Friday, March 30, 2007

Growing up as equals

Feminists rant a lot. From a feminist's point of view, there is, after all, lots of things to rant about. We'll rant restlessly until our job's done, and chances are we'll continue to rant afterwards, just to keep things in check.

But sometimes, there comes a time to cheer, and feel that there is hope at the end of the day.

Du Côté des Filles is a French organization whose goal is to raise awareness of the gendered social conditioning of girls through culture generally, and through educational materials and children's literature.

The name of the organization itself is derived from "Du Côté des Petites Filles", the French translation of Elena Gianini Belotti's 1973 study on the assimilation of stereotyped gender roles by little girls through social norms, education and play.

Du Côté des Filles also encourages healthy, pro-feminist alternatives to stereotypical fairy tales. (Is it still necessary to point out that Prince Charming is guilty of sexual assault, or at the very least, of attempted sexual assault on Sleeping Beauty and Snow White?)

My favourite story is "Rose Bonbon", which features a young female elephant, Pâquerette. In a world where all male elephants are grey and all female elephants are pink, Pâquerette is an outcast who, despite all her efforts to follow the rules and be like all the other female elephants, is incapable of turning Pink. When her parents finally give up on her, Pâquerette is free to venture out of her garden and play along her male peers, and eventually finds her true happy self.


For more thoughts on the matter, have a look at this series of posts on sexism in games marketed to children and teenagers.

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