Movies teach girls passivity, helplessness & obedience PDF Print E-mail
Written by TARA KELLER Sentinel Staff Writer   
Tuesday, 25 March 2014 09:24
Look closely at some Disney princess movies. Underneath the tiaras and glass slippers hide a not-so-hidden message about what it means to be a girl.
"These movies teach passivity and helplessness and obedience to be ideals on what makes you a good girl," said Dr. Roz Sibielski, BGSU Theatre and Film instructor. "If you've noticed, all these princesses love to do housework."
And for those who hadn't noticed, Sibielski was eager to share during her lecture, "Princesses, Superheroes and Other Media Representations of Girls" as a part of Women's History Month at BGSU on March 21.
Sibielski explored how girls aged three to 11 are presented in culture - positively and negatively.
Many films, like Disney's "Cinderella" and "Sleeping Beauty" paint their female protagonists as only having one stereotypical goal.
"The prince is the goal in the story. This is the only focus of the princesses' lives," she said. "The only value they have is to marry the prince. After that, their story is over."
This kind of ending doesn't have to happen for the girls watching these movies.
A new line of entertainment is out to instill more self-fulfilling goals.
TV shows and films like "Kim Possible," "Brave" and Disney's newest movie "Frozen" feature strong female protagonists who fight for what's right instead of just finding a husband.
"A movie that celebrates sisterhood in a culture that focuses on mean girls - 'Frozen' was great," Sibielski said. "It was a pretty progressive way of empowering girlhood."
The female empowerment doesn't stop there. Companies are looking to capitalize on the girl power trend.
A new toy company called "GoldieBlox" produces engineering toys marketed toward female empowerment. The tinker toys foster problem-solving and building skills instead of dress-up and playing house.
"They're meant to open up girls to science, math and engineering," Sibielski said. "Girls have been very unrepresented in school in those categories."
Instead of marketing to their key customers, companies like GoldieBlox advocate to girls' parents.
"Their message is being a good parent means getting kids this toy and saying 'look how happy it makes them,'" she said. "The appeal is to raise daughters who are confident individuals."
Although the media has been pushing empowering toys and fictional characters, some feminists are pushing back.
The female superheroes like "The Powerpuff Girls" and "Black Widow" are criticized for not truly being feminist icons.
"These heroes are predicated on a violent model of power in a patriarchal framework," she said. "If the empowerment being taken on is just these girls acting like men, that's not really female empowerment."
For lecture attendee Sarah Rainey, using positive media representations help teach her twin daughters an important lesson - it's OK to make mistakes.
Rainey's daughters learn that from the "Tinkerbell" series.
"Tinkerbell's talent is that she's a tinker fairy. She's basically an engineer," Rainey said. "And she messes up sometimes. She keeps practicing and she keeps trying."
Shows like those are to be applauded, Sibielski said, as they are instrumental in how girls look at themselves and their future.
"Letting girls know that they're capable of more can be summed up in a quote by Marian Wright Edelman," Sibielski said. " She said, 'You can't be what you can't see.'"

Last Updated on Tuesday, 25 March 2014 14:59

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