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!

11 Comments

  1. Great picture, David — of course that particular princess actually ended up being atypical and fought her own way to get what she wanted. 🙂

    I agree with you on this and it’s rather sad that some people will just let themselves get trampled on a daily basis.

    1. I’m glad you recognized the fun the image, Gordon! There’s a difference between the real thing and a wannabe!

      I don’t know a single woman over the age of 40 who has any interest at all in being a Princess. So many of the Twentysomethings want that pretend Princess life. It’s a dangerous disconnect.

  2. David, firstly, your comment above (as well as aspects of the article) seems to be a little too dismissive of an entire generation of women. This princess paradigm is certainly not ONLY for young women “who don’t know any better” – I see women in their 30′ and 40’s and even 50’s yearning to be princesses too: I see them every day, whether I like to or not, in advertisements for reality programs like “Real Housewives” or as target audiences for schlocky romcoms or books that perpetuate this bogus myth for women their age as well.

    Let’s not relegate an entire generation of young women by deciding to become a part of the whole, “OH NOES, those women are somehow undoing what Feminists fought so hard for!” camp. It’s not fair to the cause or conducive to inclusionary discourse.

    As to why this is happening, I think it has something to do with the cultural pendulum: seeing their power-suited moms in the 80’s try to “have it all” only to see a lot of them end up divorced, unhappy at home, or just overworked and resentful of their situation does a lot to one’s perception of what it means to “have it all”. So perhaps the pendulum begins to arc in the other direction, and these young women decide that being catered to and regarded as a paragon on femininity doesn’t sound like such a bad idea after all. The pendulum will swing back again, I’m sure, and maybe next time it won’t be as far.

    1. Thanks for the comment.

      We obviously spin in different circles. I see you’re coming in from Vancouver, so perhaps we have some nation-splitting going on here.

      The women I know in their 40s and 50s and 60s — have no interest in the princess fairytale.

      I don’t think the “Real Housewives” — or any celebrity concoction — should be used as a counter-argument, because those are all women who never grew into true womanhood, and they live an infantilized life in an adult body. They are deluded princesses and that’s what makes them train wrecks for the watching by the princess wannabes.

      1. In reading your response, I am convinced that you somehow read my comment as “Pro-Princess”, and for that, I apologize – that was not my intent.

        Part of your original argument, not to split hairs here, was to insinuate that EVERY woman in their 40’s-and-up look at these young women with disdain: that is a pretty broad statement, David.

        To be frank, none of the women I know PERIOD (whether in their 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s or 60’s) are looking to be “Princessed” either, but the bulk of my counter argument is that categorizing this phenomena by age is ultimately derogatory and does nothing for intelligent discourse as to WHY this is happening.

        And my opinion has nothing to do with me being from another nation, David. Living in Vancouver has nothing to do with my opinions on gender relations, other than having a sincere understanding of the inherent privilege I have. Further to that, “Real Housewives” is all American made, is it not? Insinuating that the women on these programs like this are “less than women” is victim blaming to the worst degree.

        I’m interested in hearing your opinion on the other parts of my argument, in particular my last paragraph.

  3. I think there are a lot of dynamics to this issue. Many young girls are not given responsibility or guidance. They remain idle well into adulthood and are never quite slapped with a dose of reality. They believe that life should be easy, that the world should be handed to them on a platter and sometimes it is. They may never have seen a successful woman or a family where parents were equals. Society also values beauty over smarts. Is there any wonder why women are growing up in a fantasy?

  4. Is the full time mom who relies on her partner to earn a household-supporting income really a starry-eyed princess? Or is the princess you describe some other woman? I must say, when I get home from wielding mace around the office all day, I’m not in a good frame of mind to nurture my two little ones. The most righteous human struggle I’ve ever encountered is getting a wound-up 2-year-old to sleep. So here’s to the women who are financially able to devote themselves with strength and toughness to raising their kids. I would LOVE to be one of you.

  5. Bravo, Sarah K! Your short comment speaks millions of volumes louder than those preceding it…or, for that matter, than the article itself. The tragedy of modern feminism is that, instead of truly working FOR women (especially moms and homemakers, who’re depised by the classic male chauvinists) and FOR choice, they have simply become worse male chauvinists (witness the apoplexy about the resurgence in women’s interest in things like knitting). Their movement should be dubbed “masculinism,” because there is NOTHING “feminine” about them or their agenda.

    (Written by a 57 year old retired educator Maiden Lady with a Master’s Degree)