Currently the news and society is covering “females”, and specifically what it means to be a women/girl and the social norms that arise from the different interpretations. All throughout history there has been social conflicts on how people define women and girls and that has certainly not changed, as current news indicates. Recent Women Marches throughout the world and the themes from our class readings have led me to begin reflecting on my girlhood and how gender really tries to define all females. Growing up, I, like most girls I am sure, played with dolls, animals, flowers, cooking, and especially imagined becoming a princess. Each Disney Princess represented a different part of how women and girls are depicted through society. For example, Cinderella and Aurora represent the aspects of girlhood where they are helpless and depend on those around them to thrive and are mostly focused on their appearances. Whereas, Mulan and Rapunzel captured the more curious, strong, and independent side of girlhood. From the class readings and focusing more on social cues, I have noticed that Western culture have begun to challenge the historical meaning that gender once represented.
Both Little House on the Prairie and Disney Princess Mulan represent “Gender” in a way that indicates there isn’t a specific definition or characteristics that make up a ‘girl’. From Erica Hateley’s “Gender” essay, she goes over the idea that girls are represented based by their looks, hobbies, clothing, and names. Laura, from Little House on the Prairie, along with Mulan both contradict this historical definition by showing they are much more than how society says they should look and what they should do. Rather Laura and Mulan both show they are strong, curious, caring, and family oriented females. Although they are of different age ranges they both contradict the stereotypical female by applying more to their identity than ones’ look, hobbies, or actions. Rather, Mulan and Laura show gender in a light that doesn’t allow there to be a specific line drawn to identify one’s gender but to identify what they are worth and their values and morals. Both Mulan and Laura are faced with a decision to make about going against the way they are taught to act and how they actually feel. Both girls are not always looked at in a proper light for going against the grain of how ‘gender’ defines girls, however, they both end up stronger and more appreciated by their family and those around them for showing their true selves instead of following the definition that goes along with the term ‘girl’.
Overall, I believe that gender is no longer a simple definition that is always one hundred percent followed. Instead, I think that everyone is an individual and that gender can no longer create representations of females.