Disney marketers would be horrified to discover the real world today. A viral clip of Rachel Zegler — hailed as the new “Snow White” in the upcoming Disney remake — has received an unexpected tidal wave of criticism for promoting a #girlboss narrative. For an actress given the ultimate (and lucrative) dream role of playing a Disney princess, Zegler seems to hate Disney princesses.
“It’s not 1937 anymore” — Snow White is “not going to be saved by the prince,” scoffs Zegler, joking that Prince Charming’s scenes may even be cut. “She’s not going to be dreaming about true love”, but about “becoming the leader she knows she can be”.
It’s a message that might have received wild applause a mere five years ago, at the zenith of the #girlboss legend.
Getting married makes people happier than earning big salaries
Nobody told Zegler that we’ve all realised that this legend is a myth. We’re tired of selling our souls to generate GDP in lonely offices, in the name of female empowerment. The idea that marriage is a repressive, miserable, archaic institution is debunked in the stats.
According to the U.K.’s Office for National Statistics, getting married, on average, makes people happier with their lives than earning big salaries does. Married people also report higher life satisfaction than singles or cohabiting couples. Women who are married are significantly less likely to be the victims of violent crime. Men who are married are less likely to perpetrate violent crimes. Commitment is beneficial to the individuals, the children they might welcome and to society.
It isn’t just trad wives who now say that the sexual revolution lied: being a commitment-free #girlboss is not the magic spell for happiness. Sure, most of us want to be engaged in fulfilling work — a stamp of progress since the plight of the 1950s bored housewife. That shouldn’t come at the expense of committed, romantic partnerships, though.
The counterrevolution has arrived.
R&B star Tulisa Contostavolos recently announced her new policy of no-sex-before-monogamy. Margot Robbie praised her “responsibility” as a wife as making her “want to be better”. Twenty-five-year-old Euphoria actress and model Sydney Sweeney confessed her suspicions of the #girlboss philosophy in an interview with Vanity magazine: “I love acting, I love the business … But what’s the point if I’m not getting to share it with a family?”
The faux feminism we were sold has strayed far from its origins. Early feminist pioneers like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth C. Stanton had no intention of promoting a culture whereby women were expected to abandon all familial commitments in order to achieve equality. They fought to end maternity discrimination, for women to be respected as complementary equals in their unique female capacity.
Even in the 1950s and early 60s, many fought to reshape the male-designed workplace around women’s needs: through flexible working hours to accommodate childcare, for example. Somewhere along the way, feminism took a wrong turn — reshaping women around a male-designed workplace’s needs, to great expense.
The Susan B. Anthonys were replaced with the Carrie Bradshaws. “Equality” between the sexes was warped to mean “indistinguishability” between the sexes. Womens’ magazines instructed us to shake off domesticity and embrace hedonism — chase the corporate illusion of the CEO pantsuit, forget kids, forget commitment and have sex “like a man”, as Sex and the City once put it.
A commitment-free society has coincided with an epidemic of loneliness. A third of UK homes are now single-adult households. Half of women don’t have kids before they’re thirty, and the marriage rate is at an all time low. For those who truly prefer solitude, that’s great. Many would choose to have a family if they could, though. Their loneliness is due to the circumstances of our culture, rather than choice.
We’re tired of the tropes that husbands and kids are oppressive
The hedonism of the #girlboss has lost its shine. The recent Barbie movie stuck a bubblegum pink knife into the delusions of third wave feminism, exposing the perils of a society (“Barbieland”) that champions one sex at the expense of another. Incidentally, plus-size icon Lizzo, who is featured heavily on the soundtrack, has become a cautionary tale of the #girlboss. Her Barbie song “PINK!” makes jibes against Midge: the only pregnant Barbie in the dystopian Barbieland, she has chosen marriage and motherhood rather than a cool career. Lizzo shows just what #girlbosses think of this lifestyle.
Lizzo’s embrace of third wave feminism hardly served her well, though. She embraced stereotypically male hedonism to such an extent that she now faces allegations of sexual misconduct. Solutions that delusionally empower either gender to consequence-free sexual recklessness are harmful for everyone — whether extreme feminism or “red-pilled” patriarchy.
Nobody is seeking to lock women back inside a 1950s pantry. We’re just tired of the tropes that husbands and kids are oppressive and disempowering. Some women want to be doctors or lawyers or actresses. Some women want to be wives and mums. The majority of women want to find a way to balance both. Most — even Hollywood elites — would like to achieve all this with the support of a respectful, protective, committed and heroic Prince Charming.
Dear Disney, don’t rob us of our happily ever after.
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