Join 3,438 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


The Princess of Hammersmith
July 14, 2014 4:16 PM   Subscribe

"Micronations" have been founded for many reasons -- to pursue libertarian ideals, or progressive ones, or fetishes, or simply to make fun of the whole idea. It is not often, however, that a micronation is founded entirely in order to make a seven-year-old American girl a princess.

Previously about micronations: the death of the Prince of Sealand; the Republic of Molossia; Ladonia; and more.
posted by Countess Elena (211 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
Well, I'm super uncomfortable with this!
posted by beefetish at 4:22 PM on July 14 [44 favorites]


Personally, I think it's wonderful to be alive at a time when I can witness the birth of the Diamond Age.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 4:22 PM on July 14 [26 favorites]


The epitome of white male privilege - a Virginian staking a flag in a piece of Africa so his daughter can be a princess.
posted by thecjm at 4:22 PM on July 14 [41 favorites]


All in all, with this dad on the scene, it probably still turned out better than it would have if her dream was to be an astronaut.
posted by bicyclefish at 4:28 PM on July 14 [11 favorites]


I for one welcome the Republic of Entitled Asshole Dadvania to the community of nations.
posted by Etrigan at 4:29 PM on July 14 [20 favorites]


Who's down for a road trip? I'm gonna go to VA and claim this dude's backyard so my cat can be a duke!
posted by Itaxpica at 4:29 PM on July 14 [71 favorites]


The lines radiating from the crown on the flag represent all the vectors along which this is supremely messed up
posted by prize bull octorok at 4:30 PM on July 14 [41 favorites]


what are the downstream implications of being an "african king" who happens to live in virginia? any? if there's some sort of incident inside that "kingdom", does it turn into a strange international event? or am i just making more out of this than i should be?
posted by rude.boy at 4:32 PM on July 14


When I was seven, I learned my last name meant we were descended from an ancient Irish king, and I was instantly convinced that meant I was a lost princess of Ireland. I ran up to my mother and told her and said isn't that right? And she hugged me and said, "you'll always be our princess, sweetie."

Now I may be just some childless commenter on the internet, but I am pretty sure that this is how you handle the princess phase, not by causing an international incident. So I have been following this story with considerable interest.
posted by Countess Elena at 4:32 PM on July 14 [70 favorites]


"you'll always be our princess, sweetie."

AW
posted by bicyclefish at 4:34 PM on July 14 [10 favorites]


I feel for whomever dates this guy's daughter in the future. You will never be good enough.
posted by The Power Nap at 4:34 PM on July 14 [10 favorites]


The more I think about this, the more I realize that this guy has to be an idiot, right? Like, his his brain is so congealed that he can't just process that this might not be a good idea to declare his little white daughter an Africa princess. Can someone with half a brain please interview this guy and ask him some questions about Rhodesia?
posted by thecjm at 4:35 PM on July 14 [3 favorites]


Since it's a map oddity that not everyone may be familiar with, it's worth perhaps mentioning why this particular piece of land is not just unclaimed, but specifically rejected by the two nations it might belong to.

The short version -- there are two competing borders asserted betwen the nations of Egypt and Sudan. Each favors a different interpretation of the historical border which excludes Bir Tawil while including in their respective nations a much more valuable piece of territory which adjoins the Red Sea.

Heaton's choice of this particular territory to claim was geographically clever and informed, but of course as others have hastened to point out it would have been better if he had also been historically sensitive to the legacy of European and American colonialism when dreaming up his stunt..
posted by Nerd of the North at 4:39 PM on July 14 [20 favorites]


Ehhhh, I think some of the comments here are a bit kneejerk and over the top. Obviously it takes privilege to travel halfway around the world, especially on what many would view as essentially a whim, but the fact that it's in Africa is essentially irrelevant. It's merely the one of the very, very few pieces of remaining land (outside of Antarctica) that literally is not claimed by any nation on earth. It happens to be in Africa.

Claiming "this dude's backyard" would not be remotely the same, as (1) It is already claimed by an actual nation, and (2) there are people living there.

And he doesn't particularly seem like an "entitled asshole" to me, based on an NPR interview with him that I heard this morning. He felt it important to point out that unlike other "flag plantings", which were acts of violence and theft, his was (in his eyes) an act of love which stole from no one. And he is making sure to put effort into attempting to respect his new neighbors and help them in whatever small ways he can (e.g. his daughter wants to try to set up something to help with famine relief, and he wants to help her do it).
posted by Flunkie at 4:39 PM on July 14 [21 favorites]


In five years:

Daughter: Dad, I'm a princess.

Dad: Good for you, princess, now clean your room.
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:40 PM on July 14 [1 favorite]


TEN YEARS FROM NOW...

Scene: Counselor's Office. PRINCESS, DAD and COUNSELOR are wearily perched in soft chairs in a quiet room filled with other soft furniture and plants.

COUNSELOR (to PRiNCESS): So, we were discussing last week about your need to have your parents validate your relationship with a older woman.

DAD: Just a phase, really, Doc, she just went away to college and this -

PRINCESS: Her name is Carol, Dad. It's Carol.

DAD: (slumps in chair)

COUNSELOR: Yes, Carol.

DAD: You are a princess!

PRINCESS: No, Dad, I'm a sophomore.

DAD: I went to G-D darkest AFRICA for you! The Kingdom of North Sudan! The GODDAMN KINGDOM OF NORTH SUDAN!

PRINCESS AND COUNSELOR look at each other, the clock, each other.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 4:40 PM on July 14 [26 favorites]


You people must have stone hearts. I'm with Flunkie. This is just awesome and fun. I do hope he opens it up so that other little girls can become princesses there too. Why not allow all the little girls in the world to be princesses if that's their thing?
posted by HappyEngineer at 4:41 PM on July 14 [2 favorites]


Or, as Weird Al would say....
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:43 PM on July 14 [4 favorites]


Personally, I think that if you find this awesome and fun, then you are the one with a stone heart (when it comes to the history and legacy of white people's colonizing of non-white people's lands.)
posted by anansi at 4:48 PM on July 14 [17 favorites]


No one lives there. No one.
posted by Flunkie at 4:49 PM on July 14 [7 favorites]


I think it's repulsive and weird, like all encouragement on little girls to be princesses.
posted by misfish at 4:51 PM on July 14 [37 favorites]


There's a huge difference between saying "this is equivalent to vicious, brutal colonialism" and saying "this is incredibly tone-deaf given the history of vicious, brutal colonialism." I think a lot of people here are saying the latter, and in that case it doesn't matter whether the land is unoccupied.
posted by you're a kitty! at 4:53 PM on July 14 [38 favorites]


Can you be a king without subjects?
posted by maxwelton at 4:53 PM on July 14 [1 favorite]


post-colonial knee-jerks vs the princess
posted by stbalbach at 4:54 PM on July 14 [1 favorite]


If any of the Africans living nearby actually wanted it, they've had plenty of time to go plant their own flag.
posted by Hatashran at 4:54 PM on July 14


> Can you be a king without subjects?

He has at least one subject: His daughter. Nothing problematic about that.
posted by belarius at 4:56 PM on July 14 [1 favorite]


I generally don't like that person, and I apologize in advance for now becoming that person, but I am about to say something that makes me THAT PERSON.

And he is making sure to put effort into attempting to respect his new neighbors and help them in whatever small ways he can (e.g. his daughter wants to try to set up something to help with famine relief, and he wants to help her do it).

Yeah, that's all well and good until his daughter turns eight and being a princess is no longer cool and she loses interest and all of that awesome support for famine relief in Sudan -- her majesty's nearest neighbor -- that she and her dad had been supplying just dries up, didn't make a dent, and might as well never have existed.

I'm sorry to be THAT PERSON, but he could have used the thousands of dollars (tens of thousands of dollars?) he must have spent traipsing across the globe and buying a piece of unclaimed land to actually support famine relief in Sudan. Takeaway lesson for his daughter? If you were a princess, this is the actual good you could do for the world, but you know what? Sometimes you don't have to be a princess to accomplish good, and sometimes doing good is better than being a princess.
posted by mudpuppie at 4:56 PM on July 14 [53 favorites]


Couldn't he have actually given her something valuable instead--like an honest explanation of how abbhorent and destructive a role monarchies and royalism in general have played in human history, and maybe a quick civics lesson on the anti-royalist movements that led to the founding of her original home country?
posted by saulgoodman at 4:56 PM on July 14 [14 favorites]


This strikes me as the sort of big stunt that is ultimately much more about the person delivering it than about the recipient (see also "creative" public wedding proposals), but I don't know the dynamics within the family - maybe they're people who like big stunts, which is fine.

I don't know why this had to be publicized, though. Why not just leave it as that big stunt that Dad did that one time instead of blabbing to the national media about it?
posted by burden at 4:59 PM on July 14 [3 favorites]


I do harbour a fondness for the Principality formerly known as Hutt River Province.

(Please note: the Australian Government does not recognise the Hutt River Province)
posted by misfish at 4:59 PM on July 14 [1 favorite]


I think it would still have been pretty gross even if it weren't for the colonialism thing. Why don't you encourage your daughter to aspire to actual accomplishments, which are actually worth achieving? The whole princess thing is so weird: it's basically just yearning to be special for the sake of being special. It just seems like such a weird thing to indulge to this extent. Most parents I know tolerate the princess thing, but it's weird to put so much time and effort into encouraging it.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 4:59 PM on July 14 [9 favorites]


Well then, maybe don't be THAT PERSON?

Everybody could do better things than they do. "He could have spent money in better ways"? Yeah, so could I, and I'd bet that so could the vast majority of us here. Jeez. I wasn't saying oh my god this guy is so wonderful look at how he has selflessly proclaimed himself a king with the one single goal of solving the problem of famine; I was saying he's at least making an effort to make something positive come out of the thing he's doing.

Whatever. I'm done in this thread.
posted by Flunkie at 5:00 PM on July 14 [1 favorite]


This makes me want to call my mom and tell her about it really bad, but i already know exactly what she'd say.

And it would be something to the effect of "Fucking honkeys".
posted by emptythought at 5:00 PM on July 14 [25 favorites]


Man, my dad went to the Sudan and all I got was this crappy t-shirt.
posted by MoonOrb at 5:01 PM on July 14 [7 favorites]


I mean, I love my daughter like crazy, so why would I want to let her grow up deluded with a head full of fantastical nostalgia for a time that was worse by almost all measures for the majority of people who lived through them? I'm with Twain on this stuff. Indulging kid's romanticized view of chivalry and the other trappings of royalism is bad news.
posted by saulgoodman at 5:03 PM on July 14 [6 favorites]


If any of the Africans living nearby actually wanted it, they've had plenty of time to go plant their own flag.


