Cinema, Features, Literature, Media

Don’t Deny Girls the Evolutionary Wisdom of Fairy-Tales

The view from moral high ground is best enjoyed after the check (for whatever you’re moralizing against) clears.

Rather like animal-rights activists who own a string of steakhouses, Disney film stars Kristin Bell and Keira Knightley spoke out recently against the bad examples they feel Disney princesses convey to girls. (Bell voiced the role of Princess Anna in Disney’s 2013 animated film Frozen, and Knightley stars as the Sugar Plum Fairy in Disney’s new live action feature, The Nutcracker and the Four Realms.) Knightley even used her Nutcracker promo tour to reveal that she’s banned certain Disney films from her own home. The Little Mermaid is one prohibited flick, and Cinderella is another—because, Knightley explains, Cinderella “waits around for a rich guy to rescue her.”

Of course, Knightley and Bell aren’t alone in their disapproval. There’s been a war on “princess culture” for some time. Legions of pink-phobic parents all but go into mourning whenever their daughter begs for some glitter-flecked, rosy-hued item in a store—as if it might cast a spell on her, sending her down the path to Stepfordhood instead of STEM.

Snow White is kissed by her prince in the 1937 Disney production

Bell even manages to find the #metoo in Snow White’s wakeup kiss from the Prince, lecturing her daughters that “you cannot kiss someone if they’re sleeping!” By this logic, one of the most beautiful forms of affection—a mother kissing her sleeping child—becomes a form of inappropriate contact.

This is crazythink. Children are not helped by adults projecting their fears in this way—stretching a prince chastely kissing a comatose princess back to consciousness into a thumbs up for having sex with a girl who’s passed-out drunk at a fraternity party.

Yet, this is the sort of hysteria used to justify yanking away the wonderful fun of watching Disney princess films. Remember fun? It’s a vestige from pre-1990 America—back before padded playgrounds, criminal background checks for parents working the school bake sale, and first-graders slaving over more nightly homework than I ever got in high school.

Ironically, far from contaminating young female minds, these Disney princess stories—and their fairy-tale-fic precursors—provide vitally helpful messages that parents could be discussing with their girls.

Cinderella, for example, revolves around the perniciousness of what researchers call “female intrasexual competition”—the often-underhanded ways women compete with each other. While men evolved to be openly competitive, jockeying for position verbally or physically, female competition tends to be covert—indirect and sneaky—and often involves sabotaging another woman into being less appealing to men. Accordingly, in Cinderella, when the king throws a ball to find the prince a wife, the nasty stepsisters aren’t at all “let the best woman win!” They assign Cinderella extra chores so she won’t have time to pull together something to wear. (Mean Girls, the cartoon version, anyone?)

Cinderella is assigned extra chores by her step-mother and step-sisters, thereby preventing her from getting ready to attend the ball

Psychologist Joyce Benenson, who researches sex differences, traces women’s evolved tendency to opt for indirectness—in both competition and communication—to a need to avoid physical altercation, either with men or other women. This strategy would have allowed ancestral women to protect their more fragile female reproductive machinery and to fulfill their roles as the primary caretaker for any children they might have.

Sure, today, a woman can protect herself against even the biggest, scariest intruder with a gun or a taser—but that’s not what our genes are telling us. We’re living in modern times with an antique psychological operating system—adapted for the mating and survival problems of ancestral humans. It’s often at a mismatch with our current environment.

Understanding this evolutionary mismatch helps women get why it’s sometimes hard for them to speak up for themselves—to be direct and assertive. And identifying this as a problem handed them by evolution can help them override their reluctance—assert themselves, despite what feels “natural.” Additionally, an evolutionary understanding of female competition can help women find other women’s cruelty to them less mystifying. This, in turn, allows them to take such abuse less personally than if they buy into the myth of female society as one big supportive sisterhood.

Such myths have roots in academia. Academic feminists typically contend that culture alone is responsible for behavior. If pressed, they’ll concede to some biological sex differences—but only below the neck. They deny that there could be psychological differences that evolved out of the physiological differences—and never mind all the evidence.

For example, evolutionary psychologists David Buss and David Schmitt explain—per surveys across cultures—that men and women evolved to have conflicting “sexual strategies.” In general, “a long-term mating strategy” (commitment-seeking) would be optimal for women and a “short-term mating strategy” (the “hit it and quit it” model) would be optimal for men. (Guess which model is championed in princess movies?)

In almost all species, it’s the female that gets pregnant and stuck with mouths to feed. So human women—like most females in other species—evolved to seek high-status male partners with an ability and willingness to invest.

This evolutionary imperative is supported by women’s emotions, which anthropologist John Marshall Townsend explains, “act as an alarm system that urges women to test and evaluate investment and remedy deficiencies even when they try to be indifferent to investment.” In Townsend’s research, even when women wanted nothing but a one-time hookup with a guy, they often were surprised to wake up with worries like “Does he care about me?” and “Is sex all he was after?”

In other words, the allure of “princess culture” was created by evolution, not Disney. Over countless generations, our female ancestors most likely to have children who survived to pass on their genes were those whose emotions pushed them to hold out for commitment from a high status man—the hunter-gatherer version of that rich, hunky prince. A prince is a man who could have any woman, but—very importantly—he’s bewitched by our girl, the modest but beautiful scullery maid. A man “bewitched” (or, in contemporary terms, “in love”) is a man less likely to stray—so the princess story is actually a commitment fantasy.

Aschenbrödel, by Carl Heinrich Hoff (1838–1890)

Because of this, princess films can be the perfect foundation for parents of teen girls to have conversations about the realities of evolved female emotions in the mating sphere. A young woman who’s been schooled (in simple terms) about evolutionary psychology is less likely to behave in ways that will leave her miserable—understanding that being “sexually liberated” might not make her emotionally liberated enough to have happy hookups with a string of Tinder randos.

As for the notion that watching classic princess films could be toxic to a girl’s ambition, let’s be real. Girls are being sent in droves to coding camp and are bombarded with slogans like “The future is female!” And young women—young women who grew up with princess films—now significantly outpace young men in college enrolment.

Children aren’t idiots. They know that talking mirrors and pumpkins that Uber a girl to the royal prom aren’t real, and they aren’t having their autonomy brainwashed away by feature-length cartoons—just as none of us dropped anvils on the neighbor kids after watching Road Runner. Ultimately, these bans of princess movies are really about what’s psychologically soothing for the parents, not what’s good for children. Preventing children from watching princess films and other fantasy kid fare gives parents the illusion of control, the illusion that they’re doing something meaningful and protective for their children.

Author and activist Lenore Skenazy urges parents to go “free range”—give their kids healthy independence, such as by letting them ride their bikes around the neighborhood without being accompanied by a rent-a-mercenary. I suggest parents also go psychologically free range. This means allowing children to watch classic Disney films instead of giving in to the ridiculous panic that their daughters will start seeing “princess” as a career option.

Stories give us insight into successful human behavior; they don’t turn us into fleshy robots who act exactly as the characters do. Understanding this is essential, because if we instead succumb to the current paranoia, we’ll have to remove much of the fiction from the high school curriculum— lest, say, Edgar Allan Poe’s Tell-Tale Heart lead yet another generation of young readers to murder their roommates, cut them up, and stash them under the floorboards.

 

Amy Alkon sneers at “self-help” books and instead writes “science help”—translating research from across scientific disciplines into highly practical advice. Her new science-based book is Unf*ckology: A Field Guide to Living with Guts and Confidence.  Follow Amy Alkon on Twitter at @amyalkon.

169 Comments

  1. Farris says

    I thought the problem with Disney Princess movies was the Prince. I thought according to the Leftists the Prince was suppose to represent some sort of “toxic masculinity”.
    I also believe part of them problem is not really with the movie but rather the desire that children become and remain woke. It’s sad they can’t be children but must be little activists. Children, girls more quickly than boys, out grow childish things. I realize that statement is politically incorrect on so many levels but it is also true.
    Which is the bigger fantasy: little girls enjoying Princess tales or old white men in a dark smokey room conspiring to write stories to keep women oppressed? I guess this is what comes from “It Takes a Village” thinking. Apparently the village is deciding what programs your children should watch, what your children should learn and eschew and what your children should think. Beware the village it does not have the best interests of you or your children at heart.

