I've Always Been This Awkward - Eighteen

I was all set to write about a particular topic today. I was thinking about this particular topic all weekend long too; about how soft I've become. No, not muscles soft, I'm still the hulking mass of rock-hard masculinity I've always been. No, not penis soft, stop it, that's just silly (and, of course, implausible)! But soft as in weak. Soft as in 'fraidy cat. Soft as in unnerved. Soft as in cautious. I used to have nerve the size of Texas. I used to be able to cold stop people in their tracks with just a look. I was once a rather tough fellow – a badass tough guy. But not the guido or gangy sort of tough guy, more the cerebral, attitudinal, one-step-ahead of everyone else kind bad boy. No frontin'. I didn't have to use my fists because I could out-wit, out-play, and out-last people. I was a survivor. And people were as frightened by my act as they were confused. I wised off to everyone who needed wising off to. No slight went unhandled. I was crazy righteous.

I wasn't by any means stupid about it either. I knew my boundaries and I knew limits as well as the limits and boundaries of others which, if you think about it, is key. I have always been aware of situation and of context. One thing I never did was fall into any sort of pre-prescribed role.

I haven't always been so rough and tough (well "rough and tough" really doesn't describe me, but...confident), it just sort of kicked in around 10th grade and lasted me until…well, until like 2002. That's, what, a little over a two-decade run. Not bad. Maybe it was becoming a father that softened me up so much; made me aware of the realities of evil and harm. I don't know, but I'm a huge wuss now. Maybe it has something to do with the consequences of behavior having real consequences on outcomes. Maybe I'm caught up in the realities of a post-terror America where the perceptions of evil and harm are more salient than their realities. Maybe I've fallen into some kind of role. But, I'm not going to write about how I've become such a wimp because something else has jumped the queue today.

I believe I have discovered the very thing I detest the most. And to be clear (as something, metaphorically, that is really clear like Snow White's skin), there's plenty to hate in this world. I don't have enough fingers or keys on this computer to type all the things there are to hate. But recently I may have had a "last straw" moment. Yes, I do believe that I may have very well discovered the single thing I detest the most and it's that way because it's so harmful: It's called Princess Culture.

Princess culture is the massive business that the massive Disney Corporation has created through insipid animated movies that drain the wallets and pocketbooks of clueless, non-thinking parents. Disney makes and markets these terrible films to young children with one goal in mind: to drain the wallets and pocketbooks of mope parents. It's quite sad.

That's fine though. You cannot fault a businesses for milking cash from people. That's the American way. And suckers shouldn't have money in the first place because rubes with money can be a dangerous lot (hello H2). So, yeah, take their money.

What the problem is, for me, is this whole corporate manufactured princess culture is not without consequences. There are lessons and there are dangers. It's not cute nor harmless nor intelligent nor funny. It's mostly force-fed backwards thinking combined with some weirdo adult fetish for something that doesn't nor will ever exist. Sure, fairy tales are fine and all, but most fairy tales historically, like fables, were about lessons of morality, logic, and the complexities of communication, not commerce.

With princess culture I lay 100% of the blame on the parents because they control the dollar and because in our society parents have become so wracked with child-rearing guilt the corporations have a huge advantage. American parents are dressing their children up like harlots, complete with restrictive and unsafe plastic heels, immobilizing dresses, lipstick, eye shadow, and tons of glitter. All in the name of corporate manufactured "beauty." These are the same parents who will lament how "quickly the chill-rens are growing up" and "how hard it is for chill-rens now-a-days." The same parents who are freaked to hell about "on-line safety," "stranger danger," and "all the sex and violence" on the TeeVee. But they are the parents who put four and five year-olds in adult clothing with all the adult accouterments and accessories. Same parents who purchase thong underwear and halter tops for kindergarteners. Same parents whom find ways to oversexualize their daughters in manners that only predict explicit and early adult-themed behaviors. Princess now, stripper later. It' s so weird! These are the same parents who will fight tooth and nail for control and custody of their offspring during the 'tween years. If I didn't live in these insular suburbs I would probably not believe it. Okay, I probably would believe it but I'd discount as something that people who are uneducated, of lower SES, or more rural would participate in because they didn't know any better. I'd pity them. You know, like the people who "...cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them." I just don't get people who would dress their children so tawdry (then sexy devils at Halloween, slutty nurses later) and believe it to be harmless fun. Maybe it's me. Maybe I'm retarded. Maybe I'm an awful parent.