No flag, no country- you can't have one!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 5:05 PM on July 14 [4 favorites]


Going to side with the "tone-deaf regarding colonialism" and add that this takes the arguably-unhealthy "princess" archetype to the Buckaroo Banzai Eighth Dimension of weirdness.

Notably, Disney Princesses™ spend very little time actually focusing on their land holdings. If this was like forcing a kid who was caught smoking to smoke the whole pack at once, that'd be different. "You want to be a princess, huh? Here, spend your entire life exercising zero power over a meaningless slice of dirt! I hope this has taught you a lesson about why you shouldn't hope for things."

Instead, it's a dad spending money that he could have spent on his daughter's educational development or financial security, or any daughter's educational development or financial security, or almost anything at all other than this.

Is it a war crime on par with the historical colonial annexation of African territory? Nope. Doesn't mean it isn't awful in eight dimensions.
posted by Riki tiki at 5:06 PM on July 14 [35 favorites]


Flunkie: don't get upset. I don't think anybody's saying you aren't allowed to see it differently. Some of us just do see it differently.
posted by saulgoodman at 5:07 PM on July 14


I heard there's already been unrest in the region, when Bir Tawil's head of state refused to allow Princess Emily to go to bed without brushing her teeth.
posted by orme at 5:07 PM on July 14 [3 favorites]


Christ, what an asshole.
posted by turbid dahlia at 5:08 PM on July 14 [5 favorites]


Weird coincidence, I just taught my daughter to how to spell "NO GODS, NO MASTERS".
posted by mhoye at 5:09 PM on July 14 [33 favorites]


IN FRENCH RIGHT?!
posted by anotherpanacea at 5:12 PM on July 14 [3 favorites]


Mais oui.
posted by mhoye at 5:13 PM on July 14 [2 favorites]


The whole "claims a bit of Africa" is an unfair shorthand which stokes queasiness because of western colonialism. Bir Tawil is a wellknown bit of unclaimed land which so happens to be in Africa. The "unclaimed" aspect is more important than the "Africa" aspect. Though I do agree that he should have thought beforehand about how it might appear.



Weird coincidence, I just taught my daughter to how to spell "NO GODS, NO MASTERS".

True story:
Me: Mother, do you remember your grandfather?
Mother: Yes, I remember being bounced up and down on his knee as a young child.
Me: That's a nice memory to have.
Mother: At the same time he told me that religion is the opiate of the masses.
posted by Thing at 5:16 PM on July 14 [27 favorites]


I'm just confused about the guy's apparent approval of this by the Egyptian government. WTF? He said he was given permission to travel to the area, and then he just lays claim to it like that? I think this guy is well aware that neither Egypt nor Sudan would accept his ownership, assuming they give a shit enough to actually put out a press release. It's exactly what it seems--a birthday present for a little girl, with the added bonus of putting him in the news for a cycle. Or is it the other way around?
posted by zardoz at 5:25 PM on July 14 [1 favorite]


The thing that utterly stuck in my craw about thus is that the douchehat father was a congressional candidate. Sweet Jesus. imagine the fanciful crap he'd have conjured up with actual political and economic power in his hands. As it stands, he"s trying way too fucking hard for Best Dad Evar, especially, you know, publicizing how swell he is to His Widdel Princess.
posted by the sobsister at 5:28 PM on July 14 [4 favorites]


The "unclaimed" aspect is more important than the "Africa" aspect.

Well, that's the heart of the argument, isn't it? Some people want to say that a white man claiming a bit of land gets to have *where* that bit of land is be seen as irrelevant. Maybe that's true, but I haven't seen a decent argument for that, certainly not for this particular white man and this particular bit of land. It's not as simple as just saying oh hey it's in Africa but no matter! That is not at all persuasive.
posted by rtha at 5:28 PM on July 14 [2 favorites]


Man, the lengths people will go to to get a "like" on Facebook.
posted by valkane at 5:29 PM on July 14


My Son Daughter,

Ask for theyself another kingdom, for that which I leave is too small for thee.

any excuse to drop some Maiden
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 5:35 PM on July 14


All in all, with this dad on the scene, it probably still turned out better than it would have if her dream was to be an astronaut.

Better for whom? Her or us? If you mean us, I don't necessarily agree.
posted by brundlefly at 5:40 PM on July 14


I mean, I love my daughter like crazy, so why would I want to let her grow up deluded with a head full of fantastical nostalgia for a time that was worse by almost all measures for the majority of people who lived through them?

You want to be careful with those blanket statements. Given the Niceness of Living quotient of Post WWI history, you don't want to go too far in claiming other times were a really that much worse. (Not that I would engineer a faux title for any of my offspring. Or buy one on the open market, for that matter.)
posted by IndigoJones at 5:43 PM on July 14


... publicizing how swell he is to His Widdel Princess.

Folks, how come we know about this???? Seriously, there's no particular reason anyone outside of his family should be aware of this. Either someone told a friend who told a friend in the newspaper game, or we're looking at Balloon Boy type attention whoring. I'd love for the author of the WaPo article to tell us how she found out.
posted by benito.strauss at 5:44 PM on July 14 [5 favorites]


I'm finding it a little difficult to get outraged over this with everything else that's going on.
posted by Behemoth at 5:45 PM on July 14 [7 favorites]


"I wanted to show my kids I will literally go to the ends of the earth to make their wishes and dreams come true"

God forbid they should have to lift a finger themselves. Great message.
posted by aubilenon at 5:46 PM on July 14 [6 favorites]


I feel bad for other dads. This guy has really raised the bar.
posted by um at 5:47 PM on July 14 [3 favorites]


I vaguely remember reading about this patch of land some years back when brainstorming a novel I never wrote, but isn't Bir Tawil unclaimed largely because it's also inaccessible and uninhabitable desert with no water sources and no transportation access? It took King Dad a 14-hour caravan ride just to reach his new realm.
posted by localroger at 5:52 PM on July 14 [2 favorites]


There is nothing new about a white dude planting a flag and claiming that bits of Africa belong to him.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:52 PM on July 14 [4 favorites]


Also, I hope he has a strong military to hold it against the horde of libertarian wingnuts who are going to realize what a chance they missed and challenge his claim.
posted by localroger at 5:53 PM on July 14 [6 favorites]


Whenever I hear of parents who will "do anything for their children" I get weirded out. I understand the impulse, but it goes against everything I was raised to believe.

It wasn't until recently that I realized that my parents refusal to grant us kids any extravagance was a bit extreme. Last time I visited my mother, she made a comment about how my luggage seemed expensive. When i confirmed that my luggage was indeed quite pricey, her response was, "you're so spoiled, you just get anything you want"

I then had to remind her that the whole point of being an adult with a job was that yes, I can get anything I want. And besides, wasn't that the whole point of how she raised us? Teaching us to work for what we wanted? She quickly pivoted into a rant about how my sister buys her son too many toys. Turns out work ethic had nothing to do with it. She just thinks we shouldn't have nice things.*

Lest you think she's just frugal, I should point out that when it comes to things she wants for herself, she's like a rapper with a new record contract. I've decided that within our family she's the 1% and the rest of us are the occupy movement.

As to this guy...Learning that you can't get everything you want is an important part of life. It's gonna be hard to reverse course and teach that lesson after the whole "I bought you a country" episode.

*In all fairness, my folks sent me to the best private schools, and made sure all us kids made it through college with no student loans.
posted by billyfleetwood at 5:54 PM on July 14 [6 favorites]


Yeah, why can't he just stay home on stolen native American land like everybody else?
posted by crazylegs at 5:57 PM on July 14 [11 favorites]


I think this guy is well aware that neither Egypt nor Sudan would accept his ownership, assuming they give a shit enough to actually put out a press release.

Quite the contrary: the amazing thing about Bir Tawil is that both Egypt and Sudan adamantly reject ownership of the place, because it is a worthless patch of empty desert and accepting ownership would weaken their claim on another, less-worthless patch of less-empty desert fronting on the Red Sea (Halaib), which both nations believe they own due to some confusion about border treaties at the turn of the 20th century. To whatever degree either government cares about this guy and his stunt, they're probably happy that he's doing his own small part to validate their non-ownership of the land.
posted by Mars Saxman at 5:57 PM on July 14 [4 favorites]


Well, that's the heart of the argument, isn't it? Some people want to say that a white man claiming a bit of land gets to have *where* that bit of land is be seen as irrelevant. Maybe that's true, but I haven't seen a decent argument for that, certainly not for this particular white man and this particular bit of land. It's not as simple as just saying oh hey it's in Africa but no matter! That is not at all persuasive.

Not for this particular bit of land? Bir Tawil is notorious for being a bit of land that is forsworn by the only two countries which could claim it. The alternative is to say that the wellknown status of Bir Tawil is irrelevant, and only the color of the man's skin has bearing on how it should be judged.

I see two options:
1) this man chose Bir Tawil because it is otherwise unclaimed, or
2) this man chose Bir Tawil because as a white person he wants to claim a bit of Africa.

One of these seems reasonable, the other wild conjecture. Once somebody proves that this man is a racist colonialist I will agree that this stunt's apparent tonedeafness is actually its essential character. Until then I'm happy to say that this man thought he was being smart, but clearly should have thought about how it would look.
posted by Thing at 6:02 PM on July 14 [2 favorites]


I'm pretty sure you have to give up your US citizenship to become a King of somewhere else. Also, if I was going to be King of anywhere, I would prefer it not to be of a place where I could get into a border dispute with Egypt, a country that has like 5000 years of addressing problems like breakaway provinces. Just sayin'.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:05 PM on July 14 [6 favorites]


I was curious about the legal standing of making such a claim. Here's a reference from a wikipedia article on terra nullius:

"New Jersey v. New York, 523 US 767 (1998)". US Supreme Court. 26 May 1998. Retrieved 29 January 2010. "Even as to terra nullius, like a volcanic island or territory abandoned by its former sovereign, a claimant by right as against all others has more to do than planting a flag or rearing a monument. Since the 19th century the most generous settled view has been that discovery accompanied by symbolic acts give no more than "an inchoate title, an option, as against other states, to consolidate the first steps by proceeding to effective occupation within a reasonable time.8 I. Brownlie, Principles of Public International Law 146 (4th ed.1990); see also 1 C. Hyde, International Law 329 (rev.2d ed.1945); 1 L. Oppenheim International Law §§222-223, pp. 439-441 (H. Lauterpacht 5th ed.1937); Hall A Treatise on International Law, at 102-103; 1 J. Moore, International Law 258 (1906); R. Phillimore, International Law 273 (2d ed. 1871); E. Vattel, Law of Nations, §208, p. 99 (J. Chitty 6th Am. ed. 1844)."
posted by math at 6:06 PM on July 14 [5 favorites]


Every time I think MeFi has a sense of humor (see: "Tacky") a thread like this comes along to prove me wrong.
posted by MikeMc at 6:10 PM on July 14 [7 favorites]


This is really a tax dodge, right? The Princess story is just a feel-good cover. The Kingdom of North Sudan is going to be the tax haven that other tax havens send their money to.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:10 PM on July 14 [13 favorites]


a place where I could get into a border dispute with Egypt

Egypt won't care; as far as they are concerned, he's squatting on Sudanese territory, and it's a problem for the Sudanese to sort out.

