As girls, we have mostly grown up thinking of a prince charming. Who can forget the frog turns into a prince story. Even Shrek's plot wasn't spare of that, was it? Childhood albums dripping with pink and tiaras, that is nostalgia for most who grew up on a feed of Disney. We are taken in with the idea of the perfect life with the perfect partner. "I'll be there with you in every step of your life, no matter what I won't leave you alone". Sounds pretty romantic right! Think about it again. Is it really romantic? Imagine getting these texts from an unknown number. Now is it romantic? No right. Love isn't stalking or obsession. Two Netflix films made me question some ugly ideas. Secret Obsession and 2018 release YOU.
Secret Obsession is a fictional story of Jennifer Williams wakes up from an accident only to realize that she has lost her memory. When she opens her eyes all she can see is her caring and loving husband Russell Williams, who is holding her hand in this difficult time when there is no one around her. From taking care of her night and day to cheering her up to overcome her accident trauma, Russell is the perfect guy you can ever have. But the bubble bursts when Jennifer realizes that she is actually Jennifer Allen and that the perfect husband is an imposter who has killed her entire family including her real husband just to win Jennifer.
Similarly, 2018 released YOU was based on an book store manager Joe's obsession with aspiring writer Beck makes him a psychopath. Blind by his obsession, in order to protect Beck, he plots to end all her problems, even if her problem was her ignorant boyfriend or her very own best friend. He kills them all, just to “protect” his lover. Doesn't sound romantic, does it? Surely Netflix is changing our discourse of “forever and ever”.
In India recently we had Shahid's Kabir Singh where the character and the director justified slapping and other forms of domestic violence between a couple. What are these films suggesting? And why are we keeping quiet? We need to speak up.
The Disney Princess Syndrome
In a recent research, professor Sarah M. Coyne establishes the effect of consuming these types of content. She notes Disney Princess culture can influence preschoolers to be more susceptible to potentially damaging stereotypes. The researchers found that 96% of girls and 87% of boys had viewed Disney Princess. While more than 61% of girls played with princess toys at least once a week, only 4% of boys did the same. These stereotypes promote all kinds of gender biases, which limits the potential of young girls exploring the world.
Damsel in distress
Where did this idea of “prince charming” or the perfect guy start? We all have been fed this idea of how the damsel princess is saved by the mighty prince since our childhood. From Cinderella to Snow White, a “prince” can save the day for us. With all these stories pitting women against women in the name of the evil stepmother or the jealous witch, we are made to believe that we are weak and incompetent to fight our own miseries. That’s why we tend to look for that “perfect” someone or the heroes of our lives who can solve our problems. Without testing our own potential.
Love is a feeling which empowers you but at the same time, you should have your own individual grounds? You should be independent enough to take charge of your own happiness and misery. The concept of ideal romance or happily ever after is the creation of our fantasy. I’m not saying true love doesn't exist but at the same time, we should be wise enough to open our blindfolds and distinguish between our fantasies and reality. It’s time to overcome our obsession with “male saviours” or the heroes and discover our true selves. Love ourselves before loving someone else.
Why settle for Princess, Be the Queen
With Tangle and Frozen the Princess saga is evolving slowly with more powerful and independent female characters. Where on one hand Rapunzel, whose only desire is her freedom, saves the dying Prince by compromising her 'beautiful hair'. Depicting that outer beauty doesn't matter. Similarly Frozen the story of two sisters helping out each other. The story celebrating the 'sisterhood'.
The popular notion of romanticising prince charming comes with gender stereotypes. Since the French revolution, (where for the first-time division of labour on the bases of gender was questioned) to till today, we have come a long way and I don't think so we want to ditch those efforts for some dude on a horse. Ladies, it's a long journey so decide, whether you want to take your old pumpkin carriage or ride your own horse.
Read Also: No More Damsels in Distress
Divya Tripathi is an intern with SheThePeople.TV