All dolled up and no place to go

Posted: Nov 08, 2005 12:05 AM

A new catalog from the American Girl doll company arrived in the mail recently --something my daughter Kristin and I used to really look forward to.

We’ve ordered from the company many times, and one of my fondest memories is of a trip I made with Kristin to the huge American Girl store in Chicago. The occasion was my -- ahem, 40th birthday -- as well as that of my best childhood friend, Suzanne Ebel. We decided to take our daughters and spend a weekend doing girlie fun stuff that we would all enjoy, mainly to teach our girls the importance of developing true female friendships. Our weekend highlight was a play and lunch at American Girl.

Tragically, it seems that the place we carefully chose to help teach our daughters important life lessons about sacrifice, selflessness and friendship now promotes the “me first” mantra of selfish feminism.

The company has decided to donate money from the sale of its “I Can” bracelets to Girls Inc., a group that promotes an agenda that sounds as if it was ripped from the pages of Planned Parenthood.

I know -- it sounds like something that just can’t be true. And believe me, it pains me deeply to say it.  Like thousands of other mothers who work to uphold traditional values, I have long appreciated the American Girl dolls for their wholesome image and the way they help our daughters learn about the enormous sacrifices mothers and fathers have made throughout history to provide a better life for their children.
The storybooks featuring Kirsten, for example -- the doll my daughter owns -- focus on what life was like in Minnesota in 1854 for a girl whose hard-working immigrant parents made the difficult decision to move their family from Sweden to America.

But what an unwelcome education we’re getting now about the company that makes these wonderful dolls. On the company’s Web site, you’ll find (on the “Shop” page) a picture of a black bracelet with a red star that says, “I Can.” When you click on the link to find out about buying the bracelet, it tells you about the “I Can” promise: “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.”

This seems innocuous enough, but then you’ll see a notice that 70 cents of every dollar raised from selling the bracelet goes to Girls Inc., described as “a national organization dedicated to inspiring all girls to be strong, smart and bold.” Again, that doesn’t sound so bad -- until you go to the Girls Inc. Web site.

There, we find that Girls Inc. “encourages all girls to develop positive sexual identities and to function comfortably as responsible sexual beings.” OK, I thought we were talking about girls and their dolls. How did we make the jump to them as “sexual beings”? But the folks at Girls Inc. are just warming up:

“To make responsible decisions about sexuality, pregnancy and parenthood, girls need and have a right to sensitive, truthful sexuality education; convenient access to safe, effective methods of contraception and protection from disease; and referral to comprehensive information, counseling, clinical and other services that support their responsible decisions. 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.”

Whoa. In other words, American Girl is sponsoring a group that promotes access to abortion and contraception for young girls, along with what sounds like a rather graphic sex-ed course for our daughters. And if they have lesbian tendencies, that’s apparently no problem for the folks at Girls Inc.
Indeed, it’s to be encouraged.

The Web site goes on make its support for abortion on demand clear:

“We recognize the right of all women to choose whether, when, and under what circumstances to bear children. Reproductive freedom and responsibility are essential to other rights and opportunities, including pursuit of education, employment, financial security and a stable and fulfilling family life. Restrictions of reproductive choice are especially burdensome for young women and poor women. Girls Incorporated supports a woman’s freedom of choice, a constitutional right established by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1973 in Roe vs. Wade.”

What a shocking and sad decision by a company that has long enjoyed the support of moms hoping for safe harbor from the more explicit and, frankly, trashy dolls that one finds at toy stores these days. Not surprisingly, American Girl’s tasteless decision to help sponsor the radical feminist agenda has sparked outrage nationwide. Some groups are urging boycotts and encouraging customers to voice their displeasure to the company.

A Catholic school in Brookfield, Wisc., St. Luke School, did its part by canceling a fashion show by American Girl. The money raised would have gone toward a new playground and a refurbished library. “It’s a bargain we’ll just have to pass up,” Frank Malloy, St. Luke’s pastor, said. “The cost is too high. Our integrity isn’t for sale.”

Let's hope that American Girl has its own attack of conscience -- and reconsiders its disgraceful support of Girls Inc.