August 14th, 2009 | 6:00 am

Queen of the City: Finery and Frills Versus Feminism

filed under Queen of the City

Early Morning View of Big BenThe grumbling in the press in Britain currently about feminism and the Disneyfication of our daughters has got my royal dander up a bit.

While no one can deny that equality for women (and girls) is a desirable and thoroughly deserved destiny for us of the so-called weaker sex, there are some strident voices decrying the pink, princessy world that Disney,Toys‘R’Us and fictional romances line up for young girls from as young as three.

I am majestically perplexed:  what’s wrong with being a Princess?

Having reared three daughters (and a son) in the last couple of decades, my house has sometimes resembled Barbie Hell: nylon-haired, blonde dolls of improbable curvature, lovingly adorned in cheap iridescent frills and furbelows.  Such as these littered the playroom and the girls’ bedrooms for several years.

And it hasn’t made a blind bit of difference to their education or career choices.  Senior daughter took Physics and Maths at our higher education level, but opted to study Law at university.  Next in line has an interest in History and Politics which she aims to study next year if she gets the necessary grades (about which we have our royal digits firmly crossed).  Youngest daughter is fascinated by Economics.  So much for channelling them into the ‘pink’ and traditionally female roles. 

Thus intones The Times:  “Some argue that the merchandising of dolls such as the Disney princesses only perpetuates these gender divides.  ‘{Princess dolls} are promoting a very narrow and prescriptive view of femininity, and one that out to be outmoded in the 21st century.  I think they are regressive,” says Dr. Melanie Waters, lecturer in English Literature and specialist in feminist theory at Northumbria University. 

“They encourage girls to be passive, and to nurture.”  There is also, says Dr. Waters: “an aggressive focus on beauty, hair accessories and other images that promote the idea that girls should be concerned with their appearance.”

I humbly disagree. Majesty does bling, as shown by our cherished Queen Elizabeth with her spectacular line in rocks and frocks. Nobody’s accused her of being pink and feeble.  She’s both an awesome female and enormously effective monarch.

Rare is the woman that wouldn’t love to have a dress made just for her, just for a special occasion.  I, too, have a hankering for the satin and the sparkly.  I even own a tiara, which I once wore to a fancy-dress party where all we girls indulged ourselves to the hilt with eBay-bought rhinestones.  The median age of the crowd there was 40, made up of bankers, lawyers, doctors, and journalists.  

Just a little word of exhortation from your roving royal across the Pond:

You don’t have to sacrifice your inner Princess to be successful, my dear girls. A liking for finery and frills is never going to be a death knell to feminist principles.  We deserve equality, we’ve earned equality, and if we want to be princesses, we can pay for it ourselves.

 

1 comment

  1. R.D. Gavel

    I enjoyed reading your commentary. As a native New Englander, I learned a valuable lesson some years ago from my Southern friends. If a man offers to hold a door, give you a seat, or pick up something heavy and carry it for you, don’t argue. Accept this for what it is: kindess, good manners, and a helping hand. Femininity and strength are within; they have little to do with the external trappings. As a, shall I say, “grown-up” princess,I have worn a tiara at Walt Disney World, and loved every minute of it!