We have a disturbing trend taking over the minds of many young women in the USA today: They want to be a Princess and wear crowns. They want their wedding gown to make them look like a Princess. They want to marry a “perfect man” in shining armor. They want to be waited upon and admired. Hard work and a hardscrabble life of striving to gain equality in society are of no mind to them now because that battle was won by those before them and they see no need to continue the good fight even though those human gains are being lost a bit each day they are taken for granted.
Those wannabe Princesses want romance over substance and that is a troubling thing for older men and women who grew up in an era where women were not equal to men in the workplace or society or even under the rule of law. Seeing these young women under the age of 30 wishing for a fairytale fantasy that can never be is both discouraging and disgusting because those women, who have not really had to suffer in any substantial way for their gender, are infantilizing their womanhood for the sake of a myth.
I believe this infantilization sprouts from the hard-won security of other women who came into society during the treacherous Equal Rights Amendment era of the USA and had to fight for equal pay and to be taken seriously as people. Those pioneer women — and men! — who fought for equal gender rights then are dismayed now to see the new generation of women give up all that was previously won because they have never had to live a life otherwise, and so they infantilize their equal status by regressing to a childlike state where everything is sparkling and pretty and tulle-lined.
Older women in their 40s and 50s and 60s tend to look at these young women and wonder why they want a cartoon life instead of one based in a hard reality. Is life too disconnected now to deal with gender issues and hostile workplaces? Are we in a generational backward shift to dissolve unions and collective bargaining and the right of a properly educated and smart and tough woman to be taken seriously in society?
The “I Want to Be a Princess” syndrome does not help move the humanity of men or women forward because there is no intellectual rock or sustainable emotional drive behind that childish meme. Princesses are about regression and pedestal standing and being acted upon instead of acting — and while all of that might be admired by some — those quaint notions of childhood should never be celebrated into adulthood and given standing in the serious world that surrounds us today.
We need our young women to be as strong and as tough today as previous women were when they had to fight every single day of their lives to be taken seriously and to make a striking difference under the rule of law — and gowns and crowns were never a part of that righteous human struggle. Give up the scepter for a mace instead!