One of the hottest topics today is the empowerment of little girls, and the feminist in me can’t feel more proud of my generation and the efforts we’re putting in to make this happen.
I mean, isn’t it time for all genders to have equal rights after all?
However, the waves of feminism have taken some directions that I’m not exactly in favor of. I feel that, in our aim to make a gigantesque shift of mindset, we have engaged ourselves so much that we miss many other qualities that are as important as equality.
Since the women empowerment waves have taken over, everything around us needs to fall in one of two categories: either it propagates gender equality, or it is immediately tossed away in the graveyard of gender inequality.
The most heated debate revolves around the princess stories that so many of us grew up with, and that seem to devalue the role of women. Although, to a certain extent I kind of see where this is coming from, I wouldn’t forbid my kids from watching them for 4 different reasons that I’m listing below.
I’ve watched princess stories and I turned up well
Princesses of the 80s like snow white, sleeping beauty, Rapunzel and Cinderella have two things in common: they don’t have any passion of their own and have absolutely no control of their destiny.
They just go with the flow, and I definitely wouldn’t want my daughter to believe this is an acceptable standard to lead her own life.
However here is the thing: I have watched those stories my entire childhood, and I’ve turned up fine. This hasn’t stopped me, from turning into a confident and established woman.
As a matter of fact, my entire generation has been nurtured by those stories, and we’re still confident enough to stand up and fight for our rights.
I don’t know about you, but this tells me those stories were not a terrible influence, as we would like to portray them.
So I wonder… What if there is more to them than we might think?
Kids view princess stories differently
Kids don’t perceive those stories the way we do as adults. One of the most criticized stories of all times is The Little Mermaid, because of the scene where she gives up her voice.
Well, this story happens to be one of my favorites as a kid.
Watching it when I was younger, this scene did not represent the entire movie and it never occurred to me that she was shrinking herself to please a man.
As an 11-year-old, I was impressed by her determination to pursue what she believed in. She was different from the passive princesses of the 80s, and had control over her choices, despite all the risks she was taking to get there.
I wanted to be her. Her redhead, her rebelliousness, her joy of life, her passions, and her courage to defy her father and the whole world for what she believe in, fascinated me. The prince that she fell for was just a secondary character and an element to complete the story.
So here is what I can tell you about kids and gender equity: it takes years to understand the true depth of the glass ceiling and the different ramifications that it could have on our lives, and kids are not aware of them yet…
Which is why, they don’t perceive those princess stories the way we do, and we shouldn’t forbid them from watching them.
In other words: kids need those stories so let’s not stand in the way because of our adult fears.
Kids need those stories
Kids believe in magic, and we need to keep them dreaming this way. After all, this is what childhood is all about.
All those 80s princesses represent to me the epitome of passivity, but I still believe they have some great values that we need to appreciate.
Besides, the persons who change their lives might be men, but the ones who decide on their daily moves are very empowered and controlling women (witches and step-moms)
Will this shift the battle from gender equity to start a new debate about women not standing up for one another?
Gosh, I hope not as we will still be missing out on the bigger picture here: true friendship, patience, the victory of good over evil are the core elements of those stories.
This is what marked me as a kid, and they’re the reason why I wouldn’t mind for my daughter to watch them.
And if she did… I’ll teach her that passivity is not an acceptable standard at our home, so there is no fear about her waiting for a prince on a white horse to change her life.
In the end, I’m her mother, not those stories, and I get to control how she gets raised.
Keep the objective in mind
In the ongoing battles of gender equity, we shouldn’t lose focus of the main objective: raising independent, confident and accomplished women. This won’t take place unless we let those future women enjoy their childhood by getting all the reassurance they need to get, today.
When it comes to princess stories, we don’t exactly need to take a side: toss the passive princesses or keep them. We can expose our kids to the diversity and let them enjoy growing up in a world where there are different types of princesses: the innocent and passive on one side, and the strong and determined ones on another.
Having said that, on a personal level, I’ve never sat down with my daughter to read or watch any of those princess stories, not even the newer ones like Frozen or Moana. She never showed any interest in them and I never pushed her to get to know them.
But if one day she asked me to read her a princess story, I’ll happily do it for her.
Meanwhile, I let her enjoy dressing up as a princess, wearing her tiaras and believing that good can overcome evil.
If that’s what a 5-year-old needs to feel confident and happy, I’ll give it to her.