If you were to come to my home on any given day you might just hear my children exclaiming in a riot of laughter that Daddy loves princesses. It is the absolute height of funny in our house. The game goes like this:
“(shrieks of laughter) Daddy loves princesses!”
“Daddy do you love pink?”
“Yes I love pink it is a wonderful colour”
“(shrieks of laughter) Daddy loves pink!”
“Daddy do you love …” and so on and so forth (running longer even than a punchline in “Family Guy”)
I admit it. I love princesses. Not fairy tale princesses, or Disney-esque princesses, mind you. Not the iconic logos of multi-billion dollar advertising campaigns. I love real honest-to-goodness every-day princesses. Like the three beautiful princesses I am blessed to live with. I was reminded of this just the other day when my daughter celebrated her fourth birthday. It was a party full of princesses. Little girls with pretty dresses and (mostly) good manners making crafts around the table, eating cake and ice-cream, giggling like crazy. And there in the center of it all was my princess. The good hostess, charming, polite, caring … the whole royal deal. She was truly in her element.
Now, perhaps there are those who think that this is all dreadful stereotyping, that pandering to all of this is both limiting and harmful for my daughter’s development as a person. “Girls must be taught that they can be anything they want” some would say. “But”, those same voices would continue “They shouldn’t be encouraged to think of themselves as princesses.” To that I ask why not? What’s wrong with that? Why is it so bad if a little girl wants to act like a little girl? Why would it be wrong for her to value things like being helpful, nurturing, caring? Why would it be wrong for her to like pretty dresses, tea parties, and dolls?
And for that matter, what’s wrong when boys act like little soldiers? When my son would much rather act like a (Jedi) knight? Why is it so bad if a little boy wants to stand up for the innocent (sometimes even his sisters), and fight the bad guys? How is it harmful for them to learn about taking orders, and giving orders, Truth, justice and duty?
A strange thing has happened in our culture. Women are told that they can only be fulfilled if they can get beyond their femininity to be everything a man can be. Being a wife and mother is somehow degrading now. Men are brow-beaten into thinking that they can only fulfilled if they become (at least to some extent) ashamed of their masculinity. Being male in the minds of many is little better than a disease to be treated. Why do we let these ideas stand uncontested?
God given each of us roles and vocations. God has given us a gender. The blessings of being male or female are not mutually exclusive (we are all human after all), but neither are these gender roles interchangeable. Men are to be the head of the family, Kings and princes … knights valiant. Women are the heart and back-bone, Queens and Princesses. (Eph 5:22-28) Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. Submission and Service. Queens and Kings. Female and Male. Where is the shame in any of these distinctions? These are not limitations but gifts!
What would happen in our families and communities if women stopped worrying about being empowered, stopped looking for fulfillment outside of the gifts of their womanhood and started celebrating those things that make them so special – being caring, nurturing, strong and supporting? What if little girls were told that they truly were beloved princesses who will grow up to be gracious queens? What would happen if men stopped trying to apologize for being male and started to man up to their responsibilities – treating their sisters and mothers and wives as the beautiful princesses they are? Honouring them, cherishing them, protecting them.
Yes, I love princesses. I love everything about them. I will continue to support and nurture my daughter’s desire to be one for as long as she likes. I will continue to see her as one, and treat her like one, long after she herself has stopped. And that only makes me more of a man … even if I do like pink.