I’ve got a pretty big and varied assortment of links for you to peruse this week – the internets have been busy! First up, I was really pleased to see Jeff Pack writing a great post for the Official Shrub.com Blog about criticisms of criticism. I would’ve loved to see him going into a little more detail about why the complaints he highlights are flawed, but I think just listing them and describing them as he has does a lot to point out how fundamentally reactionary and disingenuous such responses to feminist critiques of pop culture can be.
Another thing I read on the internets this week (though it’s actually a little older than that) that got me into my enthusiastic head-nodding groove was the short comic “The Paper Mirror” by Metrokitty. I had a bit of a paper mirror moment, myself, when reading it – what Metrokitty describes is something I’ve been thinking about a lot, lately, regarding my creative writing.
Just as important as seeing yourself reflected in the things you read and watch, I think, is seeing characters who are like you, but better – characters who are worth emulating, and who represent something that you might someday be able to achieve. Kalinara‘s post about the She-Ra: Princess of Power series bible shows some of the thought processes behind one particularly awesome cartoon role-model that many of us who are active in the feminist geek blogosphere today were lucky enough to grow up watching. She-Ra wore some pretty silly outfits and stuff, sure, but what I always took away from the show was the idea that girls could have magic swords, too:
Women should play a major role in all stories, not only Shera and her super-powered friends and enemies, but women of all kinds. Don’t neglect our male characters. They are important too, just don’t surrender to the macho-syndrome of many cartoons in which the females are wispy Princesses always in need of rescue. Strive always for a true equality of characters, thinking of our people as just that, people, regardless of sex differences.
Those of you who spend a lot of time with young girls, these days, or who go to toy stores for any reason, are no doubt aware of the recent popularity of princess-themed toys and products. Sadly, the “of Power” part that was so exciting to me when I was a kid seems to be missing from the latest princess offerings. Peggy Orenstein, writing for The New York Times, explores some of the implications of this in “What’s Wrong With Cinderella?”
I’ve spent much of my career writing about experiences that undermine girls’ well-being, warning parents that a preoccupation with body and beauty (encouraged by films, TV, magazines and, yes, toys) is perilous to their daughters’ mental and physical health. Am I now supposed to shrug and forget all that? If trafficking in stereotypes doesn’t matter at 3, when does it matter? At 6? Eight? Thirteen?
One of the biggest issues I have with the whole princess thing is the way that it’s all wrapped up as gender-reinforcement-through-marketing. I get that it makes sense to try to sell products to people who are likely to be interested in them – hence, market the toy cars to boys, and the pink frilly dresses to girls, right? But who decides which group is going to be interested in which product? I’ve known a lot of little boys who had baby dolls, and girls who dressed up as Darth Vader, y’know?
So I’ve been really interested to see the ways in which the Nintendo Wii is being marketed. Dawn C. Chmielewski, of the Los Angeles Times, discusses some of the techniques Nintendo has used to expand the potential market for its new product in “‘Alpha Moms’ pitch Nintendo Wii.”
And now, to balance out all of the heavy content I’ve been linking to for this week’s edition, here are some quick geeky links for you all! If you got all excited when I mentioned knitting last week, you may be interested in the “Binary” scarf featured in the latest issue of Knitty. And if you like crafty stuff, and, y’know, neon green – did you see the Mountain Dew Christmas Tree?
Also spotted on the internets this week:
* Pac Man: im on ur highway, eatin ur dotz! [post since removed]
* Lord of the Rings meets a typical D&D group in “DM of the Rings“
* Did you know there’s a book all about the physics of the Buffyverse? There is! It’s called The Physics of the Buffyverse!
Reading about that last one led me to the author’s blog, Cocktail Party Physics, and a slightly vintage post where she discusses something that’ll probably be pretty familiar to Hathor regulars. To close this week, I offer the link to “he said, she said,” wherein Jennifer Oullette tears into the “Girls Don’t” myth. Read the whole thing.