Thursday, October 15, 2015

Every Girl a Princess

I went to Disney World, for reasons that may become clear in later years.

One of the things I observed, was that the cast members all seemed to call little girls "Princess." And, of course, it got me thinking.

One of my more unexpected tastes, for being such a geek, is that I quite enjoy story "A Little Princess" in all its forms:

The classic story by Frances Hodgson Burnett depicts a girl who was taught that "All girls are princesses," with various implications for what that involves.

(Spoilers next paragraph, if anyone is NOT familiar with Burnett's story)

For Sara Crewe, being a princess (in attitude and manners) is a defense against a world that goes so wrong, so fast. Anyone who has dealt with the formalities of a funeral can attest, the formalities of ritual expectations can carry one through the initial shock of grief. So, for Sara, carrying on her confidence and politeness helps her to carry on, even as her boarding school turns her from prize student into servant. Sara continues to insist that ALL girls are princesses, including her new Cockney-accented roommate in the servant's attic, as they work their way into the happily ever after.

If my series' on intersectional feminism and Biblical patriarchy have done nothing else, I hope that they have shown that some things are not "either-or," some things can be "both-and."

So it is with Princess culture, as it can be taken to toxic levels.
In general, I do agree with the concept that pink princess culture, and the marketing of almost-exclusively pink toys for the "Girl's Section" is harmful to girls. I have posted about the Gathering Storm, and the importance of maximizing the potential of ALL students (instead of just white boys) to solve humanities problems. Segregating toys into dolls, housewares, and dresses for girls, while boys get to build, invent, and create, is a problem.

What this means for me, is complex in a different way: my child has a penis. Allowing my son to watch Sophia the First once in a while (mostly at Grandma's) is a question of screentime, rather than princess culture. We still have conversations about gender and culture, but it's framed differently.