Merida: A New Princess?

My daughter and I went to see the movie Brave on its opening day. The first time I saw the trailer, I’ve wanted to see this movie. Even more than I want to see Magic Mike! Inorite? Whodathunk? There’s not even a hawt guy in it (Oh no! I seemed to have slipped into teen-speak right there. Ops. I must be missing my little rapscallions. Apologies, dear non-judgemental readers.). My daughter wanted to see it even more than I did. She would ask to see it every time she saw the movie trailer. We went. We loved it. We wanted to see it again. The girl usually tells me about all of her favorite parts of movies that we see. She essentially retold the entire movie. It was good. If you haven’t seen it, you should.

However, that is not the point of this post.

I started doing some research after the movie to see what others thought of it. I was shocked at some of the responses I found. Many blog posts and articles that had a feminist slant bashed the movie. Here I was, thinking that Merida was a fabulous alternative to the typical swoon-and-wait-for-rescue princess. She takes matters into her own hands. She’s brave, strong, and determined. Merida can take be victorious when faced with danger and stands up for what she believes in. In essence, I loved her and was excited when my daughter began to emulate her.

Apparently I had it all wrong. There are so many things wrong with Merida.

  • She’s a princess (gasp)!
    • Some of the writers hated the fact that she was a princess. (They suggested that she be a serving girl or a toaster or something. A frikken’ toaster! I don’t know about you, but I’ve never really been able to relate to inanimate objects, no matter how likable they are.) *Warning: Nerdiness approaching* At the time that the movie is set, the only women who had any leisure time were those of noble birth. She would have to be a princess in order to have enough spare time to have an adventure.
  • Merida wears dresses.
    • Once again, time-appropriate clothing. A serving girl would have had to wear a dress as well. Not sure about the toaster, though.
  • Her hair is too unrealistic.
    • Ummm… so is Lady Gaga’s but she is still seen as a strong woman. Plus… animated. Duh.
  • She does “boy” things and they are celebrated.
    • Their concept of boy things is shooting a bow and riding a horse. This seems anti-feminist if you ask me. I know plenty of women who are masters at archery and are expert equestrians. Why are these boy activities?
  • She has a simple problem and all she does is have to fix it.
    • If you’ve seen the movie, you know that the conflict in it is anything but simple. Character development occurs in both major female characters. I guess it isn’t conflict enough unless you have to beat down “the man.”
  • There are men in the movie.
    • Okay, maybe this comment wasn’t said outright, but still. I get so tired of some feminists being anti-men. Men are essential to life. Literally and figuratively. I would not be the strong woman I am today without the influence of some of the men in my life. Yes, there are some men who are jerk-faces. Guess what? Some women are jerk-faces as well. Get over the man-hate, please. It ruins my love everyone vibe.

Part of my frustration is that this is a movie in which a young girl stands up for herself and solves her problems with a little help. Isn’t this how we want our daughters to behave? Why in the world should this movie aimed at children be expected to change the world for women everywhere? Let them be children for a while. I was allowed to do so and I turned out okay.