Ever After, Feminism, & my Three Hands

Ever After

Ever After: A Cinderella Story. This might in fact be my favorite Cinderella story, because she doesn’t use magic to win the Prince’s heart, but art; and she rescues herself. I’m telling you, this is a feminist movie.
Ever After Drew BarrymoreNow, what I really want to talk about is the end. Her stepmother trades her to this creepy dude to pay their taxes, and this is where I get conflicted. On the one hand, I love that Danielle fights her way free of the creepy old bastard. She’s a strong-willed woman and she refuses to be subservient, even for a second. She is a human being, not a teapot to be traded and bartered with. I love that she rescues herself and breaks herself free. Throughout the movie, Danielle is constantly pushing back against the barriers society creates against her.

On the other hand, maybe this is just me, but I was disappointed in the end when she didn’t beat the guy up. I wanted her to kick some

serious ass, and she seemed to just throw a few things and went on her merry way. She just sort of walked out of his castle…….. Alright,Ever After fight 1 I just rewatched the end of that movie and I was wrong! That gross sonnuvabitch was all smelling her hair and saying he was going to break her like a horse when she spun around and owned his ass! But I remember why I felt disappointed. Because it didn’t show her actually gaining her freedom. I can totally see another showdown going down as she unlocks her chains, and maybe Monsieur lunges in a final desperate act to reclaim his manhood and keep this wild woman, and Danielle whips around and punches him in the face! That’s what I wanted. But it just shows her walking out of the castle like It’s no big deal. He won’t call the cops on me, even though I just slashed his face.

And on my third hand, even being a feminist, even as I bounce in my seat as I watch Danielle take back her own life, I am still somehow disappointed in the Prince. I feel like he somehow lost something when he failed to rescue her from Monsieur. Yes, he had every intention to; Yes, he just got there a few minutes too late; but I feel like he needed to redeem himself in some way. He did betray her, after all. Maybe it’s just the childhood of Disney movies like Sleeping Beauty and the Little Mermaid worming themselves into my idea of masculinity, or maybe it’s not, but I just feel like … why didn’t you do anything? Danielle is inside, being verbally, emotionally, and almost physically abused and molested, where were you? You were standing outside the castle.

Good for you.

Way to go.

One more Chandler Bing style: Could you BE any more useless?Ever After stepmother punishment

But maybe that’s just me. The Prince did in fact make her queen and threw her evil stepsister and mom into perpetual misery after that,
so maybe that’s enough.

Is Pink Really a Girl Color?

I Google Imaged “pink” just to see what I’d get. The first picture?


I can’t say I’m disappointed. I am a huge fan of P!nk, but that wasn’t quite what I was going for.

So I switched over to just regular Google. The first two links were for Victoria Secret something-or-other, and then P!nk, the singer.

Then I Googled “color pink” and these are my results:
 
 

I was thinking about this because as I sat on my bed I noticed that there is a lot of pink on it. Pink bedspread complete with pictures of sparkling pink diamonds, a pink Hello Kitty sheet, and then a pink blanket on top. (Yes, I’m in college. The sheet and bedspread are from my little sister. Her bed was roughly the size of my dorm bed so we used these sheets, and my Grandma made the blanket.) I looked at it and thought to myself, What a girly bed. If a random person was to walk into my room, without knowing who lived there, the only reason they would think a girl lived there was from the pink bed. Everything else is Nightmare Before Christmas, Firefly, books, and pirates (Why hello, Johnny Depp. You’re looking quite well this evening). Well, maybe they could tell by how many bottles of shampoo I have. man alive, I have a few.

Now, why is pink a girl color? It just is, right? It’s only natural to see pink and think: girl! Why is that? Oh, right. I remember. It’s because when we’re born, girls are born in pink and boys are born in blue. No… wait. We wrap girls and pink, and boys in blue. Then maybe it’s because all girls like to play with pink toys, and all boys like to play with blue toys! No, no, that’s not right either. We make girl toys pink and boy toys blue. (And then we separate the toys into princess and superhero.)

