Sunday, June 20, 2010

Hate the Game, Not the Player

Been reconsidering my hatred of Snow White of late, and have decided to hate the movie itself instead of the character. After all, what kind of feminist would I be if I hated a woman who had no other choice but to be stupid, defenseless and vapid if that's what she was created to be?

As of this writing, I am on chapter two of Naomi Wolf's The Beauty Myth entitled "Culture." Only about two pages in, but thus far I have learned some and reconsidered much; like my friend Kirsten has attempted to tell me time and time again, my hatred of her is unreasonable. Wolf discusses the tradition of beauty in the novels of women writers, often citing the characters of Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte to prove her point. "Women's writing," Wolf argues, "is full to the point f heartbreak with the injustices doe by beauty--its presence as well as its absence" (60). The tradition as Wolf describes it pits beauties against the "subtle": vapid Jane Fairfax against Emma in Austen's Emma; frivolous, blond Rosamond Vincy against "nun-like" Dorothea Casaubon in George Elliot's Middlemrch; "remarkably pretty" Isabella Crawford against self-effacing Fanny Price in Austen's Mansfield Park; fashionable, soulless Isabella Thorpe against Catherine Morland, unsure of herself "where the beauty of her own sex is concerned" in Austen's Northanger Abbey; the prodigious cleavage of Blanche Ingram against Jane's spirited personality in Bronte's Jane Eyre (list borrowed from page 60 of the 1991 version of The Beauty Myth).

Wolf goes on to discuss the socialization of young Western children via the myths of Pandora and Prometheus, which now comes in comic-book form for third grade American children:

It teaches that a great man risks all for intellectual daring, for progress and for the public good. But as a future woman, the little girl learns that the most beautiful woman in the world was man-made, and that her intellectual daring brougt the first sickness and death onto men. (61)

Exhibit A: Intellectual daring: ur doin it wrong

I'm grateful to have been born in the time period I did, because I don't think I could fucking handle this bitch being my Disney idol. I grew up idolizing Belle, Ariel, Pocahontas and Jasmine--all having their faults, sure (chief of which being the unlikelihood that they'd survive with a three inch waist), but ultimately these women followed their hearts and PERSUED things rather than sitting docilely, waiting for a penis to solve all their problems. Wolf mentions a female character fro Thomas Hardy's Tess of the D'Urbervilles, but since I've never read it I'll just cut to the chase: a girl learns that stories happen to "beautiful" women, whether they are interesting of not. Case in point:

Exhibit B: Do you wanna share my apple pie?

Wolf goes on to say that "interesting or not, stories do not happen to women who are not 'beautiful'" (61). Jane Eyre and a few choice others aside, she's right--even the women of Disney who are motivated go-getters are ALWAYS attractive (which is how you can differentiate them from the villainous women, because nine times out of ten they're wearing a hell of a lot of purple eyeshadow). We've finally got our first black princess, which I was stoked about and I loved the movie, but we're still a long way--she's very light and has mostly caucasian features. Oh, and heterosexual, but I don't see that changing any time soon.

If it were up to me, and it's not, I'd revamp the entire Disney franchise by empowering women to be single or to be in relationships, be they hetero or queer, and mix n' match princes and princesses of different races. Oh my GOD, would I freak patriarchal social conservatives the fuck out.