10 March 2005

Miranda Devine is a shrieking harpie (part ii)

Apologies for hijacking Bee's blog for this one, but my blog is too happy-go-lucky for the visceral rage I feel right now. Rage now doubled by the fact that I wrote a stinging rebuttal and then bloody blogger bloody lost it.

Fairytale Defies the Feminists
Mary's love story shows romance is hard-wired into women's DNA, writes Miranda Devine.
Wherever Crown Princess Mary of Denmark went in the past week
she was thronged by admiring little girls dressed in plastic tiaras and frilly
dresses. From Sydney Opera House to the War Memorial in Canberra, Mary
Glucksborg, nee Mary Donaldson of Tasmania, was greeted enthusiastically by
junior wannabe princesses, proffering posies and Fruit Tingles.

Once again Miranda Devine has confused "telling one side of the story backed up by undisclosed sources and misinterpretation" with "journalism". According to Devine, the celebrity crush that surrounds Crown Princess Mary is enough evidence to declare feminism dead, irrelevant and buried under six feet of concrete.

She couldn't be more wrong. Devine has failed to grasp the fundamental tenet of feminism which has remained unchanged since Mary Wolstencraft: Women should have the right to choose their destinies. If Mary Donaldson chooses to become a princess, that's her lookout. But that doesn't invalidate the choices that other women make.

It's interesting that Devine uses the enduring popularity of fairytales to back up her claims. I love fairytales, I love the romance, the supernatural, and the way all the loose ends are neatly tied up, unlike life. But I'm adult enough to realise that fairytales don't really have happy endings. Most that involve princesses have this structure:
  • Princess, who is good and beautiful, is living the good life.
  • Princess exercises her curiosity and opens the forbidden box/door/cupboard/window/eats the apple/chases the golden bird/otherwise is disobedient (usually to her father).
  • Princess is punished for this, by hardship, pain, banishment, loss of beauty, loss of status.
  • Princess only recovers above when rescued by a prince. Returns to golden cage having learnt not to step outside the boundaries set for her.

Mary dropped kilograms and went to deportment school after meeting Fred. She moved to Paris, learnt Danish and transformed her posture and image before he proposed. She has relinquished her Australian citizenship, converted to the Lutheran faith and given up her rights to any children in the event of a divorce. She has worked as hard on cultivating the relationship as she ever did on her career or university degree.
Unlike many of her diffident peers, she put herself on the line for love. To her, becoming a wife was a serious ambition.

A trip to Paris and a June Daly-Watkins course? Devine has a strange idea of what it is to put yourself on the line for love. Men and women all work as hard on cultivating a relationship as they do on their career. Many make much harder choices than Mary's had to make.

And let's not forget that most of the buzz around Mary has centred on what she's wearing. To paraphrase Germaine Greer, a feminism that celebrates the "right" to be pretty (rather than the choice) is no feminism at all - it's consumerism.

By Devine's theory and going on recent Sydney events, all Australian children want to be Olympic athletes as well, and all Australian teenagers want to be Hollywood actors, and all Australian male adults want to be Wallabies, and all women want to be Linda Evangalista. People flock to celebrity because it's celebrity, not because they necessarily want to live the life behind it. It's naive to think otherwise. We all have the right to choose our destinies, and to dream. Why is Devine so frightened that some women may avail themselves of that choice?

I originally wrote a much longer, more considered and (if I do say so) better critique, but blogger lost it. So this is the bare bones. Anyone want to start a "Wrong Again Miranda" blog?

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