Little girls can be feminists, too.
A few months ago I saw an article circling the internet. It's title was something like, "Feminist Talking Points For Your Fairy Tale Reading Daughters". The only one I remember had to do with Cinderella,
"After reading the story with your daughter, ask her if she thinks Prince Charming will contribute to household chores now that he has married a glass shoe'd cleaning lady. Then impress upon her the importance of never marrying anyone ever and also the necessity of only hiring cleaning MEN. AMIRIGHT, GIRLFRIEND?"
Or something like that.
In truth, the list was a little earnest for me and may well have been some sort of satirical think piece, but I can appreciate its intent. It is important that we teach our girls to think critically, question existing story lines and understand the importance of rising above preconceived roles. Of course, what they read, watch and observe will dramatically influence the people our daughters will become. (Which is why this study is so terrifying.)
I've been working on monitoring the media my little girls drink in on a daily basis. I'm the first to admit there is FAR too much TV watching in this household, but goshdarnit, I make sure its empowering to women everywhere before I let it rot out my kids brains. Which is why my oldest daughter's love of a certain anime inspired Netflix kids cartoon had to be brutally destroyed by her evil feminist mother.
It had been a rough week. We'd all had the flu and Riley was out of town. The girls recovered in front of the TV while I slept on the bathroom tile in between barfing up everything I'd ever eaten since I was two. I let them watch kids shows and threw saltine crackers down to them when I had the strength. By the next day, we were all feeling better and Zuzu COULD NOT WAIT to show me the new fairy cartoon she'd found.
It. Was. Awful.
Leggy girls dressed like extras in Debbie Does the University. Each one breathy and giggly and twittery. The plot point of the episode we watched had something to do with one of their boyfriends being jealous of the time his twirly-haired girlfriend had been spending with her new professor. His worry may not have been misplaced, a major plot point was that all the breathy girls did EXTRA good work on their assignments because they wanted to impress the dreamy man-professor. Because, like, my gosh, breath, heaving bosom, miniskirt, you know, breath, ooooooooh. I turned the TV off before we got to the rising action. (Thank goodness.)
It was time to "Talk To Your Daughters About The Missing Feminist Themes of Wannabe Anime Made By Italians and Then Viewed on Netflix."
"Why did you turn it off, Mom?"
"Hey, Sweetheart. We aren't going to watch that anymore. Before you get too upset, let me tell you my reasons. Okay? Listen. You are a girl. Do you know what that means? It means you are special. It means that you have worth. It means that you are smart and brave and limitless and that you can do anything you want. It means that you are important. It means that your voice has good things to say and that you should say them loudly. It means you are a hard worker. It means you are a daughter of God. It means you are beautiful, sure, but that beautiful isn't how other people see you....its in how you see yourself! You are a world mover, sister. And anything that portrays girls as being less than those things, isn't worth your time. This isn't worth your time. So we're not going to watch it in this house, okay?"
I waited a beat, proud of the directness and logic of my little speech. Maybe the Fairytale List People were right! Maybe feminist Zuzu starts right here, today!
She looked at me, brows furrowed,
"MOM! YOU DON'T EVEN GET IT! THEY AREN'T GIRLS! THEY'RE FAIRIES! GOSH!"
I really think I got through to her, don't you?