Sudan won't care; as far as they are concerned, he's making trouble for Egypt by setting up his kingdom in Egyptian territory, and it's a matter for the Egyptians to deal with.

No, the hardest problems the new King of North Sudan faces concern his kingdom's shocking lack of a turreted castle, its dearth of fairy godmothers, and the appalling underdevelopment of his economy's tailoring, millinery, and jewelry-manufacturing sectors.
posted by Mars Saxman at 6:17 PM on July 14 [9 favorites]


I am reminded of that scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail where the king tells his (apparently gay) son, the prince, "One day son, all of this will be yours" (gestures expansively through the castle window to the lands below, past the flickering curtains).

The son squeaks back "What, the curtains?"

The father slaps him upside the head.
posted by spitbull at 6:18 PM on July 14 [6 favorites]


I'm pretty sure you have to give up your US citizenship to become a King of somewhere else.

In one regard, the legal status of the father is clear:

A former congressional candidate, Heaton says he will work with the African Union to establish the Kingdom of North Sudan.

He is no longer eligible to run for any elected office or work in any capacity for the government. This would apply to the daughter as well.

US Constitution, Article 1, Section 9, Clause 8

No title of nobility shall be granted by the United States: and no person holding any office of profit or trust under them, shall, without the consent of the Congress, accept of any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state.


The status of the daughter is less clear, but a constitutional amendment was introduced in 1810 to automatically strip citizenship from Americans who receive a title.

Titles of Nobility Amendment

If any citizen of the United States shall accept, claim, receive or retain, any title of nobility or honour, or shall, without the consent of Congress, accept and retain any present, pension, office or emolument of any kind whatever, from any emperor, king, prince or foreign power, such person shall cease to be a citizen of the United States, and shall be incapable of holding any office of trust or profit under them, or either of them.


This amendment is not yet enacted into law. Perhaps with some activism we can get more state legislatures to ratify it.
posted by charlie don't surf at 6:28 PM on July 14 [19 favorites]


Kind of curious what the girl's mother thinks of this. No mention of her in the article.
posted by baniak at 6:33 PM on July 14 [2 favorites]


Given the Niceness of Living quotient of Post WWI history, you don't want to go too far in claiming other times were a really that much worse.

Mmm, yes, Monarchy will solve all our problems!
posted by kmz at 6:33 PM on July 14


Ratifying an amendment solely to spite a minor seems excessive.
posted by divabat at 6:33 PM on July 14 [9 favorites]


I'm finding it a little difficult to get outraged over this with everything else that's going on.

I have a limitless reservoir of outrage so I'll just be double outraged if you want.
posted by elizardbits at 6:39 PM on July 14 [36 favorites]


I would advocate ratification merely to spite the father. It appears that the amendment would only apply to him.

More research has clarified the issue.

8 U.S. Code § 1481 - Loss of nationality by native-born or naturalized citizen; voluntary action; burden of proof; presumptions

(a) A person who is a national of the United States whether by birth or naturalization, shall lose his nationality by voluntarily performing any of the following acts with the intention of relinquishing United States nationality—

(1) obtaining naturalization in a foreign state upon his own application or upon an application filed by a duly authorized agent, after having attained the age of eighteen years; or

(2) taking an oath or making an affirmation or other formal declaration of allegiance to a foreign state or a political subdivision thereof, after having attained the age of eighteen years..


Yes, the father could be forcibly expatriated by administrative action. However, a parent cannot renounce citizenship on behalf of a child under the age of eighteen.
posted by charlie don't surf at 6:43 PM on July 14 [5 favorites]


The whole princess thing is so weird: it's basically just yearning to be special for the sake of being special.

Kids are very powerless and have never had the experience of being not powerless. The only things they have are things that adults gave them or allowed them to have. Kids don't get to distinguish themselves with any kind of grand accomplishment unless an adult enabled it first. It seems pretty natural to want to be special, and when it has never been remotely in your power to grant yourself status/wealth/fabulous dresses, then it makes sense to imagine that stuff as something bestowed on you (just like how everything else in the real world works) rather than something you earn. Kids can't earn. Even "earning" pocket money is determined by adults.
posted by anonymisc at 6:48 PM on July 14 [9 favorites]


I'll have a much better sense of humor about things like this once I'm able to afford taking my kids to meet the other half of their own family in Germany and once I actually get to pay at least one visit to my mother's grave. Until then, stuff like this is probably going to continue rubbing me in the wrong way, though I freely admit that's only because I feel so damn entitled myself.
posted by saulgoodman at 6:51 PM on July 14 [3 favorites]


Why not allow all the little girls in the world to be princesses if that's their thing?

Can't. Kingdom's too small.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:54 PM on July 14


Why not allow all the little girls in the world to be princesses if that's their thing?

Can't. Kingdom's too small.


Timeshare Kingdom.

Ka-ching!
posted by anonymisc at 6:56 PM on July 14 [7 favorites]


Kids can't earn.
That's true, which is why literally every child in the world, other than this one, has to be content with playing make-believe and imagining how things will be when he or she is older. Literally: every single other child in the world. What this father is teaching his child is that she is so very, very special that the rules of the ordinary world don't apply to her. And she's going to be in for a big shock when she grows up and realizes that she is not special, the rules do apply to her, and she has to earn respect and fancy titles. This is like a caricature of how you spoil a child, and in the end it's not going to benefit her or anyone else.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 7:01 PM on July 14 [11 favorites]


According to one newspaper article, this guy works in the mining industry.

The following comes from a racist cuckoo-for-cocoa-puffs Tea Party web site so take it with a grain of salt:
Independent Jeremiah Heaton, who is polling at 3 percent, created a firestorm around October 6 when he accused a Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) contractor of hiring illegal aliens. A number of contractors in fact do use foreign nationals to underbid contracts, but Heaton was accused of racism by the Roanoke Times for even bringing the subject up.

All of this started when Heaton on camera confronted Mexican workers on I-81 near Marion, Virginia. The idea seemed to be to attack Morgan Griffith, majority leader in the Virginia House of Delegates, implying he condones illegal aliens taking VDOT jobs while VDOT has fired thousands of workers. According to Mr. Heaton,
As the majority leader in the General Assembly and my opponent in this race, he has made definitive statements that he is very much against illegal immigration and that he's going to fight as congressman to stamp out illegal immigrants coming into this country. If he's allowing it to go on unchecked in the state of Virginia, he's most certainly not going to do anything at the congressional level any different.
Mr. Griffith has so far refused to comment, but the VDOT contractor president Matt Ehrenzeller had a reply, calling the Heaton's comments "defamatory." Heaton shot back, "In a time when we're trying to create jobs for Americans, we shouldn't be importing folks here with work permits from Mexico, even if they are here legally. I'm sure there's somebody who would use that weed-eater in America, or drive that tractor to bushhog."
A U.S. citizen who hates "illegals" and even legal immigrant workers, staking out a claim in Africa.
posted by XMLicious at 7:02 PM on July 14 [20 favorites]


Exactly ArbitraryAndCapricious: I'll feel like I've given my kids a much better gift as a parent if I can raise them to be able to earn the things they get in life. Now, given the state of things, it's a crapshoot whether hard work really will pay off, but that won't be my fault. And that doesn't mean I don't indulge them sometimes or occasionally even spoil them. But this--this is on a whole other level.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:14 PM on July 14 [1 favorite]


Oh there is much more to this story.

He is a Bitcoin-loving, NSA hating libertarian, and the claim he was in Sudan is possibly bogus. Just a garden variety American carnival barker.
posted by spitbull at 7:24 PM on July 14 [12 favorites]


Kids are very powerless and have never had the experience of being not powerless. The only things they have are things that adults gave them or allowed them to have. Kids don't get to distinguish themselves with any kind of grand accomplishment unless an adult enabled it first. It seems pretty natural to want to be special, and when it has never been remotely in your power to grant yourself status/wealth/fabulous dresses, then it makes sense to imagine that stuff as something bestowed on you (just like how everything else in the real world works) rather than something you earn. Kids can't earn. Even "earning" pocket money is determined by adults.

This is equally true for boys, but there is no equivalent Disney Prince phenomenon. Instead, boys are encouraged to be pirates and superheroes, who are courageous and have fun adventures, and didn't inherent a damn thing.*

*Bruce Wayne and Tony Stark excepted.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 7:28 PM on July 14 [3 favorites]


"But Daddy Iiiii want an Oompa-Loompa nowwwwww!"
posted by tzikeh at 7:31 PM on July 14 [15 favorites]


The Man Who Would be King of the Popes
posted by charlie don't surf at 7:36 PM on July 14


When I was very little -- before I could read -- I wanted to be a ballerina. One night we went out for Chinese food, and when I asked my mom what my fortune said she told me, "You will grow up to be a ballerina." Proportionally, that seems more appropriate.

I was in my early 20s when I realized what had really happened!
posted by Room 641-A at 7:40 PM on July 14 [8 favorites]


Wow I'm just totally surprised that he turned out to be a huge douche.
posted by elizardbits at 7:43 PM on July 14 [26 favorites]


who ever could have predicted
posted by elizardbits at 7:43 PM on July 14 [3 favorites]


I'm shocked, shocked I tell you.
posted by dejah420 at 7:52 PM on July 14


And for those critical comments about Heaton being a white man going to Africa, he has this to say: “I see no race, I see no gender, I see love. I see starving children, and hunger knows no race, hunger knows no creed.” (Newsweek)

Except for princesses.