    • Angela says

      I dont know this could be one of the few avenues were socialization outplays biology, but from my expeirence as a teacher boys are much more likely to be into more adult movies and entertainment than girls aroubd the middle school years ive taught.

    • SonOfMan says

      I thought according to the Leftists the Prince was suppose to represent some sort of “toxic masculinity”. No, I’m pretty sure that’s you projecting minority opinions onto half of the political spectrum for the sake of mnemonic expediance.

      Regarding this “Village” conspiracy of yours, it sounds an awful lot like the old white men oppressing women fantasy to me. I guess the fantasy of victimization and oppression is a hard one to shake at either political extreme.

      • DaughterOfWoman says

        >mnemonic expediance
        >“Village” conspiracy
        hehe

  2. Peter from Oz says

    The endless over-analysis carried out by the left is fascinating to watch. Most of it has no basis in reason at all, but is the merest supposition. It is also intellectually vapid, endlessly trying to twist statements or ideas to deny reality.

    • Farris says

      Speaking of supposition:
      Doesn’t Belle in Beauty and the Beast save the Prince?
      Doesn’t Snow White improve the lives of the dwarfs foreshadowing that she will improve the kingdom once Queen?
      Isn’t Sleeping Beauty’s misfortune due to over protective parents?
      In short are all the Disney Princesses heroines in one way or another?
      Finally, doesn’t what one projects onto a Disney film reflect more about the person than the movie?
      In my case the above supposition reflects having enjoyed watching my daughter enjoy these movies.

      • Peter from Oz says

        ”…doesn’t what one projects onto a Disney film reflect more about the person than the movie?”
        Exactly right.

        • Foo Bar says

          Isn’t there endless over-analysis carried out on the right just as much, though? Quillette’s favorite Jordan Peterson has entire lectures devoted to Pinocchio and The Lion King, reading endless Biblical/Jungian interpretations into popular culture. If you searched on YouTube for “Hero’s Journey” + just about any franchise – “The Matrix”, “Lord of the Rings”, heck even the ultimate “Star Wars” – you’ll get endless (and I mean endless) over-analysis of these works. The problem seems to be endless over-analysis that is contrary to the Quillette viewpoint – which is fine, this is a site for people of like minds to congregate – but it’s all the same exercise: searching for meanings within works that cohere with a particular worldview.

          At some point all of the politics, left and right, will disappear and art and culture can return to the pursuit of beauty as the paramount purpose of works of art, including commercial works of art like all Disney films have been. But until that happens, it’ll just be this political mess.

          (And “on both sides, on both sides” as 45 said.)

          • Declan says

            @Foo Bar.

            Analysis of the Hero’s Journey is hardly the domain of the right. The Hero’s Journey is a mythic structure intentionally used for those films, based first of all on Cambell’s ‘Hero with A Thousand Faces’ and Vogler’s ‘The Writer’s Journey’ which is a standard text for scriptwriters.

            It’s not suppositional analysis. The stories are actually built around that structure.

          • Peter from Oz says

            Foo Bar
            One thing you don’t realise is that the right wing position on art is that it should be made in the pursuit of beauty.

          • Angela says

            Jordan Peterson isnt on the right. At most he’s a centrist.

          • @Foo Bar, what on earth does archetypical analysis have to do with the Right wing? Peterson isn’t Right, first, and even if he were, archetypical analysis is centuries old and hardly Right wing or even “overanalysis.” Try reading more. it’s a big world out there.

          • Alan Appel says

            Glad you used “45.” Exactly the right note of respect for the office and disrespect where it is otherwise needed.

          • Daniel says

            Foo Bar, those are interesting points. Allow me to push back on one: you mentioned that the purpose of art was the pursuit of beauty. Wouldn’t beauty in a narrative be best appreciated when discussed – therefore, analyzed? Over-analysis is indeed the death of art, but that’s not due to an inherent problem with analysis, but rather with the narcissistic pedantry that some people tirelessly insist on employing.

          • peanut gallery says

            The problem isn’t “over-analysis” it’s that they analyze everything through an inter-sectional patriarchy lens, so that is all they can see when they look at anything. Take the Feminist Frequency take on video games. Apparently Peach is a victim of the patriarchy, stuck in a cycle of being “damsel’d.” You could look at it another way, Mario is the real victim. In the original he can’t even go backwards. He’s trapped facing death and forced to save some tart! The matriarchy! Or we can all just be real. Mario is an “Italian” “plumber” (I’ve never seen him in Italy or do any plumbing) who eats mushrooms to get “bigger.” Japan is weird.

            Anyway, they just apply this lens to everything and are looking for things to object to.

        • I think watching Jordan Peterson’s analysis of Pinocchio could change your mind about this. Or, maybe not, but these stories are portraying deep human archetypes.

      • Alice says

        In short all the princesses are bangable, which is subconciously what the old shrewds in the gender studies department really resent.

    • Lightning Rose says

      +100, Oz! Out here in the REAL world, where people have jobs and mortgages and minivans with 5-year leases, no one’s reading “academic feminists” or gives a rat’s sphincter what they think. They happily enjoy the Disney fare they grew up on with their daughters, buy them all the pink and glittery things they want for Christmas, and LET THEM ENJOY THE INNOCENCE OF CHILDHOOD.

      In the REAL world, ordinary working folk let their boys play like boys, and their girls play like girls and don’t try to rewire their natural, evolved, innate understanding of “gender.” They don’t believe in claptrap like a solidarity of “sisterhood” which has never existed and never will. They want their kids to be well-adjusted to the REAL world so they can make friends, study, support themselves and hopefully, aspire to a REAL relationship and live “happily ever after” instead of empty, nihilistic and self-defeating “hookups on Tinder.”

      These salon-moonbats sure must have some dividends coming in from SOMEWHERE to give them time to sit around “writing” this stuff. My favorite of the day is actually the NYT asking whether we should kill ourselves and let humans become extinct–I say, “You first!”

      • TarsTarkas says

        Translation: I don’t like it, so nobody should be able to enjoy it, because it’s wrong for them to like something I don’t.

    • Ghatanathoah says

      Endless over-analysis is a bipartisan affair. It occurs in any community that insists on twisting the truth to fit ideology. Fundamentalist Christians and Muslims, for example, engage in the same sort of nonsense.

      For instance, I once recall reading an article about how many fundamentalist churches have concluded Pokemon are Satanic. Why? Some Pokemon have psychic powers in their fictional Pokemon universe. Psychic powers look kind of like magic if you squint a little. Magic comes from witches. And witches get their power from Satan. Therefore, videogame about catching adorable monsters = Satan. It doesn’t matter that, as far as I know, Satan is never referred to in Pokemon media, or stated to be the source of the monster’s psychic abilities. That’s a massive overanalysis that needs to link multiple different unrelated texts in order to reach an insane conclusion. It easily equals the worst excesses of intersectional feminist analysis.

      The real reason for all of this BS, of course, is that forcing people to sacrifice for a community is a good way to test their loyalty. Forcing children to give up wonderful stories that they enjoy, whether they are Pokemon or Disney princesses, is a sick loyalty test. All the overanalysis about how harmful it is is just a smokescreen.

      • Beauty is best experienced when it is experienced, enjoyed, or performed and created.

        Analysis is only useful if you are trying to improve performance and creation. But it often does not help those who are intuitive creators, and it can be used to destroy enjoyment and experience.

        Analysis of art is a weird hobby that sometimes helps art. But not most of the time.

        • A story, a legend, a fairy tale, can be beautiful and still contain useful information, a caution, an instruction. One should be able to appreciate the beauty and discuss the information.

      • @d Archetypical analysis is objectively right wing because it is based on the observation of a fixed human nature. All left wing projects are grounded in the false notion of humanity as tabula rasa.

        Anything which draws attention to the fact that we have a fixed nature, however conceived, stands opposed to the notion that all oppression and corruption can be fixed with by expansion of the omnicompetent state or people becoming “woke”, is right wing because all “right wing” actually means is “is opposed to the left”.

        • Declan says

          @DNY

          Archetypes aren’t fixed. That’s the point of Jungian analysis; to do or undo them.

          • Declan says

            @DNY

            Ok, but I get what you mean about them being part of a fixed nature. I just would never have considered that to be right wing. That’s just a modern-day spin on things.