Then how come pink? Well, I did a little bit of research trying to figure this out. Apparently, it’s been argued that way back in ancient times, when humans were hunters and gatherers, women were attracted to the red berries, and that sort of reddish tone became associated with women. Whereas men were associated with blue because they were always watching the sky for the weather; good weather, good hunt, or something like that. It’s also been suggested that women prefer pink because of the red tones, which women can see better because our sex chromosomes apparently affects our eyesight.

None of this is true. I already know why. It’s the market. Pink isn’t natural to girls just as blue isn’t natural to boys. We’ve just created it that way, and then we replicate it , over and over again buying pink dresses and hats for our little girls, because it seems “natural” to us. In fact, it’s not. In the early twentieth century, boys wore pink and red while girls were dressed in blue. (They thought that since pink was the stronger color, it was more suited for boys. And blue was a more delicate color, meant for girls.) And now for some reason they’ve switched.

Which is why I think it’s so hilarious when I get these “real men wear pink” things. As if a color could somehow negate your testosterone. This Real Men Wear Pink is a struggle not for manhood, not even from gender roles, but basically from the media and the market. The market has decided that pink is for girls, and we abide by this idea. We’re fighting ourselves. Ourselves, I say!

The market–Walmart, Target, Toys R Us, Kohls–has a sort of control over our lives. It affects us. We can see it in the clothes we wear, in the goods we buy, in the things we use. Remember back at the beginning when I mentioned all my shampoo? Why is that a girl thing? Because women are expected to have nice hair. Shiny hair. Bouncy hair. It’s supposed to smell good and look great, and when we tie it in knots it should hold strong. How many shampoo or conditioner commercials do we see a day? How many of those hair commercials are for women? Most of them. I’ve seen a few for men, but only a few.

What needs to change is not the markets, however. Because the markets are dependent upon something: us. For the markets to change, our attitude has to change. Pink was for boys, so the market sold pink boy shirts. Then, pink was for girls, so the market changed. Now I’m seeing more and more guys wear pink, and the stores are selling more pink boy shirts once more. Gone are the days when pink was only, just for, and specifically for girls. To change the world, we much only change ourselves, and the world will follow.

Planned Papahood = Abortion-Tire care-Starbucks Shops Galore

This is funny, outrageous, and sexist; I know. But I started to wonder, is it also true?

There are a few ways to look at this question (if you overthink it). Just in case you have that same pesky problem I have with thinking, let me clarify the perimeters of this discussion:

When men become pregnant, we’re not talking about guys’ hormones/biology/body changing and essentially becoming women.

We’re not talking about all of human history being reversed and are now and have always been a matriarchal society instead of patriarchal. The gender roles are not swapped.

This is not a sudden switch, like suddenly guys are waking up with giant bellies and swollen feet.

Guys stay guys. History stays the same as it’s always been (men in power). The only thing that has changed is the fact that guys carry the babies. Yes, magically. No, more like a seahorse. Let’s say a seahorse. Men raise the fetus in his stomach, and then also gives birth.

The essential core to the picture shown above is this: Is the abortion argument really about the fetus?

Some other lesser questions hiding in the background are: If a woman was president, would she immediately legalize abortion? Is this
just another way for men to oppress women? Are men (and by men, I mean the majority of men in Congress/in power today) only seeing  one side of this argument: their side? Would men have so many abortion clinics in this alternative universe because it’s okay for men to have sex, but not for women? [Disclaimer: I know not all women are pro-choice, and I know not all men are pro-life. But seeing as the people making the Federal decisions regarding a “woman issue” are in Congress, and Congress is filled with primarily men….]

Back to the main question. Is abortion really about the baby? Perhaps. Perhaps not. The picture is outright saying it’s not. Abortion wouldn’t even be a problem if men were the ones having babies. It’s about power. Which, I kind of agree with. Abortion, by all means, is not a simple question. There is no simple answer, and saying there is a simple and concrete answer ignores the basic reality of the question. A baby is not the only one affected (if you believe a fetus is in fact a baby) in the decision. I have to argue that the mother is the one affected most of all. Whether or not that fetus lives or not, it’s not conscious enough to really know what life is. The mother, on the other hand, is painfully aware. And whether or not that mother goes through with the pregnancy or with the abortion, she has to carry that weight, that decision, probably for the rest of her life. Something growing inside of you, or the lack there of, is not something you can forget easily. What ever decision you chose sticks to you like a poltergeist, and stays there.

