The following are excerpts from the book on these particular topics:

Selling of Pink

(from Chapter 1: What They Wear)

Some girls seem to love everything pink and glittery and pretty that other girls want nothing to do with. Why? There are lots of reasons, including what their parents are drawn to, what their friends like, what shows and ads they're watching on TV, or their need to be different from an older sister who seems to have claimed a style for herself. But have you noticed that girls seem to choose either pink or not pink? This isn't by chance. Marketers are not only offering clothes, they're offering a kind or type of girl. This kind of girl is either really feminine or she rejects the feminine for more masculine choices....

But pink has undergone a fashion adjustment. There's innocent pink (pastel pink with lacy whites) and there's pink with a sexy edge (a saturated hot pink laced with black-black lace, black leather). The pink wars. Will it lead to the girl wars? The innocent good girl and the sexy diva? We prepare girls for these choiceless choices by giving them an illusion of choice. You can see the types emerge already in the products available to young girls; options attached to a very different set of meanings. If there are only two kinds of girls, the "black and hot pink" girl soon chooses glittery bikini panties over Hanes briefs, the "drama queen" t-shirt over the "lil princess", Lil Bratz and Bratz (here pink and black is most explicitly connected to sexualized clothes and animal prints) over the sweet pink baby doll, the devilish costume over the halo and wings. It's innocent enough when we're talking 5 and 6-year-olds, but we'll see how things get more difficult when boys enter the picture in middle school and girls struggle to find their place in the age old good vs. bad girl split.


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Sexy Halloween Costumes

(from Chapter 1: What They Wear)

Websites sort their categories explicitly along gender lines, with categories like "Princesses and Barbie" and "Starwars and Sci-Fi", or even more pointedly "girl costumes" and "boy costumes". When we checked a promisingly neutral "When I grow up" category on one site, we found the same gender divide. There parents can find 55 boy and only 22 girl costumes. Of the 22 girl costumes, 15 are cheerleaders, divas, and rock stars. Included is our thumbs-down favorite in the "when I grow up" section-and what we imagine all parents wish for their daughter-that she would grow up to be a "French maid."

There's something especially pernicious about all this. Fantasy for children is about trying on new roles, about imagining the unusual or impossible, about trying on whatever wild and crazy identity suits your fancy or captivates in the moment. Why would we want-indeed, pay good money--to limit kids in such stereotypical ways? (And we're talking the littlest kids-don't forget to dress your infant in baby Hulk, Spiderman, or Superman costumes). And why especially on Halloween? After all, as legend has it, Halloween is the night when the veil between the worlds is thin, when the real and imagined come close to merging. It's the one magical night when we can expect imagination to wander far and wide, to let carnival and spectacle overtake convention.

...older girls want to be devils. And why? "I was a devil dressed all in red and with devil horns because its sexy and boys love the outfit, gives u loads of attention," wrote Maxine. Jasmine was "an angel because my boyfriend like it." Quite a few were sluts and hookers or sexy versions of school girls and bunnies. They find costumes on line or just create their own. Girls who were playboy bunnies and sexy kittens told us, "Halloween is the only day girls get to dress up as sluts and nobody can say anything about it."


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Hot Tubbing Bratz Dolls


(from Chapter 5: What They Do)

But are Bratz dolls all that different? Don't let their "sassy", "funky," "girls gone wild," descriptions fool you. In actuality, these dolls are pretty stereotypically feminine. Unlike Barbie, who sort of recovered from the bad press of saying "Math is hard" some years ago by morphing into everything from Doctor Barbie to President Barbie, the Bratz dolls are unapologetically focused on-no, obsessed with--fashion and boyz. There is no other "career," unless maybe it's modeling the animal skin mini-skirts and string bikinis they come with. ...