Someone with a sense of humor could have done this as an awesome thing where you can officially become a Royal with cool coats of arms that feature your kids' favourite passions and half of your purchase of the title goes to the local community - I would be very tempted to have Princess Margaret of North Sudan with a little cloth crown and a cartoon coat of arms that featured books and kitty-cats, and a nice note from the 'King' explaining how she has to be kind and hard-working as a princess.

I'm mostly surprised she is not Princess Ayn.
posted by viggorlijah at 7:54 PM on July 14 [3 favorites]


Spitbull's link has the great title that finally settled the weird feeling I had about this:

Man Claims Part of Africa to Make Daughter a Princess, Fight the NSA


I started out thinking this was gonna be a story about a dying girl's wish, then was on the fence for a bit if we were all being a bit too angsty, and then...oh my fight the nsa...by claiming land in a foreign country.... This story does keep getting better.
posted by sio42 at 7:59 PM on July 14


Could be worse, he could have attempted to stage a one-man invasion.

“My goal is to create a server farm within the nation that is free from all outside influences,”
Oh bless his heart. Because Sealand's attempt went so well.

People like this have a weird fetish for rules. As if being a sovereign nation was just a matter of having a piece of paper that says "You're the King!" and now you're a king. That's not how it works. You don't get to be "free from outside influences" just by a technicality. Does he plan to lay the fiber cables himself, or what?

I guess he is the logical outcome of the Sovereign Citizen nonsense, who all have the same sort of "I rules-lawyered you, now I'm independent of your filthy government! Haha!"
posted by BungaDunga at 8:02 PM on July 14 [4 favorites]


"He says he plans to retain dual citizenship, adding that the ultimate benchmark for recognition of the Kingdom of North Sudan will be if the U.S., his “home country,” asks him to resign his citizenship. OK, then."
posted by sio42 at 8:04 PM on July 14


There is just no potentially heartwarming imperialist story that cannot be ruined by libertarians.
posted by elizardbits at 8:05 PM on July 14 [29 favorites]


no potentially heartwarming imperialist story that cannot be ruined by libertarians.

You say this as if it's a bad thing.
posted by localroger at 8:07 PM on July 14


If declaring him a non-citizen is what it takes to get a douche like this ineligible to run for office, I'm all for it.

He didn't do it for his kid, he did it for his ego and with an eye for the main chance.

He's hoping to sucker bucks out of everybody else, put together paper wealth and then leverage it into the real thing, and evade taxes.

When he loses his citizenship, then you'll see him whine.


I do hope he opens it up so that other little girls can become princesses there too. Why not allow all the little girls in the world to be princesses if that's their thing?

If he had done this, I would have said, "Awww, that's really sweet." Misguided, but sweet.
posted by BlueHorse at 8:09 PM on July 14 [4 favorites]


The type of guy that would do the latter, is not the same type of guy that set things up the way he did.

(so wanted to use the edit for this--In my kingdom, you could add/change/delete the content and typos would be magically fixed)
posted by BlueHorse at 8:12 PM on July 14


Fucking monarchists.
posted by klangklangston at 8:14 PM on July 14 [6 favorites]


From spitbull's link:
The fact that Bir Tawil is in the middle of the desert with little natural resources doesn’t deter Heaton. “If we can take the North Sudan region and turn it into an agricultural hub, and we can overcome the drought that is there, and we can do it in a water-wise, energy-wise way, we can make an advancement in that arena, which has not been done.”

If we just take this barren wasteland and grow things, the land will become fertile.

Maybe he should abdicate and let his daughter take over sooner rather than later. Most 7-year olds have a stronger grasp of cause and effect.
posted by bibliowench at 8:15 PM on July 14 [10 favorites]


Also: “As a parent, you don’t want to tell a child no . . ."

Yes. Yes you do. That's a major part of of being a parent.
posted by bibliowench at 8:18 PM on July 14 [25 favorites]


If he wasn't such an a-hole about it, he could simply have gone the Emperor Norton route and declared himself royalty of wherever he lived. If people like you enough, they will humor almost anything, and his daughter's status as princess would have been treated as a delightful shared fantasy rather than a privileged act of immesurably bizarre colonialism.
posted by maxsparber at 8:18 PM on July 14 [5 favorites]


To whatever degree either government cares about this guy and his stunt, they're probably happy that he's doing his own small part to validate their non-ownership of the land.

But wacko American dad dude named it North Sudan (and got it more press coverage than it probably ever has)
posted by Bwithh at 8:18 PM on July 14


There is just no potentially heartwarming imperialist story that cannot be ruined by libertarians.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 8:18 PM on July 14 [6 favorites]


They thought they were an autonomous collective.
posted by BungaDunga at 8:20 PM on July 14 [1 favorite]


Heaton said: “ Bedouins roam the area; the population is actually zero.”


I wonder what these nomads used to regularly criss-crossing "North Sudan" think about this
posted by Bwithh at 8:21 PM on July 14 [5 favorites]


Heaton said: “ Bedouins roam the area; the population is actually zero.”

I wonder what these nomads used to regularly criss-crossing "North Sudan" think about this
Now that's a conversation I'd like to see.

"King you say?"
posted by fullerine at 8:26 PM on July 14 [10 favorites]


"you'll always be our princess, sweetie."
posted by Countess Elena at 7:32 PM on July 14 [30 favorites +] [!]

Epony-demoted.
posted by Jahaza at 8:27 PM on July 14 [9 favorites]


bibliowench wrote:
If we just take this barren wasteland and grow things, the land will become fertile.
It's probably not what he literally believes, but if he does he wouldn't be the first to hold the idea that "Rain follows the plow."
posted by Nerd of the North at 8:28 PM on July 14


In one regard, the legal status of the father is clear:

No, because, for one thing, as he points out, in order for the amendment to be enforceable against him the government would have to agree that he's "accepted" a title of from a foreign state... validating his claim, which they won't do.
posted by Jahaza at 8:40 PM on July 14


Well he's right as far as international law goes. But that same law also bars this from being a state, as it has no settled population. Sorry Charlie, you can't haz a country and you can't be a king.
posted by 1adam12 at 8:42 PM on July 14


When I was this kid's age, I dreamed of being a hairdresser. I'm glad that my parents didn't take me so seriously, made no attempts to make my dream a reality, and the only hair I had a chance to butcher were my stuffed animals' and my own.

This guy sounds like a creep and/or idiot, and I shudder to think what kinds of ultra-retrograde battles of wills he'll have with his daughter when she gets old and wise enough to be sick of being a princess and wants to be a queen, or god forbid, a voter.
posted by rue72 at 8:52 PM on July 14 [1 favorite]


To be quite honest my first reaction upon learning about Bir Tawil was not entirely dissimilar from Mr. Heaton's. What I had in mind, though, was a little bit less about childrens' fantasies* and more about roaring around in dune buggies, setting up absurdly powerful PA systems and playing psytrance music at deafening volumes for three or four days straight, irresponsibly blasting useless holes into arbitrary rocks with dynamite, setting up the world's longest zipline, crushing Alesund's record for the world's largest bonfire, and generally throwing the kind of event Burning Man would be if it didn't have to worry about cops, rangers, or a court system that recognizes the notion of "liability".

* By which I am of course referring to Mr. Heaton's concepts about data havens, agriculture, and international relations.
posted by Mars Saxman at 9:33 PM on July 14 [1 favorite]


Instead, boys are encouraged to be pirates and superheroes, who are courageous and have fun adventures, and didn't inherent a damn thing.*
*Bruce Wayne and Tony Stark excepted.


Actually I'd suggest that Wayne are Stark are the two superheroes who come closest to earning their specialness instead of having it bestowed upon them, princess-like. From Superman to Spiderman to Ninja Turtles to Neo to Optimus Prime.
posted by anonymisc at 9:47 PM on July 14 [5 favorites]


Actually I'd suggest that Wayne are Stark are the two superheroes who come closest to earning their specialness instead of having it bestowed upon them, princess-like.
Yes, in retrospect it's a bit odd that in comic books the self-made men are more often villains.
posted by Nerd of the North at 9:55 PM on July 14 [3 favorites]


I've heard the problem with the femdom micronation is that their currency is pegged.
posted by BrotherCaine at 9:58 PM on July 14 [14 favorites]


He should have just brought up a piece of the moon, like anyone else, sheesh.
posted by ianso at 9:59 PM on July 14 [1 favorite]


Yes, in retrospect it's a bit odd that in comic books the self-made men are more often villains.

Is it really odd? It seems like a very conservative medium.
posted by BrotherCaine at 10:00 PM on July 14


I have a son (nearly 3) and I love him to bits. Would have loved my daughter to bits if that's what we made.

But I do feel like I've dodged a missle in terms of the whole princess thing.

It is insane how pervasive it is. Outsiders think it's just about girls playing make believe and dressing up. My visits to our preschool say otherwise, where there are giant cardboard robots with "Princess Circuits" or where young girls resolutely aspire to grow up to be, if not pure Princesses, then Princess Doctors, Princess Astronauts or Princess Veterinarians.

And it's really just the tip of this crazy, incredibly gendered dystopia that is childhood. Going to Toys R Us is depressing. Giant pink shelves for the girls, blue shelves for the boys. In the blue aisles it's all "create, build, fight, explore" and in the pink aisles it's all "nurture, cook, shop, decorate".

This whole story is barfy. I don't like that he interpreted his daughter's desire to be a princess literally. I don't like that he equates extreme gestures with love. It's weird and unfortunate that it's in Africa. It seems stunty up until the point that he says he actually intends to establish some sort of long term presence there, at which it seems really shady, creepy, and yeah, incredibly imperialistic.