And no matter how compassionate, or caring, or loving, or understanding, or open-minded a man is, I’m not sure there’s any way for him to fully comprehend the full weight of a life inside of your uterus. No matter how many times you explain to him what it was like, what you were feeling, or what you thought, he’ll never know for himself. Because he can’t know. How could he know? Unfortunately, he’s not a woman.

There’s something here that no one can fully explain. A mysterious, ambiguous third factor lies in this question. A factor that no science, no numbers, no amount of extrapolation and deduction and conclusion-drawing can make clear. Abortion is steaming with this factor. Its why it’s such a hard question, pro-life/pro-choice. And it’s also why I kind of agree with the first picture. I do believe that part of the abortion arguments is actually about the fetus, the human life involved, but that’s not all of it. This is never going to be a fair fight as long as men exclusively are making the reproductive choices. Men should not be making these choices for women. If men understood the whole gravity of it, and the bits and bearings, I do believe that the decisions being made would be different. Or at least, we might be discussing it a little differently.

Star Wars: Episode VII. Meesa hopes we’re not all Screwed!

So, if you’re a nerd/geek like me, or you don’t live under a CGI’d rock, you’ve probably heard that there’s going to be another Star Wars movie. Episode VII. And if you haven’t heard, for shame. Seriously, what’s wrong with you?

Now, I read an article entitled something along the lines of: New Star Wars Movie, Sci-Fi Fans Everywhere Rejoice!

And perhaps the sci-fi fans are rejoicing. Perhaps they are all shaking in their boots with excitement for the new CGI effects and lightsaber battle scenes. They are probably jumping up and down, or fist-pumping the air, delighted to see what new magic Disney comes out with next galaxy far, far away.

I, on the other hand, being a Star Wars fan, am in fear.

Lucas already destroying his own legacy, my own childhood, Vader’s masculinity, and the mythology of that Universe, as one last kick
in the nads to his fandom, Lucas sold the rights to Disney. My only hope is that Lucas is really retiring and doesn’t have the authority to conjure up another Jar Jar Binks.

From what I understand, it’s not going to be shoot off movies, like they did in the Avengers, focusing on separate story lines. No, it’s going to be a whole new movie trilogy, a whole new story line, with whole new characters, on whole new planets, 200 years into a whole new future, on and on and on (which is the safest way for Disney to relaunch a series and make many moolahs ).

And sadly, Joss Whedon will not be available to direct.

So, here I must only tremble with fingers and toes crossed that Disney actually knows what it’s doing. (Or at least, knows what it’s doing more than Lucas did before he felt the need to add random rocks to the movie. Because what does that add? Honestly, Lucas. Honestly.) But behind all this sweaty-palmed trepidation is… well, more trepidation. But behind that lives a tiny part of my soul that wants to wait in line at midnight to see what new world awaits. Evidently, the movies were written out to be a nine-part series (and naturally the way to make those movies is 4,5,6,1,2,3,7,8,9), and these last ones are pretty damn good. And they were written back in the 80’s, so that’s good news. Things are looking up already.

Aim for the throat, Mickey! For the throat!

Ehem..

The best we can hope for is that, even if these movies bomb, like dark-hole-of-insanity, tricked-into-murdering-our-fathers, facing-the-Emperor-and-dropped-my-lightsaber sucks, we still have the old ones to replay until the residue of Disney Star Wars washes away into a bad memory we can block out of our minds and then burn the blue rays. No matter what these films are, they’re not going to wreck the old ones.

Hopefully.

Hurricane Sandy: God’s Punishment for Homosexuals

Christian religious leader John McTernan has already claimed that Hurricane Sandy is proof that “God is systematically destroying America” as political judgement on America’s “homosexual agenda”. (You know, because only America has gays. Or perhaps God only hates American gays?) But Hurricane Sandy isn’t the only homophobic storm. He claims Hurricanes Katrina and Isaac are as well.

His proof? Hurricane Isaac hit exactly seven years after Katrina, both hitting during the week of Southern Decadence in New Orleans (a gay event). But not only that, Hurricane Sandy is hitting 21 years after the “Perfect Storm,” because 21 breaks down into 7 and 3, both “perfect” numbers when relating to God (for some reason? And then when you multiply them together it makes 21 even more perfect? Don’t worry, you’re not the only lost one here.)

