha said...

I will definitely be checking this one out as I'm still stuck in the nomming stage. And wait...who says 'shameless street walker' isn't appropriate to say to a child? :)

Reading Rambo said...

"I don't want to feel like the most socially interesting thing about Eleanor is her abiding fondness for dinosaurs, when she loves unicorns just as hard."


Chrissy said...

You reminded me of this article.

My toddler boy is obsessed with trucks. I understand some of your reasoning behind saying a love of dolls is " as or more important" as a love of trucks but I would just leave out the more part. I understand your reasoning... I loved dolls and they helped form the nurturing qualities that would make me into a parent someday. I cannot for the life of me understand trucks and why he loves them, but it must be as important and valuable as the love of dolls. I asked my husband and he said he remembers he loved trucks because of the mechanical aspect - they have WHEELS and that is awesome! He has dolls as well, but trucks are where it's at to him and that means something to his developing personality, WHAT it means, I have no idea!

Jo said...

Sounds interesting. I don't have any offspring, let alone girl offspring. But I'm an aunt, and that counts for something right? Anyway, I'm looking into my library getting it, so I can at least flip through it.