This piece was carried as a front page feature by www.modernmom.com
On the 29th of April 2011 Cinderella will marry her Prince. The British Royal Family will receive the sort of press coverage that we haven’t seen since Princess Diana’s funeral. The role of Cinderella in this modern fairy tale will be played by Kate Middleton and the Prince is William.
Cinderella, as we all know, was young, beautiful and a sacrificial female who waited for the right man, a Prince no less, to come along and rescue her. Fast forward to contemporary times and we have Kate. She is a living example of one of the first fairy tales that little girls are introduced to and, alas is proof that such dreams can come true for a few. The Disney magic of Cinderella with the magic of mice turning into soldiers, swishy gowns with stars on them and high heels isn’t just stuff made of empty wishful dreams and therein lies the trouble with fairytales.
They do nothing for feminism but trot out the same old tale of a woman waiting to be given a new lease of life by a man, whether he is a real Prince or not, in the form of a wedding ring. The debate on whether Kate has set back the feminist agenda is a much discussed one among women everywhere, especially in Britain. Not a week goes by without a media article on this issue and discussion centres around the fact that Kate seem to have done nothing with her life between leaving university and getting married save for a short spell at a fashion house.
I don’t think anyone is questioning her decision to get married but rather the fact that she seemed to have slipped into the lifestyle of an age gone where women didn’t do too much for fear of being seen as being too clever and overshadowing the man who marries her. Her period of languish is being seen as a fantasy fuelled period – ‘One day my Prince will come’. Prince William did not actually propose to Kate till a few months ago so many of her years have been spent languishing, for want of a better word. Hence the nickname given to Kate by the British media – ‘Waity Katey’
The romantic among you may say that she is doing all this for love. Does love have to be so sacrificial and in high doses even before one gets married? Marriage does involve an element of sacrifice for the better good of the union but if she has done this much so far what will be the expectations of the Royal Family from her? This family does not encourage independent and innovative thinking women.
What I find quite sad is the fact that her parents have been quite complicit in all this. As a Modern Mom I would have been quite despondent if this was my daughter’s life being played out. I want my daughter to realise the power of her selfhood and this means reaping the benefits of her good education to enter the workforce where she will challenge herself in many ways. My daughter is a person in her own right and must never wait for a man to validate her. The 20s are a defining era in a woman’s life. It’s not only about entering the workforce but about learning a whole new set of life skills. It’s when women have earning power and the financial means to travel and explore new avenues in life. It is the first taste of proper adulthood when you have to make decisions yourself and be accountable for them.
The current economic global perspective is marshalling a greater than ever social move towards personal effort and economic autonomy independent of welfare issues. Given this it is absolutely crucial for a woman to be able to demonstrate free will and make wise choices that will not only sustain her in the current but for the future as well.
Little girls must be taught that the story of Cinderella can be rewritten to show that this fairy tale figure could have fought back by being assertive and strong willed. She may have still married her Prince but the marriage would not have been a life saving device. It would have been a union of two people in love who were willing to accommodate the needs of the other. More marriages fail than succeed and it would be wrong for mothers to pass on the fairy tale message unfiltered.