Sunday, December 6, 2009

Think Like a Man, Part 2

As you may know, I have challenged my female readers to "think like a man". Not because men are superior to women, but because I think some female ways of thinking are damaging to our selves: putting others first, expecting others to know when you need to be rescued, etc. Part of this may be biological necessity, but I think part of it is rooted in our American culture.

Look at stories like Cinderella, Snow White, and Sleeping Beauty. In Disney versions of these stories, the female main character is a passive, helpless thing, relying on others to not only help her, but tell her what to do and when to do it. A girl entrenched in these stories as an adolescent gets a very clear message: you must wait to be rescued. If your life is empty, if cleaning up someone else's mess all day is less than fulfilling, wait, and your prince will come.

Now I know some people will say Disney movies have changed. Today's princess hero is nothing like that. Ariel, of Little Mermaid fame, goes after her chosen man, after all. She is proactive and assertive, they say. But she is still pinning all her hopes for happiness on a man! She is willing is give up everything to marry a man she barely knows. How many young women have taken this lesson to heart, only to find out ten years down the road that the romantic ideal they were chasing was just a fantasy? They are still not fulfilled.

In order for women to start "thinking like men", they must stop waiting for their prince to come. I want my daughter to seek out what makes her happy, to explore all the possibilities of what her life could be, then choose the best possible path for her. I hope she never gets the Disney message, a cultural diatribe written in pretty sparkly letters. Yet there is another message out there, rising up over the horizon, that tells girls "think for yourself". And I think if all of us, working together, can make this as loud as the other is pretty, the message will come across.

How did you teach your daughter to think for herself?

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