Not terribly subtle

This doll was designed by the ever awesome, Kimberlee of Anemone Crafts. You can see more of these on her flickr set.

One afternoon this week I took a rare chance to sit down with Hannah and play paper dolls instead of running around preparing dinner. Well, after I consoled her sobbing following her declaration that she’d lost her dolls FOREVER and she wouldn’t be able to last a single day longer lest I drop everything to hunt through her pig sty of a bedroom to find them.

Anyway, I managed to calm her down and actually find the whereabouts of the damn dolls before throwing my own tantrum. Rare. And then the playing began. I’ve forgotten what it is you actually do when you “play dolls”. I seem to recall an awful lot of setting things up and the bare minimum of actual acting out the doll’s personalities. Apparently, these days, dolls speak with American accents. And get dressed up in princess dresses and go to princess parties.

This was all going fine and dandy until my doll character started going all feminist on her ass. First she refused to wear makeup to the princess party and gave a lengthy speech on feminism, the patriarchy, and the beauty industry, and then she only wanted to dance with princesses as the princes were BORING. My princess paper doll took the chance to admit that she was probably going to fall in love with a princess when she grew up.

It was at this point that I got kicked out of the game. Hrmmm… too much too soon?


5 thoughts on “Not terribly subtle

  1. Nikki, I think I love you!
    That very nearly made me PMSL!
    Ella never lets me play dolls with her any more either. I don't pick 'nice' clothes for mine to wear or do their hair properly.


  2. Have you read 'The New Feminism' by Natasha Walter? I just read it as a precursor to reading her latest book 'Living Dolls – the return of sexism' (or some similar title). The New Feminism was basically arguing that British feminism should abandon its interest in personal stuff and focus on building a political movement to get women legal and political power, equal incomes and childcare and that having achieved economic and legal equality, culture would change accordingly.

    Apparently her second book somewhat recants that view in light of the increasingly sexist popular culture that is pushing extreme gender roles.

    Seems to me both views are correct. Would be interested in your opinion.

    Am also wondering about the impact of reformist feminism – while its often argued that getting women into positions of power does nothing for ordinary women (which is mostly true in terms of changing material conditions) but how much does having a female prime minister (for example) impact on girls' view of themselves and their aspirations?




  3. Goodness Sam. That requires a lengthy reply (and even lengthier period of contemplation and research) so I'll have to get back to you on that one.

    On point one, I think you're right, both are correct. And therefore I don't believe anything needs to be abandoned. Fighting on multiple fronts isn't a bad tactic. People should apply their efforts where they have most interest/will have most effect (I believe the two are directly related).

    Second point, I do believe having women in positions of power positively effects girls' aspirations. But I take issue with the fact that women have to act like men (generalisation of course) in order to get into and maintain those positions of power – or at least they are portrayed that way. I haven't read much about reformist feminism (or much feminist theory at all actually). So I'm sorry, unable to answer this question thoughtfully. Will get back to ya!


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