Is “UnCultured” Desirable or Even Possible, for Our Girls?

20 07 2009

What’s the opposite of uncultured, I’m wondering today.
Cultured? Which antonym means natural, pure, authentic — cultured, or uncultured? So is cultured a good thing or not? Do we (collectively, as a culture) have consensus either way, have we thought to ask? Is it even a meaningful question, or is it nonsense?

Based on Wired Magazine power of story, Dana asks today just what we are teaching our girls. I saw this at the same time, which suggests that as Dana herself says, it’s not the current state of technology so much as timeless human psychology (mostly of their parents!) that shapes the culture kids will then see reflected back to them, in the most successful public messages.

Maybe youth culture is like driver’s ed as a subset of the general culture, as tweens and teens learn to operate their own psychology according to current road conditions, and affect those conditions for us all at the same time.

Favorite Daughter unschooled, unchurched, and therefore uncliqued, nevertheless identified with the Disney princesses as she danced almost daily through her tween-teen years with a small class of girls self-selected from public and private Christian school cultures. She has a lot to say about Girl Culture for Thinking Parents to consider, especially if it still looms ahead of their children. So here goes (maybe get a cuppa something, it’s long.)

Girls who stay with dance tend to be beautiful, slender, graceful girls blessed with great bone structure, aspiring ballerinas seduced to Dance as little girls by princess-pink tutus and tiaras, by handsome princes, bouquets of flowers and bows to the adoring crowd. Beautiful culture, nothing to fear?

But the world of dance is also unrealistically same-sex segregated. It’s also a culture of heavy stage make-up beyond one’s years, sensual and provocative if not downright sexy moves and costumes, investment in and obsession with appearance to the point of eating disorders, competing against peers to impress teachers and judges and earn external validation, petty dressing room gossip and elaborate in-bred social rivalries because there’s no time for any life outside that world —

At age 16 Favorite Daughter blogged:

Growing up female at the tail end of the 20th century, I hear a lot about the way the media unfairly influences my vision of myself. I can’t help but hear the news reports and studies and talk shows about yet another girl who got lost in a glossy magazine, yet another young woman whose blind ambition to be beautiful ruined a life not yet begun. . . yet I’ve survived spending almost every day with people who challenge my physical self-esteem.

Allow me to explain: I dance.

Nance then offered her a little cultural affirmation: Read the rest of this entry »