As the father of a young daughter, I am not used to social progress. I’ve come to expect that female politicians will be constantly asked about their appearance. I’ve come to expect that corporations will forget to make toys based on the female lead of their new blockbuster movie. I’ve come to expect that it will take Barbie over 50 years to acknowledge what real women look like. I’ve come to expect that, at every turn, society will find a way to let my daughter down, in big ways and small ways, entirely due to her gender. I am used to being disappointed on my daughter’s behalf.
So, imagine my surprise when I recently encountered some small, hopeful progress for girls in a completely unexpected place – children’s character underwear.
That’s right. There are Star Wars and Marvel underwear for girls right now and it’s kind of a big deal.
We should’ve seen it coming. After the #WheresNatasha and #WheresGamora campaigns – hashtags that called out the lack of female representation in the merchandise for Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy – WHY did anyone assume that Disney, toy manufacturers, or retailers would’ve learned their lesson for Star Wars: The Force Awakens? Were we that naïve? Did we just not want to admit what we all KNEW was going to happen? That, even though Daisy Ridley’s Rey was the LEAD CHARACTER in the whole damn film, she would be almost impossible to find on Force Awakens merchandise. Because that’s EXACTLY what happened. Hence the inevitable hashtag #WheresRey.
Right now, two women are enduring the last week of the United States Army Ranger School in the daunting Florida “jungle” phase, as part of a pilot program to help the Pentagon decide how they might open combat specialty positions to women in the future. Throughout their attendance at the course, these two Army officers have impressed their Ranger Instructors and inspired women throughout the ranks of the entire Army.
A similar experiment has been conducted by the United States Marine Corps over the last several years, admitting women to attend the USMC Infantry Officer’s Course, or IOC. One of these women, First Lieutenant Sage Santangelo attempted to pass the course and failed. She wrote an op-ed following her attempt and attributed her lack of success to a double-standard in training requirements between males and females. She simply did not feel that she had been well prepared for success by adhering to lower training standards in the years preceding her attendance at IOC, where she was held to the same standards as the men.
Taking Lt. Santangelo’s premise that she wasn’t successful because of lower expectations for women, I began to think about how fathers raise their own daughters, and more personally, how I am raising my own daughter. What I never wish to happen is for my daughter to miss out on a personal dream because I held her back from being prepared to tackle the world. So if her dream is to one day become a United States Army Ranger, I had better spend my time getting her ready. While not a graduate of Ranger School myself, I have enjoyed great success as an Army officer and have mentored and trained many for military success. So here is my best advice for fathers who want to show their daughters a world where the ceilings are made of glass…and then show them how fast they can shatter them.
Editor’s Note: This is part two of a two-part epic about how dads are portrayed in the Disney Princess movies. Check out part one here!
Recap: As a service to the dads out there struggling with kids who might have a similar affinity for the Disney Princess Industrial Complex, I decided to breakdown how fathers are portrayed in all ten of the major Disney Princess films, if only to point out exactly how low Disney sets the bar when it comes to showing fathers in a positive light onscreen. Disney Princess fathers are largely absent, oblivious, easily manipulated, loathe to accept responsibility, and generally not the sharpest tools in the shed. Their daughters normally succeed in life DESPITE them, not because of them. And, speaking as a dad, I think that kind of stinks. Take a look at ten of the least impressive fathers in film history and decide for yourself if they’re as potentially damaging to a kid as the old-fashioned damsel in distress. Part two after the jump!
Editor’s Note: This is part one of a two-part epic about how dads are portrayed in the Disney Princess movies. Check back tomorrow to see part two!
As the father of a five-year-old girl, I fought the good fight against the Disney Princess franchise and – I’m man enough to admit – I lost. I totally got my butt kicked. My wife and I did our best to keep our little girl away from all of the princess culture indoctrination material with the crowns, make-up, jewelry, and the wishing that someday her prince would come, but, despite our valiant efforts, Disney Princesses found their way onto her radar when she was about three years old and they’ve stayed there ever since. And, now that I’m two years in, I’ll acknowledge that the whole princess thing isn’t completely horrible, provided that, as a parent, you balance it out with a lot of other material and some indoctrination of your own.
Our main worry was that some of the Disney Princesses aren’t exactly the best role models for young kids. They’re often submissive, passive, way too focused on their looks, and completely beholden to the men who come to their rescue. And, trust me, as the father of an only girl, you definitely want your little sweetheart to act more like Wonder Woman or Hit Girl than Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty. And, thankfully, I think my daughter gets it. When she plays with her princess figures, she has THEM save the princes and not the other way around. She’ll wear princess dresses, but only if she can also carry her homemade lightsaber too. We somehow stumbled into a nice equilibrium with the Disney Princess craze, which was a nice surprise, but, once I stopped worrying about how the princesses were portrayed in the Disney films, I had time to start worrying about how the dads were portrayed. You know, the kings, the lost aristocrats, the noble warriors… the extremely, extremely absent father figures. And, as you can guess, what I was seeing wasn’t very pretty.
So, long story short: A study by the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, helmed by director Deborah Cobb-Clark, states that while teenage boys without fathers are more likely to turn to crime, teen girls are unaffected.
And as the studies always find, having an involved dad is great, but just having a dad in the home cuts down boys’ involvements in criminal and delinquent activity.
Wait, wait, wait. But…what about daughters?