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Modern Parenthood

New pink LEGOs for girls enforce Disney Princess sterotypes

A new line of pink LEGOs, marketed towards girls, is just another example of the extreme gendering prevalent in children's popular culture, and enforces the Disney Princess stereotypes that have made Disney billions.

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If there’s a princess version of nearly everything, and “princess” is a category that excludes boys, then gender divisions in children’s popular culture can only be heightened. Superheroes are for everyone – even if they’re “for” boys, girls enjoy them, too – but princesses are aspirational. Only girls can become princesses, so princess culture is only for the girls. And this means that the Disney Store now gives about two-thirds of its floor space exclusively to girls, if the Boston-area Disney Store I visited with my family recently is the norm: "Cars" and "Toy Story" products largely filled the left-hand side of the store, while the center and right featured princess and nothing but princess.

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Guest blogger

Rebecca Hains, Ph.D. is a children's media culture expert. A professor of advertising and media studies at Salem State University, in Salem, Mass., her research focuses on girls and media. The author of "Growing Up With Girl Power: Girlhood on Screen and in Everyday Life,"  she blogs about children's media and popular cultur and lives with her husband and son in Peabody, Mass.
 

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When I was a kid, Disney was about Mickey and Donald and Goofy and Pluto. Oh, and Minnie and Daisy, too. These were characters all kids could enjoy. The recent devolution in children’s culture – from boys and girls having at least some shared interests, to such a divisive schism – is troubling. In fact, when I assign my 19-year-old media studies students to analyze what’s happening in their local toy aisle, even they are surprised: They haven’t shopped in toy aisles in nearly a decade, and though they remember some gender divisions (boys’ aisles and girls’ aisles have been around for ages), they often don’t remember those divisions being quite so complete.

The only way our current situation will change is if we fight back. And that’s why I created a petition about Hasbro’s talking Princess Celestia toy. A television show has finally presented a princess character that appeals to boys and girls alike – because she’s a leader, not a beauty object. If you agree that children need more characters like these, and that toys shouldn’t reduce such characters to princess stereotypes, won’t you please sign it?

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best family and parenting bloggers out there. Our contributing and guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor, and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. Rebecca Hains blogs at rebeccahains.wordpress.com.

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