OUR CROWDFUNDING CAMPAIGN IS NOW LIVE!

indiegogo campaign

Ok, I admit it, I am terrified! This morning I woke up and I discovered that the campaign is gone LIVE during the night without me activating it! Divine intervention? Mhmmm…I am not sure ūüėČ

PLEASE CIRCULATE AS WIDELY AS POSSIBLE AND BE THE FIRST TO DONATE!


http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/empowering-young-girls-through-social-and-media-literacy-education/x/4625076

Barbies & Bratz: an ideal toy for toddlers…really?

Barbie

Today I had an interesting discussion with a parent regarding how to stop her two young girls (age 2 and 4) obsessing over their Barbies dolls:

“At the beginning I didn’t give so much weight as it started gradually, but now I am at the point of almost wanting to bin their whole Barbie’s collection at once! They rarely play with anything else, I think they are getting pretty obsessive over them, constanlty changing clothes and then bringing the dolls with them everywhere…sometimes I feel like I am a bad mother allowing this…I think we are playing a dangerous game with the toys we hand over to them”.

This is nothing new: socialisation into stereotypical gender roles through playing practices, “let the girls be girls and the boys be boys”, many conservative parents would have no problem with it. However, I know even very conservative parents who will argue that the extent¬†to which girls are trained into the role of “beautiful dolls” is getting far out of hand these days.

Young girls must be looking around, finding very little alternative to this role. Starting from the innocent comments received during family reunion (“Oh…she’s so beautiful” “she’s such a pretty girl”), the message is then reinforced through several hours of Barbie or Bratz play, possibly accompanied by some indoctrination into the glittering world of Disney’s princesses cartoons, merchandise and bedroom paraphernalia.

Interestingly ‚Äď and more worryingly so- Barbie/ Bratz and the like have now become in many countries a must-have early years‚Äô toy for girls age 2-6. Most of the girls I‚Äôve talked to throughout my project (girls living in UK, age 8-11) were ready to dismiss the toy as ‚Äúbabyish‚ÄĚ.

While there’s a lack of research on the direct effects of this playing practice from such tender age, it would respond to logic to think that handing out a skinny doll with unrealistic body proportions to 2-6 years old doesn’t represent the wisest educational choice. Let’s also consider the fact that playing with this type of dolls involves mainly changing them into different clothes, outfits, make-up and hair styles to make them more beautiful and sexy (possibly to attract the only man character in Barbie’s world, Ken!).

Now, developmental psychology tells us that toddler¬†years are a time of great cognitive, emotional and social development, with¬†children playing practices shaping their believes and attitudes for their later life: so let‚Äôs stop a minute and think ‚Äúwhat are the attitudes and believes we promote in our girls by a regular daily dose of Barbie/Bratz play at this particular stage of their development?‚ÄĚ And what if this practice is accompanied by Disney princesses‚Äô cartoons and strict gender stereotyping in marketing and media?

This is a far cry from the traditionally feminine practice of playing with baby dolls, although I am aware that many feminist would equally class that practice as limiting, stereotypical and damaging, at least when not mixed with other types of play.

But surely you would think that pushing baby dolls on a pram, or pretending to feed them or change their nappy is a ‚Äúparenting role play‚ÄĚ which can develop a caring and nurturing attitude in children, so potentially nothing too wrong with that, right? (For the same reason I would be extremely happy to see as many boys as girls engaged in this type of play‚Ķbut of course this would make uncomfortable too many parents who still firmly believe in the benefits of stereotypically gendered socialisation for their boys and girls‚Ķwe have a long way to go I think!)

To conclude, shouldn’t we be a little more considerate in deciding which toy would be best for a 2-6 years old child? This is such a delicate and important phase of a child development… I contend that the effects of such universal play practice ‚Äď especially in cases where it tends to monopolise girls‚Äô attention and when not compensated by a diverse range of activities – should be really considered much more seriously.

Do they know what feminism really is?

feminism

I found this lovely quote in a¬†teenager girl’s blog, in a post where she explains why she is a feminist, (via http://hijabihomegirl.wordpress.com/2013/07/26/i-am-a-feminist/) and where she highlights the main misconceptions about feminism in the media.

The fact that this teenager is a Muslim speaks strongly about the fallacy of common Muslim women’s stereotype as submissive and brainwashed victims.

She notes that often feminism is mistakenly given the wrong connotation and that this is affecting the way women and young girls relate to the concept entirely, with (ironically) many of them rejecting the label of “feminist”. This phenomenon includes¬†seemingly “empowered” women celebrities such as Katy Perry, for example, who recently declared in an interview “I am not a feminist”. This is indeed very sad, considering how young girls¬†look up to these celebrities.

Why would women and girls feel TODAY the need to distance themselves from a movement that has done¬†SO MUCH¬†for advancing women’s social inclusion, human rights,¬†freedom and self-respect?

Do they actually know¬†that feminism’ s main goal is¬†to reach gender equality?

From many recent magazines articles I am reading, I don’t think it is so. The word “feminism” is now more and more commonly¬†associated¬†in very radical terms with¬†misandry. We should make a constant effort to change this wrong conception and give feminism the glory it deserves. Girls should not be fooled into confounding the two concepts:¬†if it’s required that to change their false assumptions we need to plaster public walls and post pictures like the one above in every social media outlets, so be it!

 

How much time,energy & money are spent in the pursuit of beauty?

bellism

In this interview Alexis Jones (starring in the Vagina Monologues of Even Ensler) talks about the huge distraction that the pursuit of beauty represents for most girls and women.

It is an undeniable fact of our society, a logic consequence of the process of socialisation which most girls will go through from the day they born until they are grown women. The message is unmistakably clear, loud and coming from every direction: family, friends, teachers and the media in the form of movies, music, adverts, games and so on.

A girl learn¬†from the very start in her life¬†what is the most valuable and appreciated thing about herself and, as Alexis points out, the constant preoccupation with one’s own¬†look takes away¬†SOOO much energy, time and money ūüôĀ

What could be accomplished by these same women and girls if they were¬†set free from that worry? Let’s just¬†consider¬†for a minute how much time and energy they could dedicate to other aspects of their life, how their personality, confidence and¬†skills could develop without this constant draining.

The main challenge for a better, happier society is to stop taking for granted this fact as if it was a natural, irreversible reality. We need to remind these girls that there is a process of gender socialisation which is totally constructed, artificial and imposed by an oppressive ideology. Human beings love to look at beautiful things, this is undeniable: but how we define beauty is another matter. Girls need to see how the idea of beauty itself has been manipulated by media and advertising: they need to see the historical, sociological and psychological implications of a system that is NOT designed to make them happy, but miserable, frustrated and insecure.

This is why we need more and more activist like Alexis. We need¬†more roles models talking to¬†girls from a very young age… in schools, youth and community¬†centres, associations, even nurseries!

If we can succeed in making girls understand the artificiality, the construction, the oppressive design behind the “beauty trap”, then they will be free to¬†ultimately step into a new consciousness, with the power, the skills and the confidence to really live their life as a fully deserving¬†human beings¬†rather than beautiful, animated dolls. ūüėČ

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D0NigNt7SD0&feature=share