      • tomoncapecod says

        You left out Barbra explaining the Torah in Yentl, Howard Roark defending property rights in Fountainhead and President Trump defending Sovereignty.

  3. Cosmin Visan says

    Good article but there has to be a middle way, between the PC moralist and the libertarian let-them-watch-anything. Parents are suppoșed to provide guidance to kids… but the middle way is that guidance should be gentle, that it is good not to get too hysterical about ‘inappropriate messages’ and to believe that stories forged by long traditions have some wisdom to impart. At the same time, allowing kids to watch ultra-violent shows is wrong. So there is a need to find a balance, and to seek that balance by using tradition wisely.

    • Peter from Oz says

      I agree. Maybe the thing is to join in with your children in enjoyng these stories. In that way parents can gently guide their children to the positive aspects of the characters and the themes.

    • Trollificus says

      Despite how things are presented in 2018, there DOES EXIST a ‘middle way’ in regard to such things. Be guided by your innate wish for the best for your child. You will notice the scolds who come up with this stuff are doing so mostly (with the exception of movie stars, apparently) on behalf of other peoples’ children, with the desire that they become ‘woke’ at the earliest possible age, having forgone the imposition of maternal duty onto themselves.

      Ignore ‘Twitter outrage” and the distorted versions of it that come from the mainstream media outlets, and go with love, and maybe with the goal of making them good-hearted, but also unafraid of truth, and capable of seeking it. (or something like that. that sounded pretty pretentious, even to me lol) Anyway, that kind of best wishes and common sense approach will help.

  4. Kathy Volz says

    I’m more afraid of young girls and kids watching the Kardashians and the vast array of reality TV shows. Being bombarded by the idea that everyone should have a lavish lifestyle as a teen or twenty-something by way of social media marketing is more dangerous than the prince or evil witch in any fairy tale.

    • Andrew Smedley says

      They’re also more likely to be perceived as real by children..

    • This comment is interesting to me because, as a millennial male, I’ve certainly noticed that a common formative experience among women from my peer group is identification (at least for some period of time in their lives) with the Disney princesses they grew up idolizing. I’ve always found it extraordinarily surprising that even a child could really identify with an animated character because despite the fact that I watched a lot of cartoons as a kid, I never actually wanted to be Wolverine or Spider-Man or Batman.

      The article gives children far more credit than they’re due with regard to credulity as well as assuming a level of maturity in Disney princess-age-watching kids that’s borderline absurd. The problem with Disney princess movies and “princess culture” is not that the affected consumers will actually begin to emulate the exact behavior of the characters but the inculcation of princess-style entitlement. The potential harm to young girls from Disney princess movies is precisely the same as could be imagined might occur from watching the Kardashians.

      It would require exceptional parenting indeed to subvert the message of entitlement and self-importance that princess culture exudes and replace it with admittedly valuable “evolutionary wisdom”. Good luck, Mom and Dad.

      • I never met a girl over age 5 that wanted to be a princess. A pop star sure, but a princess…? Why? They don’t actually do anything. Even dumb supermodels walk and pose and serve a function.

      • Doctor Locketopus says

        > The potential harm to young girls from Disney princess movies is precisely the same as could be imagined might occur from watching the Kardashians.

        Yes, watching a role model who is kind, intelligent, resourceful, and becomes a faithful, responsible wife and mother is precisely as harmful as watching a role model who is a drunken slutty hoochie mama. Precisely.

        • Doctor Locketopus says

          Have you ever actually seen a Disney pic? None of the princesses are “spoiled and self-important”. They’re uniformly kind and sweet in their interactions with the other characters.

      • “the inculcation of princess-style entitlement.” YES. THIS is the problem. Thank you for articulating it so well.

    • Came in to post exactly this. Far more likely to be negatively impactful than animated fairy tales.

  5. Luke Dale says

    Ultra high status male bewitched by ordinary girl – Fifty Shades of Grey

  6. Foo Bar says

    Can’t you people just ignore this stuff? Why do you care so much about minutiae?

    • Foo Bar says

      And I realize Quillette is clearly a business and wants to make money (which means responding to what lands and supplying more articles like this one), but what happened to articles like this? https://quillette.com/2017/12/07/premodernism-of-the-future/

      All this outrage is exhausting. But I guess the internet in general is just exhausting. Because what makes money is what gets people riled up instead of what gets people to think. Quillette started as a thoughtful site, but money talks and thoughtful articles walk, so now it’s just another outrage venue. To quote Kevin Sorbo’s Hercules: “Disappointed.”

      • Andrew Smedley says

        I don’t care in the ‘I’m outraged’ sense. I just agree that the evolutionary perspective is a highly (most?) valuable one. I’m always looking for ‘evolutionary wisdom’, even if I don’t always agree with specific ideas.

        So that’s my two cents. If other people want to ban their kids from watching certain films, it’s a shame, but in many cases it will just make them more intrigued, and it probably won’t matter.

        • Alan Appel says

          Andrew, Totally agree. I think we gain much by understanding early human, preliterate tribal life (although the sources are limited) because it set over thousands of years the biological and psychological template for our behaviors and beliefs today.

      • Peter from Oz says

        I think the interesting thing is that there is definitely a social and cultural movement that wishes to politicise everything, especially morality. The purpose of articles like this is to point to another instance of such politiciastion and how it is eroding traditions. It’s not really a matter of outrage, but just looking at another front n the culture war.

        • Foo Bar says

          But there doesn’t *need* to be a “culture war”. Just be Switzerland. Bask in the glory of Western culture and contribute how you can. If the world around you wants to go to war, then let them, but don’t let it affect you. All of this back-and-forth is worthless. And it’s not even back-and-forth because sites like this and the complementary sites on the left (you know what they are) are just echo chambers. It’s like a Cold Culture War.

          The best solution is to stop wasting time fighting a pointless fight. Devote yourself, instead, to highlighting the truth and beauty to be found in the Western tradition instead of trying to change the minds of ideologues. Because that’s an entirely pointless exercise.

          • George G says

            @ Foo Bar

            “stop wasting time fighting a pointless fight”

            such arguing in a comments thread on Disney princess’s?

            Foo Bar just be Switzerland.

          • Peter from Oz says

            Foo bar
            I agree that the aim is to glory in our civilisation. But the left won’t let us do that. It has invaded our culture.
            The right wing ideal is not about imposing any politics on art, but about enjoying art for art’s sake.

          • @Foo Bar
            How is it exactly a pointless fight to highlight the vapidness of left-wing outrage over harmless cultural norms. It’s happening everyday in every possible venue. At its least it is mildly annoying and at its worst it can destroy people’s lives.

            Since nothing is safe -including beauty- from left-wing outrage giving up the little things to their ridiculous tantrums will not satisfy when their goal is the total destruction of the West.

      • Lightning Rose says

        You ask me, there’s too damn much “thinking” going on, and most of what gets spewed is the midnight ravings of depressives who need their meds adjusted. Life is what you make it, people! Don’t overthink it, just be glad it’s no longer “nasty, brutal and short” for most of us today as it was for most of human history. Only in times of overflowing abundance have we had the leisure to entertain so much pseudo-intellectual nonsense.

      • Trollificus says

        @Foo Bar Have you been watching Tim Pool? As an original employee/reporter at Vice, his analysis of the ‘evolution’ of online media very much matches yours. Outrage sells! People click, advertisers pay. It’s why you see so many hit pieces and outright misrepresentations.

        Quillette is, if at all, a very genteel and thoughtful version of that.

      • Kieran says

        I’m enjoying reading everything published here. So refreshing.

  7. Foo Bar says

    “I’m always looking for…”

    Seems to me to be the problem. People look for articles that confirm their views. Quillette ostensibly started as a site that challenged views or at least presented complex views or views that were ambiguous and made you think. Now, per The O’Jays, Quillette just gives the people what they want. And I’m sure it’s lucrative to do that, but it’s intellectually suspect in my opinion, or at least weak. Shooting fish in a barrel seems beneath a site that “is a platform for free thought” and wants to “respect ideas, even dangerous ones”.

    But make money, get paid, Quillette. Ride this bandwagon as long as you can. More power to you.

    • D.B. Cooper says

      @Foo Bar

      Can’t you people just ignore this stuff?

      No, Foo Bar, apparently, you people can’t.