Still, what makes Bratz work for preteen girls is this pretense of "choosing" a lavish lifestyle. Barbie invented this, but Bratz take it to another level. It's not only the frenzy of consumerism, but it's the lifestyle itself. ...the "Sun-Kissed Summer" collection describes them as getting ready for a "super sizzlin' day at the beach.") The Toys 'R' Us ad for this scene shows the girls in bikinis sitting in a hot tub, mixing drinks (!), and standing around, while the Boyz play guitar and stand with their surf boards.). The "Slumber Party" is girls' only, as is the "Super Stylin' Runway Disco," the "Stylin' Salon 'N' Spa", and the "Stylin' Hair Studio." ...


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Victoria's Secret for Tweens

(from Chapter 1: What They Wear)

We notice that angels have been high-jacked by marketers too, making their biggest appearance on preteen underwear - bras and panties for girls, mimicking the Victoria Secret's "Angel Room" and angel collection of 2004. In the little girl section, sizes 7-16 (!), there is a bra and panty area that actually carries as small as size 4. The poster above the bras and panties shows two girls' faces, one blonde and one ethnic (as is common -- setting the norm with a blonde girl and varying it with an ethnic girl). One girl looks about 10; the other about 7; both so small and thin that surely neither is wearing a bra yet. They are both wearing lipstick as if to say - "Mommy, I'm more grown up than you think I am. Buy me a bra!" An 8-year-old can wear bikini underpants that show a pulp fiction woman's cartoon head asking "Will I never be a princess?" Such slogans are preparation for the reverse message as girls get older: the angel on the outside is harboring a little hottie underneath!


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Disney Girls

(from Chapter 2: What They Watch)

Disney's version of girlhood is everywhere, in department and specialty stores, catalogs, books, magazines, movies, TV, CDs, and of course Disney World theme parks. The Disney girl adorns clothing, toys, room dÈcor, sneakers, accessories, make-up kits and purses. Unless you plan to lock you daughter in the highest tower, the Disney girl needs to be confronted head on...

Who is she? ...Disney girls are typically princesses or repackaged as princesses even if they aren't ones in the stories told about them. They're always ready for, longing for, hoping and dreaming for a man, whether beastly or princely. They "want to be part of his world" not create their own world; ride his magic carpet not hers. They care and nurture, especially animals. They're sweet-faced, big breasted, small-waisted visual delights. Is that it? Because Disney's animated movies create the stories that drive their merchandise sales, we decided to take a closer look at Disney girls in film.


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MTV Girls

(from Chapter 2: What They Watch)

They turn around and jiggle their booties in the background of hip and dangerous male rappers. Or they look mysteriously sexy swirling around serious male balladeers. They seduce, betray, scheme, and endure. They dance on bars and laps and they wear feathers and sparkles and see-through clothes and heels. They suck on lollipops seductively and in one recent video, even have a pillow fight in their shorty shorts as the men sing about taffy! These are the girls on MTV, from the music videos to the real world. The power they have on the videos is always a sexual power to overwhelm through being "over the top" stimulating as porn is meant to be. Or, they can excite by withholding, becoming the woman of mystery that all men want. Sure you'll find a few female performers who sing it or rap it without jiggling and showing it at the same time - but for every one of them there are a dozen background jigglers.

This is not just a video fantasy; check out MTV reality shows. Sexual power is conveyed by all the shots of girls in bikinis or hot tubbing, for example, on Real World San Diego. Look, there goes another one fondling her breast implants for the camera in Real World Philadelphia. These girls are given the power to scheme and manipulate, to be "typical girls" and "play" people as the game requires. The producers have selected girls who have these qualities and capacities and they set up situations to evoke them. What gets play time? Sex, deception, seduction, and "catfighting". What gets lost on the cutting room floor? Probably the boring, boring hours in between when people with little interests outside of their bodies and their chance for stardom sitting around with nothing to say. Maybe it's better than that. Maybe those cardboard cut-out twenty-somethings talk about politics, share stories about their grandparents, read novels, practice their instruments, and study for the GREs - making them much more interesting people than we'll ever be shown. We'd like to hope so.


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Sex in the City Reruns

(from Chapter 2: What They Watch)

As Sex in the City girls, teens feel power as the power to screw around, and as Sociologist Gail Dines states, culture is becoming "branded through pornography". Ariel Levy, author of Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture, agrees. She writes that hotness has become "our cultural currency" and while it can mean popular, it really implies "fxxxable".


