Boys Act, Little Girls Appear

I’ve been seeing this video of an “adorable 911 call” on Facebook and other social media sites a lot lately. In the video, a five year old girl named Savannah calls 911 when her dad has a heart attack. Savannah is helpful in her conversation with the operator, but what makes the video so “adorable” is the way Savannah steers the conversation to her clothes. At 1:54, after the dispatcher tells Savannah that people are on their way to the house to help, Savannah says “Ok. We’re in our jammies… and I’m in a tank top. So… I’ll have to get dressed.” Again at 1:59, Savannah says “”I dont…what I am gonna wear, but… he really needs oxygen.”

The video is garnering attention because Savannah is cute and funny. It is humorous that a little girl is preoccupied with what she will wear to the hospital after her father has just had a heart attack. However, I find the video a little sad because it shows how a five year old girl is already so preoccupied with her appearance. Bergen said in Ways of Seeing that “women appear,” and this video proves that girls internalize society’s expectations of women as decoration at an extremely young age. Savannah must have learned this mentality from female caretakers in her life, as well as media influences. I think this video is an example of gender as a process, and shows how young girls interpret what it means to be female.

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One thought on “Boys Act, Little Girls Appear

  1. ivansand

    I completely agree that it is sad to see society’s influence on children, but it is evidence of how we are being molded by our surroundings. It really shows the way we are socially constructed into the norms that society has set for our given sex. It is evident in Savannah that she has “learned what is expected” of her gender and is more so focused on these expectations than on what is going on around her. She has learned that she will be observed and depending on what she is wearing, she will be judged and treated accordingly. Despite the sadness that comes from seeing a child expose these concerns, her behavior can be used as evidence of the process in which she realizes her socially constructed gender.

    Reconstructing Gender: A Multicultural Anthology. Estelle Disch, ed. 4th ed. 2006.
    Jones, Amelia, ed. The Feminist and Visual Culture Reader. New York: Routledge, 2003.

    Reply

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