Disney has a new television program about a young princess in training titled Sofia The First. Nancy Kanter (Senior Vice President, Original Programming and General Manager, Disney Junior Worldwide) explained when announcing the series at the Huffington Post that as a feminist mother she originally had mixed feelings regarding her own daughter dressing up as a princess:
I would walk her to preschool, me in my power suit, she in fake tulle and little girl high heels that flapped from her feet as she teetered down West 72nd Street. I questioned just what I thought I was doing by allowing, maybe even encouraging her to aspire to this outdated, irrelevant role model. Born in a generation that invented “super-mom”, was I just crazy for not putting a stop to this and buying her a chemistry set and some hockey skates?
She eventually made peace with the idea, and is now in a position to use Disney programming like Sofia The First to rework the culture one 2-5 year old mind at a time.
Kids grow up so quickly, and it is important to ensure that whilst they are still developing they receive the right information and the right instructions about how to be a positive influence in society.
But not everyone agrees with Ms. Kanter regarding the right instructions for young minds. Movieguide made news recently for pointing out that Disney’s new princess program promotes single motherhood:
SOFIA THE FIRST, Disney’s new pre-school princess on home video, doesn’t need a prince. She’s the daughter of a poor single mother who marries King Roland.
Clearly, the creators see a role for the media in shaping the social and moral values of 2- to 5-year-olds. It’s fine to promote honesty, grace and civility, but any message that undermines the traditional family is harmful. Children raised by their natural parents are far less likely to live in poverty, quit school, use drugs, commit crimes and spend time in prison. If Disney actually cares about the long-term well being of children, it would promote the traditional family rather than the “modern family.”
Movieguide‘s stance against promoting single motherhood is impressive given that it runs counter to our new philosophy of the family as well as the mainstream Christian perspective. As I’ve mentioned before, Focus On the Family’s Director of Family Formation Studies refers to single mothers as heroic. Not to be outdone, Pastor Mark Driscoll endorses single mothers as good prospects for marriage (H/T holyhandgrenadeofantioch):
Single guys: don’t overlook the single moms. Jesus’ mom was a single mom & it went pretty well for Joseph.
But the promotion of single motherhood isn’t the only social engineering going on with the modern princess tale. Brothers Grimm tales about princesses like King Roughbeard and Cinderella taught girls humility and the importance of hard work (especially housework), while tales like The youth who could not shiver and shake taught boys the importance of bravery and perseverance. But in our new culture self restraint and humility are traits girls are taught to reject, and there is no room for separate role models for boys. Disney‘s new view of the princess is in many ways the old classical view of the prince, as exemplified by the movie Brave:
Toyota followed the same pattern of princess-as-warrior-prince in its 2013 Superbowl commercial for the Rav4:
All of this has gone so far that some feminists are starting to wonder if it has gone too far. In her own Huffington Post article Raising a Son Within the Princess Culture feminist and single mother Dresden Shumaker worries that boys like her son are being squeezed out of the culture:
…a funny thing happened when I met my son — I started to realize how destructive girl power can be to boys.
But here is what I sadly realized: Within modern girl power, there seems to be a message that girls are better than boys. Boys are BAD. Boys are MEAN. Boys are silly, weak, stupid, clueless, rough.
Schumaker wholeheartedly embraces the gender neutral ideal of feminism, going so far as to dress her young son “W” in a frilly pink skirt (picture). But her son hasn’t missed the message in his favorite shows:
W’s favorite tv show is “Sofia the First” on Disney Jr.
He watches each episode multiple (MULTIPLE) times to the point that he can recite most of the dialogue. A week ago, he snuggled into me and proclaimed, “boys are not nice.” I asked him which boy and he told me ALL boys. All boys are not nice. They are mean.
He was right. In almost every “girl triumphs” story there is a slew of “mean boys.” Or there are boys that have to be told to be kind.
None of this is new, and it stems from the feminist denial of sex differences and their overpowering envy of manhood. Still, it has become so obvious that even radical feminists can start to see the damage their extensive rework of our culture is doing to their sons. Ironically all of this has also left something missing in the sex lives of feminist women, as the Huffington Post article Single Moms (And Other Strong Women) Need Alpha Males explains (H/T GBFM).