Cinderella ate my daughter by

Here is my dirty little secret: as a journalist, I have spent nearly two decades writing about girls, talking about how girls should be raised. Yet, when I finally got pregnant myself, I was terrified at the thought of having a daughter.
Peggy Orenstein - Cinderella ate my daughter - c.2011 - pg. 1

After a career writing about feminism and girls in culture Peggy Orenstein found herself the mother of a girl. And so brought face to face with the practicalities of what she had been theorising about, how to raise a girl to believe in herself and how to try and avoid the madonna/whore dichotomy. And then her daughter entered her “Disney princess” phase.

cinderella ate my daughterUnlike Cordelia Fine’s book this is not an attempt to look at the science behind the so-called differences between the sexes. Instead is a look at Orenstein’s own experiences in raising a girl. With her attempts to raise a daughter who hasn’t been raised to believe that boys are better, or that she should only be pretty, and how hard that can be.

As such it is more anecdote than hard science. But that probably makes it easier to read. Orenstein knows she should try to avoid the stereotypes of girlhood, and yet, how can she express her dislike of Disney Princesses without making her dislike their girl-ness. She doesn’t want to disparage the few female role-models that may be out there, while at the same time pointing out their flaws. It is a very difficult balance to take.

I really enjoyed Orenstein’s look at some of the more traditional fairy tales in comparison to their sanitised Disney version. That part of this book could even fit in with the Once Upon A Time reading challenge ;) if I were to try and push it.

I actually find the pink thing quite strange. I mean, why on earth is one colour supposed to represent an entire gender? I mean, does anyone really believe that different colours are different personality types? It strikes me as a version of astrology. But it does seem to be growing. My younger sister was huge into pink, everything had to be pink. I was more of a tomboy and rejected dresses and dolls, but I don’t even remember pink being an especially prized, or despised colour when I was little. And it does freak me out when I go into a toy shop and you see aisle after aisle of different coloured toys of all shapes and sizes, but if you are shopping for a girl then you should avoid those and just visit the pink ones. I mean isn’t variety the spice of life? Besides, it really does make for an “othering” affect, in that it suggests that male children are the normal or default, and so all these “normal” toys are for them, but girls are different, so make that toy in a shade of pink and they can have it. Craziness.

Other reviews: Bellas Novella ; Reproductive Rites ; Feministing

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6 Responses

  1. Sarah says:

    Thanks for the link! This really is a very readable book, isn't it?

    • Fence says:

      It is, it was my work book, which means I only read it at lunch times but i still managed to fly through it.

  2. Caroline says:

    I'm reading Kat Banyard's The Equality Illusion and am planning on reading Fine as well. I hadn't heard of this one but I'm really tempted. I always liked the colors purple, violet and pink. They are also my father's favourite colors… Funny enough my mother hated them. It would be hard to have to raise a girl (or boy). Despite my liking the colors I think it is inacceptable that you can't buy anything else.
    Caroline´s last blog post ..Franz Kafka- Brief an den Vater 1919 aka Letter to My Father

    • Fence says:

      I'd highly recommend Fine's book. It is really good. This one is more anecdotal, but still good. And it does have a great cover doesn't it.

  3. Kathleen says:

    After reading bits about this book on other blogs, I am very thankful that I have a son. I'm scared of the whole pink thing too!

  1. 10 August 2011

    […] I discovered the book on Fence’s blog. Here is her review. […]