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Hermione Granger

(from Chapter 4: What They Read)

...In early interviews, author J.K. Rowlings repeatedly described Hermione as "annoying," a view clearly shared by the character's Hogwarts classmates. Even Emma Watson, the actress who plays Hermione, couldn't distance herself fast enough from her character: "We're completely opposite," she said in an interview after the first movie, "[Hermione's] bossy. She's horrible. I hate her!" Imagine the disappointment felt by little girls everywhere when they heard that!

In the first books Hermione carried the heavy gendered baggage of any smart girl who speaks her mind and is unconcerned about her appearance (she has "big" teeth in the early books and it doesn't bother her. She's described as a "bossy know it all," hissing at the boys "like an angry goose." And we're repeatedly reminded of her (weak) femininity when she runs to the bathroom in tears or she's found "cowering" in corners or "sunk to the floor in fright." Words like "whimpering," "shrill," and "panicky" follow her through the stories like a house elf. The boys accept Hermione as she becomes "nicer," more "relaxed about breaking the rules," and also because she so surprisingly proves her loyalty and cunning.


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CosmoGirl Categorized

(from Chapter 4: What They Read)

...In spite of their failure at providing real diversity, even in the kind of beauty featured, these magazines try to sell girls a sorry substitute for diversity. After all, today's generation was raised in schools that gave clear cut messages about diversity and tolerance and advertisers have known since the old Benneton advertisements that tolerance is hip. The type of diversity these magazines pretend to offer are "diverse" categories of girls. Fashion shoots, faux stories, Q & A columns, and special inserts all provide girls with a variety of categories with which they can label themselves. The magazine's message about girls being individuals is really telling them they need to fit into a set number of boxes. Those ever-present questionnaires will tell girls after they count up their scores whether they are a "chilled-out chick," "fair weather fan," or "sunshine sistah." Fashion features will have them label themselves as either a "busty babe", "hippie gal," "curvy chick", or "skinny sistah" or just label their bodies as "star" "pear" "apple" or "tube" shaped. These articles answer that all-important teen question, "who am I" over and over via predictions and advice. They take advantage of your daughter's genuine self-analysis at this age and make a mockery of the heartfelt questions she has.


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Gossip and Mean Girls

(from Chapter 3: What They Hear and from our chapter of sample conversations)

..."I wonder" you begin... and what do you wonder about? You wonder why people in the media are so interested in girls being mean to each other; "they focus in on all the problems, don't they, and leave out how great friends girls can be!" "I wonder" you begin, when your girl is crying, "what got in the way of this girl being a friend?" To which she may answer, "She's just mean." "I wonder" you might begin after hearing her talk down another girl, "what got in the way of you all being friends". The presumption in all of these questions, is that the norm is friendship and solidarity rather than competition, envy, and gossip, and that something got in the way, not someone. That your daughter hear this presumption and often from you is so important; we often get what we hope for and have faith in when it comes to our children. She may hear this from no one else.


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Bikes, Board Games, and Musical Instruments

(from Chapter 5: What They Do)

...There are also rules for girls and boys showing them how to be certain kinds of kids who are bike-riders. They're less explicit than the rules of the road but they're there. In fact, some are painted right onto the bikes. Take a look at the names of the bicycles identified as "girl bikes" and "boy bikes." Girl bikes are called "bliss", "sweetie," "teen talk", "princess dreamer," and "glitter express" to name a few. Boy bikes are called "hulk," "dinosaur," "overdrive," "arrow", and "firepower. Those are just for the smallest of the two wheelers. Go up a few inches and you get "girl stuff", "my special things," "star bright" and "petal patch" as opposed to "qualifier", "spitfire", "thrust" and "barebones" (barebones presumably because accessorizing is a girl thing.) Even in the older kids' mountain bikes we have "destiny" for the girl and "challenger" for the boy. They don't have 20" dirt bikes for girls, unless they want to ride something called the "Basher," the "Prowler", or "Big Daddy." No Big Mamas to be seen!


