Jezebel brought this TEDx talk to my attention — I’d somehow missed it.
I feel like none of this is new to me anymore — I’ve been harping on about The Bechdel Test for ages now — I sometimes forget that this is a niche interest area and it really did seem like hardly anyone in the audience had ever heard of it.
David Stokes said, ‘I will defend Disney princesses to anyone.’ I’d love to hear him do that. I’m trying to second guess what he’d say. I’m thinking he’d say that Snow White, for instance, is a strong female character who got away from the witch and lived happily ever after by making the most of her traditional feminine qualities (mending clothes and keeping house), which are no less worthy than the traditional masculine values. If so, I have a few problems with that, not least because Snow White is saved by men at every turn: the huntsman, the dwarves (though you could argue this arrangement is mutual) and finally, of course, by the handsome prince. Disney princesses are still princesses.
Stokes does bring up a very worthwhile point near the end of this talk:
Are [sexual assailants] learning that the role of a man is to fight the world with violence, then collect the woman as a reward, who has no friends and doesn’t speak?
On Girl Power (aka The Minority Feisty):
Is girl power gonna protect them if at the same time actively or passively we are training our sons to retain their boy power? … We have got to show our sons a new definition of manhood.
I couldn’t agree more. Showing girls a somewhat violent version of girlhood is akin to telling girls to go learn karate so that they’ll be protected against possible assault. It’s kind of even like telling girls to dress in everyday armory (dowdy clothes, not flirty dresses) if they’re to avoid unwanted attention.
Sometimes the loosest of connections are still worthy of consideration. As Stokes pretty much points out himself, correlations need not be direct.