“Unlearning the Myths That Blind Us” by Linda Christensen was a really enjoyable read for me. Last semester, I was able to take the course, “Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: Masterplots of Gender” with Professor Janice Okoomian.In this course, we discussed everything Christensen did in this piece. Every week we were dissecting a show, movie, book, or advertisement and were able to see just how racist and sexist most of the things we grew up with actually are. Many times, I found myself to be pretty upset with our findings. Most of the stories we analyzed were all Disney classics that I had grown up with and adored, like Cinderella, Hansel and Gretel, The Little Mermaid, Snow White, and many, many more. I always left the class with a feeling of anger and sadness because I felt like this class had pretty much ruined these movies and stories for me, just as Justine had felt in Christensen’s piece. However, when I started to really notice all the negative aspects of these stories happening in real life, I understood it and wanted to do something about it. Working in a daycare, I see how these movies and how a lot of other gender stereotypes truly influence children. These kids that I work with are so young, the oldest being 4, and they already know the rules of society and how they should act. One example of this was when a little boy in the daycare went to get a puzzle, and it happened to be a princess puzzle. One of the older girls stood up angrily and said “he can’t do that puzzle!” when I asked her why, her response was simply because he is a boy and should not be playing with anything pink or that has a princess on it. I responded to her by saying that he could play with whatever he wants because these toys are for everyone, just like when you play with the Spiderman car. I felt bad for this little boy because he shouldn’t be getting yelled at by a girl his same age because he isn’t playing with something blue or something that has a super hero on it.
Another example of how Disney movies are affecting the younger generation is by the games children play. One of the most popular games that the girls in my daycare like to play is, the stepsister game. This game is influenced by the movie Cinderella. One of the girls is Cinderella, and the other two get to be evil stepsisters. The two stepsisters get dressed up and ready for the “ball” but when the little girl playing Cinderella asks to join them, the two stepsisters respond, “YOU can’t come to the royal ball!” I hated this game so much when they would play it that my boss and I decided they weren’t allowed to play it anymore, or if they really wanted to play it, they would have to change the story and allow Cinderella to go. To me, it is so sad seeing these young girls already acting so caddy and petty. I find it really disheartening that these extremely popular movies depict such evil and horrible underlying messages. My hopes in the future as an educator is to, like August, create a safe space for children to come and play and learn. I want the environment of my classroom to feel comfortable, where children can be and play with whatever they want. Where it is acceptable for the little boy who goes to my daycare to have his favorite colors be pink and John Deere green. Even though August mainly focuses on LGBT, I think her idea of a “safe space,” simply put, is a place where everyone, from all walks of life, no matter their race, size or gender, can come and feel equal and 100% comfortable with themselves and their idea of who they should be – not Disney’s.
Below is a video I found, where a little girl is expressing her frustrations with gender stereotypes.