Princess Stories and Marriage: The Effect on Young Minds Essay
Princess Stories and Marriage: The Effect on Young Minds
It is no secret that in modern day America more than half of marriages end in divorce, yet many still fantasize their fairytale weddings and happy endings knowing that the chances of staying together for the rest of their lives are slim. These early concepts of happy endings develop in the minds of young girls during the period of time when gender roles start to be enforced. They are not only introduced to parenting but in the media as well. In past princess movies and stories, men have always been the people in power. They are the kings and prince charming that are supposed to sweep every princess off their feet and provide them a comfy lifestyle in the castle with a happily ever after.
The princesses, on the other hand, are always shy, quiet, demure, poised, and need some kind of saving. The resolution of these stories always ends in the prince marrying the princess or beautiful maiden, thus completing his conquest and receiving his “award.” Young girls, as they are more marketable towards these stories, have adopted these elements into their own romantic life giving them false expectations of real-life relationships. 1 in 4 women will be victims of severe violence by an intimate partner in their lifetimes. They are conditioned from a young age to want to have a perfect romance, but false expectations often lead them to be in relationships with the wrong people. Although these stories may seem harmless, they push an outdated agenda on to a society where most are trying to progress into an era where women are treated as equal individuals and as valued members in society, not just your average princess.
In My Problem With Her Anger, by Eric Bartels, the husband and wife power dynamics in marriage is showcased in a different way than what is depicted in princess stories. Bartels starts off the piece. The wife, according to her husband, is condescending, never appreciates what he does, and fights with him constantly, which breaks the stereotypical traits of a princess and princely relationship. Charles Perrault’s Cinderella is one of the main princess fairy tales that will be showcased in my writing, as it includes many of the topics discussed, such as gender roles, power dynamics, which can be tied back to modern day domestic abuse.
A question that may appear when researching a question like this may be, how exactly does the princess story influence children on certain topics. Today, we have tv, movies, books, and the internet. Children are getting more and more educated in the media as they are learning in school how to do so. They can easily access these stories through different outlets. Although I believe princess stories are harmless in intent. They carry old-fashioned values that children, mostly emulate during their play time. I too played princess as a child and have grown to know that’s not how life really is. In princess stories, The princess gets everything done for her, she has servants and she’s just there to wait around for the magical prince to come and make her life better. Many girls grow up thinking the same way until they’ve faced a hard reality, but if privileged enough are still able to think this way until the day they get married, and in marriage then realize it’s not what the princess stories had advertised. Women are told to “deal” with what their husband gives them in life. They’re supposed to take whatever comes at them, but still, manage to keep the image of a “good woman.” Someone who takes care of their husband, the children, someone who never seems sad, cooks, cleans, maintains a good body. These are unrealistic qualities that a woman should have to uphold. Princess stories further argue that. For example, we take Beauty and the Beast, a tale that is taken very lightly and is seen as a beautiful romance in the eyes of many, but in fact is in a way a promoter of abuse. The beast is manipulative and a horrible thing. It takes her father with no remorse. Belle deals with his temper and abusive and threatening behavior yet she still “falls in love” In real life, this would not work out. In this story, Belle believes she can change the monster from his abusive and threatening nature to someone prince-like and chivalrous, but in fact, you can’t really change someone that easily, but the movie says its possible. In real life, this would probably not cut it.
Many girls go through their princess phase and wanting to have their prince, and it’s a little alarming to me how they already know what they want through just a story. To me, princess stories don’t promote diversity and keep up with the modern day which limits a child’s way of thought. Princess stories to this day have only been heterosexual relationships. We are changing as a society and love are possible in many different ways. If children aren’t taught to be more accepting of others, seeing only heterosexual relationships in media will make them close-minded and homophobic. I see this myself with my little sister. She’s never watched any gay princesses or princes, therefore the idea of that seems disgusting to her, even though I’ve never taught her to be that way.
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