This isn’t the first time religious spokespeople have connected natural disasters with the LGBT community. Pat Robertson, a TV preacher, has long believed that tolerance and acceptance of gays would result in hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, terrorist bombs (really?), and “possibly a meteor.”

And I think he’s right. After all, it is a well-known fact that the meteor hit Earth during the annual T-Rex Gay Parade, and Mount
Vesuvius exploded because the Pompeiians were having an Allies Training session. Dude, this all makes sense now! Global Warming is in on it too. It’s the Earth heating up, like how a human body has a fever to kill a cold, to kill off all the infecting gays!

Doesn’t this all sound a little… Oh, what’s the word I’m looking for…. It’s not pagan, because there’s nothing wrong with that… It’s not witchery, because I wouldn’t want to insult the Sanderson Sisters…. Oh, that’s right: crazy. All of this just sounds way too crazy. I got nothing against religion, but this is too much like the Salem witch hunts, or Noah flooding the world. And god forbid we bring any actual science, like say meteorology, into this.

It’s definitely God, and definitely the homosexual agenda–due to Obama being pro-gay and everything. Because God never misses an election day.

But what an evil thing to say, especially since a lot of good people are getting hurt during this storm, gay and straight, men and women, black, orange, gray, and white people. People are struggling for their livelihoods and homes, friends and families, and this Yahoo McTernan thinks God did it to punish a select few in a wide range of people. If He were going to attack a place, why wouldn’t he attack Salt Lake City, the gayest city in the U.S.! (Yes, it’s true. More gays than Chicago, LA, or New York.) And prior hub to Governor Romney (because he doesn’t like Romney either). It seems so much more likely since Salt Lake is sitting on a fault line and everything. It wouldn’t take very much to start a damn good earthquake. But no, clearly hurricane is the way to go.

Hot Guys & Beautiful Babes

How do women act sexy? Swing our hips, flip our hair, bat our eyelashes, stick out our chests, lick our lips, the possibilities are endless. I could go on and on.

How do men act sexy? Swing their hips? Bat their eyelashes? Stick out their ample bosoms? No, that’s not attractive. Not for men. So what do they do?
To figure out this question, I Googled hot men. In no way do I support oogling hot men (just kidding, yes I do), and I do not recommend you do the same at home (Do it!). I find myself under unusual circumstances and it was purely in the name of scientific inquiry that I, for the greater good of the community, took on this steep challenge (are you buying that?).

Anyways, my findings were conclusive. While hot women (I Googled that too) were mostly in poses sprawled across the ground, men were in poses flexing their muscles. While women looked soft and delicate, men looked strong, tough, stern–sometimes almost angry. They were showcasing their power, their strength, their “manliness”, while women showcased their “femininity”.

Now, you might be thinking: why is it okay for girls to look at hot men on the internet, but then turn around and scoff when guys look at hot girls?

Or, you may be thinking Damn, look at that body! because you’re looking at hot guys.

Double standard? Perhaps.

Girls aren’t supposed to be sexual, only guys are (by the norms and stereotypes in society). And girls who show their sexuality are labeled as sluts, whores, or floozies.

Or, sexuality is a natural thing that we try to hide away in the dark recesses of society, when it is natural, when we all do it, when it’s a healthy part of life and we shouldn’t be ashamed of it. But that doesn’t mean we should all read porn in public now.

To answer this question, we could point fingers and say guys do it to girls all the time. Everyone does it to girls all the time. So why shouldn’t we do it back to guys? But then I say: Ah ah ah, thou shalt judge not. Treat others as you wish to be treated. Be the change you want to see in the world. That ain’t no mature way to handle things.

But I did also say that sexuality was natural and healthy, so why should we hide it? Why don’t we like it when we see sexualized women in advertisements? (by “we”, I might mean feminists, or women, or gender scholars, or you and me, or anyone in general)

How about this car ad by BMW?


Or this fashion ad by Dolce & Gabbana?
(selling jeans, I think?)


Or this one for Calvin Klein Jeans?
(because we’re all staring at those great pair of pants)

What about this fashion ad by Superette Botique?

