Where the Girls Are

Topics: Feminism, Woman, Gender Pages: 5 (1961 words) Published: April 8, 2014

Critical Book Report: Where the Girls Are
WS 203 – Dr. Vander Hoef

In Where the Girls Are Douglas takes you through the life of a typical girl growing up during a feminist revolution from childhood to adulthood. She gives an in depth look at what was going on in the world and how it affected a young girl turning into a woman. Starting in Fractured Fairytales Douglas explores how from the very start young girls are bombarded with images of how women should be and how they should not. Little girls grow up with the mentality that they must emulate the perfect women in fairy tales and grow up to be the fairest of them all. “We learned, though these fairy tales, and certainly later through advertising, that we had to scrutinize ourselves all the time, identify our imperfections, and learn to eliminate or disguise them, otherwise no one would ever love us”(Douglas 31). Disney had created a standard for girls and women that was nearly impossible to achieve. Looking, acting, dressing and appearing perfect all while being selfless and suffering in silence was what was expected of women and young girls. If young girls chose not to live up to the ‘Cinderella standard’ they were left with only one alternative role to fill, “… older, vindictive, murderous stepmothers or queens wearing too much eyeliner and eye shadow”(Douglas 29). They were women in power and Disney perpetuated the stereotype that any amount of authority given to a woman would turn her into a destructive monster. No little girl would grow up wanting that image and thus the ‘Cinderella standard’ corrupted the young minds of girls everywhere. It was during this stage in her life that Douglas compared the lives of these characters to that of her own mother and realized neither of them had any control over their own lives and that was not how she wanted to end up.

Throughout the next few chapters we begin to see how the rules and confinements of being a woman were further pushed on young girls by their own mothers and society. There were certain expectations and limitations that women were expected to live by during this era. Women could work but only at jobs like nursing and teaching and a woman could never take the place of a man in the workforce. They were expected to be mothers, wives, cooks, maids, and supporters all while working a full time job. “Here she was, part of a system that insisted it needed her to consume the home but adamantly refused to admit it also needed her to produce outside the home”(Douglas 56). Douglas’ mom was stuck in the cycle but she encouraged her daughter to strive for more, to go to college and get a career before anything else. Meanwhile, the media was pushing messages that women are only supposed to be perfect housewives. Advertising gave woman a uniformed identity as wives and mothers with strong suggestions about the traits they should embody. Douglas states that as she started to enter adolescence she refused to fit into the ‘categorical’ woman and started to realize a feminist revolution was in order (60).

The remainder of the book reveals the role that the media played in transforming the feminist revolution into a negative stereotype and made society into ‘cultural schizophrenics’ – endangering women into a cultural identity crisis as they fought the stereotypes of what the perfect woman is while submitting to the pressures of being that woman at the same time. We all fall victim to it regardless of if we are aware of it or not, every time we see a beautiful model in the magazine there is a tiny voice in the back of our heads telling us we should resemble that in some way. Douglas’ thesis statement summarizes the main idea of Where the Girls Are perfectly; To appreciate the mass media’s often inadvertent role in this transformation, we must head down a memory lane that has been blockaded for far too long. We must rewatch and relisten but with a new mission: to go to where the girls are....
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