Peter Pan and Wendy are Terrible Influences
Bad influences result in more terrible solutions. Poor childhood influences are to blame for Western society’s inability to condemn systematic female oppression. An ongoing crisis, systemic female oppression has led to a fight for power— power available only to men. A childish way of handling differences in opinion, fighting has led women to take the objectification of female virginity men have created and use that objectification as a weapon. In the name of power, women continue to allow misogynistic behavior— romanticizing female virginity in order to fight back and/or to hold power, a behavior learned from men.
Peter Pan teaches boys that narcissism is an acceptable trait to have in society. Protagonist of the classic play, Peter and Wendy, written and produced by James Matthew Barrier, Peter Pan is a prime example of an exaggerated stereotype— a self-centered, absent-minded boy. Peter Pan inspires young boys alike who watch in awe, lacking a sophisticated mindset to make level-headed judgement. Like sponges, young boys’ minds are weak and absorbent, only able to “pick up” material presented without a second thought. Being so influential, the Peter Pan Syndrome is a metaphor psychologists use to describe adults who have characteristics similar to Peter Pan. Authors Melek Kalkan, Meryem Vural Batik, Leyla Kaya, and Merve Turan of “Peter Pan Syndrome ‘Men Who Don’t Grow’: Developing a Scale” define and outline the Peter Pan Syndrome— a spectrum. Adult males who meet the standards to be placed on the spectrum are often described as: lacking responsibility, immature, lacking sophistication, having the inability to express and process complex human emotion, and most commonly, narcissistic.
Egoistic men take authoritative positions in society which ruin the chance of allowing for complexity to be a norm in Western societies. Simplicity is the best solution for men that lack the intellectual ability to process such complexities. Female virginity is an umbrella term—ambiguous and multilayered. Understanding female virginity is an individual process, unique to every woman. But often times, women and ideas of what is female virginity are limited to a one line sentence— an over exaggerated stereotype. The deep-rooted patriarchal system in the West is plagued by “Peter Pans—” adult men who refuse to grow up. These power-hungry men achieve simplicity in ambiguous terms such as female virginity by limiting the agency women have in making decisions. Barbara L. Fredrickson and Tomi-Ann Roberts, authors of “OBJECTIFICATION THEORY: Toward Understanding Women’s Lived Experiences and Mental Health Risks,” stresses objectification is used as a tool to degrade women in culture— leading to poor self-worth and anxiety. Objectification is used strategically to place women inferior to men, allowing men to keep and hold power, therefore limiting a woman’s agency. As women are objectified by men, the understanding of female virginity becomes shallow, simple, and misrepresented.
Women allow “Peter Pans” to be accepted in greater society— as women are taught. Another metaphor psychologists use is The Wendy Dilemma— used to describe women who take on a mother’s role in a relationship or marriage, instead of being an affective partner. Wendy is mature, caring, and attentive unlike Peter Pan who is immature and self-centered. Like boys, young girls also watch and absorb characters’ actions. Wendy teaches girls to be accepting of boys’ immaturity and inability to reason. Finally growing up, girls, now women learn to simply shrug off a man’s crudity. Women pacify men, continuing to cater to a man’s every need— as Wendy teaches girls. This process results in an unhealthy dynamic between men and women. A societal game of tug-of-war, this cycle creates a ripple effect. Neil Davidson, author of “Oh Boys! Sex Education and Young Men,” claims that men and women are born with the same emotions. Though, as both men and women grow and progress in life, men are taught to be more masculine while women are taught to be more feminine, Davidson continues. By masculine men are taught to be tougher, stronger, and rougher. In juxtaposition, women are taught to be more feminine which means to be soft spoken, gentle, and attending. As young girls grow into these stereotypical ideas of what a woman should be, girls learn to accept that boys will be Peter Pans— as Wendy teaches girls alike.
Accepting the nature of men and misogynistic views, women lose power and respect. Desperate, women romanticize female virginity, allowing for continuous objectification and oppression of women alike— all to hold any ounce of power and use that claimed power against men. Laura M. Carpenter, author of “Gender and the Meaning and Experience of Virginity Loss in the Contemporary United States,” details that women consider female virginity to be sacred. This idealized concept of female virginity creates an uncomfortable distance between women and men—a terrible solution. By considering the concept of virginity to be sacred, women ultimately allow for objectification— objectification that men perseverate on. By treating the concept of female virginity as something of holy value, men then believe that female virginity is an object worth collecting, an object of high value. The Wendy Dilemma comes back to bite women in the end since women stay accepting of oppression and objectification.
Terrible solutions alleviate nothing. Systemic oppression and the objectification of women is an ongoing crisis in the West. Men continue to oppress women by objectifying female virginity while women simply accept these terms— then using objectification as a weapon. Instead of handling this crisis like adults, women and men look at childhood influences, such as Peter Pan and Wendy for guidance. A ripple effect, this vicious cycle continues as men pursue simplicity— a quality that solves nothing — and women pursue mere blindsided acceptance— a quality that also solves nothing. The Peter Pan Syndrome and Wendy Dilemma are a counterintuitive Ying and Yang that creates a ripple effect in the West. In order to solve this ongoing debate, women must stop catering to a man’s every need while letting go of the idea that female virginity is sacred. Men, on the other hand, must learn to grow up and leave Neverland. Peter Pan and Wendy solved nothing; children do not solve adult problems.
CARPENTER, LAURA M. “Gender and the Meaning and Experience of Virginity Loss in the Contemporary United States.” Gender & Society, vol. 16, no. 3, 2002, pp. 345–365., https://doi.org/10.1177/0891243202016003005.
Davidson, Neil. “Promoting Public Health through Public Art in the – Proquest.” Oh Boys! Sex Education and Young Men, ProQuest, 1996, https://www.proquest.com/docview/1560670647?accountid=13605.
Fredrickson, Barbara L., and Tomi-Ann Roberts. “Objectification Theory: Toward Understanding Women’s Lived Experiences and Mental Health Risks.” Psychology of Women Quarterly, vol. 21, no. 2, 1997, pp. 173–206., https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1471-6402.1997.tb00108.x.
Kalkan, Melek, et al. “Peter Pan Syndrome ‘Men Who Don’t Grow’: Developing a Scale.” Men and Masculinities, vol. 24, no. 2, 2019, pp. 245–257., https://doi.org/10.1177/1097184×19874854.