Girlhood in a Dollhouse

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.


2 thoughts on “Girlhood in a Dollhouse”

  1. I love music so I thought this was a really awesome idea for a blog post!! The lyric verse you picked out about putting on your doll faces really reminded me of the incident with Meg in Little Women when she goes to the party with her friend and they decide to do her up as if she were a doll. I think this goes back to the idea that gender if very performative and I think that woman have more pressure to perform with outward appearance than men do. When Meg does get all dressed up and others view her as a doll, or merely an object, they start to treat her that way as well which is extremely problematic. In this seen, by dressing up Meg is being dehumanized.

  2. I really like this post because the song you have chosen really does represent the expectations for women and girls in a different light than the way we have discussed them in class. I hadn’t really thought about the different ways that expectations actually affect girls and women in our contemporary society. I find the quote, “When you turn your back she pulls out a flask and forgets his infidelity,” particularly intriguing because it shows that the mother is acting improper behind closed doors, but nobody would ever know about any of her troubles because she puts on a pretty face in public.

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