After reading the Keywords Essays on “Girlhood” and “Gender”, there were a lot of things floating around in my mind regarding gender roles, expectations of girls, and the general upbringing of children. I came across the song “Dollhouse” by Melanie Martinez and I thought her lyrics (you can also play the song through this link) hit all these aspects of the expectations of gender and girlhood head-on. The beginning of the song depicts how men, in a sense, can act more freely than women can, and women don’t have a say in their actions because they are inferior. It plays out a girl trying to tell her mom that her dad’s fooling around and then goes to say “nobody ever listens”, which is a trend we’ve also seen in many of the books we have read. For example, The Little House on the Prairie has several instances which suggest a child is to “be seen and not heard” which is how I interpreted that lyric.
“places, places, get in your places, throw on your dress and put on your doll faces”
This lyric stood out to me a lot because it really shows how girls are expected to wear dresses, and act a certain way, especially in front of others. It also suggests that girls don’t have much freedom to be their own person, and they have to conform to the “gender roles” at such a young age. The lyric “I see things nobody else sees” suggests that children’s views don’t really matter and are in a sense disregarded. The little girl needs to act clueless even though she knows what’s going on, and when people come around she has to “go back to being plastic”. This song as a whole is comparing a girl’s childhood to a dollhouse. This metaphor implies that children are expected to act “plastic” and are controlled as if they are dolls living in a dollhouse.
Not only does the song reference a girl’s childhood, it also references gender roles by telling the story of a mother who is married to a man having an affair, but still has to put on a smiling face and pretend to be “perfect”. It describes that people are blinded by the act and “When you turn your back she pulls out a flask and forgets his infidelity”.
I think this song displays a strong connection to the keywords “girlhood” and “gender” because it portrays girls/women as being weak and treated as inferior to men. It also refers to the expectations of children we’ve seen in several of the novels we have read and discussed thus far in class.