      People look for articles that confirm their views.

      Would that also include the view that “Quillette just gives the people what they want?”

      Since, the irony is exceeding thick on the ground over this way, let me give you some unsolicited advice that you give ever impression of needing.

      As a rule, it’s generally considered poor form, if not intellectually suspect, to impute uncharitable motivations (i.e. “get paid, Quillette”) without having first acknowledged so much as a cursory understanding of the occult science of divination. Your preoccupations with theurgy notwithstanding, may I also suggest the possibility that discussing contemporary issues within the context of evolutionary psychology is not, in and of itself, as intellectually servile as you seem to imply?

      Granted, Ms. Alkon’s treatment of feminists’ affinity for constructivism may lack the emergent profundities, necessarily, fostered in and germane to one’s timeless attempt to split nebulous philosophical hairs over alternate inimations of truth and knowledge (such as the article you provided); but that doesn’t, as a matter of course, regulate her subject matter to the realm of mere “minutiae.”

      So, instead of reacting with an antagonistic posture of contempt and derision, maybe consider making a meaningful intellectual contribution to the discussion at hand. You could have just as easily shown yourself to be an intellectually serious thinker by making a pensive comment on anyone of the following topics (constructivism, tabula rasa, innatism, evolutionary biology/psychology, neurobiology, etc.), rather than leaving a comment(s) as unreasonably ineffective as the one(s) you did.

  8. Farris says

    The banning or restricting of Disney Princess movies is just more proof that the Left has become a religion. For those old enough, recall when the religious right wanted to ban and restrict, music, movies, Halloween, ect… all for the good of the children. If one looks for demons and ghouls, one will find demons and ghouls. If one looks for outrage and oppression one will find outrage and oppression. Obviously somethings are wildly inappropriate for young minds (sex and violence) but Disney movies and Halloween do not meet that criteria. If some actress prefers her child not watch Disney movies, her child, her choice. But that sanctimonious act is not worthy of moral superiority or press coverage. Being candid, it is probably nothing more than a publicity stunt.

    • Peter from Oz says

      As usual, it’s the self-righteousness of the lefties that gets me.
      They have now become the puritans, kill-joys and wowsers.

      • Foo Bar says

        Yea, but there isn’t a dearth of amazing content out there. It might not all be contemporary, but there’s enough to last ten lifetimes plus two. Just let them have this nonsense. What difference does it make? Just ignore it, seriously.

        • Doctor Locketopus says

          > Just let them have this nonsense. What difference does it make?

          Because “politics is downstream of culture”.

    • Lightning Rose says

      “Being candid, it is probably nothing more than a publicity stunt.”

      Ding-ding-ding!!! You win the Internet for today.

      I don’t honestly think there are very many functional minds out there who look to any “actresses,” or entertainment personalities in general, as “thought leaders” for how to live their lives. Any fool can see a preponderance of these people have various mental illnesses, drug problems, rather pathetic family backgrounds and the resultant personally self-destructive habits. While the characters they play may on occasion be admirable, in reality their train-wreck lives keep the tabloids in business every day. They are not “role models” for anyone with half a brain.

      BTW, good luck getting work in the future if you denigrate your own product. Proves they’re not too bright.

      • Trollificus says

        I dunno. My son, a Millenial/GenX and member of “Burner Culture” (may not even be googleable), had been mildly waving off this stuff for a while now. He just told me he’s stopped listening to NPR after they hosted a Edward Said-lite explanation of the “racist Orientalism” of The Nutcracker Suite and The Mikado. His disgust was reassuringly rational.

        He was, however, pleased to hear of the fairly recent Chinese coinage “baizuo”, a term of contempt and dismissal that translates as “white left”. So much for people being offended on behalf of others, and protective of children from their loving parents. Things may get saner.

  9. ga gamba says

    What, if any, harm have these stories on boys? Other than male gazing and nonconsensual kisses, of course. In these fairy tales the girls have a means of social mobility. How many lads are born into royal families?

    Surely some researchers have studied this.

    They [boys] also displayed more “prosocial behavior” at home and in the classroom, she said. Boys who watched movies such as “Frozen” or “Cinderella” were more likely to help out at school or share toys…. “It may be that boys who engage more with Disney Princesses, while simultaneously being exposed to more androgynous Disney princes, demonstrate more androgyny in early childhood, a trait that has benefits for development throughout the life span.” (Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/06/22/what-little-boys-can-learn-from-disney-princesses/)

    There you are. Make the lads androgynous. It’s beneficial throughout one’s life, ya know, which we see daily with today’s young men.

    I wonder what would happen if Disney made all the princes eunuchs.

    • Peter from Oz says

      I can just see what would have happened if men had been ”prosocial” in the stone age. We’d still be living in caves, but the curtains would be nice.

    • Trollificus says

      Far more likely, extrapolating from current trends, they’ll make them all trans. Thank God the future is never found at the end of a straight extrapolation.

  10. On more than one occasion I have been on a date with a girl who has a princess complex. I respectfully disagree.

  11. Asenath Waite says

    Do women actually not enjoy the fantasy of being rescued by a heroic man? The idea now seems to be that movies should all be about independent female heroes. I had always previously thought that movies about a male hero saving the woman he loves would appeal to both sexes, as each could imagine themselves in the respective roles. I’m now led to believe that women hate these types of stories.

    • Foo Bar says

      If we get one “Kill Bill” series out of the mania of “independent female heroes” then it’s more than worth it in my mind. Heck, throw in “Mad Max: Fury Road” and it more than makes up for all of the lessor, wholly political productions.

      • Trollificus says

        Even better, Ellen Ripley! Or, even way better, Sarah Connor, who had an actual developmental arc with events, consequences and motivations.

        Instead, we get Disney, pretending no one has ever seem a woman act heroically, give us the non-character Rey. Ugh.

    • Paulo says

      Well, if women want to kill themselves instead of me, I’m all for it!

    • V 2.0 says

      Sure we enjoy them. We just don’t want them to be a prison. I like to indulge in a few glasses of wine and a trashy romance on an odd Friday night (the more ‘toxic’ the hero, the better :P) but come Monday I am more than happy to channel Arya Start as I claw my way up the corporate food chain, thank you very much. Some people enjoy sky diving but I doubt they would actually want to be thrown out of a plane with no parachute…

  12. Aleph from Paris says

    The Prince doesn’t exactly kiss the Sleeping Princess as her mother would. Moreover, he’s often a total stranger trying to get intimate, while the mother is intimate whose role is to withdraw to leave space for someone else.

    So, yes, the Prince kissing a perfect stranger is a breach of consent. In some written versions of the tales, he would rape her in her sleep.

    The Prince had little choice:

    a) cardiac massage and defibrilation until his own exhaustion (that is, if he is not aware of the magical character of the sleep);

    b) sleep aside the girl in hope he snorrs so much she awahens (kills the magic, eh);

    c) walk away. When rules are dishonnest, best move is not play.

    • Markus says

      a) is totally #metoo: unwanted touching of secondary sexual characteristics under the guise of a weak pretense in an absolutely transparent attempt to assert power over the female body (for example, what if the princess drugged herself senseless to recover through dreamless sleep from previous trauma of living under male oppression).

      Prince will be disinherited and sent abroad for sensitivity training.

  13. Hestia says

    I suggest we form a Department for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice. It should have its own Secretary and Police forces.
    Then, we can all sleep well at night, knowing that the Virtue Police is keeping us safe and virtuous.

    • George G says

      @ Hestia

      Quis custodiet ipsos custodies

      I suggest a Department for the Monitoring of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice to watch over the Department for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice. That way we can be assured they are virtuous.

  14. c young says

    If you are a woke social constructionist, parenting is terrifying. Show your kids just one politically incorrect film and you accidentally reprogram them as (yuk!) traditional kids. Most people learn pretty quickly that you can not reprogram your kids to fit your own gender theories, though few will admit this in public.

    By the way, the fact of women’s indirect aggression is far more significant than this piece allows. Social media is the perfect medium for indirect aggression. This explains the doubling of mental illness amongst girls in 10 years.

    As a society, we are willing to acknowledge ‘toxic masculinity’, we have an unfolding public health disaster born of ‘toxic femininity’ where is the acknowledgement of that ?

