Belledame222 is hosting the next Carnival of Feminists and she wants us all to write about women/woman relationships.
I want to write about the pretty, pretty princess and her plain, but smart sidekick. I don’t know if I have enough for a whole post about it, but I want to start mulling it over.
This is a dynamic between women that, I think, starts very young. Some girls get a sense that they’re special and that, in order for them to get what they deserve, it’s going to take an army of folks to promote them. Other girls get more into book-learning and smarts-having and never get the sense that they’re anything special.
Then, both kinds of girls run headfirst into the Patriarchy (or, for those of you who hate that term–sexism in our society). And they quickly discern that most women are helpers–they run around making things go as smoothly as possible for others. And some women are cute enough to make men swoon and to get what they want because our sexist culture rewards beautiful women.
Still, it’s hard work to be a beautiful woman, especially because, even though they’re more rare than the plain girls, they’re not really that uncommon. And so, it becomes even more of a necessity to have a plain, smart sidekick to help.
I cannot tell you how often I see this dynamic play out, but damn. Just about all the time.
The pretty, pretty princess expects to be the one having all the adventures and she just kind of expects the obvious plain, but smart sidekick to enable those adventures. There’s a hierarchy and if you don’t stick to it, you are a bitch who must be taken down.
It’s hard to talk about this kind of stuff–the roles that women expect each other to play. We can talk about the Madonna/Whore problem, but that’s outside society prescribing roles for us. Talking about the ways we organize our own social world, actually putting a name to the weird damaging things we do in our friendships?
I feel like I’m floundering.
And yet, I was at a wedding recently where the pretty, pretty princesses we knew in college seemed pissed off that one of the “plain, but smart” girls had found a guy, planned a wedding, and gotten married all without taking their needs into account.
Still. We’ve been out of college over a decade and they all sat there acting like we were supposed to go over and swoon about how awesome it was that they’d dared deign to bless us with their presence.
Or how about when you and the pretty, pretty princess both enjoy spending time with the same guy? Will the pretty, pretty princess pitch a fit about how she deserves that man’s attention more than you do? Yes, she will.
And here’s the part that pisses me off, just from an internal perspective, I find myself backing off. ‘Well, she is the pretty, pretty princess and I’m just the sidekick. It probably was ridiculous for me to think he’d like me better than her in the first place. Best to back off now rather than wait and be hurt.’
I mean, fuck me, y’all. From the time I was little, my favorite Disney movie was Robin Hoodand I always related to Lady Kluck. Yep, somehow I always got that my job would be to help the heroine get her man and hope that I’d end up married off to the hero’s sidekick.
Hmm. I don’t know. There’s probably more to be said about all that, but I wonder what other kinds of roles we women try to force each other and ourselves into.