What does the pink-and-purple cabal of the Disney princesses offer young, consumerist girls? The promise that wussiness, passivity, and being pretty warrant all the rewards of happily ever after. Barbara Ehrenreich makes a case against the princesses at The Nation:
… what a sorry bunch of wusses they are. Typically, they spend much of their time in captivity or a coma, waking up only when a Prince comes along and kisses them. The most striking exception is Mulan, who dresses as a boy to fight in the army, but–like the other Princess of color, Pocahontas–she lacks full Princess status and does not warrant a line of tiaras and gowns. Otherwise the Princesses have no ambitions and no marketable skills, although both Snow White and Cinderella are good at housecleaning. … In Princessland, the only career ladder leads from baby-faced adolescence to a position as an evil enchantress, stepmother or witch. Snow White’s wicked stepmother is consumed with envy for her stepdaughter’s beauty; the sea witch Ursula covets Ariel’s lovely voice; Cinderella’s stepmother exploits the girl’s cheap, uncomplaining, labor. No need for complicated witch-hunting techniques–pin-prickings and dunkings–in Princessland. All you have to look for is wrinkles.
Ehrenriech’s essay is a stirring indictment. Her analysis helpfully zeroes in on just those reasons we should discard the tulle ‘n’ tiara squad, whose gentility and superficial benevolence serve to somewhat deflect our contempt.
In Danielle Crittenden’s final post about a week long experiment called “Islamic Like Me: Taking on the Veil,” in which Crittenden wore a Burka (a loose garment which covers the entire body with just an opening for the eyes, usually worn by Muslim women) for a week, she responds to those who defend freedom of choice saying just how much better off women in the West are. Throughout the week, she received varying comments about her objections to the Burka saying, for example, that she couldn’t see well and that she couldn’t eat without spilling food on herself like a baby. Well, wow.
First, let’s rejoice in the comforts of that wonderous American culture in which – wowie! – nothing is wrong! Women have so much freedom here to wear what they like (preferably the most showy of outfits), eat what they like (preferably rice cakes, also air is ok) and spend the day how they like (preferably working out, letting other people make decisions about their bodies and pursuing careers in which they may not get paid as much as people with different body parts).
Crittenden touched on some of these “pressures,” not acknowledging the fact that they cause unhealthy obsession, lasting physical alteration and sometimes death. Three cheers for spending 3/4s of the day trying to figure out how best to lose 50 lbs in one week. Three cheers for not teaching women how to get to know their bodies and love them. Three cheers for being walking uteruses. I’m not saying it’s ok to oppress women elsewhere and I do agree that the consequences in some sects of Islamic culture are absolutely brutal, but our culture is nothing to brag about.
Second, lets not ignore the absolute close minded idiocy of this woman. Because how can women from other cultures ever possibly live with themselves when they are not surrounded by the loving embrace of our government and high ideals, right?
Take a step back from your tiny perspective, Crittenden, and recognize what is just as problematic and oppressive a country as others.
p.s. The “amighty” man contributes to this here blog – we love Zach!
The founders of Hoochie Woman Magazine, Gili Malinsky and Emily Calvin, visited BU Tonight for a stimulating conversation with Rob about feminism today.
Over at Slate, Meghan O’Rourke turns the spotlight of her “Highbrow” column to the sexist endorsement of male autonomy and female obligation in Judd Apatow’s “Knocked Up.”
Who’s surprised to see misogyny in a movie with this title? “Having a baby” is what happens when adult parents operate together to produce a child. When slovenly, unmotivated men underestimate their reproductive might, that’s when a chick gets “knocked up.” It’s a phrase that captures male potency and female receptivity as differences in power, rather than mechanically dissimiliar reproductive roles.
(I do remain unconvinced that we should shed a tear for the demise of the ‘female slacker’.)