The Princess and the Patriarchy

The other day while perusing Facebook, I stumbled across this image:

And I thought to myself, “What utter and complete bullshit.”

The way I see it, there are two issues at play here: the rise of militant, overblown “feminism” and the surge of hippie granola parents that want to protect their kids from everything.

Look, I understand the point of feminism. I agree with the argument that the focus is to fight for equality between the sexes rather than to elevate women to a position that is above men – because that would be hypocritical, amirite? Totally. I understand that a true feminist does not think men are the devil, that most of them shave their legs and plenty of them even wear dresses and heels. I don’t buy in to the ridiculous myth that all feminists are hairy, flannel-clad lesbians who don’t just want equal rights – they want men to have no rights. As far as the textbook definition of feminism goes, I’m on board.

But this image is not feminist – it’s fucking delusional.

And hey, I’m a parent. It hurts my heart when my kids are sad or disappointed or let down. I don’t want them to ever know pain or heartbreak. I want them to live in a world of rainbows and sunshine and fluffy puppies and lollipop trees.

I’m a parent – I’m not fucking delusional.

So can we please stop blaming everybody else for things that are our responsibility?!

This may be news to some people, but it is not Disney’s job, or Matel’s job, or the babysitter’s job, to instill self-worth, value, and confidence in to your kid. That is your job. Stop pawning it off on everyone else. Stop pointing the finger at things that have heretofore been utterly harmless and blame them for screwing up your kid.

Show of hands ladies – how many of you watch these movies growing up, or played with Barbies? Awesome thanks; now how many of you had issues with your self-image as a kid, tween, or teen, or even now? Most of you, huh? I feel you girls; I was in that boat.

Now think back. How often did your parents or loved ones tell you that you were pretty? How many of you were overweight, flat-chested, too skinny, or had acne, or glasses, or braces? How many of you were made fun of for those things?

Last question – at any point in time, did any of you feel that if you just hadn’t played with Barbies or watched the Disney classics, you would have had a more positive view of yourself?

Look, I’m not going to deny that children are exposed to some pretty salacious content and that we should absolutely take an active role in monitoring what they’re exposed to be – violent video games, sexually graphic images, and yes, even magazines that promote an unrealistic standard of beauty. But at the end of the day, these are also kids, and they are going to view kid things through those magical kid glasses that are an integral part of every childhood. They aren’t going to analyze the patriarchal social construct in Aladdin for Christ’s sake, they’re going to sing the songs and root for true love. Just like we did.

I mean, did any of us raise hell over the racy jokes in Shrek? Shit no we didn’t, because Shrek was hilarious and awesome. Are we sitting our kids down  before they watch Toy Story for a heartfelt talk about the difference between fantasy and reality, and how toys can’t really talk, they’re just using it as a plot mechanism? No; that would make us assholes.

And by the way, while we’re pissing and moaning about objectifying women, may I inquire as to why no one is doing anything about these goddamn dolls?



Right, cuz I let my toddlers walk around the mall in underpants and shirts that show their belly button. Happens all the time. Totally normal. Not creepy and gross at all.

People, we need to stop slapping parental advisory stickers on these fundamental pieces of childhood that were created with the best and most beautiful of intentions. A lot of little girls out there want to be like a princess – and yes, we are reaching a point where we’re acknowledging princesses come in all forms. That’s why we have the ambitious Tiana, the bold Mulan, the adventurous Rapunzel, and the independent Merida. We needed those princesses. Our daughters, and, yes, even our sons, needed them.

But we also need Jasmine, who taught us that true love can be found anywhere, and that material things don’t matter.

We need Belle, who taught us the reading is fucking cool, and to love someone for their heart rather than their biceps.

We need Cinderella, who taught us to keep our chin up in the face of adversity, because when you’re nice to assholes, it just pisses them off more.

We need Ariel, who taught us to fight for who we love, and that with a little creative thinking we can get our point across.

We need Aurora, who taught us to be kind and loving to our furry friends.

We need Snow White, who taught us that it’s okay to accept help, and that we should always accept others no matter what they look like.

We need to stop turning these heroes in to villains, and to let our kids be any kind of princess they want to be.

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