This is something I've been pondering on for a while. No strong opinion this time, but I would like to present another side of the story, as I see it. I am seeing/perceiving a lot of encouragement for the "new" Disney Princess, and, as the father of three daughters whom I hope to raise as strong independent women, I am liking it. My oldest daughter is turning 9, and I'm counting on her to take me to space someday.
Conversely, I'm seeing a lot of flack against the "traditional" Princesses as well, and it just rubs me the wrong way. This isn't just a way for me to complain about the latest live action movies, but since I brought it up: They SUCK. I may just be overcome by nostalgia in my bias, and I also purposely admit here that I do NOT understand what it's like to grow up as a woman, but they are all more concerned with the visuals than story, and I believe it is at the story's expense.
Maleficent is the latest offender that I've seen; I think it could have been so much more. I might argue that it was pandering with the demonization of men throughout the movie, including the representation of the twist on "true love's kiss." Again, wanting to raise my daughters as strong independent women, this isn't a knock on the twist itself, just that I feel it was more of the "I don't need a man" thought than the redemption of Maleficent herself. They completely rushed the story part of her coming to love Aurora and focused instead on the needless visuals.
If you're still here, and still awake, I'd like to go back to that nostalgia, and (of course) talk a little bit about myself; perhaps you'll come to understand what I mean about all this. I was raised by three women: my mom and two older sisters. My mom, being the provider, worked two jobs as a rule, and my sisters were in the same boat just trying to figure things out at we went along. Though they were older, I saw them as equals, and wasn't concerned with learning life lessons from them in my youth (and still struggle learning from them as an adult...love you sissies!). I attribute much of my early knowledge of life to my media consumption.
The long and the short of it all is that though these early Disney Princesses are now maligned by feminists, and for many of the right reasons, I learned how to be a good man mostly because of them. I was looking for Mrs Right from a very young age; I longed to be in love my whole life, and if I were to obtain the favor of such an important woman, I knew I had to act the part. I had to respect her, adore her, and protect her. I had to be valiant, have courage, and face hordes of "enemies" if necessary to be with her. I would not be her master or superior, I would be her partner. These lessons were later repeated with my sisters in my teenage years as they dealt with myriad stupid boys, and I saw not just their heartache, but their disappointment.
I guess the ending sentiment of this post is that I feel the need to defend the old DPs, not only because they helped make me who I am, but also because I think they can also teach girls that they are worth it. Not that they need a man to be happy, but that they need the right man if and when that time comes in their life.
I guess it's all a moot point for my girls since they don't watch the princess movies anyway. :)