Girls bully, too: A comment on princesses and how we treat women that “can”

Ok – just read this post by Peggy Orenstein. It’s not new, it was originally published in November. “princess” connection is fascinating to me. One of my daughters was very into princesses, etc. so to me its not the “evil” empire that some people feel that it is. But then when my daughter was invited to a princess party with other 6 year olds, she went as a pirate. Not a pirate princess, a pirate.  I guess I just had a different princess-parenting experience.I see the do-it-all-perfectly-and-effortlessly thing differently, I suppose. I don’t associate that with princesses at all. I associate it with the way women talk and the way they judge each other.

I think the limiting factor here is the very real possibility that you will be publicly shamed for leaving your house without perfect make-up, making the slightest mistake or showing any effort whatsoever.

Look at the number of articles related to Hilary Clinton’s hairstyle vs. Madeleine Albright! (FYI – 1.1 million in .25 seconds vs 180k in .53 seconds)

It is sad but true.

My 16 yo is presenting a seminar to teenagers this weekend at a local 4H leadership conference. The topic is bullying, with an emphasis on how to support the victim. She has done a lot of research to prepare and one of the stats she pulled was about the shocking percentages of girls that experience emotional bullying through negative comments DAILY. The comments might be about their hairstyle, their clothes, their grades, etc. but very often girls EXPECT to hear negative comments from their peers with any sort of achievement. In contrast, boys could expect bullying to be more physical and tended to be doled out to those who “can’t” rather than those that “can.” **

The message is clear – do well, girls, and there is an army waiting to tear you down.

This is what we have to fight, people.


Peggy Orenstein is an award-winning writer, editor and speaker about issues affecting girls and women.
** Please note – NEITHER form of bullying is ok. I bring it up because the contrast was interesting to me.

2 thoughts on “Girls bully, too: A comment on princesses and how we treat women that “can”

  1. I was speaking about the crabs in a bucket idea with our 12 year old son two days ago and it’s certainly one that I have already addressed, albeit at a different level, with our 7 year old daughter. Even at her age I have seen and heard the tearing down. Luckily our school is small enough, with a very strong stance on negativity and bullying that these issues can be addressed quickly, but how many children and later university students have the luxury of this protection.
    Peggy Orenstein’s article is excellent and frighteningly accurate. Aren’t we bombarded regularly with how we should look, sound, dress and conduct ourselves to be the best at everything, oh and cute too. If we don’t meet these standards are we somehow less? And yet the image in popular media of woman has regressed beyond what it has been within my 40 years. Everything is dumbed down, hyper sexualized and ambition and intelligence are no longer valued, at least not on television nor in much of music and film.
    I want to raise a daughter who is intelligent and capable with a strong will and big goals. And I want to raise a son just like that too who looks at women that embody those traits and honours and respects them. My little rant is done.

  2. Some of the worst bullying I saw in HS was girls to other girls.

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