  15. Doctor Locketopus says

    > protect their more fragile female reproductive machinery

    This isn’t intended as a criticism of the article as a whole (with which I largely agree), but only a person without testicles could’ve written this. 🙂

    • Trollificus says

      Sorry, Doc. Men, and their testicles, are, and have always been, more disposable to the purpose of species survival. You’d think, vulnerable as said part is, men would have been, over the ages, reluctant to fight, and yet, that has not been the case.

      • Doctor Locketopus says

        Oh, I’m not disputing that men are more dispensable. I was disputing that female reproductive machinery is more fragile. In fact, male fun parts being more fragile actually supports the idea that men are dispensable rather than refuting it. If men were less dispensable, presumably testicles would have evolved to be better protected.

        • peanut gallery says

          @Doc “Lock If men were less dispensable, presumably testicles would have evolved to be better protected.”

          This isn’t necessarily true. Selection favors traits that don’t interfere with passing on or improve genetic passage, but it just may be that dangling bits aren’t big enough a factor to matter. After all, we all still have an appendix that decides to explode and attempt to kill a small % of the population. As long as they can pass on their genes before that happens, appendix that explode will continue to be on the menu.

          • Doctor Locketopus says

            According to some recent work, the appendix appears to house a reserve of healthy bacteria that recolonize the gut when necessary (for instance, after an episode of dysentery or cholera). Bad diarreah happens a lot more often than appendicitis, so on the whole having an appendix is an advantage.

          • Doctor Locketopus says

            Diarrhea. I have no idea where my previous spelling came from. 🙂

        • ccscientist says

          I believe you are taking the “machinery” to refer to the womb, but it applies equally to being able to walk or use your hands. Almost all women would lose a fight with almost all men and get severely injured. In more primitive times women needed men’s protection.

  16. Imbecile chew toy for hyper-intelligent commentators says

    “They know that talking mirrors and pumpkins that Uber a girl to the royal prom aren’t real, and they aren’t having their autonomy brainwashed away by feature-length cartoons—just as none of us dropped anvils on the neighbor kids after watching Road Runner.”

    Don’t know how I survived Ren and Stimpy.

    • TarsTarkas says

      And the earlier cartoons were just as violent. The Warner Brothers gang, the Hanna-Barbera mob, Woody Woodpecker, etc. etc. Be glad you weren’t Japanese. Japanamation is not only far more violent but far more graphic in its depiction of violence and gore.

  17. E. Olson says

    The obvious solution is a Disney feature cartoon of “The Life of Julia”. Instead of of Handsome Prince to rescue the maiden in distress, we will have Uncle Sam in the form of Bernie Sanders provides our girl hero Julia free school, free school lunch, free healthcare, free birth control and abortions, paid maternity leave, female hiring quotas in all prestigious and lucrative male dominated professions, free pensions, and a pro-female thumb on the scales of justice in all charges of sexual harassment, rape, and divorce court proceedings. We can also have some action scenes where 5 foot 5, 110 lb Julia kicks the butts of Nazis and Pro-Lifers on campus, smashes the face of her lecherous boss at work, breaks the limbs of 225 lb 6 foot 5 ex-Navy Seal would-be rapists while jogging in the park at night, etc., all without messing her perfect hair or breaking her perfectly manicured nails, or tearing her designer clothes. I smell big box office.

    • Trollificus says

      That sounds like the non-scifi version of The Last Jedi.

  18. Rafael Romo Mulas says

    I agree with the article in general, although I still think as a parent (when I will be one, hopefully in the nearest future), I will also try to make girls watch a lot of Miyazaki animated movies, for comparison, in aprticular my favorite Nasuciaa of The Valley Of The Wind, where the protagonist is indeed a princess, but she’s nearly as far as it’s humanly possible from the Disney’s model, unless we compare her to a Snow White that talks to insects instead of vertebrate animals… Seriously do check out Miyazaki’s female character models. Another great one, although not protagonist (but close to) is in Porco Rosso: a young aviation engineer, that manages to be both a tomboy and a romantic. Moving stuff.

    • Trollificus says

      Almost all of Studio Ghibli’s work featured plucky, endearing, good-hearted prepubescent girls. Miyazaki had an amazing touch for such heroines: Spirited Away, My Neigbor Totoro (which is a unique movie in that it entirely lacks an antagonist!), even Princess Mononoke, whose heroine, while a bit savage and murderous, also exhibited those positive traits. A good recommend for girls to watch, indeed.

  19. Tome708 says

    Or Cinderella is a trans woman and the prince is a trans man then we are back to ok? I crap, do trans men and trans women get together?
    I can’t figure it out. I probably just broke a rule.

  20. peterschaeffer says

    The PC types would roll over and die if they saw my daughters bedroom. It is their worst nightmare. She was obsessed with Frozen at the ripe old age of 2. The HEE (Human Evolutionary Environment) has programmed her far more effectively than her parents could ever dream of.

    Her bedroom is essentially all of her fantasies via Amazon and eBay. The PC crowd would have a cow.

    • Lightning Rose says

      Your daughter’s very lucky. Keep up the good work! 🙂

    • Trollificus says

      Reminds me of the parents who posted how they were going to break gender stereotyping with their boy and girl, giving the boy girls toys and boys toys for the girl. Then they posted a picture of all her toy trucks, race cars and superheroes, put to sleep with a pink blanket tucked under their chins (or headlights as the case may be).

      • Doctor Locketopus says

        I know someone who only gave her sons “non-violent” toys (e.g., Lego).

        Yep, they made guns out of Lego.

    • Pirus says

      Elsa’s dress is blue. At least your daughter will be applauded for that.

  21. Back at the very beginning of Hollywood, actors and actresses were hedonists. They wanted to screw, take drugs, get drunk ,get rich and be famous. Now they want to reform the masses and work for our moral betterment.
    Those were the days…..

  22. Farris says

    It would appear some on the Left have bought into the old “Subliminal Message Theory”, once popular among some right wingers. Does this mean those old right wingers were correct? I doubt it. It is simply more tilting at windmills and fighting phantoms. Set the example you wish your children to follow and pray (hope for the atheists) for the best. After that the remainder is pretty much out of your control.

  23. Jim Gorman says

    As a child, these and other movies did more to stimulate my imagination than anything. Books did the same thing. Who hasn’t laid on a couch and daydreamed (i.e. use your imagination) about some of these things.

    The people who ignore the brain growth and connections made while imagining new scenarios are missing the whole boat on children’s development. Stories, whether spoken, read, or seen are important to the brain’s development. Later, the ability to imagine solutions to problems derives from the same process.

  24. Vincent says

    I don’t want my daughter watching Disney films because they’re a mindless form of entertainment designed to pull children into “franchises” where they beg for all sorts of associated merchandise.

    Also, we face a sort of chicken and egg problem with the whole issue of evolution vs. socialization. The idea that men and woman are they way they are strictly due to one or the other is silly. The idea this article purports—that women have evolved to fall in love with damasel in distress stories—has no empirical backing. The evolutionary psychologists who invent stories to provide evolutionary explanations for behaviors aren’t grounded in empiricism. There’s a difference between identifying that women have a tendency to be less assertive and claiming that there’s an evolutionary explanation for this. The former is an observation, the latter is hypothetical (and very well may be false).

    I also disagree with the idea that parents should have a laissez-faire attitude regarding the media their children consume. Children are extremely impressionable. The media they consume contributes to their worldview. For instance, look at all the millenial man-children libertarians who view the world in black and white. It’s no coincidence that these are the people who obsess over super hero movies.

    I don’t want my daughter to think of herself as a princess. That doesn’t mean I think we should counterbalance the princess cliché with the now-PC badass warrior chick who demonstrates the strength of ten men. In both cases we set kids up to have strange dillusions that will go unfulfilled. It’s ridiculous to assert, as this article does, that there’s only two paths: the leftist bubble path of sending your daughter to STEM camp or the free range path of FUN(!). There’s nothing wrong with trying to ensure your child is surrounded by positive entertainment, but to do so doesn’t require micromanaging every thing they are exposed to.

    • markbul says

      “I don’t want my daughter watching Disney films because they’re a mindless form of entertainment designed to pull children into “franchises” where they beg for all sorts of associated merchandise.”

