walkitout (walkitout) wrote,

interview with Peggy Orenstein in Spring 2011 Bitch magazine

Bitch is the name of the magazine, a "Feminist Response to Pop Culture".

I have been busy not buying Orenstein's book _Cinderella Ate My Daughter_. I respect women who write books that get a lot of press and make a lot of money; more power to them. OTOH, that doesn't mean I have to inflict what they write on myself if it's abundantly clear that while I might learn something from the process, it won't be enough to make up for the frustration it causes me.

This interview did nothing to cause me to change my mind. However, it did raise a lot of additional questions.

Question 1: "And that well-meaning part is really key. I mean, when you walk into Pottery Barn Kids, it's like apartheid in there."

I'll ask my readers to observe a moment of silence to get over the sheer, utter shock that anyone would use _apartheid_ as a comparison to gender divided bedding and furniture. Trivializing the pain of poor people of color? Ya think?

In what world does well-meaning -- as applied to parents -- exist familiarly with "Pottery Barn Kids"? Oh, wait: the same world that thinks comparing gender divided bedding and furniture to _apartheid_ is a reasonable execution of the literary form hyperbole: white, privileged and fabulously oblivious.

Question 2: "I really [sic -- verbal tic on the part of Orenstein] do believe that change can be made on a micro level. [walkitout here: because you're white, privileged and fabulously oblivious] You can think about it and make decisions about what you buy...I think it makes a big difference. I mean, I know it does. My daughter was Athena on Halloween this year. That's a long way from Little Mermaid. One of the ways we countered the princess thing was to read a lot of Greek myths. She needs models of femininity and she needs to act out fantasies that affirm her as a girl. She hooked into Athena -- that's a lot better than the alternatives."

The verbal tics suggest Orenstein has some reservations about this idea. I wish she'd thought this through a little better. What, for example, is better about Athena? Let's think about Athena's obvious attributes:

(a) Virgin. Possibly appropriate for a small child, but not as a model of adult womanhood.
(b) Sprang full-formed from the brow of Zeus after having been born _inside_ Zeus by Metis (parthenogenetic birth, no less), who Zeus _ate_. That's not a great role model for a small child to think about family structure. In fact, it's kind of awful.
(c) Goddess of warfare. Really? You want to go there? Okay. Your business. I'd rather not.
(d) Patron of Athens. You know, land of boy-raping in which the only women who were literate and got to do really interesting things were hetarae.

I'm okay with slamming Ariel. Really. You can go there. But here's the question: in what world is Athena a better role model of femininity and affirming someone as a girl than Ariel?

Question 3, to be left as an exercise to the reader: We need role models to learn how to enact gender why, exactly? I mean, replacing crappy ones accepts the box. Let's just _exit_ the box, okay? Soon? Let's have role models who happen to be women (or girls) and role models who happen to be men (or boys) and lots of other ones who we're maybe not entirely certain about either way and it doesn't matter either.

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