"I ain't no damsel in distress
and I don't need to be rescued,
so put me down, punk"
- Ani diFranco, Not a Pretty Girl
So, this has been doing the rounds recently - 36 Thank You Messages for Your Every Day Prince Charming. I find it both very funny and very offensive. Apparently, though, it's 'sweet' and so it seems I need to explain my position.
I do like the idea of thanking and celebrating one's significant other, of course I do. That's important. No one likes to feel unappreciated. What I have a problem with is how it's done. Firstly, this article assumes we're all in traditional, heteronormative, heterosexual relationships, which obviously we are not. Problem number one.
Problem number two: 'Prince Charming.' Ugh. I am always concerned by people who feel the need to infantilise their relationships, by which I mean they try to turn their lives into a Disney film. Disney films are for children - they simplify everything horribly, including gender and relationships. Everyone who's ever been an adult will know that Prince Charming does not ride in on a white horse. What actually happens is we muddle along together. This is ultimately more beautiful, not less. It is stupid and dangerous to project our childhood fantasises onto our adult relationships. Real life is mundane and vibrant and painful and joyous and oh so complicated in a way that no Disney character is ever going to come close to encapsulating.
Problem three: this whole concept of men as rescuers of women. People do not rescue other people. We rescue ourselves, or we don't. We can support, encourage and love one another, but ultimately our destiny is our own. Adults should not take responsibility for other adults. The idea that men need to rescue women is patronising and unfair to both parties.
1. Apologising is important. But, guess what, in an adult relationship, both parties do it. A lot. Declaring yourself to be 'stubborn' does not let you off the hook when it comes to taking responsibility.
2. The temptation to be sarcastic about this one is overwhelming, but let it suffice to say that men do not have the monopoly in logic and women do not rely on them to impose it on their hormonal, irrational, 'frazzled' psyche.
3. Likewise, women do not have the monopoly on being 'dorky' or, worse, cute. Men can also take vain photos and overuse social media. Women are not tiresome beings that men patiently endure, and no one deserves a medal for putting up with silly behaviour anyway.
4. Piggy back rides? If my husband tried to give me a piggy back ride, that would end badly for both of us. Women are not children.
5. We all need to set one another straight sometimes, but I hate the concept of the man as some kind of perpetual corrector of the woman. Women are not intellectually or morally inferior. Men do not have the responsibility to steer them or to reprimand them.
6. If your rants are only occasional, good for you. Everybody rants. Ranting is non gender specific and listening to ranting is part of being a friend or a lover or anything other than a hermit.
7. Again, we all do this for each other, unless we're a psychopath.
8. Women do not need to thank men for 'putting up' with the fact that their bodies do not conform to (often unrealistic) ideal specifications. Also, the 'perfect' body - what does that even mean?
9. Consideration for others is not some chivalric notion of men doing nice things for women because it looks good. Shouldn't we all be looking after each other?
10. As with the piggy back rides, if my husband presented me 'like royalty', I would find that deeply, deeply weird. Women do not need to be revered and put on a pedestal any more than they need to be treated like children.
11. Women do not have the monopoly on vanity or self-consciousness or anything else that causes people to take a long time to get ready.
12. Fair enough, I guess.
13. Surely this goes both ways? Romance, or generally making much of someone, is something that we all need, just in different ways.
14. So, the man attempts romance and makes a hash of it in some non-specific way, and oh how they laugh. Presumably because the man is incompetent in a hapless and lovable way? I don't really understand this one.
I'm getting tired of this now, but a special shout out to number 21 - us poor 'moody' (again, hormonal, irrational) women; number 26 - 'chick flicks', because only women can watch films with a female protagonist and it's not like people of different genders can relate to one another or anything; and, of course, 36 - because I'm just bumping into witches and dragons all the damn time and I need a handsome prince to rescue me. I had intended not to be sarcastic about this article but I just can't help it. What planet does this woman live on?