The following is a blog series based on my new daily habit: Reading one entry from “What Every American Should Know About Women’s History.” Not only are there all these bits of women’s history time has neglected, but within them are lessons that are super relevant to living a meaningful and productive life today. I want one of those. Don’t you? There are 200 entries, so consider yourself warned.
Of the many horrifying facts that will burn itself permanently into your brain upon reading Peggy Orenstein’s book, “Cinderella Ate My Daughter,” is the fact that in no Disney Princess marketing materials are the princesses looking at each other. That’s right. Though the collective sales power of multiple princesses was undeniable, the idea that they might collaborate and interact with one another is forbidden by the Almighty Disney. While they may occupy the same packaging, lunchbox, nightgown, etc., we are to believe each princess exists in her own dimension, totally unaware of the others. In the world in which Disney would like us to operate, there is room in a good story for one woman protagonist, and while they infrequently have female friends, they are very often pitted against an evil queen/stepmother/witch/all the above. (And no, I do not think Frozen singlehandedly cancels out decades of anti-feminist storytelling.)
Compare the “princesses can’t interact” concept to this cold, hard fact from WEASKAWH: “Abolitionists Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott, disturbed at the manner in which women in the abolition movement were treated by some males, had long discussed the need for a women’s rights convention. They, together with Jane Hunt, Mary McClintock, and Martha Wright, issued a call to women to meet at the Wesleyan Methodist Church in Seneca Falls, New York on July 19, 1848, the first political gathering called specifically to address the rights of women.”
Got that? Elizabeth, Lucretia, Jane, Mary and Martha all got together and planned this shindig. These five women had no problem interacting. They looked each other in the face just fine. It might have taken them eight years to get it together and plan the thing, another seventy years to make any progress on their demands, and they certainly fell down on the job in terms of inviting women of color to be involved, but look at that image. Look at all of these women, facing each other, listening to one another and fixing the world together. Compare it to the Princesses, looking past each other. Let us not give a moment’s credence to the idea that women are better isolated, taken one at a time. Women are always stronger, more effective — and not to mention a damn sight more fun — as collaborators, supporters and friends.