Gender and the Early Years

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Gaby Blasko
April 22, 2013
WGS 212/Kane
Option 1
MLA Citation System

From the minute babies are pushed out of a mother’s womb, or even an embryo in the third trimester, gender is a predominate factor in the way they are treated. Whether it’s with gifts (pink for a baby girl and blue for a baby boy,) or hypothesis about what this baby will grow up to be, oh this little one will be a nurse (referring to the delicate, nurturing three-day old female,) emphasis is greatly placed on the gender or sex of the child, creating cultural/gender norms and limitations. Gender rigidity is primarily produced in a child’s first years through advertising in toys or clothing, and forms limitations for gender roles later in life, such as jobs or behavioral mannerisms.

In an excerpt from Peggy Orenstein’s Cinderella Ate My Daughter, Orenstein sheds light on a major product from the multi-billion dollar company of Walt Disney that is cashing in on gender roles: the Disney Princesses and their doll merchandise. “There are more than twenty-six thousand Disney Princess items on the market, a number which, particularly when you exclude cigarettes, liquor, cars, and antidepressants, is staggering. “Princess” has not only become the fastest-growing brand the company has ever created, it is the largest franchise on the planet for ages two to six” (Orenstein, 14). Ages two to six are years where advertisements, and “everyone’s doing it” are crucial influences for behavioral patterns. The Princess doll merchandise and is everywhere, and very popular. Today, not buying a female child her rightful amount of Princess gear is almost insuring her unpopularity among peers and social Siberia. Although the Princess storylines appear to be aimed at teaching good morals and happy-ever-after, there is an underlying gender rigidity theme scholar and/or parents like Orenstein have begun to pick up on. To be a Princess is to be dependent on a male figure, the “Prince Charming,” as a “saving...
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