Saturday, January 8, 2011

Chew on this:

A friend on Facebook had a link to this article that was posted online by Relevant Magazine: The Dangers of Emotional Pornography. It talks about how we have to be careful to not get sucked in by movies and shows that romanticize love and relationships. It references author Elizabeth Gilbert who discussed on NPR the proliferation of the "Soul Mate Complex" in Western culture that was reinforced by the now famous line from Jerry Maguire "You complete me." And the article also slams all fairy-tale princess stories because they give girls unrealistic expectations of a prince that will rescue them from all their troubles.

While I see and agree (to a point) with what the article is saying, I have some serious problems with the blindly thrown wet blanket on the entire romance / romantic-comedy genre.

Yes. Girls (and women) in general do love the emotional high from a romantic movie / show / book.
Yes. Girls in general do tend to hold boys to the unrealistic expectations set by said media.
Yes. Guys in general do feel the pressure to live up to these expectations.
Yes. Guys in general fight the "jealousy monster" when they think another guy is a better representation of that stereotype.

But are we really being fair to put all of the blame on Hollywood? Where are the parents of all these kids that are binging on romance without having real conversations with them about love and relationships in the real world? Why are they not starting these conversations when their kids are in elementary school and telling them that having a boyfriend or girlfriend is a waste of time at their age because the whole purpose of dating is to find the person that you want to marry? When did parents stop parenting? Maybe it was when we were seduced by the emoporn high ourselves.

I also do not agree with Elizabeth Gilbert that the "Soul Mate Complex" is a bad thing. If you think about it, all great partnerships (including marriages) are made up of two people who "complete" each other. One's weaknesses are balanced by their partner's strengths. We should be looking for the one person who brings out the best in us, who makes us complete. Now I know that the other side of this argument is the thought that we should raise our children to be complete in themselves through Christ, to be confident in who they are and not be dependent on someone else to fulfill them or make them feel whole. I totally agree!  What we have to realize is that these don't have to exist separately. You need to know who you are and be confident and comfortable in that knowledge before you can find the one person that complements your soul.

That takes me to the fairy-tale princess argument. This one can only be solved by purposeful parenting. Talk to your girls from a very young age about how and why this is fantasy. How a prince cannot save you from all of your troubles by riding in on a white horse and slaying the dragon. Why getting married doesn't equal happily ever after. You save yourself from your troubles through personal growth and trusting God. Happily ever after comes only through communication, compromise, and hard work. That doesn't mean we should ban fairy tales or squash the desire of our little girls to play dress-up. If we talk to them and help them understand the good and bad, fairy tale princess can teach them some very valuable lessons.

How many princesses do you see chasing after the prince? I can't think of any. In fact, Pocahontas and Mulan thought their "prince" was less than desirable at first and served as the hero in their Disney movies. (which are based on real events and people) We should teach our daughters that girls don't chase after boys. They have to come for us.

And while some of the more traditional princess stories have been overly romanticized, there are still great lessons to learn. Sleeping Beauty and Snow White are put under a spell by the witch and are rescued by true love's kiss. How many tweens and teens are put under a spell by main stream media? Be the voice of true love in their life to fight the pressure of conformity.

Cinderella was oppressed by her step-mother and was rescued by the glass slipper. Or was she? She used her cunning, available resources and friends to escape her jail in order to shine the light of truth and proclaim that she was there and worth being seen. Hollywood tells girls they aren't good enough on their own. Tells them they need the glitz and glam. That they need to be flirtatious and seductive. But it is all a lie. We need to make sure our girls know that they are worth the wait, the struggle, the hard work. The boys should have to pursue the princess. During their journey they will become men.

I love the song Average Girl by the Christian band Barlow Girl. In it the sisters declare that they aren't like the average girl. They are giving up chasing boys and instead are waiting for their princes to come for them. I want my daughter to take up the declaration and not have to deal with the heartache and disappointment that comes from obsessing over boys and instead just wait for the frogs to turn into princes. This goes with the "soul mate complex" -- if you stop trying so hard to find the perfect man and work on yourself, become comfortable in your own skin, you will actually start to attract more of the type of man you want and need. Desperation only attracts predators and other desperate people. Confidence can only be handled by another mature and confident person.

(more songs I love on this topic are Song 4 Tricia (Princes and Frogs) and Wonder (if she'll get it) by Superchic[k]. Some YouTube videos of these songs are below.)


  1. Might I just add that I thought the article was much less focused on young girls and much more towards adult women. . . and I know MANY women 20 something, 30 something . . . even 40 something who have seen too many romantic movies and think that "that person" is out there and it CERTAINLY is NOT their spouse. . >I do feel that it is very dangerous to continually put these types of movies/ideas in our brains.

  2. I agree w/ you Mandy. I just couldn't help but think about my 10 year old daughter the whole time I read that and how much heartache I would have been spared had I been "enlightened" at her age!