Cinderella Ate My Daughter Chapter Summary

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In 2011, Peggy Orenstein published Cinderella Ate My Daughter to examine how princess culture impacted girlhood. “What Makes Girls Girls?” is a chapter in this book that delves into the implications of sexual difference and whether or not it is rooted in biology. By studying various research projects conducted by professionals, Orenstein discovers that, ultimately, a child’s environment plays a key role in behavior. To pose the question of whether the concept of gender is inherent, Orenstein references several examples that have sparked a considerable amount of discussion about how a child’s gender expression is molded by upbringing. For example, the author references a Swedish couple that adopted gender neutrality into the rearing of their…show more content…
Until age five, children do not form object permanence and therefore assume that identity is something that changes with certain aspects of appearance, such as clothing or hairstyle. Thus, a set of rigid rules about physical appearance are put in place by the child to determine whether a person is male or female. Orenstein discovers that toy choice is also something that is innately different between the sexes. For instance, in an experiment conducted on primates, the male and female monkeys play with the toys that are the most traditional and specific to their gender. Although some inherent distinctions between the sexes exist, Orenstein mentions Eliot’s findings on neuroplasticity to suggest that nurture supersedes nature in determining a child’s behavior. A child is most impressionable during the earliest stages of life, when his or her brain is still developing. That is why learning various concepts such as language, for example, is most easily acquired before the age of puberty. Thus, an individual’s upbringing is fundamental in the development of traits and therefore, gender
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