An American Girl in Washington

The irony of Kate Middleton or Why we’re celebrating a wanna-be princess on International Women’s Day

Posted in Politics- as I see it by AGinDC on 8 March 2011

Full disclosure:  I used to have a giant crush on just about every male member of every royal family, ever and I’m sure that jealousy is playing at least a tiny role in the opinions below.

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When I was a junior in college I did like so many other Americans and studied abroad at the University of St. Andrews.  The call of the sea, the Scotch, the golf and the “academics” only marginally contribute to why it is one of the most popular study abroad destinations on Earth.  The real reason?  It’s a non-stop party school better known for producing event planners than intellectuals and legendary for being the school where rich kids go when get can’t get into Oxbridge.  Coming from the overly-academic and underly-social Mount Holyoke, I was more than ready to spend a semester not learning Homeric Greek.  The fact that a certain Prince who hadn’t yet developed a bald spot was in my class at the very same university?  Well, that didn’t exactly hurt.

This was about the time that Will & Kate started dating and the rumors were a-flyin’ all of the time.  I was too busy having a blast too pay much attention and didn’t meet them except for occasional run ins at Ma Bells (greatest beach pub EVER), but the slight connection has prompted me to occasionally compare my life to hers.

When I was in Teach For America, struggling every day to teach first graders to read in the worst possible conditions, Kate was flitting from job to job (after Will effectively forced her to start working) and going on vacation every Tuesday- Sunday.  I wondered why she wasn’t doing something productive with all of that money but figured hey, if I had it, I’d probably be spending most of my time on a private island right out of college too.  And when I was honest with myself, I admitted that I definitely would rather be on a beach than in South Louisiana.  So I acted self-righteous to make myself feel better and kept working on my lesson plans.

In law school, every time I read about Kate (or is it Catherine now?), she seemed to be trying out a different career.  Accessories buyer one day, photographer the next.  The internet was awash with rumors that she might even be working for her parents!  Shocker. It seemed pretty obvious at this point that there was only one job she was interested in and I wasn’t surprised to hear that the Brits had started calling her “Waitey Katey”.

So now, six years after graduating from college, I’m in the midst of starting my own law firm and Katey is finally getting what she was so waitey for.  And the amazing thing is, I’m not the unusual one here.  It’s 2011, International Women’s Day, and yet right under the articles about “How to Empower Women” HuffPo has a puff piece on the trenchcoat worn by a girl who seems to be reasonably intelligent, well educated, and had a better start than 99.9% of the population and yet has spent the better part of a decade waiting to marry a man and stand behind him waving for the rest of her life.

Really??

In the age of Michelle Obama, Queen Noor, and hundreds of thousands of educated young women all over the world, we’re still getting excited about a girl who has worked hard to do absolutely nothing with her life?  Even Disney finally produced a movie about a princess with a job!

It would have been so empowering to women and girls all over the world (and especially in England, where, having worked there, I can tell you equality is a long, long ways away) if the new princess were a smart young woman with a career and a life of her own.  That would have been the perfect way to phase this outdated monarchy into the 21st century.  Just look at the other royal families of Europe.  Their children are marrying educated men and women from every day families who made something of themselves.  And their people love them for it.  But in a country where male heirs still have the right of succession, even after having had three of the most remarkable Queens in history, they’re throwing a party for a throwback Stepford wife.  Even Diana had a job when she married Prince Charles and she was royal and it was the 70s!

Perhaps I’m being too harsh.  It could be that when I’m out here on my own in the world struggling and fighting every day just too make something of myself that it seems so easy just to look pretty, smile, and marry well.  Maybe I’m worried that I missed my chance at marriage by not spending more time brushing my hair than reading Constitutional Law.  And that’s probably true.  But today is International Women’s Day.  And when I think about my daughter, I want her to be Tiana, not Aurora.  There’s just no excuse to sleep through our lives anymore, waiting for some prince to rescue us.

But that’s just me.

Happy International Women’s Day.  And, more importantly, Happy Mardi Gras!

AGinDC

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2 Responses

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  1. Candie Farnese said, on 14 March 2011 at 5:37 pm

    you’ve got great post here, keep ’em coming.


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