Princesses as feminist

October 20, 2008

Sarah Haskins’ latest video has gotten me thinking about princesses. On the one hand, they’re the definition of empowerful. On the other hand, it’s better than housework.

Obviously, I am not going to defend the way that we gender-segregate kids’ toys. It’s pretty blatantly wrong: boys can be firefighters and knights and scientists and anything else they want to be; when boys play pretend, they get to be the characters that have cool powers and do cool things. Girls get to be shoppers, mothers, and princesses; when they play pretend, they’re being kidnapped or buying clothes or doing laundry.

So, given that girls’ choices for play pretty uniformly suck– of mothers, shoppers, and princesses, isn’t it better to be a princess?

Maybe I’ve grown up with more subversive princess role models than most, but princesses at least have some institutional authority. Princesses don’t get stuck with the drudge work; princesses have adventures! Okay, in most Disney movies, that means doing drudge work until someone else’s adventure culminates in your rescue, but when I was little my friends and I knew that that wasn’t what being a princess was about. That was just how you became a princess. Once you were one, you had an entire kingdom to explore, and everyone had to do what you said!

It was actually slightly unbalanced in our favor, for a change. Nobody wanted prince dolls; those were boring. Princes are all interchangeable. But princesses are all uniquely fascinating. We would make up tragic curses set upon us, or herculean tasks required by evil relatives, and even though the prince’s story was always the same (he conquers evil and gets the girl) the princess was different every time.

It’s still an obviously problematic narrative, but it at least allowed us to take our princess dolls and imagine stories that were centered around our desires and motivated by our actions.

Now, it’s possible that my friends and I were the sort of girls who would have made up unconsciously-feminist narratives no matter what toys we were given. Except that, thinking back, we received the baby dolls and fashion dolls in equal numbers, but we weren’t interested in them as the princess paraphernalia. There’s not a lot you can do to claim motherhood or shopaholicism as a way expressing your own autonomy. Inherent in the idea is the fact that you are defined by your children or by your things.

So, sure, “princess” isn’t great as a cultural frame, but at least it gave us just enough wiggle room to do our own thing. We could have done worse.


I’m Too Lazy for my Blog, Too Lazy for my Blog

October 3, 2008

So it’s time for a blogaround!

Voting myths and Registration Deadline over at Jump Off the Bridge. The short version: it’s illegal to campaign too close to a polling station (distance varies by state) and wearing campaign paraphernalia can qualify, but even if you wear an Obama T-shirt to the polls they may NOT deny you your right to vote! Just cover up or remove the campaign gear, and they MUST allow you to vote.

Plans B Damned: The Quest for Emergency Contraception at RH Reality Check. Kind of an upsetting story, but also just about exactly what I expected. It makes me want to do my own experiment, to see how hard it is to get Plan B here in Arkansas, except, of course, that birth control is a shameful, shameful thing to talk about, and I’m not that brave. Who needs to overturn Roe v. Wade? Just keep chipping away at this stuff.

But cheer up, everyone, and check out Sarah Haskins again! Actually, you should bookmark her right now, so you never have to miss another of her videos again. She is my favourite comedian ever. If only the rest of Current was half as funny.

Hey, more funny stuff: At Least We’re Good For a Laugh! at Oh, oops. This is actually not funny at all. Turns out one of the few things Palin and Biden agreed on last night was the fact that it would be illegan to deny certain rights to those icky gays, but by God, we don’t have to let them use the word marriage! It’s times like these that I feel most defeatist about American politics, but at least BGK sees some hope. If we can get civil unions to exist, then we can challenge them in the Supreme Court, and it’ll probably be good news. But still…if you’re agreeing with the Republicans, you’re not being a very good ally. This is one of the major ways that the Obama campaign continues to disappoint me.

Sarah Palin Debate Flow Chart: basically the only thing I’m going to say about last night’s debate. Besides the thing I just said about gay rights.

A Conversation with the Nuptial-Industrial Complex over at 2 Elle also makes me laugh and makes me wonder what I’ll do when it comes time for my afore-mentioned evil Canadian gay wedding. I’m thinking a Marilyn Monroe-type white dress– it would flatter my figure in all the right ways, and I want my wedding to be more like a party and less like a Formal Ceremony if at all possible. I want to actually be married at the end of it (boo USA!) but other than that I’m not that interested in a traditional wedding.

The Myth of Objectivity over at Echidne of the Snakes got me thinking about my experiences in journalism, and how “objective” is usually anything but. Supporting the status quo is still taking a position; it is promoting a viewpoint; it is not “neutral.”

For some good ol’ FA stuff, I’ve been reading old Shapely Prose posts. Hooray for the Duh Truck! Twice! My favourite bit is a brief anecdote from the second one:

“I just recently met a woman who has fraternal twin boys, one of whom is bigger than the other — and she told me the pediatrician is on her ass about that kid’s weight. Because of course the only logical explanation for that would be that she’s overfeeding one kid but giving the other a normal amount of food. As, you know, mothers of twins are totally wont to do. ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?”

I mean, has this doctor never seen children in their natural habitats before? When I was a kid, it was totally unacceptable for my brothers to have a different number of sprinkles than I got, let alone such a fundamentally different diet that they were noticeably heavier. Isn’t that typical behavior for kids, especially for twins? “If they get X, I want to have X too!” It’s just bizarre to assume that the difference is in the input, rather than the body’s response.

Also: Feeling fat may be worse for you than being fat. And it’s in a reputable news source and everything! If only I were brave enough to mail these links to my mum…luckily, though, she can’t make me feel fat. She can make me feel terribly unfit, but that’s because I haven’t exercised regularly since 6th grade and am not strong enough to climb two flights of stairs in a row. (I’m working on it!) So, unhealthy, sure, but unacceptably fat? No way. I am drop-dead sexy, guys. Voluptuous and gorgeous.

Ten posts is enough for a blogaround, right? You’ve all got enough stuff to read now that I can leave, right? You won’t come after me for failing my blogular duties?

Great! Then I’m going to go watch some more Planet Earth. Man, I love the BBC.

Sarah Haskins: AWESOME

August 22, 2008

You must view her Target: Women series! I mean it!

Chick flicks! Yogurt! Feeding your F—ing family!