After his 4-year-old daughter received a "best dressed" award at her preschool graduation ceremony, David M. Perry, associate professor of history, decided to examine the causes and implications of sex stereotyping beginning at a young age.
The resulting essay, published on CNN.com, has led to significant conversation on social media and the Web. It also caught the attention of San Francisco-based radio talk show host Gill Gross, who had Perry on air to discuss the essay
(segment begins at 14:15).
|David M. Perry|
"The truth is that my daughter may well be the best dressed in her class. She has a terrific sense of style. One day she put on a hand-me-down Disney princess outfit, looked in the mirror and said, 'OK Dad, I'm ready to dig for worms!' Another day, she went to school in a pink dress, green rain boots and a viking helmet. I frequently come home to find her in a pirate costume," Perry writes. "She's practical and became outraged when she discovered that her 'girl jeans' turned out to have fake pockets. 'Daddy,' she said, 'Where am I going to put my pine cones?' If she's the best dressed, it's because of her creativity."
"Ellie's teacher is the kind of smart and strong young woman I want as a role model for my daughter (she's also a really snappy dresser), and I know she was only trying to make the transition moment special for each student. She absolutely intended to celebrate the way Ellie expresses her creativity through clothes," he continues. "But gender stereotypes are, by their very nature, pernicious. They creep into our minds, shaping our perceptions of the world on a subconscious level, tricking us into betraying our values.
"Our culture constantly projects the message that only appearances matter, and this message is aimed squarely at our children. We can fight this only by working against the grain, resisting gendered language and emphasizing the internal over the external."
Perry also has recently weighed in on a variety of topics ranging from the Pope's recent remarks on the redemption of all people to the controversy surrounding Boston College's commencement speaker invitation to Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Click here to read about those and other recent essays from Perry.
Click here to read the full essay on CNN.com
or hear the full interview on KKSF Radio.
(Perry's segment begins at 14:15.)