While at the playground with my son I watched a father with his four year old daughter. At one point she said she was a ninja, and a few minutes later she said she was a princess. The dad said “which one are you? A ninja or a princess? You can’t be both!” Without thinking about it I chimed in at the same time as that little girl did with “sure you can! Ninja princess!” It was as obvious to her as it was to me, and yet the dad looked at me as if I had just said a string of curse words or told his daughter where babies came from. He said “I would like to win SOME arguments” and it was pretty much implied that I should know my place.
There are so many things I would have liked to tell that father. The main thing of course would have been that an argument about whether or not his little girl can be a ninja AND a princess is NOT one that he should want to “win”. The second thing being that part of the reason why feminism is so divisive in our society is precisely because we, as women, are expected to be one or the other. Either we’re a ninja OR we’re a princess. We can’t be both.
Well to that I ask, why the hell not?
Who says that a strong woman who knows her own mind and wants to be treated like a whole human being can’t also do so while being pretty? Maybe it’s because I grew up in the time of Girl Power when strong and independent women were all over the media. I grew up with Buffy, the Spice Girls, and Xena. My Disney Princesses were strong and confident; they didn’t NEED a man, but they also weren’t opposed to the idea when love presented itself to them. I never was made to feel like being a strong woman ultimately meant that I couldn’t also have true love. Dressing pretty or sexy wasn’t about attracting a man, it was about dressing to accentuate the parts of me that I was proud of. I liked my long legs, so I wore skirts. I loved the look (and sound) of heels so I wore those too. I put on makeup every once in a while because the eye shadows and lipsticks made my eyes pop and my rosebud lips stood out more. I didn’t do it for a man or for anyone else but ME! I never followed the crowd and I grew into a strong, independent woman AND I stood firm on my feminist viewpoint, all while wearing pink and being super “girlie”. So it is just so perplexing to me that so many women get pissed off whenever the “girl’s version” of anything is pink or ultra feminine.
Now I know what a lot of women are going to say on this subject. The argument is always that girls’ versions of things are always pink and flowery and that it’s sexist. A lot of feminists are pegged as hating “princess culture” too. But I just don’t get that. I am feminist and I am also a princess. I love pink and pretty things. When I wear heels and put on lipstick I feel powerful. I feel like nothing and no one can intimidate me, and indeed the sound of my heels clicking on the pavement can sound pretty intimidating.
Personally I think that there’s nothing wrong with the princess version. It’s cute. But I do agree about equality. So here’s a thought! Why not include more “neutral” colors for little girls in the color palet? Why not have jewel tones or earth tones mixed in with the pink stuff? Why not keep the Nerf guns all together in the same section without a label saying that the colors are for boys or girls? Why not include pink and purple as simple color options the way that Nintendo has a non-gender specific way of including pink and purple controllers and game consoles? Why not just get the “boy” version for your daughter of the Halloween costume? Boy and girl clothes really don’t fit any differently, after all. And how about we have some non gendered costumes thrown in as well, and then let people choose which one they like best. Even if it means she likes the princess version better. And if she says she wants to marry Batman (or any male superhero/prince/male icon) that doesn’t mean she’s going to be a weak willed woman. I think it’s pretty obvious by now (or it should be) that strong women can and DO fall in love. I mean, unless these anti-princess women are all conceiving through immaculate conception then they have obviously found value in being a wife and mother, right? I can’t be the only woman who feels this way, can I?
It’s time we stop automatically assuming that being a princess means we aren’t empowered. It’s actually quite insulting to tell us that we can’t be strong and empowered and still embrace some of the more feminine/domestic aspects of ourselves.
I am a feminist. I also enjoy being a stay at home mom.
I believe women should be paid the same wage for the same work and not be fired or overlooked for a position simply because they might want kids someday. I also don’t have any desire to work outside the home while raising my children.
I am outraged by rape culture. I also enjoy dressing sexy for myself and my hubby.
I am a strong, independent woman with a mind of her own. I also have no problem with my husband wanting to help me or protect me.
I believe that women do not “need” a man to save them. I also believe that there’s nothing wrong with wanting to find your prince.
That’s the beauty of true empowerment! I don’t feel like I need to be one or the other; I don’t have to choose between the two sides of myself. Indeed I can be a warrior AND a princess, and no one is going to tell me I can’t. My only hope is for that little girl on the playground to stay strong in her convictions that she can be a ninja princess, and maybe teach her dad the lesson that so many people need to learn. Maybe we can’t “have it all”, but we should at least be free to choose our own paths; even if that means we prefer to fight our battles in a skirt and high heels.