I re-blogged a picture of a little girl, dressed as Tiana, hugging the face actress who plays Tiana at one of the Disney Parks, and noted that everyone should have their princess. And a few people have now contacted me basically going “no, only straight white people can have princesses if you stick with the classics.”
I am a folklorist, and it’s time for some Fun With Folklore.
First off, very few Princesses/fairy tale heroines who are going to become Princesses because that’s what you do are actually defined by specific physical attributes. You have Snow White, who yes, requires the “skin as white as snow” etc, but that’s to make her an alien beauty and justify the actions of her stepmother. She belongs to the Aarne-Thompson tale type 709, which is commonly referred to as “Snow White,” but which contains a hell of a lot more, including “Bella Venezia”, “Myrsina”, “Nourie Hadig” and “Gold-Tree and Silver-Tree.” All those links will take you to Wikipedia. Click them. Note that NOT ONE of those girls is defined by her appearance, beyond “incredibly beautiful.” “Nourie Hadig” is Armenian in origin; you can bet that girl was not white as snow. (Note that I do not actually care for the “Nourie Hadig” 709 variant, due to using a Roma girl as the main adversary, but that’s another story.) Any story you want to tell is going to have variants where the heroines are never described! You know why?
BECAUSE THE PEOPLE WHO WERE TELLING THESE STORIES UNDERSTOOD THAT IT WAS IMPORTANT FOR CHILDREN TO SEE THEMSELVES IN THE MIRROR OF THE TALE.
There are fairy tales about people with disabilities, ranging from the physical (missing limbs, missing eyes, missing tongues) to the emotional (girls who cannot smile, boys who cannot feel fear). There are fairy tales that end in same-sex marriage. There’s even an excellent fairy tale about gender identity, “The Princess Who Became A Prince,” in which our hero has always felt he was a boy, but tried to be a dutiful daughter, until a dragon stole a neighbor princess and he had to ride to rescue the girl in order to save the kingdom. One misaimed curse later, and wham, our new-minted prince is finally outwardly as he had been all along on the inside.
THIS IS JUST AS OLD AND TRUE AND SCHOLASTIC AS CINDERELLA AND THE OTHERS.
The “big fairy tales” of today are the ones that someone seized on as marketable. We have the power, as drivers of media, to say that we want more diversity. We want Princesses of every race, creed, and religion, and we have the folklore and fairy tales to make them real. We want our transgender Princess (although wow would the marketing be problematic). Saying “the classics” are 100% about straight white people reduces the past to a place where only straight whiteness existed, and where no other children ever needed stories. And that’s not what the past was.
Once upon a time has never stopped being right now.
“There is an enormous gap between the way the country presents itself and imagines itself and projects itself, and the reality of this country… But you’ve gotta really be interested in that, and sometimes your mindset, you know, doesn’t allow you to see it. I mean, how many people do I know who work in a building where every single person who makes that building possible is Latino, you know? And yet when you ask them, ‘Do you know any Latinos?’ they’re like, ‘Nah. Really? The Latino community’s growing?’… So, of course, I do think there’s already, for some folks, that old story that we’ve been carrying about ourselves that gets reinforced everyday on the news, and every day on television and in the movies, and even in the culture of books. That old story is tenacious, and it’s hard to kind of move that enormous boulder in a new direction.”
Junot Diaz, author and professor: http://www.junotdiaz.com/
Moyers, B. (Interviewer) with Diaz, J. (Interviewee). (28 December 2012). Moyers and Company.[Television series episode]. New York, NY: WNET.
(made rebloggable by request)
I’m not sure if there’s an official definition, but I use the terms as descriptors for two different mechanisms/means to power for women in systems (usually courts/royalty/government of some description). It’s important to note that neither is more valid than the other, nor is either any more feminist than the other.
Woman Kings, for me, represent something entirely other; an aberration; a space carved out above and beyond traditional ruling roles. There will be some aspect to a woman’s ascension to the throne and maintenance of power that elevates her beyond her definition of ‘woman’ in any given patriarchal society, thereby allowing her to transcend the title of Queen/Insert Feminine Ruling Title Here.
