My name is Laura and I am a feminist.
That could mean anything.
What it doesn’t mean is that I am a man hater, because I don’t hate men. You people piss me off sometimes, but I love men. Seriously. A member of the I love men club.
Feminism is a broad movement with many little subdivisions.
I happen to be the type of feminist who was raised knowing women can do it all, but I’m not against hiring someone for manual labor, as I couldn’t put my arm back on if it were attached with velcro. If I were good at manual labor, I wouldn’t, but I’m not. I will say that in the past few months I have attempted gardening and landscaping, which hasn’t gotten too awful or too great, so I’m not lazy.
I’m the type of feminist who believes in owning our own sexuality–and not being subjugated by it. I believe that the sex industry perpetuates our dilemmas, but I also believe women have the right to choose their own destiny both sexually and as a person.
I am both Madonna and whore, and yet neither.
However, once I realized I was having a girl, I made sure to tell everyone: don’t indoctrinate my child with Disney princesses.
News Flash: There is no Prince Charming. There is just Prince “okay for you.” He may be Prince Charming for a little while, but no one can stand up to that type of idealization. There is also no need to stand like an idiot trapped in a castle, hoping someone will climb up your hair weave, a la Rapunzel, and save your skinny ass. If your stepmother hates you and poisons you with an apple, you will probably end up suffering. The chances of some guy riding up on a horse and saying, “Look at that–some cute chick is in a coma because she was poisoned. I better kiss her and make her better,” is about 0 in five billion.
I didn’t mind my kid reading fairy tales as it’s nice to enjoy the world and be altruistic as little kids often are, but I didn’t want her to get wrapped up in the romantic notion that women need to be saved by a more capable individual, i.e, a man, and that once you meet someone and fall in love, paradise awaits you.
Mother in-laws exist to banish that sort of fable anyway.
I always liked the animals in Cinderella, and Snow White, but I was more of a Dorothy, Alice, or Laura Ingalls type of girl. That’s who I imagined I would be until Madonna came around, and then I wanted to prance around in lace outfits and crucifixes (who cares that I was raised Jewish. Have you seen how pretty those prayer beads are? Serious stuff man. I begged my Catholic friend to let me wear her rosaries. She said no. Party Pooper. Would have gone awesome with my denim jumper, huge clip-on hair bow, wigwam socks, and purple mascara.) Of course, let’s not even delve into the fact that Madonna was not exactly the most proper role model for me.
Who do you want to be when you grow up?
I want to hump a dog and go on a gondola in Italy with a lion, while I’m half-dressed.
Don’t worry, there were plenty of good influences in my life–I did want to be Pee-Wee Herman for most of my childhood–not that it helped, but damnit, I did not want to indoctrinate my kid into Disney.
Nope. Minnie Mouse? Sure–just don’t make me listen to Mickey for more than five minutes. That creature has the most annoying voice on the planet. Sadly, I do a good Mickey. Going to Disneyland and seeing some of the classic movies? Sure. I’m not a totally nazi over the topic. I can imitate a Disney character and sing the songs with the best of them, but I just didn’t want my kid to idolize dimwitted princesses who probably were barefoot, pregnant, and living over a stove once the fairy tale lights were out.
Guess what? It doesn’t matter. Everyone else has introduced her to princesses as she’s a girl, so they think she’ll love them, and golly gee, would you know what?
She loves them.
She doesn’t think to herself that Cinderella probably prostituted herself out that night to get in to the upper echelons of society. She just loves the songs, mice, and dress.
And damnit, all day long in my head is the song, ‘We can Do it, We can do it, gonna help our Cinder-elle–ee, there’s really nothing to it. We’ll tie a sash around it. Put some ribbon to it.”
I eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner with Sleeping Beauty, Tiana, Snow White, Ariel, Rapunzel, Cinderella, and Belle. I give them their vitamins, brush their teeth, and make sure they’re in the proper spot at meal time (to the left of my daughter’s high chair tray on our dining table.)
They join us in the potty.
They join us in the car.
I even have the dolls with the magic clip-on dresses.
My mom bought her a Cinderella Barbie, which I have yet to give to her.
When any other kid goes near the princesses, fire and brimstone erupt. I swear my child plots the death of these poor kids.
Note, she’s two and doesn’t want to share yet. Totally normal, but not as funny as she wails while trying to holding every damn doll in her hands.
All day long, my mind whirs of “Feed child, walk dog, where’s Cinderella did I lose her again?, wash dishes, write, apply for jobs, wipe kid’s butt, was Sleeping Beauty a narcoleptic or drug addict?, eat a snack, wash my hands, wash her hands, and don’t forget to wash Snow White’s too.”
Our day ends and begins with these little dolls, in which my child reenacts the most intricate and sometimes rather imaginative conversations with these dolls.
The other day, desperate for my kid to chill out, stop chatting, and start eating, I made Cinderella tell her, “Less Talking, More Eating.”
I knew having the ability to switch my voice would work to my advantage one day.
As “Cinderella” disciplined my daughter, she wanted nothing of it.
She turned to the Cinderella doll and said, “No Cinderella. I don’t like you anymore. Go back to your video. I’m not gonna to be your friend.”
Freaking 2 and she’s already pulling that “not gonna be your friend” business.
I told her that wasn’t very nice…and later on I heard her tell Cinderella:
“Let me give you a hug. I’m sorry I made a bad choice. I’m sorry I said I won’t be your friend.”
And then, to prove the apple is part of my tree, she dons a Cinderella voice and says, “I was disappointed in you. You made a bad choice.”
The “two” hug and make up.
When my daughter sees princess bikes, towels, shirts, toys, or dolls, she hovers over these items whether they belong to her or not, and is entranced.
I guess whether I want them or not, I am stuck with these princesses, and hell, I’ve even started to sing her some of the songs from my childhood.
Why not? Hopefully I won’t get my feminist card revoked.
What I really fear, more than being forced to watch Snow White or Cinderella twenty times, is the fear that my daughter will make men count more than herself.
That she will want so badly to matter to the opposite sex, that she will forget who she is. That she might end up bowing down to someone thinking, “he knows better.”
These fears are all from me. She’s only two. She is still smart enough to boss boys around and know that it works.
And being subjugated or bowing down to a man doesn’t just require a female with a bad self-image, but a male with a poor view of himself.
We need to be conscious of how we socialize both young men and young women. The conversation is not one-sided. It’s multifaceted and starts at home, continues at school, plays out in the media, and is then enacted in society.
My role as her mom is to expose her to many different goals, activities, people, and viewpoints, with the reassurance that who she is is wonderful, no matter what, as long as she respects herself and others.
This means that for now, I get to wear tiaras, and watch her reenact fairy tales that while they may hold no real bounds in life, they are wonderful, fanciful, and simple for her and her world.
If only we could capture that joy in the simple that children have, we would all be much happier.
Excuse me now…one of the princesses needs a bath and the other, a dress repair.
All in the day of the Queen.