That last one’s pretty intense. At the bottom of the ad it reads: Be caught dead in it. Yes, this is a real ad. But it’s not from America, not that that matters in the long run.

Yes, sexuality is healthy and normal, but these images are not, especially when they are being mass produced in order to sell something. Some people say that these images are not the media’s fault, that these images are the photographer’s way of reflecting reality back to us in order to make us think about gender roles and violence. But at the end of the day, this is still an advertisement. This is still trying to sell those jeans, or that shirt, or a used car.

There is no easy answer for sexuality, except this: respect. The common theme throughout all these ads is there seems to be a lack of respect for human people, the men and the women.

Rape: the Act of God, said one Republican asshole

“You know, this is that issue for that every candidates for federal, or even state office, faces. And I, too, certainly stand for life,” said Mourdock, after both Democrat Joe Donnelly and Libertarian Andrew Horning had identified as pro-life, though Donnelly also stated his support for an exception in cases of rape. “I know there are some who disagree, and I respect their point of view.

But I believe that life begins at conception. The only exception I have, to have an abortion, is in that case of
the life of the mother.  “I’ve struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize that life is that gift from god. And even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.
–Richard Mourdock, Republican nominee

Seriously, do Republicans do this shit on purpose? I can’t even… I don’t…. *headdesk* Stupid stupid stupid….

No, God does not cross his arms and say “You there, good sir. Go and chase down that lady, pin her down, and rape her because I have this soul here that needs a vessel and I just cannot seem to find anyone else to impregnate right now.”

You have no right to tell a woman how to live her life, or what she should do with her body. And going beyond that, you have no right to reach inside the mind of God (whether or not He exists) and interpret his will for the world. You are not God, sir. Sorry to burst that bubble for you. You do not know His will. And any God who purposefully rapes women, well, that’s no God I want to pray to. That’s for damn sure.

Fun fact: Mourdock is really knowledgeable about Abraham Lincoln, and he goes around the state giving speeches and historical references about Lincoln. Apparently, he didn’t take Abe’s advice: “It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”

And I suppose God, too, wanted Lincoln shot in the back of the head.

(I’m pretty sure that blurry word behind his giant head says Mourdick. I’m almost positive it does.)

The Pregnant Man

What do you like about being a girl/boy?

This question was asked in one of my classes. It seems like fairly simple and straightforward question, until you try to answer.

To determine what you like most about being a particular gender, you first have to know what it means to be that gender. How do you separate what it is to be a “boy” from a “girl” and not stereotype? Here are some of the answers my classmates gave:

Girls:

-you can show emotions and affection
-motherhood
-guys pay for things
-chivalry
-tom boy or girly girl (gender bending)

Boys:

-get ready quickly
-more opportunities
-leadership
-can grow a beard/mustache/side burns
-no line for the bathroom
-can pee standing up

Then the question was asked: What do you dislike about being a girl/boy?

Girls:

-shaving
-scared walking home
-pressure to always look good
-periods

Boys:

-pressure when dating
-limited clothing options
-pressure to have money
-pressure of being a breadwinner

So what makes a man or a woman? A lot of the above ideas are socially constructed views of men and women today, and a lot are stereotypes. Men can’t show emotion? You know you’re a woman when you don’t have to pay on a date?

There’s only a few on this list that is actually biological. You can point and definitively say “Yes, that is a thing that only [girls/boys] do.” Motherhood is one, periods are another, guys growing facial hair, and being able to pee standing up (must admit, jealous of that). I don’t really see any other ones. Sure, shaving because we all grow hair, but society has decided that smooth legs/face are beautiful. We don’t have to take a razor to our skin every few days, but we do to be “pretty”.

Except, what about this?

This is Thomas Beatie. He is pregnant. Thomas was born a woman and decided she wanted a sex change. So she became a he, got a mastectomy, started hormones, grew facial hair, fell in love and then married a woman. His wife found out that they were not able to have kids. Thomas, luckily for them, still had his “original plumbing”, so to speak. Thomas stopped his hormone injections, got a sperm donor, and became pregnant with their first child.

Is he a man?          

I thought motherhood was a definitive point-your-finger girl thing.

And I thought growing a beard was a guy thing.

