10 May 2013

The Only Crowns I Have Were Put In By My Dentist

You know that I'm the kind of cranky feminist who gets all in a twist about things like the tarting up of Merida and why do Monster High dolls exist and no, little girls shouldn't dress like sluts, and nor should they be wearing lip gloss.

On the other hand, the totally stylin', fancy-sneakered, well-coifed, thirty-something guy who sashayed down Broadway this morning with this tote bag slung over his shoulder absolutely made my day.

But, I want to unpack this. I'd be appalled if someone handed my nine year old an "Always Wear Your Invisible Crown" bag or sweatshirt. No, you're not a secret princess. You're a sturdy, feisty, smart kid and it's not about your appearance, or your tiara, or your royal lineage, it's about what you can (and will) do.

So, why is it okay for a grown-up gay man* to walk around like a princess? Because he's not a kid? Because he's earned it? Because he's got a deep vein of irony? Huh?

And what does "Always Wear Your Invisible Crown" mean, anyway? Don't give me crap about how it supports self-esteem, like the Toronto school board preaches, because hello? We're not royalty. We don't wear crowns. What do we do? We model good behavior: we read books, and cook dinner, and go to work, and practice things that are hard. We exercise and we challenge assumptions and we think about issues. We read the newspaper at the breakfast table and talk about things going on in the world. We discuss things like "is there a god?" and soda with artificial sweeteners and "where did the world come from?" and the girls who like fashion.

If my kid ever wants to fly that "Always Wear Your Invisible Crown" flag, we're going to talk about that non-existent tiara and about that lack of royal blood and about avoiding crowns later by brushing your teeth now.

* I have no way of knowing if he was actually gay. But you don't spend 25 years working in the arts in NYC and not develop very good gaydar. Trust me.


the queen said...


S said...

I love how sensible you are.

kathy a. said...

your dentist should totally be passing out those bags, because in the context of massive tooth repair, they make sense. also, he owes you for whatever took you there.

Dr. Beshar said...

This is your gay dentist. I am honored that you respect my crowns as they are meant to support health. Let me add that it's hard to express how much I respect your words. Remember, my husband and I are raising 2 daughters and we are constantly blown away as our culture continually responds to them primarily with how they look and rarely responds to their character. Please continue the good fight for my girls need a world that you and I vision, a word that expects greatness of women and not idolatry.

City Twins Chicago said...

My 3 year-old is obsessed with princesses, and recently asked me to tell her a princess story at bedtime. The only one I could think of was the tale Prince Rainier and Princess Grace. Of course, I left out the infidelities, crazy-ass kids and tragic death. I guess that's why princess stories fudge the ending with "and they lived happily ever after...."

Stimey said...

Some days it feels a lot easier to be raising boys.

Rima said...

Sing it, sistah!

Mental P Mama said...

I love your dentist!!!

alejna said...

I have 2 crowns (1 root canal, 1 cracked tooth) and we have at least 2 tiaras. We also have a variety of bunny ears, pirate hats, jester hats, and one hat that has sort of dragon spikes. Oh, and I have one set of really cool hand-made devil horns that I got a ren faire years ago.

I think I might need somethng says says "always wear your invisible jester hat."

ozma said...

My kid is a VEHEMENT feminist. It doesn't come from me even though I am one because I honestly don't think I realized that she was ready for these concepts--and she just started developing them herself--Maybe it comes from the fact she's a highly assertive girl and she is OUTRAGED at even the HINT she is not as good as a boy.

She finds sexism everywhere. It's very first wave feminist. She'll be outraged at every magazine cover.

She sees females as opposed to males--we are natural enemies she sometimes seems to imply--which is sort of unfortunate but hopefully this is 'Feminism Stage 1'.

She plays army at recess and she makes the boys be nurses while she is a general! They go along with this, I'm not sure why!

But this is not even from my feminist crankiness, really. It's very organic to her.

I went ahead and let her have all the horrible sexist things she wants. At first I was very ambivalent but the way that she plays with them is very reassuring to me. It never seems like she is absorbing sexist norms. There's something much more complicated going on--it's just imaginative play that gives her this intense pleasure but is not very 'girly' in the standard way as far as I can tell. The dolls are very assertive in the interactions she has them do. I have no idea how other girls do it or how it seems to them. But there's no princess passivity and the dolls are not talking about boys and what they think-I just think kids see them differently maybe?

Anyway, I'm sure I've talked about this before!

But I really am truly curious about whether all the princess/girly crap IS bad. I just don't see the girls playing with it necessarily reading it the same way we read it.

As for body image, she is extremely proud of her muscles at this point. Her focus is on physical strength. She is really strong! It's weird--she could probably beat me up.

She's also very into the idea that all injuries must be born bravely. She won't even take a bandaid on a cut if it is earned honorably.

As for consumption, she wants toys constantly but she would pretty much wear the exact same t shirt and shorts (boys' shorts) every single day if I let her.

It may all change when she is a teenager and that will be sort of a bummer--she'll want to fit in and who knows what kinds of ideas she'll start adopting. Like with the Barbies I think I'll probably just roll with it and wait for her fierce toughness to emerge on the other side, in college or whatnot.