      MIndless entertainment won’t harm your daughter – just like Three Stooges shorts didn’t cause me to poke out my brother’s eyes. And regarding consumerist begging? Grow a pair and say no, if you really need to.

      • nostalgic says

        Three Stooges did inspire one of my younger brothers to hit another of my younger brothers on the head with a ball-peen hammer. It wasn’t nearly as funny in real life.

    • X. Citoyen says

      If only I lived in your world, Vincent. In my world, I’ve got to get past the purple-haired emotionally incontinent screamers, the morbidly obese weezers, the formless beta males, the incels, the tattooed pot-smoke-pumping machines, and the quasi-autistic gamers before I get around to criticizing the black-and-white libertarians.

    • Doctor Locketopus says

      > For instance, look at all the millenial man-children libertarians who view the world in black and white.

      Yes, God forbid the libertarians should take over the government and then leave everybody alone. What a terrible fate that would be. (caution: may contain traces of sarcasm)

  25. Nick Ender says

    “Legions of pink-phobic parents all but go into mourning whenever their daughter begs for some glitter-flecked, rosy-hued item in a store—as if it might cast a spell on her, sending her down the path to Stepfordhood instead of STEM.“

    That’s a hilarious bit of writing. Made me burst out laughing.

  26. JonFrum says

    I love the pic at the top of the article – a radical lesbian feminist offering her intersectional insights to a freshman student just back from her prom.

  27. Harrison Bergeron says

    One thing I find frustrating about these discussions is the constant reference to these stories as being Disney stories. Some are Grimms fairy tales ( Snow White, Cinderella) or in the case of The Little Mermaid written by Hans Christian Andersen. These particular stories are not concoctions of Hollywood. In the case of the Grimm’s tales they are centuries old folk tales. Beauty and the Beast was written in 1740. Even the modern stories were inspired by these original fairy tales. You would think that this is common knowledge but when ever I hear it discussed it’s as if Disney created these narratives. Do people today even realize this?

    • I wonder, Harrison, what these kids have been read by their moms as toddlers, and how the illustrations were, I remember especially the ones from Andersen’s fairy tales, I still shiver, because these pictures were not as sweet, harmless and nice as they were in Disney movies. I’m still sweating if I think on the horrible scenes depicted.

      • Harrison Bergeron says

        I agree. Some of these were serious stories that had later been cleaned up and made cute. As I understand it the Grimm brothers wished to preserve these stories because they saw that they had significance for the cultures that created them. ( I am no expert). There are underlying psychological elements that I am sure Jung loved.

        • TarsTarkas says

          The Grimms feared the old oral traditions and the tales carried down the centuries by word of mouth that had somehow survived Christianization would soon be lost as the old storytellers died off. They also were very interested in the origins of German history and the German language.

    • nostalgic says

      In one of the older versions of Cinderella, after her marriage to the Prince, Cinderella had her step-mother and her two step-sisters each stuffed in a barrel, spikes were driven into the barrels from the outside, and then they were rolled down a hill. The version I read didn’t say whether they survived.

    • Tome708 says

      They created that piece of crap “frozen”. It was in response to the criticism she is referencing in the article in attempt to generate new gender norms

    • Doctor Locketopus says

      > These particular stories are not concoctions of Hollywood.

      They absolutely are concoctions of Hollywood. They have, at best, a very loose association with the putative source material (sometimes it’s little more than the name).

      I must say, though, it would be entertaining to see the reaction of those who get traumatized by Sleeping Beauty’s kiss to some of the stuff in the original tales. “And then they made the Evil Queen put on red-hot iron boots and dance until she died. “

      • Harrison Bergeron says

        I should have said that they are not wholly concoctions of Hollywood but inspired by old folk tales.

    • ccscientist says

      An advantage for Disney is the stories written in 1740 do not have copyright and they don’t have to pay any one.

    • R Henry says

      @Kevin Herman

      Indeed not.

      I have found it amusing how Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, and Elizabith Warren, among others, have each, at times, invoked the false notion of how female politicians, if elected, will bring a more caring, sensitive, and fairer approach to leadership. They claim women should be elected because they are somehow different, ‘nee better, than men.

      What did their elections bring? As much, if not more, corruption, dishonesty, and sometimes violent conflict, vitriol, and retribution.

      In other words, when given power, women behave in a very similar manner as men.

  28. I miss tough chick Moana here, not exactly a sweet little dependent girl, and also, not even a white Barbie doll type. Did she succeed in changing the role model of the youngsters of Alice in Wonderland age?

  29. R Henry says

    “Remember fun? It’s a vestige from pre-1990 America”

    What happened after 1990? The Internet.

    Just as the printing press enabled Martin Luther to widely disseminate his perspectives, and subsequently spark the Protestant Reformation 500 years ago, the Internet generally, and social media specifically, are enabling deep cultural transformation. Western society, as we have known it for the past 500 years, is imploding…it can’t withstand the pressures exerted by Internet communications.

    New communications technologies always serve to disrupt society. Nothing in human history will be as disruptive as the Internet.

    • Doctor Locketopus says

      > Nothing in human history will be as disruptive as the Internet.

      Perhaps. It’s still got a way to go before it surpasses mass printing, which stoked up the European Wars of Religion — so bloody that some parts of Europe were essentially depopulated) or radio and film, which enabled Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and, had he not died, Roosevelt — the world dodged a real bullet there, or perhaps “dodged a nuke” would be better. It’s clear that Roosevelt wasn’t ever planning to leave the Presidency. Roosevelt with nukes? Not a pleasant prospect.

  30. V 2.0 says

    Evolutionary wisdom also tells me to stuff my face with as many calories as possible since the next famine is around the corner which is a one way ticket to a mobility scooter and a humiliating reality show. That being said, there is nothing wrong with enjoying a pizza as long as you go for a run after 😀

    • Asenath Waite says

      @V 2.0

      Nothing wrong with that except for the intense vomiting that would likely result.

  31. Some good points, apart from:-
    “We’re living in modern times with an antique psychological operating system—adapted for the mating and survival problems of ancestral humans.”

    A popular but simplistic notion I call the ‘Tarzan Theory’, the belief that we are temporal refugees from some primeval jungle, involuntary emigrants from the past into the present. In reality guns and tasers and our current environment are all products of our psychological operating system, which is far more flexible, adaptive, and versatile than evolutionary determinists and reductionists would have us believe.

  32. Sander Malschaert says

    While I appreciate this article almost entirely I still can’t rid myself of the feeling Disney princes films are problematic. For all your arguments the fact remains that showing Disney princes films to large numbers of girls leads to a significant percentage of grown women still liking them past 25. This is something none of us should condone.

    • Doctor Locketopus says

      Why is it any of your business what other people like? For that matter, who made you the judge of what is “problematic”?

      • Sander Malschaert says

        Awww how sweet, triggered especially for me. Was it because I said problematic? For someone commenting on Quillette you seem to have a hard time processing jokes or opinion contrary to yours friend.

        If I’d have known the crowd here was so on edge I might have not commented at all.

        • Doctor Locketopus says

          > Awww how sweet, triggered especially for me.

          Nope, I’m not “triggered” at all. I just asked you a question, which you did not answer.

          Who made you the judge of what is “problematic”?

          Do you have an answer? If not, I think we’re done here.

  33. X. Citoyen says

    I fail to see what the evolutionary back-fill adds to the lessons in the stories–beyond, that is, the marketing value of calling the book “scientific.”

    • Trollificus says

      Provides some explanation (and a pretty plausible one) for their enduring attraction? I see more than a few comments pretending the article claims we are all just as we were in hunter-gatherer days. She doesn’t say or even imply that. She states that this insight provides some explanatory power when applied to male/female behavior, and I would agree. Better than the wholly-invented, reverse-engineered filth-wave feminist one that seems to be in vogue.

      For one thing, evolutionary doesn’t need to explain away reality, so there’s that.

  34. Greg Lorriman says

    A man is looking for a quality woman to produce quality kids (and be a good mother). If she can’t hold out or say ‘no’ before the tribe/elders have witnessed and ratified a commitment, then she hasn’t got her head screwed on quite apart from those other considerations.

    I believe men instinctively know it, and lose interest. If they are forced to commit, then there is perpetual dissatisfaction, even violence.