Thomas has had three children, and by had I do mean borne. He actually has the title in the Guinness Book of World Records as the “First Married Man to Give Birth”. Since, he has had a phalloplasty (an artificial penis).

He’s not the only man to have given birth. There have been guys before and after him to bear children. In fact, just last year in 2011, a Canadian man named Richard Guzzo was the first trans man to give birth to natural twins.

So this whole guys giving birth thing isn’t a one-time deal—a strange anomaly in time. The question remains. Are these men men? What does it mean to be a man or a woman? How can we tell the difference?

What do you think?

40 Reasons to be a Feminist

Being a feminist means:
1. Walking home at night without having to walk with a buddy or pretend to be on the phone.
2. Walking home late at night without tensing up at the sound of footsteps behind you, wondering and worrying if those footsteps are quickening because they have somewhere they need to be or because they’re trying to catch up with you…
3. Being promoted at work instead of overlooked.
4. Being promoted at work, not because you’re a woman, but because your boss respects you as a capable part of the team
5. The boss considering you for a promotion and not weighing the job position between you or Sven, who isn’t as good as you, because Sven isn’t going to get pregnant and run off and have a family.
6. Your boss knowing that you can get the job done with or without a baby on your hip, and the company respects you for juggling work and motherhood, and even helps you do it, instead of weighing it against you.
7. Being able to say the word Vagina without having it declared a dirty word.
8. Being able to say vagina in Congress without being suspended.
9. Decisions about what’s best for your cervix decided by people who have a cervix.
10. Being in full control of your own sexual health and well-being.
11. Being able to crossdress! (Ladies, look down right now. If you’re wearing pants, you’re crossdressing. Yay!)
12. Watching a movie like Brave and not have someone saying/whining “it’s just about a not having to have a guy in your life…” The movie is about a girl. A strong girl. On her own. The end.
13. Having more time being a father, and being with your father, and a planned father at that.
14. Being paid the same wage as men for the same job. (Yeah, still don’t have that.)
15. Babies not being left abandoned on trains or in the fields because the baby is a girl and they needed a boy. (I had a friend who was left on a train as a baby and was saved. It still happens.)
16. Not feeling like shit because you don’t fit into these rigid and bizarre ideals of “womanhood.”
17. China’s population not being mostly men because the government put in the “One Baby Rule” and so everyone aborted the girl babies because they’re “less valuable” than boy babies.
18. Having affordable public daycare for working mothers.
19. Not worrying if you’re ugly, or fat, or hairy.
20. Valuing yourself as a human being rather than how sexy you look.
21. Not being expected to know how to cook and clean, and not being expected to enjoy that kind of work.
22. Not having the “second shift” when you come home. (The second shift being the work mothers put into your house and your children and your family, cooking, cleaning, laundry, dishes, mopping, dusting, wiping, swiping, shopping, feeding, homeworking/bathing/bedtiming children)
23. The president of Harvard saying that women are naturally worse at math and not have people take him seriously.
24. A teacher not getting fired from her job from being pregnant and unmarried. (Cathy Samford)
25. Not feeling the compulsive need to starve yourself or vomit every meal to fit the delusional ideal of womanhood because you feel inadequate.
26. Having a woman president of the United States.
27. Having more than 17% of women in Congress.
28. Having more than 3.6% of CEO’s in Fortune 500 Companies be women.
29. Republicans not trying to get rid of Planned Parenthood.
30. Paul Ryan not saying that God, reason, and science tell him that he has any right to tell women what to do with her uterus.
31. Women not having surgery to make their vagina’s “prettier” (Sorry, it’s too freaky not to mention. Seriously? Our vagina’s aren’t pretty enough for you?)
32. Michelle Bachman is not called crazy, especially when no one else was.
33. Hilary Clinton won’t be called a bitch because she’s powerful and in control. (By the way, Hilary Clinton won the state-wide title Woman of the Year in 1983 and then Mother of the Year in 1984.)
34. Women having more than one Halloween costume option: slut.
35. Abercrombie & Fitch doesn’t think it’s okay to put “WHO NEEDS BRAINS WHEN YOU HAVE THESE?” on girls’ tee-shirts.
36. Being able to buy a vibrator in every state. Because a woman’s sexuality is something every woman should decide for herself.
37. Feeling pretty in sweats/Feeling pretty in lipstick and heels.
38. Not having to accept all men are slutty and all women are monogamous.
39. Women are seen than more than baby-machines, men are more than breadwinners.
40. Having better sex.

