I have a Disney dream… of not getting tangled in MRAs
For two weeks now, I have been plagued with the ‘I Have A Dream’ sequence from the Disney animated adventure ‘Tangled’. I’m one of those people who, when they get a song stuck in their head, really gets it stuck. And so, until this morning when I woke up fairly certain I had been singing it in my sleep, I have been trying to work out why it was there.
Then it hit me like a frying pan to the head. The song is stuck because of how wrong it makes me feel. I don’t see it as the humorous romp Disney probably intended. I am surprised that we are still expected to find this funny.
If you have somehow managed to avoid this film, there’s a bit where the long-haired protagonist, her scheming guide and her chameleon enter a pub full of aggressive brawlers who proceed to try and knock bits off the aforementioned guide before Rapunzel screams ‘haven’t you ever had a dream?’. Cue well-rehearsed song and dance routine.
The thing that bugs me most is not that everyone in the pub seems to have been choreographing this for months awaiting the day a naïve little girl demands they find their humanity. It’s that, with a couple of small exceptions, these men don’t have dreams.
Toll would like to quit and be a florist, Gunter does interior design, Urf is into mime, Attila’s cupcakes are sublime, Bruiser knits, Killer sews, Ven does little puppet shows.
No, these men don’t have a dream. They have talents that aren’t considered masculine and don’t fit with their tough-guy image. They have interests in professions that are generally seen as the domain of women and men generally agreed to be camp. That’s why it’s supposed to be funny. “Ha, look at the manly man with the axe who wants to knit you a nice warm scarf instead of cleaving your head from your neck like he’s supposed to.”
Now, listen up guys, this is where it gets real. This is where I attempt to use a Disney film to tell MRAs what they’re doing wrong. Pay attention. This could happen.
The patrons of the Rubber Duck pub are victims of the system, yes. They want to branch out into unusual areas and their businesses would most likely fail. No one wants to buy cupcakes from the guy with the scary helmet (who probably has a scarier face, but it is a children’s film).
Meanwhile, Rapunzel has been physically locked in a tower her whole life. Her only link to society until she left that morning was ‘Mother’ Gothel, who constantly told Rapunzel how ugly, stupid and worthless she was. In addition to that, she’s effectively sold by the woman pretending to be her mother to two thugs who almost certainly don’t have any aspirations to be pastry chefs.
Mother Gothel herself is using Rapunzel’s magical hair to remain young and beautiful, presumably so she can maintain her place in society. Rapunzel’s own mother has her child stolen and still has to smile and sanction festivities on the anniversary because she is Queen.
The men have problems. The women have problems. Heck, the chameleon and the horse have problems.
But the thing with the problem is that the men could help the women deal with their problems whilst the women are two busy being locked in towers and sold and gas-lighted to worry about Gunter’s failing home makeover show.
And so it is in real life. When a woman protests that cases of rape aren’t treated seriously enough and men scream ‘but I got in trouble for sexual harassment when I smacked the secretary on the behind!’ it’s just as nonsensical as it would be if Ven demanded Rapunzel buy a ticket to one of his puppet shows as she was being dragged off by the thugs and her foster mother. Yes, really.
Men have their problems. And if I, as a woman and a human being (at least, I’m pretty sure I’m a human being), have any power to improve things for the trans* men who are denied medical attention, the gay men who are beaten in the street, the black men who are wrongly arrested, and, yes: even the white, middle class men who are genuine victims of false accusations, I’ll do it. But not if the aforementioned white middle class man demands my support in his counter claim against the secretary when there are more women with more serious problems.
I don’t want to say that men don’t deserve to have their burdens eased. But what MRAs most often seem to do is claim that the lessening of another’s burden somehow makes things worse for them personally. Saving Rapunzel from a life of giving Gothel youth and beauty is surely more important than petitioning the theatres of the kingdom to allow Urf to put on his show. Isn’t it?