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Beyond Parody?

November 30th, 2003 · No Comments

The weekend wouldn’t be complete without the requisite spin by the Corner, where Andrew Stuttaford writes that it’s “beyond parody” for (feel the sneer) “gender studies” types to express concern over gender stereotypes in fairy tales.

Now, maybe NYU wrecked my brain or something, but is it really entirely nuts to suggest that parents might want to think twice about the messages embedded in stories they tell their very young children over and over again? Take Cinderella—isn’t it at least semi-plausible that a very young girl might come away from stories like that with the idea that the most wonderful thing on earth is to marry a rich man? That physical beauty is centrally important to happiness?

Maybe it’s all-out goofy to suggest that these are issues worth mentioning if you’re telling your child these stories… but Stuttaford doesn’t give us a hint as to why. Conservatives are usually the first to warn us that awful, liberal-influenced media might (gasp!) make kids more tolerant of gay people or non-Christian religious practices. They’re probably right to some extent. So why wouldn’t a story depicting passive women playing out traditional gender roles tend to reinforce those? And if these depictions don’t convey any such message to kids, can we expect culture warriors on the right to finally shut the fuck up?

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