I stumbled onto a blog post today on Offbeat Mama about Disney, princesses, and all that is sexist and anti-feminist. The majority of the posters there clearly considered Princess Culture bad, black and white, no doubts about it.
As an art university student several years ago, I used to get fed up with the 'protester' culture of my school. Protesting works. When you believe in a change to be made, you need to voice your opinions to be heard. But I felt strongly that if you protest against everything because that is your passtime, no one will take you seriously.
The anti-princess debate reminds me of that aspect of university. If you are going against the norm just for the sake of going against the norm, you're still defining yourself by what the norm is. Comprende? Sometimes, as a deep thinker, it's all too easy to get wrapped up in all that is terrible instead of emphasizing the good.
I went through a phase where, in my feminism, I wanted to prove that I could do anything men can do. I aimed to be as strong and work as long as the big boys.
What I've come to realize however, is that I don't want to.
Feminism brought us the ability to claim our rights, to vote, to choose our career, to go to work, to be like men. But our equality does not depend on us being like men. We are equal, simply because we are. We are equal and simultaneously different. We need not shun all that is feminine.
It is equally as feminist to choose the feminine, to embrace it. Because we can. We are powerful in our own right. We birth, nourish, and raise people!
I'm not that concerned about Claire developing a poor self image as a female based on Disney movies. It takes more than that. You know what I brought away from Disney movies as a child? That I loved art. And that I could do it as a career. I wanted to be a Disney animator. Being a little girl who hadn't even thought about boys yet, I don't remember noticing the parts about the princes! I remember being enamoured with Cinderella's little mice and birds and her creativity in their cute little clothes, I remember identifying with Belle as a reader, that she was lost in books like me, I loved the dwarfs and animals of Snow White, and the future house lover in me was in love with their little cottage. All things I grew up to remain interested in.
One mama pointed out all the great virtues the movies uphold. "It has been an awesome tool for me – it's given me a singing, dancing, brightly colored medium with which to illustrate the struggles and successes of independence (Ariel), compassion and open-mindedness (Belle), industriousness and adaptability (Snow White), equality between the sexes and the historic struggle to prove it (Mulan),.." I just had a similar conversation with Thane the other day about The Little Mermaid and the virtues of curiosity and a sense of adventure.
Quite frankly I am more concerned about my boys learning that women are equal than my daughter. I believe she'll know that she can be whatever she decides, regardless of a penchant for princesses or not. I get more knotted up about play houses having a pink roof - especially when every other building in the collection features realistic coloring - thereby labeling the house a 'girls only' zone, defining to boys that the home is clearly not their arena. But I remind myself, that too is subject to so much more. Our boys seeing their daddy cook, clean, and rock babies to sleep is much more influential, just like the most important thing for Claire's development is to see me accept myself as I am, pursue my interests, and use my big, beautiful brain.