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Reading Maketh a Full Man...

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The Discarded Image: An Introduction to Medieval and Renaissance Literature (Canto)
C.S. Lewis
Boys and Girls Learn Differently!: A Guide for Teachers and Parents
Michael Gurian, Terry Trueman, Patricia Henley
Ambition and Survival: Becoming a Poet
Christian Wiman
Deep River: The Life and Music of Robert Shaw
Keith C. Burris
Daring, Trusting Spirit
John De Gruchy
The Vatican Diaries: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Power, Personalities, and Politics at the Heart of the Catholic Church
John Thavis
The Whisperers: Private Life in Stalin's Russia
Orlando Figes

Packaging Girlhood: Rescuing Our Daughters from Marketers' Schemes

Packaging Girlhood: Rescuing Our Daughters from Marketers' Schemes - Sharon Lamb, Lyn Mikel Brown The stars for this book don’t really have to do with the fact that I liked the book. I really disliked reading it, but found the information within compelling enough to recommend reading it. The authors of this book do a masterful job of showing the twisted path of marketing that molds, manipulates and addicts girls to a limited set of stereotypical images. They look at clothes and fashion, movies and TV programs, books and magazines, sports and hobbies. And in all of these areas, the terrible images of diva / boy crazy / shopper are revealed to be demeaning and frightening.There is an almost overwhelming amount of information in the book. And slogging through it all is depressing beyond words. However, a few examples are worth sharing. First example, "immersive advertising" via Neopets in the section on "Wanna Play? What Girls Do". From the book, pages 246- 247, "Netopets are cyber beings that live in an evolving mythical land called Neopia. Kids from around the world are invited into the free site to create and then care for their virtual pets, while a team of webmasters update the goings-on daily. Hugely popular, it has been the number one site for preteens; 39 percent of their visitors are twelve and younger , and nearly 60 percent are female -- a very high percentage for a computer game. In talk with parents and girls about Neopets, we heard that it's innocent fun in the too-often racy world of gaming. Parents like that girls are choosing something interactive and creative rather than IMing their friends. DON'T BE FOOLED. (my emphasis) There is nothing innocent here. Neopets is actually a sophisticated marketing scheme disguised as virtual pet care. The object of the game is to gain Neopoints by playing product-placement games or watching commercials and movie trailers and visiting the Web sites of their sponsors. You can buy food for your pet (such as McDonald's fries; no wonder McDonald's Happy Melas toys in the summer of 2004 were Neopets) and then keep its teeth from falling out with a Crest spinbrush. The company is unabashedly gleeful about using 'immersive advertising', which is an 'evolutionary step forward in the traditional marketing practice of product placement.' Immersive advertising, according to the company's site, 'incorporates the advertiser's brand, service and/or message directly into entertaining site content, thereby creating brand affinity with site members.' Immersive advertising is extremely powerful because kids connect emotionally with their Neopets. .... they bond with pets by playing, feeding, and grooming them, as well as entering them in beauty and other contests, all the while using well-placed products to ensure the pet's health and well-being. .... Products alleviate pets' discomfort, and this affects kids' feelings about the product. Marketers use their entire bag of tricks within this virtual world: They place products strategically, and they make needed products scarce. Pet owners then want them more, and barter and trade for them, building a desire that overflows the game and translates into the real world of 'pester power' -- using kids to influence what their parents buy. " (end of quote from the book)This is not innocent play for children. If you enter into this world thinking child psychologists who love children and who love your child in particular have crafted this virtual world for the better education of your child, then you need to do your homework! For example, read http://electronics.howstuffworks.com/neopet3.htm for some information about how Neopets began and how it makes its money and what its goals are.Second example, "cata-novels" in the section "Reading Between the Lines: What Girls Read". A cata-novel is a catalog and novel combined. American Girl introduced books that show a new outfit or accessories worn or used by the characters in their book. Limited Too has taken this concept and ramped it up in producing catalogs for Limited Too products and events disguised as novels. From the book, page 177, "The store's name is mentioned in every other chapter, and most important, the action of the novels takes place in the stores or at a Limited Too event. The lead girl and her friends become consultants to Limited Too, and by doing so we get a behind-the-scenes look at how interested the company is in girls and how much it cares." Continuing, "Limited Too products appear on page after page of these books; pillos, frames, hats, sunglasses, charm bracelets -- any kind of merchandise gets worked into the story and never rejected."This again is not innocent reading for children. It is purposeful and planned manipulation thinly disguised as encouraging reading. These are but two examples of many many contained in the book. The writing of the book is not great. The authors have a fairly clear feminist agenda and seem to think that learning to be a loving mother and nurturing your children is less important (and even worse, a stereotype you should avoid) than expressing your own version of femininity. I disagree wholeheartedly with this. So, read this book with some big grains of salt. But do read it. It is worth knowing what is out there that perhaps you didn't know about. The authors also seem to think that girls will inevitably be caught up into all of these manipulations and the only solution is to walk beside them as they are manipulated and try to maintain open communication. While I can understand this if the girls have been left to their own devices in terms of clothes shopping, movie viewing, and peer influence, I don’t think it is inevitable that little girls MUST be manipulated into diva / boy crazy / shopper stereotypes. As parents, we can do a GREAT deal and it involves prevention and exposure to true types. Little girls who are 5 and 6 don't have money of their own to spend on thong underwear. This is where the parent needs to BE the parent and make adult decisions. Say no to clothes like this, and teach your child that you are going to say no to this type of junk! Expose your children to real people who do interesting things. Learn to do interesting things yourself, perhaps, and that will encourage your daughter to want to do them as well!!! Maybe this book is a wakeup call for parents to really parent and not be a child's best buddy. Children need wise direction so they can grow up to become wise and loving adults. This book has information that will help identify those unwise areas that children should be guided away from.