Poor, Unfortunate Little Mermaid… the Good and the Bad

I’ll admit it, watching Ariel sing and swim around the sea makes me happy inside. The Little Mermaid is cute and fun and magical, and it’s a part of my childhood. What would’ve the pool been without pretending to be a mermaid? Boring, that’s what. But no amount of childhood nostalgia can remedy the fact that it’s unfeminist (At least, partly.)

I’m not talking about that whole big shlazoo with the cover art and all that. I actually couldn’t care less about that. I mean the actual story. Ariel is out in the ocean where she’s not supposed to be, doing things she is not supposed to do, and then falls in love with another species (an unattainable, highly sought after, rich and powerful other species). Ariel obsesses over Eric. I’m pretty sure that had she been on land, she would’ve been a stalker, perhaps collecting locks of his hair out of the garbage can. She fills an entire sea cave with stuff she has collected from… above. (Not unlike how people collect Alien artifacts I might add) And it becomes creepier when you think that she must have gotten all of this stuff from shipwrecks. She’s collecting dead mens’ things (but in the pursuit of education).

Anyways, when her dad finds out and says No, you can’t marry this human, you can’t leave our family, you need to stop this crazy-shit obsession with what you can’t have… she goes to a witch. Naturally. (I don’t think Ariel really realized why King Triton said no, or why she shouldn’t be hanging around ships. It’s the fear of discovery, I think. Triton’s no dummy. He fears the humans, and with good reason to. Let’s say that a human had seen Ariel, a beautiful and mysterious woman creature. What do you think would happen? They could catch her, for one. There are probably nets on board. And two, the humans are going to want to collect/find/study these strange new beings. And if they’re found to be a threat, the humans would hunt them and exterminate them. Don’t deny it, you know it’s true.)

Back to the witch. Of course, when your daddy says no, you dabble in the Occult. Like I was saying, this is basically the universal Plan B. Now, everything that has happened up to this point, merely trifles compared to what happens here. She sells her voice to the witch for a pair of legs. What she has in fact done here, however, is turned herself into a sex object. Ariel can no longer communicate any ideas, feelings, thoughts, opinions, anything. Zip. She can’t sign, nor write, nor does she have any basic knowledge of how people run things up on land. She brushes her hair with a fork, for god’s sake. She has no idea what she’s doing. Ariel goes up there dumb, deaf, and blind. All she has is “body language”. How do you make someone fall in love with you with only body language as your native tongue? Yeah, I thought so.

Let’s just play the lyrics, shall we?

URSULA:
You’ll have your looks, your pretty face.
And don’t underestimate the importance of body language, ha!

The men up there don’t like a lot of blabber
They think a girl who gossips is a bore!
Yet on land it’s much preferred for ladies not to say a word
And after all dear, what is idle pradle for?
Come on, they’re not all that impressed with conversation
True gentlemen avoid it when they can
But they dote and swoon and fawn
On a lady who’s withdrawn
It’s she who holds her tongue who get’s a man

I think the implications of this song are pretty plain, which is unfortunate because it’s one of my all-time favorite Disney songs ever. Telling young girls not to speak because guy’s don’t want to talk to them is not the greatest message in the world. In fact, it’s one of the worst. Telling a woman from an early age not to be smart, not to think, not to express herself is the devolution of society. And don’t think that because they’re children they won’t pick up on these sorts of things, because they do. I knew the words to this song when I was young. But I’ll come back to this.

Let’s not forget that not only did she give up her voice, she gave up her entire family. She has like, what, twenty sisters? Granted, we only see them in the very beginning, and it appears Ariel is the odd sheep out, but is that really enough to literally cut off all contact with them? Over a boy you’ve never even spoken to before? (Singing to his unconscious body doesn’t count.)

