Disneyfication of Real Life Female Role Models

There is this wonderful space online called Womantra.  I have had the honour and privilege of being a part of it for some time now.  We post all manner of things and have all sorts of wonderful discussions and one member posts this link:


…and asks “this princess concept is so alien to me but I get what the artist is trying to do…what do you think of this ‘princessifying’ of real life women heroes?”

This is my response:

I LOVED that they are ‘princessifying’ real life role models!!! Did you know that for years I hated being female, because we did not get the attention we deserved in the areas that we deserved it? When I say for YEARS, I mean, long before puberty hit.

I am a voracious reader. I will read anything and everything.  And I did.  Boys got to go on all sorts of adventures and the girls waited at home and listened wistfully at their stories.  The girls stayed home and cooked, and cleaned, and listened.  But no one listened to the women, who were evil stepmothers, and whiny and conniving.  But God forbid a woman go out on a journey! There would be so much hullabaloo because who would cook, and sew and clean?

It was when I got into biographies at around the age of 12 that I read of my first real life female role model or RLFML – Madame Marie Curie.  That changed my life.  But there were no toys that made her accessible to me.  She was in a book, but I couldn’t bring her to the playing field.  He-man, GI Joe were heroes that did THINGS, but Cinderella and Snow White were dependent on men to come rescue them.  Mme. Curie? When her husband Pierre died, she went on a few years later to win ANOTHER Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the discovery of Polonium.  No hand wringing waiting for her prince to come!

I felt so glad when I came across the biographies of these women.  They were the truest adventures and they were real! They existed!  I knew nothing of forced gender roles and how it destroys societies by forcing half of the population into dreary servitude with absolutely no regard for the individual’s dreams and desires.

I never played with dolls much, and I never felt comfortable being female.  Much less a girl or a woman.  Now how is Disneyfying these women important?  For one, the accessories would change.  No longer would I pine for Malibu Stacy and her car with a bikini – now I can pine for Madame Curie and her safety glasses with lab coat and maybe a rack of test tubes.  Maybe I can get some Amelia Earhart goggles and a remote control plane.  Maybe I can be Danica Patrick for Halloween (if I were an American child).  I am no longer relegated to slutty <insert generic profession here>.  I would no longer have to begin my life by busting out of a cage of tradition reinforced by gender stereotypes.  Those are years that I could spend living out my adventures.  And I want that for every child all across the world.


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