Thursday, January 3, 2008

My Girlie-girl

My daughter, the Princess, is a girlie-girl.

I am not and never was.

I have decided, based solely on my personal family experience, that the girlie-girl gene skips generations, since my grandmother was not a girlie-girl, but my mother was.

What to do with a princess? Yesterday, she wanted to paint her 6-year-old nails and cover her face with sparkly pink powder from a makeup kit she received for her birthday from my brother's MIL. I should have thrown the damned thing out. Her dream gift from Nana for the recent holiday was a "deluxe" Sleeping Beauty dress. She wanted a girl-day while we were visiting, including lunch at her favorite restaurant, which she calls The Elephant Party, and a showing of the treacly Disney movie, "Enchanted."

I am having to reevaluate my contempt for all things "feminine," and it sucks most heinously.

During my formative years, there was a school of thought that put forth the hypothesis that girls and boys were, except for the obvious physical differences, exactly the same. Girls learned stereotypical girl-behaviors and boys learned stereotypical boy-behaviors. If we could only teach them differently, there would soon be a generation of children all playing with all the toys and dressing up as the same super-heros and cowboys (there was little support, even at that time, for boys dressing up as princesses). I had on double-LP, and have purchased on DVD more recently, Free To Be, You And Me, a musical compendium produced by Marlo Thomas (formerly That Girl on TV, now spokesman for St. Jude's Children's Hospital) with such voices as Alan Alda, Rosie Greer, and Carol Channing performing gender-role-ridiculing songs, poems, and stories. One of my favorites was "William's Doll," in which a boy, who kept on asking for a doll, while his parents kept on giving him footballs and other accoutrements of boyhood. His grandma finally gave him a doll and explained to his baffled parents that William would be a father someday and needed to learn how to care for his child. I now wonder why the story illustrating a BOY emulating non-boy behavior was more impelling to my young mind than the tales of girls striding confidently out into this men's world were. Maybe it was because William's outcome was much less likely in the real world than the other. I always liked fantasy. I'll admit that I did and still do love Sheldon Harnick's poem, "Housework," rendered in Carol Channing's gravelly voice, was also a favorite.

Before I misrepresent myself as some feminist role-model, let me first add that I am a happily married, misanthropic stay-at-home-mom with no desire for a career to speak of. I am too lazy to be an activist of any sort. I refuse to wear shoes other than flats, preferably flip-flops in summer and sneakers in winter. I wear makeup occasionally. I grow a winter pelt between 10/1 and 5/31 every year, but shave during the summer. Hypocracy, thy name is Maleficent.

Still, I don't feel forced, though I probably AM, since I would feel WRONG (why?) to go swimming with hairy legs, into any of these things, and I don't want my daughter to be forced either. I should never have turned on the TV in front of her, and should have kept her hermetically sealed in the house. Not that it's possible. Nigel says we can't shelter her from the real world, but when her role-models are not us, but are the ridiculous girlie-girls out there in megacorporatiobuybuybuyland, it's difficult not to second-guess myself.

Some studies indicate that there may be some truth to the belief that boys and girls have innate behavioral differences - that there IS a girlie-girl gene. I would like to believe that this is NOT at all true. Some deep, very deep, abyssally deep desire for it to NOT be true forces me to try to turn the Princess away from her girlie-girl ways, to encourage my boys to coddle their baby-dolls (for which they begged, but on which they spend much time performing karate moves), and to teach critical thinking skills to all three.

Bottom line: It's hard to compete with the crap available to girls. There is definitely a back-lash in our country against feminism. It is difficult to set an example when I have so many contradictory behaviors and beliefs myself. Ugh.

My inner misanthrope says, "I am what I am and fuck you if you don't like it."

More confusion to follow, I'm sure.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Golden Compass

Happy New Year!

We took the kids to see The Golden Compass this afternoon, and a good time was had by all. Having already read the books, I certainly hope the series will continue, considering that the movie ended well before the demise of poor Roger. I understand why the movie had to end that way. No guarantee that #2 and #3 will be made (though there is soon to be a Prince Caspian movie, regardless of the lack of box-office for the first Narnia movie, which I can't even think about without humming Lazy Sunday), plus the movie would have been even more despised by those who were already predisposed to despise it had it ended on such a sad and sour note. All three of the Malefikids decided that the armored-bear battle was the best part, and I have to agree. There's just something about armored bears. It was somewhat disconcerting, to me, hearing Gandalf's voice coming from Iorek's mouth, though.

I heard some kid-less theater-goers at the end of the show saying, "Uh huh!" and "Yeah, I could see it." I assume they were shills for the anti-Golden Compass crowd who wanted to vet the movie before exposing their kids to the evil atheist conspiracy endorsed movie. I couldn't see it myself. Several of the characters said such things as, "Merciful Lord!" and other godly exclamations. It was made quite clear in the very first narration that the movie took place in a parallel universe, very different from ours. Plus the discussion of "souls" and the difference in their manifestation between Lyra's universe and ours was not very atheist-ish.

The movie lessened the trauma of losing one's daemon (which was pronounced "demon") that was so evident in the books and even brought a tear to my reader's eye. Probably, the producers didn't want to address the insanity and death that resulted, in the interests of the younger viewers. Violence was not censored, though it was bloodless, and we were treated to a graphic image of Iorek ripping the jaw from his rival's face at the end of their battle. The jaw itself flew toward the screen, which would have been great in 3-D.

Like the more recent Harry Potter movies, there was just too much in the book to include, which probably made the movie confusing to those who hadn't read it. The Gyptians, Lee Scoresby, and Serafina the witch were peripheral characters only, with no development or back-story.

The casting was excellent.

On a more personal note, my mom has informed me that my nephews and niece will not be allowed to see this movie, due to the fear of my sister-in-law that it will turn them into atheists. She attends an Episcopal church, which, in my experience (and I have quite a bit), always seemed a bit more open to harmless entertainment and a bit less stridently fearful. Her background is Church of Christ, though, of which I don't know enough to determine the possibility of lasting effects.

I don't know if she has allowed them to see any of the Harry Potters, but I assume not. In regard to those, I even got a laugh out of Nigel, who is Roman Catholic in name, but has actually formed his own religion of which he is the only member (the definition of "cafeteria catholic"), when I asked if the parents who claim Harry Potter is satanic and will make their children turn to sorcery and witchcraft truly fear that their kids will point a stick at them and cry, "Stupify!" and have it actually WORK.

Bottom line, crazy sister-in-law: FICTION, dumbass.

Perhaps I should sent the Pullman trilogy to them as a late solstice gift. Probably not, as I don't want to make my poor brother's life any more difficult than it already is.

Poor kids!