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Princess Movies

(from Chapter 2: What They Watch)

...In all the other princess movies, if a princess needs rescuing, or someone to accompany her on a journey, or someone to teach her the rules of some new land or role she will need to fulfill, it's not her best friend and never her mother. Mothers are almost always against the journey, like the feminist mother in Ice Princess who would rather her daughter study physics at Harvard than figure skate in short little dresses. Go figure. Companions on a journey are almost always male figures. Confidantes are often grandmothers or male servants (e.g. butler or chauffeur).


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Sports, MySpace, IM, and Cheerleading

(from Chapter 5: What They Do)

...The world of play -- from dolls to sports to practicing an instrument to slumber parties to cheerleading to Instant Messenging to kissing and more. There is a common belief that if a child herself chooses a game, an activity, a club, an instrument, or a toy that she is expressing her individual personality and couldn't be coerced by old-fashioned rules of gender. Parents couldn't be more wrong. Choice, everyday, is coerced, and not only by the marketers, but by the people around her who also pick up on societal ideas of what's normal and important for girls vs. boys.

....In middle school, girls seriously begin to talk to each other on computer e-mailing systems such as Instant Messenger (IM). Independent of the rise in homework rates, girls are multi-tasking by messaging their friends while they do a myriad of other things. They can keep the AOL lines open on their computer with "away" messages while they run to the kitchen to have dinner, do their homework, watch TV, play a computer game, or check out strangers' MySpace pages.

While Instant Messaging is a surefire way to spread gossip quickly, and is used by some girls to exchange drug information, gossip, and cheat on homework, it's also a way for girls to try out that new middle school sarcastic wit, create a linguistic style, and stay connected to friends after school is out. Forty per cent of households with children own a computer. When they don't, boys generally find ways to get access, by hanging out at an after school program with computers or the library. Girls seem to make do with other means of communication.

The problem with IMing and other forms of cyber communication is that it's an unsupervised area that introduces pre-teens and middle-schoolers to a virtual teen life, a life that makes them girls using the internet, not just kids, and often, flirty, sexy girls. On screen they try out those stereotypes in ways that support gender divisions in the teen years even when on-line there's so much potential to rebel against them. While many parents are worried about their child meeting a sex offender on line (very rare), more ought to be worried about the stereotypes that lurk around every corner in cyberspace


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Series Books, Newbery Winners, and Seventeen Magazine

(from Chapter 4: What They Read)

...As you read the good literature with your daughter, don't be afraid to ask questions. Is this book about rebellion? If it's a book about a boy, ask can a girl rebel? If the book is about staying at home and coping, ask why the author didn't have the girl run away. Is the book about adventure? Can a girl go on an adventure to find herself or does it have to be to save others? In horrible circumstances, must a girl stay put and cope or can she escape? Is the girl given the traditional role of caretaking? Are there male caretakers in the book, as the father in The Giver is the caretaker in the nursery? Does a girl have to find romance at the end of the book? Is it realistic for that age if she does? Are her looks described? Is a girl described without reference to whether she is attractive or not?


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Drugs, Sex, and the Media

(from Chapter 5: What They Do)

...Journalists love stories about teens and sex. Always looking for a new trend, and not finding much real news related to "Living" or taking care of children, they are constantly recycling old stories in new packaging. Every couple of years, a major news magazine will have a story about teen sex on its cover and we will be shocked by the "new" information!

Whenever something - anything - comes up in a grade school or middle school across the country that makes it to a paper (a grade school boy suspended for kissing a girl; a middle school in which oral sex in the hallway was discovered), journalists can create a story about it by asking the question, "Is this a new trend?" The answer is usually, "No. This is an isolated incident" but statistics can always be trotted out to boost the side of the argument that results in telling parents to be way more attentive to their kids than ever before. These "new trend" stories are rarely about girls taking calculus (which is a bit of a new trend and exciting!) but about girls and sex or girls and some disturbing behavior.