I really wonder about the daughter — what will the end result of this be? Does she actually feel more loved by this gesture? If I was a child, wouldn't I be concerned about my father going many thousands of miles away to stake a claim on disputed territory in Africa?
posted by Deathalicious at 10:18 PM on July 14 [15 favorites]


Surely we Americans can all get behind a plan to send humanitarian aid to North Sudan so that this jackhole never has to return home, right?
posted by tonycpsu at 10:29 PM on July 14


I'm also getting a lot of the same vibes reading this story that I got from reading this WIRED story from a few months back. I'm sure Bran Ferren has many times more wealth than this clown, but the showy, over-the-top desire to be seen as THE BEST FUCKING DAD EVER (by spending the most money, of course) really makes me wonder how much actual love their daughters are getting. It really looks like the daughters were just there as inspiration for their manly vision quest.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:35 PM on July 14 [5 favorites]


Gosh, given how much this dude seems to a) want to have citizenship of another country and b) hates those damn illegal immigrants, this seems like the US can fulfill all of his wishes by recognizing the country at 2 AM on a Wednesday, revoke the US citizenship of all dual citizens with North Sudanese citizenship at 3 AM, and sending ICE agents to deport him back to his home country at 4 AM. Finally, a tough stand on those illegal North Sudanese immigrants taking our jerbs.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 10:43 PM on July 14 [10 favorites]


Wait, so this dude is one of those brain-damaged illegal-immigrants-are-evil people, and he's sticking flags in foreign soil to claim them for his own?

[asplode]
posted by maxwelton at 11:03 PM on July 14


No one lives there. No one.

Well, no one who matters anyway.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:06 PM on July 14 [6 favorites]


Thank you tonycpsu I was creeped out by that rv story too. That's a great comparison I think.
posted by Carillon at 11:10 PM on July 14


Apparently I have an ancestor - like 5 generations ago or so - that declared himself the Emperor of Bengal or something to that effect. I don't know if he was a Bengali Emperor Norton or if his claim had any merit - for one thing, I am definitely not a child of royalty, despite my parents' wishes.

That said, I think princess get a bad rep sometimes. There's a lot of positives that can be said for princesses: they have skills in diplomacy and leadership and negotiation, they are observant about people and power plays, they govern. And they often have to learn this from an early age. At least with other world leadership roles you have a chance to make an active decision about it as an adult.

How much of the anti-princess stuff is misogyny?
posted by divabat at 11:31 PM on July 14 [3 favorites]


It really looks like the daughters were just there as inspiration for their manly vision quest.

YES. I read that wired article and couldn't *quite* put my finger on what bothered me about it and you've absolutely nailed it here.
posted by ominous_paws at 11:51 PM on July 14 [1 favorite]


of all the johnny hart joints to make a movie, whoda thunk wizard of id
posted by klangklangston at 12:33 AM on July 15


"That said, I think princess get a bad rep sometimes. There's a lot of positives that can be said for princesses: they have skills in diplomacy and leadership and negotiation, they are observant about people and power plays, they govern. And they often have to learn this from an early age. At least with other world leadership roles you have a chance to make an active decision about it as an adult.

How much of the anti-princess stuff is misogyny?
"

Meh. Fuck a prince too. Fuck hereditary titles, fuck aristocratic fantasy, fuck imperialism, fuck reclaiming "princess." I'll cop to being the crank who couldn't do the Scarlet Pimpernel because it was too full of bullshit royalist apologia.
posted by klangklangston at 12:37 AM on July 15 [8 favorites]


From the Newsweek article: "Heaton, who is also father to Justin and Caleb …"

Who now want to be a warlord and pirate captain, respectively. But while Justin can afford to take an unpaid warlording internship, North Sudan is landlocked so he'll have to be one of those dune buggy pirates, who are totally played out. Ain't no Tom Hanks dune buggy pirates getting Oscar noms.
posted by klangklangston at 12:43 AM on July 15


Funny story - way back when I was a lad in elementary school, there was a show-and-tell section about family history. When my turn rolled around, I stood in front of the class and related that an interesting thing about my family was that my parents were a king and queen, and I was a prince. I related the stories of the courts they had held over, and the feasts, and the jousting. The teacher became increasingly concerned at my conviction, and how incensed I became when she tried to dissuade me of my fantasy.

Eventually she ended up contacting my parents for a meeting, and my mother came in. When the teacher related the specific details of my 'delusion', my mother laughed a bit and then explained that she and my father were actually Jahn and Tuiren of the Kingdom Drachenwald in the SCA, and later were King and Queen of Atlantia, and I was around for the festivities. There were crowns and everything! Moral of the story - the dad in the post is an asshole, and if he wants his daughter to be a princess he should get down to Pennsic and get his clock rung in the War long enough to make a name for himself.
posted by FatherDagon at 12:49 AM on July 15 [16 favorites]


This is a story that has been producing kneejerk reactions in comment threads across the internet all day, and it's also a story worth actually reading. 75% of the reactions I've seen to this would be rendered moot if the reactors actually RTFA.

That said, when I saw the headline I was ready to rage but when I read the article I just wished my parents had cared about me like even just 10% as much as that guy cares about his daughter.
posted by malapropist at 12:54 AM on July 15


With the help of a booming real estate market in the early 2000s, by age 30 he was a millionaire.

...

He knew that, as an independent, he would need to do something out of the ordinary to grab the attention of the press and the public, and his off-the-wall campaigning has done just that. His first campaign venture was a trip to the Middle East, where he visited U.S. troops abroad and announced his candidacy for Congress.
When he didn't get anywhere as an independent that year he took a run at the Democratic nomination. As far as I can tell from a Google search he has always advocated for the repeal of Obamacare. The articles I'm looking at also mention a repeated problem with name recognition in his campaigns.

I wouldn't bet too much on the genuineness of any detail in this story, certainly not that the motivation behind it all is limited to his peerless love for his daughter.
posted by XMLicious at 1:41 AM on July 15 [3 favorites]


I have a son (nearly 3) and I love him to bits. Would have loved my daughter to bits if that's what we made. But I do feel like I've dodged a missle in terms of the whole princess thing.

You dodged a bullet, but there's a Hellfire missile from a drone coming in right behind you.

This story reminds me of the South Park episode where the boys head off to Somalia to be pirates.

Also, "the drought that is on the area" lolwut?

I don't think he went anywhere in those chinos and that oxford shirt. Whole thing is a stunt.
posted by spitbull at 1:54 AM on July 15


Either someone told a friend who told a friend in the newspaper game, or we're looking at Balloon Boy type attention whoring. I'd love for the author of the WaPo article to tell us how she found out.

I would bet literally everything i could on option B. Everything. Like, i'm going to be the maximum level of shocked i'm personally capable of if i'm wrong there.

He is a Bitcoin-loving, NSA hating libertarian, and the claim he was in Sudan is possibly bogus. Just a garden variety American carnival barker.

Holy shit, this story is such a high level of michaeljacksonpopcorn.gif that i just can't take it. It gets better with every update.
posted by emptythought at 2:58 AM on July 15 [1 favorite]


Yeah the pictures call bullshit on their own. How do you get to a remote North African desert in chinos and and an oxford shirt and yet you have more sweat under your arms wearing the same getup in your own damn house? He also does not look fit enough to be hiking in any godforsaken desert. No hat? You last about an hour out there looking like this guy. What, did he duck into his king uniform just for the flag raising photo?

I wonder if his photos have GPS tags. And if he was smart enough to fake or remove them before sharing them with the world. Anyone here a metadata jockey?
posted by spitbull at 3:07 AM on July 15 [1 favorite]


I am fascinated that micro-nations even exist. It is a cliche that truth is stranger than fiction, but I am glad that there are strange and surprising things about the world.
posted by ShanShen at 3:51 AM on July 15


A few things --- other than the whole feels-colonialist African land grab! --- about this bug me:
* Did he in fact even GO to Africa, or just raise a flag in Arizona or someplace easier to reach? I wouldn't count out his even having gone just because of the matching blue shirt, but yeah: there's an awful lot of smoke here not to have a fire attached.
* What does his wife think about all of it? Is she okay with him declaring himself a king and their daughter a princess? (None of the articles mention it, but does she now insist people call her queen?) Does Mom support this kind of over-the-top "my kids deserve anything!" parenting? (See the mentions of Princess Emily's 'custom made" princess bed.)
* The other kids in the family, Justin and Caleb: so if their sister is a princess, what're they, chopped liver?!? Or, when the boys see how Emily got her unreasonable expectation met, will they be making equally off-the-wall demands? Calling the boys 'princes' won't satisfy them: that's Emily's fantasy, not theirs.
* Telling other family members and friends to call the kid 'Princess Emily': hell no. Daddy wants to play his little faux royalty games with his daughter, that's fine, but leave the rest of the world out of it.
* Why is this even on the news? King Daddy must've sent out a press release or called the local TV station; he sounds like the sort of attention-whore Balloon Boy's parents are.
posted by easily confused at 5:36 AM on July 15 [1 favorite]


You know, Diana, Princess of Wales did tons of work to bring awareness to the issue of landmines and the harm they cause long after a war is over.

Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, campaigns against bullying.

Queen Rania of Jordan has done a lot of work to promote education and children's rights. Anne, the Princess Royal over in the UK works damn near non-stop for Save the Children and similar organizations. Hisako, Princess Takamado and Kiko, Princess Akishino of Japan are all about international goodwill. Mette-Marit, Crown Princess of Norway is patron of the Norwegian Council for Mental Health. Princess Lalla Asma of Morocco runs a foundation for deaf children, and is honorary president of the Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad. Princess Margaretha of Liechtenstein has a social sciences doctorate and is patron of Dyslexia International. Princess Ghida Talal has a master's in foreign service and runs the King Hussein Cancer Foundation. Sheikha Mozah of Qatar has been very involved in her nation's politics and society, to the point that she ranks #75 on Forbes' 100 Most Powerful Women list. Hell, Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi is Minister for Foreign Trade for the United Arab Emirates!

The list goes on. Contrary to popular opinion, modern princesses are frequently smart, educated, hard-working women dedicated to public service and helping others. When I was little and wanted to be a princess, my mom talked to me about all the stuff Princess Anne and Princess Grace did. I know other little girls in my neck of the woods got into a similar conversation with their parents. I learned as a little girl that the best way to be a "princess" was to get as much education as I could and then spend as much time as I could helping people who are less fortunate. And the best part was that I didn't have to worry about being forced into a marriage of convenience for political reasons.

So...I don't get this dad at all. I get why he did it, I suppose, but I don't get why his first thought wasn't "Let's talk about what it is to be a princess in the 21st century, and all the stuff these brilliant women are doing and how my daughter can be brilliant like them."
posted by magstheaxe at 6:07 AM on July 15 [11 favorites]


I'd love for the author of the WaPo article to tell us how she found out.

I always assume that these kinds of puff style pieces come about because the writer owes the subject a favor.
posted by winna at 6:12 AM on July 15 [1 favorite]


That said, I think princess get a bad rep sometimes. There's a lot of positives that can be said for princesses: they have skills in diplomacy and leadership and negotiation, they are observant about people and power plays, they govern. And they often have to learn this from an early age. At least with other world leadership roles you have a chance to make an active decision about it as an adult.

