Published on March 24th, 2015 | by Richard Black0
Raising a Unicorn Zombie Princess
I have a confession to make. I let my four year old daughter dress up as a princess. I also like the movie “Event Horizon” and have been tempted to take a leak in the shower in the past although not since I’ve been married. I’m not a monster at least not for those particular reasons. I don’t like the taste of human flesh, I don’t even like veal. I’ve never clubbed a baby seal or tacitly endorsed a group that condones landmines. Come to think of it I’ve also never eaten a baby seal or a landmine. I’m generally a pretty good guy so please withhold your judgement until you’ve read what I have to write.
When my daughter was born I was adamant that we would not call her a princess. I’d known and had even dated women in college who, most likely, spent a goodly amount of time for the first twenty years of their lives in some sort of princess garb, most likely at night, and they were just fantastic people. Actually they weren’t. Most of them were self entitled little shits who were about as fun to sleep with as frozen slot machine. That’s beside the point and now, in context, a bit creepy.
Because of these women and my experiences with them, in addition to many others, I asked my friends to forgo sending anything pink for the baby shower. It didn’t work. My friends are a cruel and remarkably stubborn group who had the good sense to ignore my mandate and deluge us with pink onesies, blankets, picture frames and the dreaded princess outfit.
Times however have changed since those days of yesteryear some…well some four and a half years ago. With them mindsets, social mores, cartoons and movies and much else has also changed. I’ve made my peace with the pink lace and the gowns but that’s largely to do with the fact that the idea of what a princess “is” has changed over the past fifty years and how they are viewed by most normal and thinking members of the public has changed as well.
After watching just about every Disney film a few million times with my daughter over the past few years I’ve taken a different view of the princess mindset. There are, and have been, many strong female role models, princesses and otherwise, portrayed in film for many decades. What has changed is the lens with which we view them with and one that has been influenced by the advances made in civil rights and the disintegration of gender and racial stereotypes.
Take Cinderella. By any account she was a tough chick. She lost her mother and later her father and was forced to work in servitude for her stepmother and two twatwaffle step sisters. Despite her hardships Cinderella kept a stiff upper lip, she worked hard, remained kind, hoped for the best and jumped at an opportunity when one arose. There weren’t many for a woman of her age.
While not every woman can marry a prince Cinderella’s plight was not entirely unrealistic for a woman during this age. People, parents, and siblings died quite often during the 17th century and women had few, if any rights. As such Cinderella pursued the only avenue she had available for escape through marriage. Women those days didn’t have many options. I’ve read in Bill Bryson’s book “At Home” that during a similar period in merry old England one third of all women were servants, one third were married and one third were prostitutes. While the 1950 film version of the tale took place in France I imagine that circumstances were fairly similar although there were probably a lot more hookers.
This is, of course and by necessity, a revisionist and simplistic take on history. I’m not a historian or a sociologist. I’m just a man with a fantastic complexion and a body that doesn’t quit but that’s beside the point.
Ask a little girl these days about her thoughts on the Cinderella and you’re more likely to hear about how cool it was that she could talk to mice than anything implicit about gender inequality. Great strides have been made when it comes to women’s rights and, while there’s certainly still a lot of work to be done, the only problem I have with my daughter dressing up as Cinderella or Rapunzle is that she wears the outfit for five days straight until it can stand up by itself.
I have been afforded this malodorous privilege by the efforts of countless numbers of women, and the men who wanted to sleep with them, who have fought and protested for gender equality. Modern sentiment regarding what a princess “is” and how she is perceived has changed. Princesses are more empowered these days although it is telling that it has taken a surprising amount of time for Disney to create a movie, most notably Brave, in which a male suitor is relatively ancillary to the tale.
For the past fifty or so years little girls have been told that they can accomplish whatever they set their minds too and can reasonably expect to attain a much greater measure of success than at any time in the past. As long as they are capable. And live in a first world country. That isn’t in parts of Ireland or the Deep South.
I’m not saying that there is total equality between the sexes or that negative stereotypes don’t exist or that there isn’t quite a lot of progress to be made when it comes to gender equality. I’m a stay at home dad with a big bushy goatee and an occasionally shaved head who catches more than a few looks when his daughter chooses to wear her Elsa dress to the grocery store. She’s four and loves glitter and tulle. I’m not a misogynistic asshole. I’m a loving and supporting father who wants his daughter to have a happy childhood and indulge her imagination.
I also happen to be an asshole of the regular variety so please forgive me if I return your nasty look with a glare or perhaps even confront you. As a stay at home dad it’s hard enough to raise a daughter without your well intentioned but misguided anachronistic 1970’s version of feminism and while I’d like to heartily encourage you to fuck off I won’t.
I let my daughter dress herself and some days she wants to be a princess. On other days she wants to be a unicorn, a rock star, a painter, a seamstress, an airplane or a zombie but whatever she wears you should know that Darcy loves her father and I love her. In the spirit of disclosure I should also mention that my daughter is also a biter and I have no problem sicing her on the next person I catch giving either of us a nasty glance. She likes thigh meat. I, however, am more of a breast man.