Intercultural Extraneity

Does every girl want to be a princess?

This post explores how meaning is negotiated and created. To do so, it examines a meme and includes at least one alternative interpretation. It also reflects on the cognitive bias that can affect how we generate and disseminate meaning in our own social networks.

Link to the meme
The meme that I chose is about feminism and draws some important questions about the position of women – What are the stereotypes about women? How women are perceived and what roles does society prescribe them? Is there a certain code about how women should behave and what qualities should they possess?
Feminism as a movement is often misinterpreted and underestimated. I’ve been a witness on many occasions that people around me see feminism as a threat to a traditional patriarchal society, a “product” of the West used for brain-washing and most commonly, a movement invented for discrimination against men. As for the last claim, I found a meme that also explains what feminism is about ( Feminism isn’t about making women superior to men – there are obvious physical and biological differences between the sexes and the aim of feminism is to create equality on a social, economic and political level. In regards to the first two claims, If a traditional patriarchal society means that certain jobs, tasks, roles are assigned to women just due to their sex, then that kind of a society needs to change, moreover, it’s high time people stopped having prejudices against the West just because some of its values stand against traditional Serbian values.

The context of the meme: the meme spurred many questions that I wrote in the first paragraph. We can see from it that, from an early age, girls are perceived as fragile creatures in need of male protection, unable to do many things without men. Also, the meme is full of pink colour, the one usually ascribed to girls. The title of the meme goes “Not all princesses need saving” which evokes the scenes from Disney movies where princesses wait for their princes to save them. Judging from these movies, a princess has to be beautiful, modest, obedient, passive and wait for her courageous prince to save her and they would life happily ever after. But what If a girl doesn’t want to be a princess? What If she doesn’t need saving?

Responding to questions: What is the message? The message of the meme is that girls are completely capable of taking care of themselves. Parents should teach their daughters how to be independent and encourage them to be who and what they want, not what society expects. What signs/symbols does it use to get that message across? The symbols used are the toy carriage fixed by two little girls. It reminds of a Disney movie Cinderella with a little difference that these girls don’t wait for the prince to save them but rather take matters into their own hands. Repairing vehicles is usually considered as men’s job, so this meme is good for breaking prejudices about “men and women’s jobs”. How can its symbolic content be interpreted in a different way, through a different lens? This question was the toughest to answer and it took me some time to be able to write a response. Perhaps the possible interpretation is that these girls want to be both princesses and mechanics and that they don’t need anyone else’s help. One not really happy interpretation would be that the girl lying down got run over by a carriage and didn’t need saving. Alternative lens: Some feminist critics think that patriarchy has prevented women from developing their capacities, which can be seen in a world of literature. Most of the greatest writers are male and we all know that just two centuries ago Mary Ann Evans had to use pseudonym George Eliot in order to publish her works. However, there are people who believe that patriarchy is not accountable for inequality, just that there are bad examples of how patriarchy is misused. The question is whether we’ll create equal society If we substitute patriarchy with matriarchy? Is matriarchy better than patriarchy? According to Kahstan ( ‘‘All of us, men and women, have been trained into patriarchy, and all of us pass it on from generation to generation. Some of the most brutal forms of violence against girls (e.g. clitoridectomy; foot binding) are done by women, including their mothers; not necessarily by men. I don’t blame men, nor see them as the problem. I don’t blame women, either. I don’t blame anyone, in the end.’‘
Therefore, equal society means the world where everyone has equal opportunities, regardless of their sex. In order to do that, one should always be open for discussion, especially about things that he/she does not agree with, because even If you still do not agree with something after the discussion, at least you will be aware of another point of view.

Biases make people vulnerable to misinformation spread by social media – comment:
Social media is a primal source of information nowadays, but that doesn’t mean that it is valid. Both newspapers and politicians use social media for manipulation. There are three types of biases – bias in the brain, bias in society and bias in the machine. The first one refers to the processing of information and although the brain has its mechanisms to avoid information overload, these are not always effective. The second states that information we receive is connected to our internet friends, whereas the last one is connected with algorithms.
The article draws attention on the validity of information and data we see online and how it is biased. We may feel that we are not manipulated and that we get information from different sources, but news that we get are actually based on algorithms, popularity bias, trending, and also can be manipulated by social bots. The article thus stresses different types of online manipulation but, luckily, offers various apps about how we can protect ourselves from internet misinformation.

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