    Men are quite happy to fertilise as many women as wish to be fertilised, but they also wish to devote their resources to prodice quality children and that must mean a quality man will separate the goats from the sheep one way or another, searching for a quality woman. A woman who will say no to the man’s natural testing (sexual pressure), no to her own children, no to external threats to her family, no to the elders, and no even to herself.

    Men fall in love with sweetness not hotness. And that goes with a woman who says ‘no’. A woman can only have one baby at a time and needs to secure a support system. Reproduction is not interested in equality dogmas.

    • @Greg Lorriman

      Many men, especially Millennial (and younger) men are not interested in children and are thus looking for a woman who will be a quality, compatible partner that satisfies; enriches; and is, in turn, herself enriched and satisfied.

      “If they are forced to commit, then there is perpetual dissatisfaction, even violence.”

      With this sentence, you’ve apparently indicated that the cause for domestic violence is external to the perpetrator thereof thus relieving them of ultimate responsibility for their actions. If interpreted as such, one might be inclined to question the author’s character.

      “Men are quite happy to fertilise as many women as wish to be fertilised, but they also wish to devote their resources to prodice quality children and that must mean a quality man will separate the goats from the sheep one way or another, searching for a quality woman.”

      Here, you’ve not only handily justified male promiscuity while simultaneously condemning the same behavior in females – an unacceptable double standard to be sure – but have, remarkably, indicated that the very behavior to be reviled in females is, in fact, to be required of them in order for the charmingly promiscuous male to sift through the abundance of “goats” in search of that one, special “sheep”. Do you really think of the mother of your children as livestock?

      Once again, the woman is rather caught between a rock and hard place, as they say, being so ensnared by this sentence: “A woman who will say no to the man’s natural testing (sexual pressure), no to her own children, no to external threats to her family, no to the elders, and no even to herself.”

      So, to be clear, the female being (apparently both inevitably and acceptably) sexually pressured (harassed?) by her gallant suitor is to prove her worth to him by denying herself the pleasure of physically engaging despite her attraction? Please correct me if this reading is in any way off base.

      “Equality dogmas” are evidently bad because…? Because they’re dogmatic? I’ll give you that one. It’s usually best to avoid the rigidity of thinking that dogmatism tends to promote. But what’s the problem with equality? You don’t think we should all be treated equally? Perhaps you’ve misused the word equality and actually meant “equity”. In that case, we would be in unequivocal agreement.

      • There is no problem with equality. The deception occurs when equality and sameness are conflated.

      • Gregory Lorriman says

        @SM, I’m talking anthropology, you’re talking ideology.

        “unacceptable double standard”

        Lol! Goodluck with that.

        Mother nature is sexist.

        We need to live with our nature not deny it in respect of emotional ideologies that are against the primeval drives of reproduction. Otherwise all that will result is a lot of unhappy, lonely men and women and damaged children.

        Equality of dignity, of course.
        Equality of opportunity, sure.
        Equality in all things? A woman can only produce one baby at a time and with major physical constraints. Not so the man. And that’s even before we get to the effects of hormones etc.

        • @Gregory Lorriman

          It sounds like you’re essentially arguing that we should live in a state of nature. Personally, I much prefer the option of denying a substantial portion of my instinctual behavior in order to uphold a social contract that will be more likely to guarantee the both of us pleasant, decent and long lives.

          • Greg Lorriman says

            @SM, I wrote that we need to acknowledge our human nature and drives rather than pretend that they don’t exist or deny them. And that women must say ‘no’ to sex before a formal commitment/contract. That’s not “Existing in a state of nature”.

            Meanwhile, I didn’t deny contracts but support them. And I mentioned the need for a woman to suppress her desires (at least for a time). I think you are confused, SM, one the one hand by equality ideologies, on the other buy not understanding (or reading?) what I wrote but yet wishing to deny it.

            Meanwhile, with your ‘double standard’ comment you aren’t acknowledging the nature of the matter, that there is an inherent and inescapable asymmetric dynamic around reproduction. No equality ideology can do anything to abolish the fact that a woman can only have one baby at a time and the deep implications (social as well as sexual) for how she conducts herself, and that men can fertilise literally thousands given the opportunity. Only womb vats can solve that. And you’d still have men and women complete with primeval instincts and drives.

            But sure, best of all is a man in command of himself, and a sensible woman will be looking for that too. So it’s not totally asymetric, but we should always keep in mind that men’s sexual drive is both stronger and more impulsive. https://youtu.be/ebfY7HgTAX8?t=274 . Outside of a religious context, a man isn’t going to be analysed and dismissed the same way a sexually active unmarried woman will quite apart from the fact that he can just walk away from a baby.

            So while in reason (and a sensible female who uses her brain), a woman is guaranteed to be pickier about sexual partners, she is also going to be pickier merely by instinct, such as who she is ultimately attracted to which is not completely under her intentional control. While men are far less fussy unless it is a question of that social contract, a social contract that becomes undesirable in respect of a particular female for the reasons I gave by unsensible or reckless women, but also obviously by pre-contract sexual activity. Indeed, even just seeing ‘the prize’ can cause a man to instantly lose that higher respect and lose the wish to marry a particular female. Many men settle nevertheless, but with dissatisfaction and many problems, not least of which is trustworthiness.

            My argument amounts to a woman staying sexually untouched until marriage if she wants to maximise the probability of marrying the person she loves or being courted by quality men.

            No living like animals, plenty of self-denial, and total denial of equality dogmas other than ‘equality of dignity’.

    • @Greg Lorriman

      (Assuming you’re the same person as Gregory Lorriman)

      “Can” and “should” apply equally to men and women whether you like it or not.

      • Which is to say: If I had a son and a daughter, I would frown upon promiscuity equally in either. It’s dangerous and irresponsible behavior.

      • Greg Lorriman says

        @sm ““Can” and “should” apply equally to men and women whether you like it or not.”

        Unsupported assertion.

        The facts/science don’t support you.

        And the anthropology is against you also. You’ve not provided an argument, just a naked assertion.

        Men and women may be equal in dignity, but the human body and constraints mean a humbling indignity of inequality. One that would never have been a problem if Adam and Eve hadn’t sinned.

        And the onus is on Eve to say no, still.

        • @Greg Lorriman

          My assertion was supported quite sturdily by my followup comment, a response to which, obviously, was inconvenient for you. Also, you’ve mentioned facts, science, anthropology and Adam/Eve within the space of less than 100 words. Hmm…one of these does not belong. It seems like it’s lost on you that a biblical literalist, literally, does not make arguments which couldn’t be reasonably described as unsupported assertions and “emotional ideologies”. Please do enjoy your Bible but consider leaving it at church lest you embarrass yourself with it.

          • Greg Lorriman says

            @SM I’m not a biblical literalist. Most of Christianity has never had a dogma of a literal interpretation of the Bible. And most (educated) Chriatians got over the shock of Darwin ….in the 19th century. Any Christian can believe that the (early) book of Genesis, while expressing essentials truths, is unlikely to be literally true in historical details (for instance many, if not most, theologians believe the original sin was sexual in nature, likely masturbation).

            I’m fine with Adam and Eve having come from human pre-cursors who therefore would not have had souls made in the image of God, but be more like animals.

            The inventor of the Big Bang theory was a Catholic priest. The father of modern genetics was a Catholic monk. Catholics have it wrapped up. My uncle was a nuclear physicists and said of his work “I see the finger-prints of God everywhere”.

            So to flatly contradict you, none of my statements were mutually exclusive.

            Meanwhile, you are beholden to a fashionable new ideology that the science does not support and is in fact merely an assertion.

    • @Greg Lorriman

      Fair enough. In the interest of clarity, though, I’d point out that we’ve primarily disagreed on the morality/wisdom of promiscuity. It’s patently correct that men and women are sexually dimorphic, up to and including their typical reproductive strategies. However, I believe that it’s immoral to hold men and women to different standards with regard to promiscuity despite what the evolutionary paradigm may be. Far from being just an assertion, I believe that double standards are immoral because they are unjust in as much as the referenced characteristic is a matter of choice. That said, while I choose to condemn both sexes equally because it’s what I find to be morally defensible, I would likely balk at the prospect of becoming romantically involved with a promiscuous woman just as I am loath to be impressed by a man’s lagomorphic sexual proclivities.

