I didn’t have time before to read what The Last Psychiatrist had to say about The Hunger Games but now that he came by the blog in person, I have. As usual, he offers brilliant insights:
The traditional progressive complaint about fairy tales like Cinderella is that they supposedly teach girls to want to be princesses and want to live happily ever after. But is that so bad? The real problem with fairy tales is that the protagonist never actually does anything to become a princess. . . The clear problem with this isn’t that girls will want to hold out for a Prince, but that it might foster the illusion their value is so innately high that even without pretty clothes or a sense of agency a Prince will come find them. Sleeping Beauty and Snow White are worse: they don’t even have to bother to stay alive to get their Prince.
This is precisely the problem with the traditional discourse of femininity. Where I disagree with The Last Psychiatrist is his desire to attribute the blame for this state of affairs to the patriarchy, the society and “the system.” However, as we see from the authorship and the audience of The Hunger Games, this image of womanhood as willingly denying one’s own agency in order to be serviced by the universe is created and promoted, first and foremost, by women themselves.
Cinderella is not a story that men tell to women. It’s a tale that women tell to each other and to themselves. Just think about it. Why would a man find the story attractive? What is there in it for him if he is not a foot fetishist? But what a pleasing dream for a woman! You sit there, doing nothing to take control of your life, and suddenly everything somehow works out perfectly.
As feminists, we all know the demeaning, offensive, harshly negative characteristics of the patriarchy. Now, we have to grow more vigilant about everything that is attractive about it. And we need to stop getting seduced by its promise of liberating us of the burdens of agency and responsibility.
I have now read the last book in The Hunger Games series and the ending of the trilogy bears out The Last Psychiatrist’s observations on the novel completely.
[MAJOR SPOILER AHEAD!]
A 30-year-old Katniss has even less agency than she did at 16. She has children because her husband really wants them and talks her into it. That’s a fitting development for a fake feminist hero like her.