For example, religion, if she makes of herself a kind of high priestess or divine entity, or magic, (which intersects with both high priestess and Witch Queen), or (and this is my favourite) actual physical might. The clearest way for a woman to openly (note: openly; i’m talking all out, not playing the game, burn down the world style) shatter patriarchal systems is by being a warrior-ruler. This is something so male, so traditionally kingly, where the King is always the warmaker, the conqueror, the violence of a nation and its laws and god personified and embodied, that if a woman can embody it equally - or in some cases does even more and transcends what others perceive as the limits of nature/human power, thereby leaving behind the strictures of gendered rulership by way of leaving behind the strictures of even being quite human anymore - then she is a Woman King.
Essentially, it’s about not being reliant on a male for title/power. But what about Queens who rule alone, without a husband? Usually this occurs in situations of widowhood/inheritance where the woman is still beholden to her late husband or father, or is still moving within the understood regulations of women within a patriarchal system.
This is why Queenship is my other favourite kind of ruling power, because it involves being the power behind the throne, in playing the game so well, she is able to effectively wield just as much power, if not more (because she is less exposed) as any king. Whether with her beauty, her wits, her ruthlessness, her kindness, her political genius, her charisma, her body, any resources at her disposal, she moves within the system and uses the avenues it gives her to exert her will upon the world.
To give one of my favourite examples. Anne Boleyn was an exemplar of Queenship, using the restraints on sexuality and her beauty and her intelligence to rip the church in two (through the powerful body/voice of Henry VIII over which she held no small sway) in order to crawl into the space forcibly vacated by Catherine of Aragon.
Her daughter, on the other hand, Elizabeth I, is not a clearcut example of a Woman King, but rather brilliantly used the entire concept of Virgin Queen/marrying England in order to maintain the pretence of queenship so that the patriarchal system would not topple her for what she was doing in reality, which was ruling as a King, which would have been viewed as tantamount to revolution/blasphemy, depending on whether they view the throne as based in earthly politics or divine ordinance. (that itself brings up interesting conversations about the divinity of kingship and it being about who can most convincingly perform god-embodiment or has the best propaganda, which brings in kingmakers and their silver tongues, but that’s a different conversation)
These two concepts of power, Woman King and Queenship, directly intersect with lady swords/woman warriors and weaponized femininity (which i’ve talked about a bit here), but are more directly focused on means to power and actual rulership of a system, rather than general concepts of how different women may exert their will upon the world.
And these two are merely flipsides of one coin, in which I am intensely interested; there’s countless, endless ways to be a woman, to function as a woman in a system, to exert one’s will as a woman, all of which are fascinating and complex and equally valid as each other.
tw hate crimes, rape, murder
for me as a european, it’s unbelievable. seriously.
to watch later.
this is why racism is not a fucking joke, if you dont understand what Natives deal with, why we’re angry, watch this and you will understand
I can’t stop crying.
So much love to Megan Bertasson for her bravery in sharing her stories.
Canada does not give a shit.
It really doesn’t. Our dehumanization, especially that of Native women, is total.
and I’m sorry, but to the “as a European” person: if this is unbelievable, your blinders must be something else. Fuckin believe it, and remember that the vast edifices of Europe were bought and paid for with the blood and suffering of billions.
I have nothing else to say. I cried. I’m pissed.
because no one gives a shit.
ayhay wapi-maskwa iskwew
This is native and you should all watch it.
keeping for later viewing
*not US history, still necessary.
In Baghdad, a performance of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet - where the Montagues and Capulets are Shiite and Sunni and there are references to Blackwater, Iran and the US reconstruction debacles - has heralded the return of serious arts culture to Iraq.
The cast and crew are currently performing their version of the classic in Stratford-upon-Avon, England, the birthplace of William Shakespeare.
going back to that article I reblogged earlier
In an experiment consisting of 70 heterosexual males, who were asked to read a story about a homosexual undergraduate student revealed extraordinarily different results depending on when in the narrative the character’s sexuality was exposed.
Participants who had found out about the protagonist being gay later in the narrative reported significantly more favorable attitudes toward homosexuals after reading the story than participants who read that the protagonist was gay early on or read that the protagonist was heterosexual.
“Those who read the gay-late narrative also relied less on stereotypes of homosexuals – they rated the gay character as less feminine and less emotional than did the readers of the gay-early story,” researchers wrote.
Researchers showed similar results with white students who read about a black student who was either identified as black early or late in the story.