I dunno. Most historical princesses weren't trained for these tasks, and many really just served as "diplomacy tokens" to seal alliances and the like. This doesn't mean that clever and ambitious women couldn't "make good" (Catherine the Great, Elizabeth I, and Wu Zetian come to mind), and many others managed a decent life out of it, but princess, as a whole, have not been allowed much self-actualization.

Modern princesses, as magstheaxe points out, have considerably more freedom, but I recall Princess Diana being moderately scandalizing in her choice of issues (landmines and AIDS) instead of more domestic issues like children's health (I may be wrong; it's been a long time.)
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:13 AM on July 15 [1 favorite]


I like that there is this wing nut right wing politician out there where the issue is "oh maybe you've never even been to Africa" instead of "maybe you were secretly born there."
posted by MoonOrb at 6:34 AM on July 15 [2 favorites]


He should have done everyone a favor and claimed a rock in the South China Sea.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:53 AM on July 15 [2 favorites]


How much of the anti-princess stuff is misogyny?

For me, at least, none at all. I would have absolutely no problem with it at all if little girls were told they could be a Queen when they grew up, because at least that has connotations of actual power and agency. The title of a princess is by its very nature decorative unless you live in a country that practices absolute or matrilineal primogeniture and those are few and far between, and it's never really mentioned as part of the whole "princess" thing with little girls. Princesses are decorative pawns to give away to make an alliance or fill up your treasury or gain more land. Queens, especially with the excellent real life historical example of QE1, rule their country and don't have to marry for power.
posted by elizardbits at 6:58 AM on July 15 [15 favorites]


“As a parent, you don’t want to tell a child no . . ."

Yes. Yes you do. That's a major part of of being a parent.


I've said no 37 times, just this morning.
posted by xmattxfx at 7:12 AM on July 15 [4 favorites]


xmattxfx: I've said no 37 times, just this morning.
PARENT 1 ENTER YOUR INITIALS: ---

posted by tonycpsu at 7:13 AM on July 15 [10 favorites]


The other kids in the family, Justin and Caleb: so if their sister is a princess, what're they, chopped liver?!? Or, when the boys see how Emily got her unreasonable expectation met, will they be making equally off-the-wall demands? Calling the boys 'princes' won't satisfy them: that's Emily's fantasy, not theirs.

I have two boys, who, if given their druthers would be a Jedi Knight and Batman, respectively. Would love to see this Dad's solution to those requests.
posted by nubs at 7:39 AM on July 15 [1 favorite]


Given the Niceness of Living quotient of Post WWI history, you don't want to go too far in claiming other times were a really that much worse.

You're joking right? An examination of global quality of life shows that standards of living have increased over the last couple centuries. Death rates from warfare and personal violence have been declining, life expectancy and personal income have been increasing. Not to say that things are perfect, or that there isn't huge room for improvement, but to look back on the past as being better is utter delusion.
posted by happyroach at 7:45 AM on July 15


This is like a caricature of how you spoil a child, and in the end it's not going to benefit her or anyone else.

This comeuppance you're anticipating happens to the very rich a lot less often than you'd think. It's one of the perks of being very rich, in fact; consequences are for the proles.
posted by mhoye at 7:53 AM on July 15 [3 favorites]


Yes, real-life modern princesses do great things, and are not useless people.

That is not at all what the princess-industrial complex is about, and to pretend that it is is borderline offensive to me. Please, take a spin down the gendered toy aisles at Toys R Us, get an eyeful of the giant gaudy pink plastic tiaras with gleaming purple plastic jewels inset, really take in the big billowy dress-up princess outfits with puffed sleeves and tulle for days, the fucking magic wands and little plastic high heels... and if you can find anything in that damn aisle that makes you think about diplomacy, serving the poor, and lifting up the downtrodden, then you must be in the most magical toy store of all, because I have never seen anything like that aimed toward little girls in the princess aisle. It's all about being the prettiest, the most special, the most magical, and nothing about actually being a decent human being.
posted by palomar at 8:02 AM on July 15 [20 favorites]


The Sofia cartoon is a positive spin on princesses with a big emphasis in good governance and hard work etc although that may be my Stockholm syndrome talking.
posted by viggorlijah at 8:10 AM on July 15 [1 favorite]


This comeuppance you're anticipating happens to the very rich a lot less often than you'd think.

I hadn't really understood why we call it spoiling a child until I met some adults who were spoiled as children, and they are ruined as adults. Many of them are still privileged and still bailed out of whatever little spot of trouble they get themselves into, many have developed an entire network of misguided friends who step in whenever they need help and do things for them, even very simple things, like remembering their passwords for them.

These former spoiled children are, without exception, the most desperately unhappy group of people I have ever met. They may not experience any comeuppance, but they seem to lack happiness as well, and it often helps me to remember, when I wish ill on others, that sometimes the cruelest thing that I can wish on them is that they simply go on being their unhappy selves and live their unhappy lives.
posted by maxsparber at 8:26 AM on July 15 [9 favorites]


"Yes, real-life modern princesses do great things, and are not useless people. "

Real life modern princes do great things too, like, uh, campaign for turgid architecture, but they're all still useless. I mean, I prefer them to have noblesse oblige, but it's even better to have them deposed and have to work for a living rather than deigning to help whatever notional peasants with their largesse.

And it's also worth pointing out that real-life modern princesses — not too far from North Sudan, even — end up imprisoned in gilded cages for failing to produce male heirs.

Royalty is fucked. And that's without even getting to the "princess-industrial complex," or the pervasive narrative of living as a commoner until your real bloodline is discovered, elevating you serendipitously.
posted by klangklangston at 8:34 AM on July 15 [6 favorites]


Queens, especially with the excellent real life historical example of QE1, rule their country and don't have to marry for power.

I prefer Catherine the Great myself, who was traded off as a diplomacy token, forced to change her religion, and married to an abusive idiot. Then she more or less rolled up her sleeves, deposed her husband, and went on to be one of the most successful monarchs Russia ever had. You can dispute her policies all you want, but you can't argue that she wasn't a take-charge person!
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:37 AM on July 15 [4 favorites]


I have a buddy who has kids the same age as mine. He does shit like building a zip line across his yard and a cool tree house for the launch platform with a sloped rock wall thing to climb up to it. It's the coolest thing ever. Me and the other dads stand around in his yard, drinking the delicious beer he brews, because of course he fucking does, and admire his handy work while the kids charge around. He involves his kids in the development and the construction as much as possible. He's an awesome dad and I'm (more than) slightly jealous of his capabilities to come up with this stuff and execute his ideas. Every time we go over he's working on something else. Obviously, my kids are going to love it and want one at home and I'll have to tell them no, they can't have that. Sometimes I'll look for an off the shelf solution. I'm crap at building stuff and I often worry that I spoil my kids by paying for stuff that they could have helped put together. Luckily assholes like this guy come along every now and again to reassure me that my level is set appropriately.
posted by IanMorr at 8:39 AM on July 15 [8 favorites]


I have to admit that all I really am getting out of this thread is the idea that I can buy a piece of the moon and then declare myself King of the Moon, and there's just no way I can stop myself from doing this now.
posted by maxsparber at 8:42 AM on July 15 [7 favorites]


Sure, man. I happen to be an accredited moon broker, and take paypal. For a hundred bucks, you can have a fancy certificate of ownership for a moon plot that's recognized by all members of the Moongrab Consortium. Unfortunately, transportation is up to you.
posted by klangklangston at 8:50 AM on July 15


I will be keeping an eye on CNN for a story of a break-in at the museum and a tiny flag planted in a moon rock.
posted by elizardbits at 8:57 AM on July 15 [4 favorites]


Sure, man. I happen to be an accredited moon broker, and take paypal. For a hundred bucks, you can have a fancy certificate of ownership for a moon plot that's recognized by all members of the Moongrab Consortium. Unfortunately, transportation is up to you.

This is relevant to my interests.
posted by MoonOrb at 8:59 AM on July 15 [7 favorites]


And what exactly is wrong with tulle, magic wands, or heels?
posted by divabat at 9:08 AM on July 15 [1 favorite]


And what exactly is wrong with tulle, magic wands, or heels?

If they came with a message that a girl can do or be anything, that would be fine. But they don't. They come with a message that if you're the prettiest princess, you win. If you want to pretend that that's okay, that's up to you, but I find the princess shit demeaning.
posted by palomar at 9:11 AM on July 15 [3 favorites]


Seriously, though. Look at the gendered toys for boys. Awesome adventure stuff! Science stuff! Space travel! Monsters! Pirates!

And for the girls? Pretty shoes and clothes!

How is that a good thing?
posted by palomar at 9:13 AM on July 15 [3 favorites]


I'm not talking about the gendered nature of these things, I agree that that's fucked up. But I'm seeing that conflated with THE THING ITSELF and that's what I'm arguing against.

I'm also down for boys being princesses and am saddened that them doing so too often leads to homophobia and transphobia simply because we've devalued femininity so much that only originaly-gendered-as-male stuff gets to be unisex.
posted by divabat at 9:17 AM on July 15 [4 favorites]


Sure, man. I happen to be an accredited moon broker, and take paypal.

How about BitCoin?
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:21 AM on July 15


Seriously, though. Look at the gendered toys for boys. Awesome adventure stuff! Science stuff! Space travel! Monsters! Pirates!
And for the girls? Pretty shoes and clothes!
How is that a good thing?


I detest having to defend princesses, I have the usual reservations about them, but I think you're actually bringing in a lot of the sexism yourself. Princesses are the Original Gangster of "awesome adventure stuff", they're the people whose adventures have been pop-culture blockbusters for over a thousand years. On the toy aisle, the industrial-grade Disney princesses each had their own movie about their adventures years before GI-Joe or Marvel Avengers any of those johnny-come-lately's in the boy's aisle. Of course, being Original Gangster brings its own problems - many of these tales (and movies) date back 50 years or more, when the sexist ideas of "Mad Men" were progressive, but compare apples with apples - the adventures of any disney princess from the last 20 years look very different. The princesses are not passive, and they don't have to sacrifice beauty for it, the fantasy is that they can have it all. Princess Diana wore pretty things and was the love of the people AND raised opposition to land mines. Meanwhile on the boy's aisle, I suspect that a lot of what you are reading as "awesome adventure stuff" is nothing of the sort, just more hurting-and-destroying-other-things stuff.
posted by anonymisc at 10:26 AM on July 15 [3 favorites]


Disney princesses aren't the only princesses. And when a kid I know launches into imaginative play and it's centered completely around making her toys fight with each other over a tiara so that one of them can be the princess and have all her whims met, I think that's a problem.

