Feminism has many faces and develops with each generation. Today feminists participate in what is called "Third Wave Feminism", which is a generational term and refers to how the feminist struggle manifests itself in the world today. (Click here to learn more about the waves of feminism) Feminism manifests itself in many different ways and it is my belief, also held by third wave feminists, that when a woman chooses to live her life a certain way and does not make that decision based on societal or masculine pressures, she is exercising her femininity. So, a woman can be a C.E.O., a waitress, a lawyer, a housewife, etc. and be a feminist who feels valued as a woman.
While checking Facebook this morning I found that my friend posted a link to this article by Valerie Cassler: I am a Mormon Because I am a Feminist. It is a truly enlightening read and explains why I am a feminist, as well as a Latter-Day Saint woman, better than I ever could. This quote is a good summary of how the LDS church views the yin-yang relationship that men and women should have: "The LDS do not preach submission of wives... The family is the divine organization, and we know from LDS
doctrine that, in the family, women and men rule as equals. President
James E. Faust said: 'Every
father is to his family a patriarch and every mother a matriarch as
coequals in their distinctive parental roles.'"
Using both of these understandings and then reading the book Cinderella Ate My Daughter has proven to give me further insight into what a princess is. If a woman, or little girl, chooses to be a princess or queen without societal or masculine pressures, then she is exercising her femininity as an individual. Instead of waiting to be saved by a man, she is choosing to be herself and, according to the article by Cassler, exercising her divine power of agency to create herself (a power that men and women share). It is true that women beget men, men do not beget women. In this way, women also have a power over life on this earth that men do not.
When a little girl chooses to love the color pink and dress like a ballerina, or when she chooses to love the color green and dress like a firefighter, she is choosing to exercise her femininity in the best way she knows how. This is where media and consumerism can become anti-feminist, when they choose for our daughters. In our world today society and consumerism seem to say that if a girl wants to be a doctor, she has to have a pink doctor play set. If she wants to be a princess, she has to be saved by the handsome prince.
The best way to help little girls fight this pressure, in my opinion, is to teach them by example and encourage them to choose for themselves. If they want a doctor play set then give them options, if they choose for themselves then they are exercising their femininity. If little girls see their mothers choosing their own path and encouraging them to choose for themselves, then they will be a strong independent princess, not a damsel in distress. If other little girls or boys tell my daughter that she has to choose the pink toy or has to wear the apron, then those children are taking her femininity away from her. This is when parents need to intervene and show their children that a woman is a woman, no matter what role she chooses, and a man is a man, no matter what role he chooses.
So, what is a princess?
She is a feminist.