Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Princesses vs. Pirates

It is the versus in the title that most interests me.

Why can't it read Princesses and Pirates?

But, I am getting ahead of myself...

In our classroom we have a varied assortment of book bins arranged according to favorite authors (Todd Parr, Ezra Jack Keats, James Marshall, Dr. Seuss, Anthony Browne, Denise Fleming, Nancy Carlson, Mo Willems), favorite characters (Curious George, Clifford, Froggy, Rotten Ralph) and genre (fairy tales, counting books, ABC books, color books, holidays, how-to books, seasons, etc.).

Our latest additions, based on student interest, are princess books and pirate books.

I began to wonder if the popularity of these books would be divided along gender lines.  So, I asked the children privately which books they liked better.  Sure enough all of the little girls said "princess books" and the little boys all said "pirate books".

My follow-up question brought more compelling answers.  I asked the girls if they also liked reading pirate books and all but one said "yes", but not one boy said he liked reading princess books.  Not one!  And the facial expression accompanying the answer clearly let me know that this was a ridiculous question to be asking in the first place.

Are societal expectations regarding gender roles at play here or is it that boys inherently find pirates more interesting than princesses?

 Is it because it is simply easier for little girls to imagine themselves as a princess rather than a pirate?

I must admit that I find pirate books more interesting but have certainly become enchanted by a princess story or two in my time.

And so have these little boys.  They are just not willing to admit it or haven't realized that they do.

How about you?  Which do you prefer? Why?

11 comments:

Angella Lister said...

pirate books! all that swashbuckling adventure and wide open sea. even as a little girl i knew that all the material of the princess dresses must be horribly restricting. plus i was the kind of little girl who was always tugging at the starchy frilly dresses my mother put me in and pirate garb always seemed so colorful and free. and to spend your days sailing the oceans and visiting faraway lands. well, i preferred pirate books for sure. i never saw myself as one of the princesses. besides, i was too fat. and not the right color. so there it is. more than you asked for, i'm sure!

Gary said...

Angella - I agree, pirate clothes are much more interesting than princess clothes. You also make a good point about how princesses are portrayed as slim, white girls. I think nowadays that is changing a bit (thank you Shrek, Mulan and The Princess and the Frog) but it still prevails. Plus a pirate's life is free, not luxurious like a princess but these are the trade offs. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Barbara said...

Pirate books definitely! I've always loved the Captain Hook character and all those other gnarly old pirates. I guess, like Angela, I just never fit into the princess mold. I liked drawing trains, not castles, when I was 6, too. What does that say about me? :)

Tess Kincaid said...

I would place myself in the pirate category.

Tess Kincaid said...

...btw, I love the photo of you and your best friend on your sidbar. :)

Gary said...

Barbara - Pirates seem to be the favorite here for sure. You know, I was not into Peter Pan when I was younger but a few years ago a friend of mine was playing the Disney version for his daughter and I realized what a hoot Captain Hook is. I became a fan due to his neurosis concerning the whole clock/croc thing. About drawings...now you are going to have me watching for this (trains and castles). Thanks for weighing in!

Tess - Another vote for pirates! Ahoy! It is also more fun to talk like a pirate. What does a princess say anyway? And thanks for the nice comment about the pic with Joy. We are excited because we just found out tonight that our podcast will now be available on iTunes! The sidebar link will be updated as soon as it is up there (1-2 days). Give a listen when you can and let us know what you think.

LadrĂ³n de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

With me I think Princess vs. Pirate is an internal struggle.

Pauline said...

I always wanted to be a female pirate, disguised in a gown but able to leap onto the rigging with a knife in my teeth, startling (and defeating) all those swashbucklers below. So - a pirate princess if you will. Why not have the best of both worlds?

Angella Lister said...

Pauline, i love it! a pirate-princess spy!

Angella Lister said...

Gary, it just struck me that i excluded myself from the princess thing because of size and color, yet it never occurred to me to exclude myself from the pirate thing because of gender. Hmm.

Sorry for blowing up your comments box!

Gary said...

Gregg - Sounds like you are well rounded. Which are you at the moment?

Pauline - You can't help but create splendid visual imagery with your words. I can see you swinging from a rope with your gown flapping behind you! Pirate princess, why not indeed!

Angella - It seems pirates are the more welcoming group. Afterall they do welcome more people into their fold and you don't have to be born into it! Between us here we are amassing a fun little ship of our own. I love the comments, keep 'em coming. :)

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