But as always, it's a thrill to come here and have someone tell me that I'm the problem, not the shitty worldview we push on little kids like this, and that I can't even get it right when I describe toys I see, as if I would mistake a space explorer play set for a fucking gun. Come on.
posted by palomar at 10:57 AM on July 15


And when a kid I know launches into imaginative play and it's centered completely around making her toys fight with each other over a tiara so that one of them can be the princess and have all her whims met, I think that's a problem.

Why?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:10 AM on July 15


In of itself it is not a problem, the problem lies in the societal expectations that tell girls that this is ALL they can have. Little girls who break out of gendered roles at a young age are treated badly, not so much by her peers (although that does start eventually, but not so much at the youngest end of the spectrum, kindergarten and so on) but by adults who are uncomfortable with little girls who want to play space explorer or scientist or whatever. Parents of little girls who don't want to be princesses, or who want to be something MORE than princesses, are also treated like they are doing something wrong.
posted by elizardbits at 11:45 AM on July 15 [3 favorites]


"How about BitCoin?"

Hey man, my DogeCoin (TO THE MOON) wallet is in my profile.
posted by klangklangston at 2:56 PM on July 15 [2 favorites]


"The princesses are not passive, and they don't have to sacrifice beauty for it, the fantasy is that they can have it all."

I thought one of the big criticisms of Frozen was that the princesses are passive and their desires are disregarded in order to keep a plot on the rails.
posted by klangklangston at 2:57 PM on July 15


And also that every single female character in that movie had an identical face, prolly even the lady reindeer were just the same face with horns.
posted by elizardbits at 3:15 PM on July 15 [1 favorite]


the problem lies in the societal expectations that tell girls that this is ALL they can have

It cuts the other way, too, though the consequences are more abstract. I felt kind of cheated, after I got old enough to realize that I had an appearance, and to care what it was, to realize that being a boy meant I wasn't allowed to be pretty. I wanted to be desirable, too, to be something worth looking at; but society seemed to expect that I would be a desirer only, because I was male. My job would always be to choose and pursue and convince, to overcome the essential defect of maleness through gifts and acts of service, my sexual desirability based on status and accomplishments rather than on being actually desirable in a physical way. But I wanted to be hot! I wanted people to want me! I wanted to dress up and dance and swing my hips and be noticed.

I was really happy eventually to find a home in an overlapping group of weird subcultures which accept much more flexibility about gender expression. It took a long time to find a variant of masculinity that I can wear as my own, but it did eventually work out.

Because that's really the goal of feminism, after all: we can all pursue all the things, as we happen to desire. If a girl wants to do the princess fantasy thing with the pretty clothes and the jewels and being the center of attention, there's nothing wrong with that. But we should mix all the toy aisles together and put kids of both sexes on the box covers, so girls who want to build lego sets don't feel like they are out of place, and boys who want to dress up and look pretty don't get crushed by homophobia before they are old enough to know better.
posted by Mars Saxman at 3:16 PM on July 15 [2 favorites]


Something else that's interesting about this discussion is how people defending princesses have used the rhetoric of personal choice; after reading the body hair study a couple days back, the rhetoric of personal choice and liberal justification is a lot more noticeable to me.
posted by klangklangston at 3:36 PM on July 15 [2 favorites]


Someho criticisms of "personal choice and liberal justification" only ever come up when the thing being defended is stereotypically feminine.
posted by divabat at 3:52 PM on July 15


I have a son (nearly 3) and I love him to bits. Would have loved my daughter to bits if that's what we made.

But I do feel like I've dodged a missle in terms of the whole princess thing.


dude if you think your kid being declared "male" at birth is enough to dodge a princess phase, you've got a small but significant chance of having another thing coming
posted by NoraReed at 4:33 PM on July 15 [1 favorite]


For my part, misogyny's got nothing to do with it. I hate princes, princesses, kings and queens alike with equal amounts of democratic spirit.
posted by saulgoodman at 5:36 PM on July 15 [1 favorite]


i heard la marseillaise faintly in the background while reading that comment
posted by elizardbits at 5:45 PM on July 15 [3 favorites]


Oh, how timely of TheMarySue: “Excuse Me, Princess“: The Princess Type, for Good or Ill, Part 1
posted by palomar at 5:48 PM on July 15


I don't think a world where you can Be Anything Except A Princess is any better than a world where you can Only Be A Princess.
posted by divabat at 6:03 PM on July 15


Oh, man, if I had thought of it at the time, Princesses and Bloody Revolutions would have been my absolute favourite play pretend game as a kid.
posted by misfish at 6:21 PM on July 15 [1 favorite]


Has anyone made an attempt to ban princess stuff, divabat? Or are people just expressing opinions that don't line up with yours?
posted by palomar at 6:40 PM on July 15 [2 favorites]


For that matter, if your hangup on the princess thing is that people should be able to dress in pretty costumes if they want... why do we have to call it being a princess?
posted by palomar at 6:41 PM on July 15 [1 favorite]


Why CAN'T we call it "being a princess"?

I could ask you the same question about differing opinions. I don't feel like my perspective is being heard or respected.

I do feel like your perspective is coming from "ban all.princess stuff", especially when you're asking why the word Princess has to be involved at all. Why not?

Does Princess always have to mean vapidity, powerlessness, weakness? Is a princess only valid if she fights with a sword? I'm.as far away from princessy as you can get, but I'm not much of a fighter type either - is my womanhood invalid?

As I said before, I am not for forced assimilation into anything. But I don't want to take princesses out of the toybox.
posted by divabat at 8:09 PM on July 15


[divabat, palomar, please cool it and move on.]
posted by mathowie at 8:48 PM on July 15


divabat, my point about "why does it need to be called being a princess" is that, from what I can see here, your point of contention is that if someone wants to dress up in pretty, shiny things, they should be able to. It's not clear to me at all, beyond that, what part of princesshood enchants you so much. I thought the essay I linked to had some very interesting things to say. I'd suggest that you give it a read.
posted by palomar at 8:55 PM on July 15


Clearly the answer is a heavy push to get boys to play Prince. We have a superhero role model already with the costume, and all we need is a shiny crown and cape, and ka-bam.

Why don't boys play princes? I know they used to in the sense of playing knights in armour, where the leader would be Prince Arthur, but it seems to have vanished as a playground trope. Justin and Caleb should get to dress up with a shiny crown and a giant peasant-whacking staff too.
posted by viggorlijah at 9:02 PM on July 15 [1 favorite]


spitbull: "You dodged a bullet, but there's a Hellfire missile from a drone coming in right behind you."

I was a dedicated cap gun enthusiast in my youth. I honestly have no idea how I got my hands on cap guns. It certainly wasn't with the blessing of my horrified, pacifist mother.

Nonetheless I feel like I turned out okay. Right now my son is sufficiently obsessed with trains and it's an obsession I am happily nurturing. Right now it's mostly idle train watching and lots and lots of playing with wooden train tracks, but I have high hopes of him becoming a genuine railfan.
posted by Deathalicious at 10:11 PM on July 15


I'm really disappointed that ended in "railfan" and not "train", as in, you support your son's aspirations to transcend his humanity and implant his consciousness into a train
posted by NoraReed at 10:28 PM on July 15 [11 favorites]


"I don't think a world where you can Be Anything Except A Princess is any better than a world where you can Only Be A Princess."

Really? Why not? I mean, a princess isn't something you can grow up to do, it's something that you have to be born or marry. It seems like a stretch to think that the world is better off for having them. I understand that you're reacting against criticisms of princesses for hyper-femininity, but arguing that a world where the only choice for a woman is to marry a prince or be born to a king isn't worse than a world where that doesn't happen seems pretty tenuous. Especially since plenty of people here have been able to envision a world where the good parts of princess are retained without the baggage of the several thousand years of fucked up hereditary monarchies.

"Why CAN'T we call it "being a princess"?"

Usually when I hear, "being a princess," it means "being entitled and fussy." And even the gender neutral dig, "Your highness," still imputes a lot of that.

"Does Princess always have to mean vapidity, powerlessness, weakness? Is a princess only valid if she fights with a sword? I'm.as far away from princessy as you can get, but I'm not much of a fighter type either - is my womanhood invalid?"

Is your womanhood invalid? Of course not. Why would the only two options be princesses and warriors? But "princess" isn't an occupation so much as an ontological state, and a weird thing to promote as an aspiration.

"Clearly the answer is a heavy push to get boys to play Prince. We have a superhero role model already with the costume, and all we need is a shiny crown and cape, and ka-bam.

Why don't boys play princes? I know they used to in the sense of playing knights in armour, where the leader would be Prince Arthur, but it seems to have vanished as a playground trope. Justin and Caleb should get to dress up with a shiny crown and a giant peasant-whacking staff too.
"

Ugh, no. We have enough entitled little shits running around as it is. I mean, I understand that nobody would actually play Historically Accurate Occupation — no kids are dreaming of the life of a fuller — but when you get down to it, a lot of that stuff is almost as fucked up as playing cowboys and indians.

(I do kinda wonder what kind of fucked up X versus Y games kids outside of America get up to — is that a thing elsewhere? Vaqueros y Mestizos? Cops and robbers seems universal, and North Sudan looks like it's heading for Beja and Tourists…)
posted by klangklangston at 11:29 PM on July 15 [3 favorites]


Yes, real-life modern princesses do great things, and are not useless people.

That is not at all what the princess-industrial complex is about, and to pretend that it is is borderline offensive to me. Please, take a spin down the gendered toy aisles at Toys R Us, get an eyeful of the giant gaudy pink plastic tiaras with gleaming purple plastic jewels inset, really take in the big billowy dress-up princess outfits with puffed sleeves and tulle for days, the fucking magic wands and little plastic high heels... and if you can find anything in that damn aisle that makes you think about diplomacy, serving the poor, and lifting up the downtrodden, then you must be in the most magical toy store of all, because I have never seen anything like that aimed toward little girls in the princess aisle. It's all about being the prettiest, the most special, the most magical, and nothing about actually being a decent human being
.
posted by palomar at 11:02 AM on July 15


As a child I used to practically LIVE in the gaudy pink tiara and purple jewels aisle of my local toy store--and I will still linger in it when I have occasion to enter a toy store-- so don't talk to me like I have no idea of what's there. Is there stuff about public service? Of course not. These toys are for very young children who want to play and fantasize, not to drop everything they're doing and go dig irrigation systems for poor villages.

