Wednesday, March 9, 2011

On Strong Female Rolemodels

This is the second of a two parter on raising girls, here's Paul's. This is mine.

G has been asking for stories all the time lately. She wants us to make up stories out of our heads. It can get tiring. I can come up with some fun stories off the top of my head, but sometimes they're just:  "Once upon a time there was a little girl who went to the park. She saw a puppy, it barked. The End"
So, sometimes I retell fairy tales off the top of my head. The Three Bears, Cinderella, Snow White.
The other day I was nearing the end of Snow White when I started wanting to edit it. The ending bugged me in a way it never had before.
In the version we have on our shelf (that I was telling from memory), Snow White is in her glass coffin with a dwarf guarding her and the prince comes along and, since she is so beautiful, decides he must have her in his castle. What a jerk! The dwarves were mourning their friend, guarding her night and day, and along comes this guy out of nowhere to take her away! And of course, the ending of her waking up and instantly falling in love with him? Do I really want my daughter to take that as an example?
But here's the thing - I also grew up on those fairy tales and I don't have (that) warped of a view of love/men. So, I don't think I should censor or edit those classic tales.
However, I do want to think about what stories are available to her. Female role models beyond the standard disney princess.
Despite being annoying, Dora the Explorer is great - she's a girl with a compass and a backpack who decides where she gets to go. Unfortunately, she's also on EVERYTHING (including a pack of carrots I saw recently), and I don't love the rampant consumerism cartoons like that encourage.
I love (and G loves) Jessie from Toy Story. She is a great cowgirl who is strong and confident.

But, what I really love is a book I discovered last week. Brave Margaret, an irish folktale told by Robert San Souci that is a fantastic story of a woman who fights a sea monster and a giant. It's one of the most refreshing tales of a strong female lead I've read. I instantly thought - I must buy this and have it on my shelf. It's a little too old for G and M at this point, but I can't wait for them to discover it when they're old enough.

I love classic fairy tales, but I also want my girls to know that they can be the ones with the sword.


    Your hair is nice.
    You look like a prince

    They didn't get married after all.

  2. My sister got Gwen the best book, it's called Not One Damsel in Distress and it's traditional folk tales from all over the world about strong and heroic girls. It's still a bit old for her as well, but it's great!

    This is a great series of blogs by the way. I can totally relate :)

  3. I have a boy. It's different but not really any less annoying. One of my biggest beefs is with clothes, and colors of clothes, and the style. Since when did RED become a girl color? Anyways my son really loves to read too. He has decided he loves Eeyore, and he likes to rawr (cause it's what most animals do you know) and he really enjoys hearing the silly stories that you find in the old Sesame Street books. The ones where almost every word starts with the letter B. Or something like that. We also read a page of Harry Potter once in a while because he grabs it off the shelf and hands it to me to read. It's nice to know that there are other parents fighting back against the consumerism market and taking parenting into their own hands.

  4. Natalia likes Dora and Diego, and she also loves the girls from Glee. But she does also think she's a fairy ballerina princess, and I'm okay with that.

  5. I've been enjoying these posts too - its great to put into words, what many have thought and couldn't quite articulate.

    We have let Damien watch Dora quite a bit, because he really likes it and I like him seeing girls in the leadership position, using their brains. I haven't watched much Diego, but I'm disappointed that Dora is always marketed to girls and Damien has been forced over to the Diego side because of that marketing. I still buy the Dora bandaids - even though they are pink. Damien really likes pink, and Dora, and I won't make him feel wrong for liking those things.