And let’s just consider the cultural and historical context in which we find ourselves here. The Little Mermaid must’ve been set in England sometime in the Victorian era, meaning that love was a very subtle and nuanced and serious thing. And while love probably happened relatively quickly, Ariel has no cultural clues to make her understand. Women in this time period were groomed and educated specifically for courting. And Eric finding her alone, mostly naked, in the middle of the beach would have been so very, very scandalous  Single women were not even  allowed out of the house unchaperoned. Girls weren’t allowed to talk to guys until they had been “introduced”. Guys weren’t allowed to touch women, even their hand, unless they were out walking and she was about to trip. Girls weren’t allowed to look back over their shoulder at anyone. How is Ariel supposed to catch the attention of a Prince when she checks if someone is dead by listening to their foot? But I digress.

Back to the song: Because Ursula is the one singing Poor Unfortunate Souls, and because Ursula is the head honcho of evil in this movie, the song was meant to be ironic. Even though this message was getting sung, it was coming from the “bad guy”, the voiceless plan didn’t really pan out for Ariel, therefore: don’t do it. At least, I hope that’s what was intended. (The problem with this theory is the voiceless plan kind of actually did work out for Ariel. Eric was in love with her, he was just under Ursula’s spell. It kind of seemed like she had Eric pretty early on. Flotsam and Jetsam were just getting in their way. [Interesting aside: Flotsam and Jetsam are terms to describe wreckage from a ship.]) Fairy tales, after all, were originally horror stories meant to scare children into behaving. Perhaps Ariel’s story should be read as a cautionary tale. Ariel made wrong decisions, and we should learn from them. However, she also made right ones.

This movie is not horribly deplorable. You needn’t whisk away your child’s copy of the movie or trash your precious memories of Ariel, nor do you have to feel guilty about loving Ariel. I still do! While some of the Little Mermaid can be seen as unfeminist, there is also another side to this sand dollar.

A few feminist things about Little Mermaid:

Ariel is strong. She sees what she wants, and she goes to get it, relentless in her pursuit. Even though what she wants is a boy and not graduating from Harvard, that doesn’t make the strength of her struggle across obstacles on land and sea any less valid. Wanting a boy (or a girl) is okay. Being in love and wanting a family doesn’t make you unfeminist by any means.

Although, Ariel is very much invested in her education. She searches dangerous places, shipwrecks swimming with blood-thirsty sharks, just to collect not only forks and old candlesticks, but in lucky cases books and paintings. She risks life and limb to educate herself for her own education of a culture that is not her own. When have any of us risked so much to learn about Africa or Korea? She fights against the singing career all her other sister’s have thrived in to create something new, something of her own. She pushes against her own societal norms for adventure, excitement, and individuality.
She’s brave, independent, determined, intelligent, talented, confident, honest, caring, and true. Even though she makes mistakes, she’s a good role model for women.
And I know she doesn’t actually think you can check if someone is dead by listening to their foot. That was scuttle, who also taught her a fork is a comb. Moral here: watch out for idiots, kids. And adults. Don’t stop avoiding idiots just because you’re an adult. 

Ursula could have (perhaps) just stayed a young hot brunette up on land, but she’s not the kind of woman to give into vanity. She has some make up on, yes, but she has the power and the magic to shapeshift into anything and anyone, and she chooses to be her eight-
legged self. There’s something to be respected in that. Ursula is, if nothing else, a very powerful woman, rivaling King Triton–the ruler of the entire Ocean, and at one point even overpowering him. Ursula can definitely hold her own. And while malicious and vindictive, she’s a pretty badass ruler. (A totalitarian ruler of evil.)

Eric falling in love with Ariel, considering the culture he lives in, shows men pushing against their own stereotypes, societal pressures, and expectations. He’s a strong character, a decent man. He fought for Ariel, risking his life, even when the girl of his dreams turned into a fish and the woman he was about to marry turned into an octopus. Without hesitation, even when Ariel was a little different, and there were plenty more fish in the sea, he dove into the ocean after her.

King Triton really loved his daughter. Even though he came off angry and oppressive (probably due to his raging temper), he was just trying to protect his family. And when push came to shove, he gave up the power of the entire ocean to save just one of his children. He was a fair and just ruler, uncorrupted and unseduced by the potential for totalitarian power. He is a family man with true family values, a wise leader to be respected and learned from. In the end, he understands Ariel’s love for Eric is more than just a teenage crush. He sees eye-to-eye with his daughter, and mutual understanding is what gives the movie a happy ending.