This past Saturday, feminists took to the streets for the second annual Women’s March. They donned pink hats, held signs with penises on them, and protested… something or other for… some reason. One group of 13-year-old girls caught the attention of BuzzFeed News reporter Brianna Sacks for their Disney princess-themed outfits and signs. Sacks tweeted out a picture of them, writing that they “took damsels in distress and turned it around.”
Ok I lied this is the best. These 13-year-olds “took damsels in distress and turned it around.”
“We’re sick of being seen as princesses so we made our own take on it,” says Ava (aka Sleeping Beauty) pic.twitter.com/mmQ77VpyZj
— Brianna Sacks (@bri_sacks) January 20, 2018
The girls, apparently, were tired of being seen as “princesses” so decided to create “feminist” signs about “anti-feminist” princesses. Never mind that these girls probably secretly love these princesses and wish they could be just like them. But shh, don’t tell.
Nothing irks me more than people calling Disneey princesses damsels in distress. And a close second is people who indoctrinate little girls into believing strong women they love are actually victims. So here, for your edification (and the edification of these poor, poor girls), is a breakdown of why these signs don’t even mean what they think they mean. (I’ve chosen the three most ridiculous ones.)
1. The Little Mermaid: “Bright young women, sick of swimming, ready to stand”
Okay, so Ariel is usually seen as a damsel in distress because she gives up her voice in order to get with a guy. So the idea of the sign, presumably, is to turn “stand” (as in, on legs) into “stand” (as in, up to the man). But that’s pretty much already what Ariel is doing.
Ariel is a mermaid who wants to be a human. She wants this way before she ever meets a human man. In fact, she’s obsessed with human culture, artifacts, and artwork and feels she was born into the wrong species. So her desire to “stand” is actually already a rebellious act of standing up to the small-minded people around her who are keeping her from achieving her dreams. So, there was no irony needed here.
2. Frozen: “I will not let it go”
Frozen’s Elsa is usually seen as one of the more “feminist” princesses, given that she has no love interest and sings a power ballad. But, regardless, this sign makes no sense since the whole point of the “Let It Go” song is that Elsa is freeing herself from all the rules and safeguards her parents had tried to teach her and letting her ice powers loose. (This, of course, is actually a terrible idea and it really makes no sense to have the heroine’s big number be about doing something that she’ll regret later, but let’s leave that for another day.)
The sign is supposed to be clever because it evokes some un-woke adult telling these girls to stop talking about women’s rights or whatever, and them saying they won’t let go of their “feminist” ideas. But saying they won’t “let it go” in reference to Frozen means that they’re going to rein in their desires and passions and keep them to themselves. Which is probably a good idea, come to think of it, but not what they’re trying to say.
3. Tinkerbell: Pixie dust won’t fix this
Tinkerbell is not technically a Disney princess, but we’ll let that slide. Pixie dust is a special, magical dust that comes out of a woman and makes people able to fly. Isn’t that basically what feminists want? But really, Peter Pan doesn’t have pixie dust. Without Tinkerbell — a woman — he can’t do any magic at all.
Yes, I get that they’re probably saying there’s no magical solution to this (whatever “this” is). But it does seem sort of counterproductive to negate the power of pixie dust given that it’s a uniquely female kind of dust (as far as we know). Just saying.
Listen, I get that these girls are 13 and that, in terms of Women’s March signs, these ones are fairly clever. And it’s possible the girls themselves think Disney princesses are super “woke” or whatever. But, given their comments, it seems unlikely.
It’s more the BuzzFeed reporter, and other adults out there, that I take issue with. Disney princesses are positive role models for girls — particularly in this hookup culture which we’re all coming to see isn’t exactly the wonderful utopia we were promised. If feminists — who act like victims — could stop calling Disney princesses — who act like strong, empowered women — victims, everyone would be better off.