Hear Me Out
|by Mubarak Dahir|
|Dolls and Dykes
Felicity and Elizabeth are best friends. They dress up together.
Felicity loves her lavender gown, white stockings and black shoes with fancy buckles. She likes to have her long blonde hair brushed and tied with a matching lavender ribbon. Then she tucks her golden curls underneath a mobcap.
She has a matching lace handkerchief and carries a brocade purse. A choker of purple blossoms is always around her neck. Under her gown, she ties her dainty garters above the knee.
Elizabeth, on the other hand, prefers a coral pink taffeta number. She wears white stockings, too, but dons a pinner cap trimmed with lace. She wears earrings, and a tasteful pearl choker. When she's hot, she pulls out her fan and cools herself.
Right now, Elizabeth must be fanning up a storm, because she and Felicity are sure in the heat of things.
Step aside, Tinky Winky. You're a has-been, Sponge Bob.
Felicity and Elizabeth are the new threat to America's kids: They have just been uncovered by the religious right as the latest attempt by the toy industry to poison America's little girls by recruiting them to be lesbians!
Ok, so the right wingers haven't yet explicitly accused Felicity and Elizabeth of sniffing or licking each other. But the two dolls are the targets of an organized protest campaign and a threatened boycott.
The Mississippi-based American Family Association has just launched a national campaign urging its members to express dismay at American Girl, the manufacture of a popular line of dolls for little girls, including Felicity and Elizabeth. American Girl is a subsidiary of toy manufacturing giant, Mattel Inc. The AFA's chairman, Don Wildmon, said his group is hoping to have a "financial impact" on American Girl.
The Pro-Life Action League, a Chicago-based anti-abortion group, is alerting its members to the dangers of American Girl. "Parents need to know that [the company] supports abortion, opposes abstinence-only education for girls, and condones lesbianism," said Executive Director Ann Scheidler.
Scheidler said her group might also call a boycott of American Girl, and picket the doll-maker's stores.
By now, you're scratching your head, wondering how two rather dowdy dolls have earned the wrath of America's religious conservatives. After all, Felicity and Elizabeth are no Barbie. They don't have unrealistically huge boobs or wear seductive clothes or ride around with boy dolls in flashy cars.
They do, however, encourage little girls 7 to 12 years old to be "strong, smart and bold."
That's the motto behind Girls Inc., a 140-year-old organization that until 1990 was known as the Girls Clubs of America. Now, American Girl and Girls Inc. have teamed up to help young girls.
Enter conservative ire.
As well as producing doll favorites like Felicity and Elizabeth, American Girl sells $1 "I Can" wristbands. The black bands, emblazoned with the American Girl logo, sport a big pink plastic star, and come with an "I Can" pledge card.
The elastic band's "promise," as the company calls it, goes like this:
"I can be myself, follow my dreams, and always do my best. I can reach for the stars, lend a hand to others, and be a good friend. I can make a difference! I promise to try."
American Girl is giving 70 cents on the dollar of the sale of "I Can" bands to three specific programs sponsored by Girls Inc. The programs include building girls' skills in science and math, developing leadership skills and encouraging athletic skills.
Clearly a thinly veiled attempt to turn little girls into dykes!
What straight girl would want to be able to understand math and science? (After all, remember when Barbie also made by Mattel uttered the words, "Math is hard!") What good little heterosexual girl would want to be a (gasp) leader? (Isn't that a man's job?) And naturally, only lesbians want to play team sports (preferably hockey or softball.)
Religious conservatives have their doll panties in a wad over Felicity and Elizabeth because of what they consider an unholy alliance between American Girl and Girls Inc.
The conservatives calling for a boycott of American Girl point out that on the Web site for Girls Inc., its "advocacy" page lists six "Girls' Bill of Rights." Two of those have the conservatives up in arms.
One statement in this "Bill of Rights" declares, "Girls have the right to accept and appreciate their bodies."
If you click on that statement, you get taken to another Web page that expounds upon the principle. It spells out the group's belief that girls have the right to informed sex education, and to contraceptives.
And under the heading of "sexuality," the statement reads:
"We recognize that any sizable group of girls includes those who face issues related to their sexual orientation or that of a family member and who face discrimination based on this sexual orientation. Girls have a right to positive, supportive environments and linkages to community resources for dealing with issues of sexual orientation."
Click on another of the "Girls Bill of Rights"the statement that says, "Girls have the right to be themselves and resist gender stereotypes"and you find their diversity pledge:
"We also endeavor to eliminate sexism, racism, homophobia and other forms of discrimination."
Felicity and Elizabeth have been busted! Or have they been outed? American Girl is standing behind Felicity and Elizabeth.
A statement issued by the company pointed out that its donations from the "I Can" band are going to help specific programs that are appropriate for all girls.
Girls Inc. programs reach 800,000 girls around the country. Most of the girls come from low-income families, and many are minority girls who are black or Hispanic. They are just the girls who most need the encouragement of the "I Can" pledge and the benefit of the Girls Inc. programs.
Felicity and Elizabeth would be proud.
Mubarak Dahir, can be reached at MubarakDahir@aol.com.
LETTERS From CAMP Rehoboth, Vol. 15, No. 15 November 23, 2005