An All-American Girl

I've never been that enamored with dolls, either as a kid or as a mother. And the American Girl dolls, with their neat hairstyles and pretty dresses, always seemed just too girly for my tastes. They weren't scary lobotomized versions of womanhood, like the Barbies, but they do offer a neat, lightly multiracial, and sanitized versions of American history that always struck me as a bit conservative.

Little did I know, that these nice girls were radicals in disguise. Two conservative groups, the American Family Association and the Pro-Life Action League, are in a tizzy over the new version of the dolls that offers wristbands (you know, like Lance Armstrong's yellow ones) that say "I Can."

Apparently, the "I Can" wristbands support Girls Inc., a national non-profit that provides, among other things: math and science education, pregnancy and drug abuse prevention, media literacy, economic literacy, adolescent health, violence prevention, and sports participation.

Girls, Inc. has a great motto: "Strong, Smart, and Bold" and pictures of a lot of girls on the Website who look like the kind I'd like my daughter to grow up to be.

Girls Inc. also supports a girl’s right to have access to contraception and pledges support for girls dealing with issues of sexual orientation.

That in itself is probably enough to have the founders of Girls, Inc. shipped off to Guantanamo Bay.

Is anyone else exhausted by single-issue politics? Especially of the intolerant fundamentalist kind?

Ruth Coniff puts it pretty well:


The conservatives who promote boycotts of products like American Girl dolls and venerable organizations like Girls, Inc do themselves a disservice. It is not commercialism or violence or even raciness they are against, but rather the growing consensus in our culture that girls ought to be free of the repressive view of themselves as pretty objects, and ought to see themselves as strong, healthy, smart, autonomous people. It's not just American Girl [they] don't like. It's American girls in general.

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