And just what does a princess do then? My daughter asked me that very question when she was three years-old. I assume most mope parents would answer something about, "a princess looks beautiful," but the notion that beauty should be conceived, focus-grouped, and mass produced by large corporations is counter to everything I've ever believed in regarding the power of independence and equality. The psychology just doesn't mesh with anything I've ever learned (or taught) about how we can evolve as intelligent humans. Besides, what Disney is manufacturing is less beauty than it is vapid, shallow, materialistic, misogynistic ignorance.

So this is how I answered my three-year-old's question about what a princess does, "Well, from what I can tell, the image of "princess" that the multi-billion dollar corporations are shoving down our collective throats doesn't do very much at all except depend. The princess just waits for a man of means (on a horse) to somehow save her from the perils of the world because she doesn't have the ability to save herself. She attempts to look pretty (or what they want you to believe pretty is) walking down a staircase. But for the most part a princess is a hobbled, defenseless, frightened, skill-less vessel of man's sexual desire and control. There are no princess physicians, engineers, pilots, soccer players, Olympians, professors, Senators, mountain climbers, or motorcycle racers. Princesses are about 99% useless except as subservient property of men. Princesses, as conceived by business, are not real. They are like monsters, dragons, and space aliens. Real princesses--actual monarchical decedents--often the products of selective breeding and are insulated from most of the world as a result of their immense wealth. They are nothing like anyone you or I will ever know or associate with." Or something like that. Terrible parenting.

When we dress our little girls up like this, they do not look as cute or, "so pretty!" as people intimate. They look as fake and as manipulated as JonBenet Ramsey. Our single-digit aged daughters either look really cheap or just plain dumb. Especially compared with our culture's boys who are allowed to run, jump, fall, decide, think, and live. Just who is your child's role model? A cartoon woman-cub developed by a company owned and run since forever by middle-aged white men for the sole purpose of exploiting money? And you expect them to grow up to be what? Not president of the United States, that's for sure. Not the CEO of Disney, no way! The future for our make-believe, fake-ass, wannabe, DVD princess has nothing to do with physical or cognitive health nor does it support any sort of emotional maturation or well-being.

So the expectation for our "little ladies" is to be spoiled, catered to, waiting, and basically powerless. To be sedentary, uncomfortable and always presented "properly." We laughed at Kathleen Harris for her careful attention to her make-up application during the 2000 election. We thought it overdone. But with the lessons to our daughters (especially compared to the freedoms allowed our boys and men) we are setting all movements back by at least 50 years. Sorry women's movement, glass ceilings are real, watch your heads. So long civil rights movement only white men need apply. Collectively we ponder how "epidemics" of binge drinking and date rape occur when it's plainly obvious that we've taught our children what their expected roles are: Men are to dominate and take what they want (take charge, sarge). Women are to wait to be dominated and saved into a life of wealth (and large homes and SUVs).

Oh, I know you're all, "Geez, Ty, lighten up. It's only fun and games for the kids. It's just kids being kids." It sure is. And the kids are buying all this garbage on their own too. That's why it's just "kids being kids" when they're pretending to shoot up heroin or pretending to hang the little black kids in fun rounds of "lynch mob." Big deal, huh? No educable moments there. How many games can you name that are based on physics, mathematics, science, and cooperation? And we lament that the U.S. is no longer a world leader in terms of education, particularly math and science. Maybe that's why it bothers me so much when the McDonald's staff instead of asking which Happy Meal toy my daughter wants--the Transformer or the Cutie-doll--ask instead, "boy or girl." What?

I guess the very best part is that many (perhaps most) of these same parents believe in that other fairy tale, so it's no wonder. You know the god/Jesus/bible stories where we smite our brethren and stone misbehaving women. What is wrong with people?

And thus this Princess culture is what I now abhor the most right now. Too bad I've become so overly cautious and pambly to say or do anything about it though. Maybe I've become a princess myself. Hopefully my daughter has inherited the courage, brains, and heart I once wielded. And good for her if she has. Maybe when she's CEO of Mattel or the Disney corporation she'll re-market toys to be of a pro-social or pro-education nature (or be the evil witch that boils all the Barbie dolls and princesses in a vat of boiling oil). Oh, she'd just be labelled a bitch for the attempt, that's what we call our intelligent, assertive, and driven women.

I've Always Been This Awkward

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