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Much More:

Our Very DETAILED Table of Contents
Preface
Introduction: Rescuing Our Daughters from Marketers' Schemes
Chapter 1: Pretty in Pink? What Girls Wear
Pretty (Sexy) in Pink: Your Perfect Little Angels
Pink and Girly, Red and Feisty: Are They So Different?
Dressing Like Your Doll or Dressing to Play
Halloween Costumes
Fit for a Princess: The So-Called "Tween" Years
First Stop: J.C. Penny
Limited, Too.
Claire's (where getting ready is half the fun)
Clothes Make the Girl: The New Teens
Looking Cute
Hot Topic
T Shirts
Dress Codes
Hot Teens: The Clash Between Image and Self
Sexy Hott Teens
Tattoos and Piercings
Halloween Revisited
 
Chapter 2: See No Evil? What Girls Watch
Where's Fiona? In Never Never Land: The Early Years
Girls Only!: Commercials
Disney Girls
Where's Fiona?
From TVs Meanest Meanies to Princess Movies: The Preteen Years
Meanest Meanies
Boy Geniuses: You Silly Girl! This is Science and Science is Not Pretty
Tween Movies
Magical Girls and Extreme Makeovers: For The New Teen
Magical Girls with Special Powers
Is There Anything Real About Reality Programs?
They're Pure Evil: Horror Films
"Friends" "Sex" and R-Rated Movies: Real Teens
From Romance to Porn - and the Difference Is?
Friends and Sex: The Old Neurosis in A Friendlier Package
MTV Girls
What To Watch/How To Respond
 
Chapter 3: Do You Hear What I Hear? What Girls Listen To
What They Hear From Us: Body Talk & Girl Typing
Body Talk
Your Descriptions of Your Daughter
What They Hear From Teachers
What They Hear From Peers: Girl Stain and Other Word Vomit
What Else They Hear From Peers: Gossip
What They Hear May Be Different From What They Do: All Talk and No Action?
Music to their Ears
Jump Rope Rhymes
Music for 4-7-year-olds to Hijack Childhood
Kidz Bop
With A Song in their Heart or Stars (Popstars) in their Eyes?
Intimacy, Confession, and Inspiration
The Songs of Drrrty Girls, Tough Chix, and Young Innocents
Sex in Song
Musical Packaging & Prohibitions
 
Chapter 4: Reading between the Lines? What Girls Read
Gender Stereotyping: Which Book is the Fairest of Fall?
Where The Boys Are: Caldecott Winners
"Thinking Fuzzy Things": The Shape of Girls in Dr. Seuss
Girl Typing in Books for Girls
Some Are Brave
Books for Tweens: American Girls, Newbury Girls, and Real Girls
A Series to Buy For
Newbery Absolute Winners
From Violet and Hermione to Alana and Lyra
Serial Books - From Preteen to Teen
Toone It Out
Full-Frontal Snogging and Gossip Girls
Issues Books: The Glamour of Pain
Magazine Reading
The Nature of Girls: Magazines for the Younger Set
Seven Going on Fourteen: Magazines for "Tweens"
Are You a Hillary or an Avril?: Cosmo-Girls Categorized
Embarrassing Moments
Good Girl Avril, Bad Girl Britney?
Bait and Switch: The Lure of "Girl Power" on Web-sites
"Because You're More Than Just A Pretty Face"
 
Chapter 5: Wanna Play? What Girls Do
Toys R Her: The Games She Plays, The Toys She Loves
A Walk Through Toys R Us: An Alien Culture?
No One Wins in the Diva Doll Wars
Educational Toys?
Board Games: Fibbing, Fairy Princesses, and Fashion
Physical Play: Bikes, Sports, and ...Cheerleading?
"Skills:" Gotta Have 'Em
Extracurriculars
Making a Big Noise
Gameboy Girls and Girl Gamers
How Girls Compute: Hacking and Gaming For Older Girls
Shopping: It's a Girl Thang
Room Makeovers: The New Home Ec
Social Life
Party Girls
I M So into MySpace
Hold 'Em Girls
Drugs and Daughters
New Sex Acts and the Media
Real Sex
Doing and Being: It's a Girl's Life
 
Conclusion: Rebel, Resist, Refuse: Sample Conversations with Our Daughters
Resources

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