We’ve reached the point where the moral panics happen so often and so quickly that I no longer bother asking where they came from. Keira Knightley and Kristen Bell said something about Disney princesses and #MeToo, and suddenly there’s a cartoon online of a prince finger-raping a sleeping princess, and … how … why …
Never mind. It’s fine. I don’t want to know. If this is what the news-cycle gods are giving us today then we accept it and thank them for their bounty.
The clip below actually predates the Knightley/Bell nonsense (it’s at least six months old) but Amnesty International recirculated it this weekend, presumably as a nod of agreement to their comments. “Why is a group that’s ostensibly devoted to freeing political prisoners and ending capital punishment spending time and money on cartoons about sexual consent?” you ask. For the same reason, I assume, that the ACLU has begun inching away from its general rule of defending “hate speech.” These are charities. If they can keep donors happy by signaling their virtue on matters of concern to them that aren’t directly implicated by (or are even in contradiction with) their core missions, hey. Gotta pay the rent.
Karol Markowicz notes that feminist hand-wringing over Disney princesses isn’t new but the fact that it’s now a matter of concern to Hollywood actresses, of all people, is ironic:
It’s hard to miss the irony of women who work in Hollywood, which holds women to a size-double-zero and never-get-old standard, having a problem with the message that the fictional princesses send to girls. But the Disney princesses have been a target for feminists for some time.
In a 2006 piece in the New York Times Magazine, Peggy Orenstein complained about her 3-year-old daughter’s obsession with the princesses. It irked her that her girl was drawn to sparkly dresses and fancy hair.
But when she talked to Andy Mooney, a former Disney exec who was key to developing the princess products, he explained: “We simply gave girls what they wanted, although I don’t think any of us grasped how much they wanted this.”
As for any plot to subjugate women, he noted that it’s the men, the princes in the stories, who are actually minor characters: “Although they keep him around for the climactic kiss, he is otherwise relegated to the bottom of the toy box, which is why you don’t see him prominently displayed in stores.”
Princess stories are highly female-centric, needless to say. If you’re trying to teach your daughter that she’s the star of her own life, not a minor character in some man’s, you could do worse. And of course it’s a rule of sleeping-beauty fairy tales (all fairy tales, really) that the prince is the very model of regal gallantry. He’s a romantic archetype; he’d sooner die than harm a lady, least of all the lady he loves. The fateful kiss is thus always chaste and non-threatening. By having Prince Not-So-Charming get to third base with an unconscious princess, the Amnesty clip is making a crasser version of the same mistake that Bell makes: It’s taking a love story and turning it into a sex story, and then into a rape story. That’s a solid lesson for kids. Even the very best of men have rape tendencies. Feminism 101, really.
But their point is taken. If you haven’t already, definitely pull your tween daughter aside and explain to her that it’s not, in fact, okay for the boy she likes to touch her in her sleep like the prince did to the princess in a movie she saw when she was three. Make sure to do it in front of a bunch of her friends too; whatever humiliation she experiences will be worth it in the name of imparting your wisdom to her social circle. And while you’re at it, maybe let them know that men will still find them attractive even if they’re not as thin or pretty as Keira Knightley or Kristen Bell. They might be having more trouble with that lesson than with the etiquette of the sleeping-beauty kiss.
— Amnesty International (@amnesty) October 19, 2018