Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Deprivation and Karate Chops

Whether you believe it was a) cruel and unusual denial of formative female fiction or b) visionary feminist parenting on the part of my (innovative?) - (progressive?) - (nut-job?) mother, there is no denying the fact that the “Cinderella Ban” left an indelible mark on my psyche. Not, perhaps, the mark my mother had hoped for when she outlawed Disney’s Terrible Triptych (Snow White,Sleeping Beauty, and Cinderella); but her repeated vetoes of these classic feminine narratives did indeed have some kind of lasting effect on my world view.

Early on I learned the importance of tenacity in achieving one’s innermost desires… “If mommy won’t let me enjoy cartoon versions of outdated domestic stereotypes, then by golly, I’ll find someone who will!” My Aunt Christine was very helpful in establishing an efficient Black Market Princess Trade when I was still a tender age of six or seven. In hindsight I believe my mother knew about these underground exchanges (I did, after all, know all the words to “Once Upon a Dream”), but I think she was satisfied knowing that I understood her reasoning behind the ban - that she did not want her impressionable daughter to think that the Prince-Will-Rescue-Me model of womanhood was in any way empowering.

And she liked the Muppets. So mom and I could happily enjoy the exploits of Kermit the Frog, Gonzo, Fozzie Bear, and of course the powerful Miss Piggy with limited ideological struggle. Over time my respect and admiration for the feminine and forceful Muppet has grown, and I find myself increasingly able to identify with the character. Wikipedia’s bio on the Pig says it all:

She is absolutely convinced that she's destined for stardom, and nothing is going to stand in her way. Her public face tries to be the soul of feminine charm, but she can instantly fly into a violent rage whenever she thinks she's insulted or thwarted. Kermit the Frog has learned this all too well, since he's the usual target for her karate chops.

To be fair, I am no loose cannon. In recent years, especially, I’ve started to hone the delicate skill of “thinking before one speaks” (who knew I could be so patient??). But I still identify with the Pig on many levels. (And interestingly, my last boyfriend can vouch for my ability to quickly juxtapose angry karate chops with “Oh Kermie!” affection and wiles…)

So, Miss Piggy, I salute you, and thank you dearly for the alternative cultural norms you represented in my years of (marginally successful) Princess deprivation. May your spirit guide me and my nascent blog through many fun, fanatical, and fearless posts to come.

1 comment:

Vanessa said...

I enjoyed reading this entry--you have a captivating style of writing. And it was quite charming.

Cheers to your mother for the sentiment. But A) Deprivation only creates fixation B) It is interested that, despite your mothers attempts, socialization got you anyways. That says something about structural dominance.