      • Greg Lorriman says

        @SM, a natural human male and female has generally differing sex drives, with the male sex drive being far stronger and more impulsive for obvious anthropological reasons, quite apart from being a fact.

        If anthropologists are correct, before the nuclearisation of human families (approx 40-200,000 years ago) humans were more or less gorrilla-like, with one dominant male and a harem. So there is plenty dstinguishing the human male from the female in sexual behaviour, and trying to hold each to the same standard has no basis except in ideology or religion.

        Even a religious layer on top doesn’t change the underlying nature that they must master and dominate. And so the promiscuity of a male is less culpable in a religious male than a religious female.

  35. Some time ago, I saw a TV program of mountain gorillas. The silverback between his harem, now and then taking one of them, you can’t notice whether they enjoy. Other younger males not allowed to copulate, but all hoping once also to become that silverback, and ready to fight for it, to take over that harem. Now, how was this with our ancestors? The australopithecus? The H. erectus? Neanderthalers?
    When did men start to wear figleaves or other genital hiding cloths? If you have the right (plight) to be the only one to copulate, no need for that. But where every man is allowed only one female, things change. The duty of the silverback is not just procreation, also to ensure a large territory in order to keep the females and kids nourished well. What’s changed in the meantime? And when (evolutionarywise)?

  36. Pingback: The War On Princesses | Transterrestrial Musings

  37. Pingback: Fairest of them all? – The Other Club

  38. I think the criticism of princess culture becomes easier to understand when you look at the analog, which is the boy fantasy of being a superhero like Spiderman or Batman.

    The common thread to princess fantasies and superhero fantasies is unearned glory.
    Princesses and superheros don’t actually DO anything of their own accord, the are just the passive objects upon which fate, or the gods, or fair godmothers or radioactive spiders operate.

    Really, any girl could be Cinderella if she only had a fairy godmother, and any boy could be Spiderman if he was lucky enough to get bitten by a magic spider. Life is entirely a series of encounters in which the protagonist moves as a helpless participant like a leaf blown on the wind.

    Which is why we consider these fantasies to be children’s fantasy; Harmless if indulged in childhood but crippling if pursued into adulthood.

    • @Chip

      Spider Man would be the equivalent of a Disney princess if he wasn’t Spider Man and was just Peter Parker: Photographer with Spider-Like Abilities.

      But Peter Parker: Photographer with Spider-Like Abilities chose to use those abilities in the service of those in need rather than himself and in so sacrificing became Spider Man.

      Respect the Web

  39. “Psychologist Joyce Benenson, who researches sex differences, traces women’s evolved tendency to opt for indirectness—in both competition and communication—to a need to avoid physical altercation, either with men or other women. This strategy would have allowed ancestral women to protect their more fragile female reproductive machinery and to fulfill their roles as the primary caretaker for any children they might have.”

    Although I know absolutely nothing about how or why women prefer indirect means of aggression, I would suppose that it developed because of the dangers involved with opposing men highly physically aggressive ( to the point of war at times ) in the protection of their wife and children ( since attacking children would certainly be a painful blow to their mother ). Between men’s protectiveness or a woman’s aggressive instincts, I would believe that, assuming these tendencies were unable to coexist, protectiveness would be both more important to the survival of children and therefore more dominant, which would naturally lead to a decline in physically aggressive women.

    Another question for me would be whether or not the factors that made most women more agreeable than men ( though, admittedly, I don’t know what these factors are ) would conflict with the more disagreeable personality I would believe to be typical of physically aggressive people.

    Finally, women have much less testosterone than men and thus are less aggressive in that sense too.

  40. Somewoman says

    I think Disney did a fine job of redeeming the princess culture (that they pretty much started anyways) by the 80s when they started making much more interesting and multi dimensional heroines. Ariel was not cinderella. I look back and watch cinderella and see what a completely idiotic movie it was. The original story by Brothers Grimm and other old European story tellers is not only a story of female intracompetition because the father is still alive and basically a passive aggressive contributor to cinderella’s suffering. The step sisters are also not ugly. They are themselves beautiful and it’s not really cinderella’s beauty that they are jealous of. She is merely a girl whose father does not protect her and one who does not protect herself because her mother’s last wishes for her was for her to always be kind, thus she is bullied only because she can be.

    I don’t think this article has a valid premise. Princess culture was not some ancient and ubiquitous source of archetypes. Princess culture was not even a thing until Disney made a bunch of children’s cartoons with princesses as the central characters. If you look at stories from antiquity and collections of fairy tales from hans christian andersen or brothers grimm, you would find that only a minority are of princesses. Little mermaid was a princess, but the original fairy tale is not about some kiss of true love or marrying a prince. The prince spurns the little mermaid and she kills herself and the story is instead about her earning to be with god and have an eternal soul. There is no true love’s kiss in the historical versions of snow white stories either. Disney again turned the snow maiden fairy tale into “Frozen”, which is about princesses. There is no princess in the snow maiden fairy tale unless you count the ice queen as a princess, but she is the villain of the story while the heroine is a simple peasant girl who is motivated by ordinary friendship.

    There is no universal or important lesson to be learned from the Disney’s old school beautiful princess stories. This article laments tinder hook ups and then pretends that stories with pruported true loves kisses could be valuable to girls. Disney actually taught the right lesson about this concept in Frozen, where a handsome prince who gives a completely believable impression that he is charming, seemingly falls in love with a beautiful girl in one day. But what we learn is that a man who wants a girl for whatever reasons of his own can easily pretend to be in love or interested for a night when the reality is that he could be a complete sociopath for all you know. That is the lesson of tinder hook ups. But this lesson is truly at odds with cinderella and snow white, who would lead you to believe that one kiss or one night of dancing can ensure “true love.” (Even the original story of cinderella involves a few nights of dancing in a row).

    I am fine with princess culture post feminism (80s onward), but really princess culture evolved substantially and for the better since hokey mid 20th century movies.

    • May I remind you of Alice in Wonderland, somewoman, especially the chapter ” Queen Alice”, published more than 150 yrs ago, and starting with ” Well this is grand, I never expected to be a Queen so soon….Queens have to be dignified, you know..”
      Not a princess, sure, but more than that, even.

  41. I wonder whether Quilette commenters are aware of the fact that wife (and children) beating , globally seen, is still more rule than exception, so, let’s say with about 5 billion. Has to do with civilisation, I think, in fact, I can understand the temptation and practice very well, some times it is unavoidable, or excusable even, but, in a near future, maybe extinct, depends on feminist, public outcries and law ( enforcement)!

    • Somewoman says

      Can you explain the circumstances where wife beating is unavoidable?

      • Sometimes they get kind of hysterical, and with just a simple slap (not too hard) they immediately calm down, I felt rather upset by that, because never saw anything like that between my parents, and with other women, I had an affair with, I wouldn’t even have dared to, so, I still wonder, did I do something wrong? Yes, of course, but now I’m too old to feel very guilty about it, it just happened (and my wife now, if angry, also beats me, but that’s different I think, men beaten by a woman are not even taken seriously by the police, in case they come with a complaint).

  42. Pingback: Don’t Deny Girls the Evolutionary Wisdom of Fairy-Tales – Wince and Nod

  43. StrategyKing says

    There is more to the fairytales than just sexual selection and a womans hypergamy.

    The fairytales are representations of archetypes of the collective unconscious. How have we forgotten Jung?

    A girl being awakened by a prince’s kiss is a metaphor for the transformation that happens when the feminine meets the masculine.

    The girl becomes a woman, and is ready for the challenge of motherhood. She is ready to leave the fantasy world of her childhood for the requirements and responsibilities of adult hood.

    Ask any long married couple who have raised kids about the adjustments they had to make and the psychological changes they went through by the very process of relating to their partner and raising their children, and they will very likely tell you how profoundly their lives are altered, and no matter how difficult the process it was right and good, the way things have to be.

    With degrees and exceptions the alternatives if we dont accept the archetypal energy and let it guide us are awful. To be in a childs fantasy as a child is appropriate. To be a 45 year old woman(or man for that matter) living in the same fantasy is a deeply unsatisfying experience. You have missed the adventure that mother nature had in store for you. Your growth is stunted.

    JP said it correct: our current zeitgeist is that of a teenage girl resisting the requirements of adulthood. Our wealth and technology allows us to resist for a long time, at great cost to our souls.

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