Sunday, November 16, 2008

Princesses, Cowgirls, and Sarah Palin

Somehow this weekend I stumbled across Virginia Postrel's blog Deep Glamor (almost certainly via Insty), and found not one, but two posts that brought me up short.

While I have two fine boys (young men, actually), I didn't have any girls. Maybe this is A Good Thing: I think I'd be the father-from-hell in a JayG sense.

So Postrel's post on the Cowgirl Hall of Fame was a natural draw for me. Who knew that Sandra Day O'Conor was a member? And where the heck was the media on this? And her post on why do little girls want to be a princess was food for a lot of thought. Not why do intellectuals think that they want to be princesses, or even why do you think that they want to be princesses, but why do they want to be princesses?

I must confess that I have no idea. As a dad who's had only boys, I'm a bit like the Catholic priest advising newly-wed couples on sex. Intellectualy, I have a lot to offer, but it's not based on any direct, practical experience.

However, speaking as someone who several decades ago had to choose between princesses and cowgirls, I'd tell the boys to go with the cowgirls every day. As Postrel says:
I expected the museum to be stupid. It wasn't. In stark contrast to the ridiculous Women's Museum in Dallas, which (the one time I visited it) featured a strange combination of populist kitsch and social-constructionist feminist dogma, the Cowgirl Museum showcased women of no-nonsense character, pioneer (and pioneering) achievement, physical daring, and unapologetic femininity.
No-nonsense character. Pioneering achievement. Daring. Feminine. Yeah, baby. That, quite frankly, is a lot of Gov. Palin's appeal, too.

Maybe you can get that with the modern princess movement, too. Via Pugs Of War, here's Carrie Underwood with one of the songs from Disney's Enchanted.

Personally, I prefer Underwood's Before He Cheats, or some of the other young, tough female artist's more (ahem) strong performances. But that's just me.

Now, that's all well and good, and maybe even modern. It seems to a crochety, grumpy old geezer that in some ways, little girls are encouraged to be strong and independent in a way that they weren't back in the Middle Ages when I was a wee lad, and that's A Good Thing. But it also seems that in some ways it's harder for them to be strong and independent in the way that girls were encouraged (expected?) to be, Back In The Day. Your horse needs to drink. The water in the trough is frozen. Take care of it.

Princesses vs. Cowgirls. Me? I know which one I'll line up with.

So to both my readers, if you have girls, let me know what your thoughts are. Me? I'm mystified. But #1 Son and #2 Son are teenagers, so I get the feeling that I'm going to get another round pretty soon.

No comments: