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‘What’s Wrong with Cinderella’ By Peggy Orenstein

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Using personal experience, Peggy Orenstein, discusses the impact businesses such as Disney and Mattel have on reinforcing gender roles. The fact that she is a mother discussing her own struggles gives the piece a more casual and personal tone. She is speaking to those like her. Having a conversation with the readers causes the piece to be well-rounded. While she does not address the reader directly the casual nature of the writing allows her to make an argument, bring up questions about the argument and then answer those questions all while simply talking about an experience she had with her own daughter. Also unlike a ‘Scholar of women’s studies’ her main focus is on her daughter. Not political correctness or staying true to her feminist beliefs, but providing the best atmosphere for her daughter. Instead of trying to validate herself as a scholar or someone who constantly studies how gender roles effect young girls, Peggy Orenstein simply uses her personal experience as a feminist who has a princess loving three-year-old. This firsthand experience validates her argument. There can be thousands of studies and observations done on young girls, but no one will understand them as well as a mother.

These young girls however don’t always understand their mothers’ intentions the same way. As Orenstein states, “What if, instead of realizing: Aha! Cinderella is a symbol of the patriarchal oppression of all women, another example of corporate mind control and power-to-the-people! My 3-year-old was thinking, Mommy doesn’t want me to be a girl?” She isn’t as much trying to persuade the reader one way or the other as much as just bringing up the issue and discussing it. She does a very good job of representing both points of views even though she does claim to be a feminist. When she brings up a new point she first brings up the opposing argument and then uses her opinion of said argument to make her point. Before moving onto her next point she often refers back to the argument and it’s points of validity.

What she ends up doing is establishing that there is a big grey area. Throughout the piece she is trying to find a balance between discouraging her daughter from being feminine and discouraging her daughter from conforming to gender roles. If she were to “completely and totally reject princess culture” she would “limit” her daughter “from a full exploration of” her “gender and femininity”. “Being a feminist does not mean an overall rejection of everything it means to be a traditional girl.” (Schechter-Shaffin, Shoshanna R.)


Orenstein, Peggy. “Whats Wrong with Cinderella?” Composing Gender. Ed. Rachael Groner and John F. O’Hara. N.p.: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2013. N. pag. Print. Schechter-Shaffin, Shoshanna R. “A Feminist Defense of Cinderella.” The Feminist Wire. Thefeministwire, 27 Mar. 2014. Web. 23 Oct. 2014.

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