When a small child confusedly tries to bring that fantasy into real life, however, is when an adult steps in and does something called "parenting". When I said I wanted to grow up and be a princess, rather than say I couldn't, my mom said that there were ways that I could. She re-directed my focus to real-life princesses, how being a princess was a job, and how I could be just like them by studying and working hard and helping people.

You're acting like the products in the Tiara Aisle have the final say on a little girl's psychological development, but you know full and damn well those toys don't exist in a vacuum. I say those toys can be tool for children to be introduced to all the different ways one can be a woman. Pink and frilly is just a start, the Woman 101, so to speak. The smart parent shows the child fixated on princesses uses that interest to bring her to Woman 102 by way of what real life princesses and queens do with their lives. And if you're a wily parent, you show her how plenty of women out there accomplish even more without those titles.*

Dealing with a little girl interested in princesses doesn't mean dropping her off in the Toys 'R Us tiara aisle and calling it a day (although I wouldn't be surprised to find that some parents take that approach). It's an opportunity to show her what she can do with her life, and that while being a princess is cool, she can also be anything and everything else, and that is also cool.


*Which is why I wound up later telling my mom that, instead of being a princess, I wanted to be a Madame.







Because of Madame Curie. It took my mom a moment.
posted by magstheaxe at 4:50 AM on July 16 [2 favorites]


support your son's aspirations to transcend his humanity and implant his consciousness into a train

Coming soon: The Little Engine that Could: Transhumanist Icon
posted by localroger at 4:54 AM on July 16 [1 favorite]


NoraReed: "I'm really disappointed that ended in "railfan" and not "train", as in, you support your son's aspirations to transcend his humanity and implant his consciousness into a train"

If he becomes a train I won't be able to take him on car trips to see other trains, will I?
posted by Deathalicious at 6:32 AM on July 16


You're acting like the products in the Tiara Aisle have the final say on a little girl's psychological development

Nope! Please try again.
posted by palomar at 7:17 AM on July 16


"Princess" doesn't universally mean "entitled and vapid". In the part of the world I come from it's a designation of power and responsibility. Just because you were more often than not born or married into it doesn't mean you can rest on your laurels.

I read the Mary Sue article and it seemed to conflate a whole bunch of things - for instance, associating being meek and quiet with princess-ness, when (as mentioned before and also Kate Beaton just said something about it) often "princess" is a way for young girls to feel powerful and respected while still being girly and floofy. Even in adulthood you don't even get that much (see: Legally Blonde, femmephobia in the queer community). Also it kept bringing up the idea of the only Feminist Princess being one With A Sword, which is something I object to.

this entire discussion is highly ironic to me given that my real given name actually is Tiara
posted by divabat at 8:34 AM on July 16


Also it kept bringing up the idea of the only Feminist Princess being one With A Sword, which is something I object to

Do you mean the parts where the author mentions the trope of the Tomboy Princess, which will be the subject of part 2 of the 3 part essay series, and which she acknowledges has its own set of problems?
posted by palomar at 8:41 AM on July 16


And how much of "entitled" comes from the idea that girls and women are never meant to want or ask for things? The Princess thing could be one of the few ways to access that.
posted by divabat at 8:43 AM on July 16


Palomar: possibly; I wasn't clear on whether they meant that parts 2 and 3 were in that original article or elsewhere.

magstheknife brought up a lot of good points, will you address the rest of her comment?
posted by divabat at 8:46 AM on July 16


Nope! Why bother? No one's listening. You're both accusing me of saying things I'm not saying, so I'm done trying.
posted by palomar at 8:48 AM on July 16


We are both trying very hard to listen to you, but thanks for confirming that you're not discussing in good faith by refusing to listening to us.
posted by divabat at 8:54 AM on July 16


You accused me of invalidating your womanhood, and I'M the one arguing in bad faith? Sure, lady. Whatever.
posted by palomar at 9:07 AM on July 16


"Princess" doesn't universally mean "entitled and vapid". In the part of the world I come from it's a designation of power and responsibility.

Yeah, but in America, we fought a revolutionary war explicitly in opposition to systems of royalty and the idea that some people by virtue of birth should be entrusted with "power and responsibility" greater than that of any other ordinary person. Celebrating the trappings of nobility and inherited social status should be anathema to any American who takes the basic ideals America was founded on even half-seriously. This stunt is definitely not consistent with traditional American democratic ideals.

And really, it should be obvious why this kind of stunt would be offensive to any parents out there struggling just to find the time and money to do the bare minimum to give their kids a decent shot at a happy life. Or anyone who feels there's a public interest in ensuring kids grow up to be decent people who can function healthily in a community of peers.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:09 AM on July 16 [1 favorite]


I didn't say you were invalidating my womanhood - I said that the only valid idea of a princess being one that wielded a sword wasn't helpful. I'm hoping the Mary Sue article goes into that a little more.

And your "traditional American ideals" sure aren't matching up with your wars and neo-imperialist ideals and the 1%. You just traded in one nobility for another: the entitlement never really went away.
posted by divabat at 9:16 AM on July 16


As a neutral third party, I am begging y'all to take this to MeMail.
posted by Etrigan at 9:21 AM on July 16 [2 favorites]


I think it's really interesting that in some cultures, the word princess conveys power and authority, divabat. But I don't think it has those connotations at all in mainstream American culture. I think that the reason that pop culture, many parents, and the toy industry encourage little girls to aspire to be princesses is precisely because the word doesn't have those connotations. The word queen conveys power and authority, and little girls are not told to aspire to be queens. Disney queens are typically evil, and their evilness is provoked partly by envy of the youth, purity, and inherent loveability of the princess, whose power comes from her ability to provoke feelings of love and protectiveness in men. Princesses are not threatening or powerful. They don't ask for things or work for things, because they don't have to ask for things, because they're just given things by men who are dazzled by their remarkable inherent specialness.

I know that there have been some attempts to reclaim the princess idea, and maybe those will work. But personally, I don't love the princess thing. That isn't to say that nobody should ever indulge their kids' princess fantasies, but maybe don't do it on quite such a grand scale? Or maybe do it in a way that encourages her creativity and initiative or other positive qualities?
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 9:30 AM on July 16 [6 favorites]


II'm all for encoraging creativity, and I like how magstheknife's parents seemed to deal with it - rather than panicking about it, or trying to recreate imperialism, they communicated what princesses did IRL and let the kids make their own decision.

Kids often want to be princesses - or anything - for particular reasons. Maybe someone they admire is a princess, or they like shiny sparkles, or whatever. Part of my distaste against anti-princess stuff is that it didn't seem to give the kid enough credit: if they're into princesses, it means they are already doomed to brainwashing (the Tiara Aisle effect magstheknife talks about). Kids are way smarter than that a lot of the time.
posted by divabat at 10:38 AM on July 16


You just traded in one nobility for another: the entitlement never really went away.

Yeah, but it's seemingly one of those very same entitled rich guys who did this! I'm sorry if I'm being too insistent here, it's really not that big of a deal to me on a more day-to-day level. But this guy!
posted by saulgoodman at 2:14 PM on July 16


Oh, I'm not defending this guy at all. Though I'm interested in seeing how the diplomatic end of things work out.

Also I've been getting magstheaxe's username wrong, oooopps
posted by divabat at 2:24 PM on July 16


""Princess" doesn't universally mean "entitled and vapid". In the part of the world I come from it's a designation of power and responsibility. Just because you were more often than not born or married into it doesn't mean you can rest on your laurels."

Princess does literally mean "entitled." The title is "Princess." "Prince," "Baron," "Duchess," they're all literally entitled. Claiming that "princess" doesn't universally mean "entitled" is like claiming that "water" doesn't universally mean "wet." "Vapid" can be unfair, and I'm sure there are some perfectly nice Marquises despite being entitled, but aristocracy is already lauded enough.
posted by klangklangston at 12:08 AM on July 17 [1 favorite]


Princess does literally mean "entitled." The title is "Princess." "Prince," "Baron," "Duchess," they're all literally entitled. Claiming that "princess" doesn't universally mean "entitled" is like claiming that "water" doesn't universally mean "wet."


The word "prince" (and by extension, "princess") descended etymologically from "princeps" (chief, ruler, sovereign) by way of the Latin words "primus" (first) and "capere" (take, as in seize or capture).

"Baron" comes from an old Germanic word for "servant" or "follower", with overtones of "warrior" or "carrier", so you get the sense of a man who worked directly in some fashion for a ruler. "Duke" (and by extension, "duchess") comes from the Latin "dux", meaning leader or commander.

So, no.
posted by magstheaxe at 4:11 AM on July 17


Also, divabat, no worries. Thanks to you I've had Mack The Knife as an earworm, now. :)
posted by magstheaxe at 4:12 AM on July 17


magstheaxe, klang means that the word "entitled" means "has a title," not the etymology of the titles.
posted by Etrigan at 4:19 AM on July 17 [1 favorite]


That's not how I read the sentence "Princess does literally mean 'entitled'". The use of the word "literally" threw me off, so I didn't interpret it to mean "To be a princess is to automatically be entitled".

Regardless, we're picking at nits now. My point is that little girls interested in princesses do not have to be defined by your local toy store's Tiara Aisle.

Is it stupid that the toy companies continue to push that sort of thing on little girls to the exclusion of all else? No question. But just because toy companies want to be stupid doesn't mean parents have to be, and with a little creativity their influence is easily overcome.

I think that's why I defend princesses. I had parents who saw my interest as a jumping off point to learn about all the neat things women are able to do. As a result when I think of princesses, I think of women who are largely misunderstood. There's often an inappropriate focus on what they wear or how they act or who they're dating/married to. But when you look past those things, you find that most of the time they've got their sleeves rolled up and they're working hard doing great things.

Princesses still keep getting dismissed, though, because so many people think being a princess means being a brainless and silly woman. They're practically walking, talking examples of what so many modern women have to deal with daily--being discounted no matter your ideas and accomplishments, even by other women.
posted by magstheaxe at 4:59 AM on July 17 [1 favorite]


« Older X-Rays of Toy Robots...  |  The exhibit Fashion Follows Fo... Newer »


You are not currently logged in. Log in or create a new account to post comments.