The hit movie “Enchanted” came out on DVD this week and with three daughters — and their mom — who loved the film when it was in theaters, I couldn’t buy it fast enough. (My 13-year-old son, who dutifully sat through it with us in the theater, announced that his obligation to his family of women had been met and excused himself from another viewing.)
In the movie the beautiful Giselle, the princess heroine, goes from the fantasy world to the real world, where she causes quite a stir.
But in watching it this time, it finally occurred to me that my feminist “sisters,” who supposedly despise the idea of the fairy-tale Prince Charming, are the very ones who have sold 21st-century women on the destructive dream of “waiting” for their prince.
They have convinced too many of today’s women that they have the “right” to a Prince Charming who, for starters, is not only sensitive and in touch with his feelings and hers (and oh-so-ready to talk about them!), he changes diapers as easily as light bulbs. And while he works hard and makes a good living, he always meets her needs first — no matter how often those needs change or even contradict each other. The list goes on.
But as Lori Gottlieb so aptly put it in her recent and very controversial piece in The Atlantic, “Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough”:
“Unless you meet the man of your dreams (who, by the way, doesn’t exist, precisely because you dreamed him up), there’s going to be a downside to getting married, but a possibly more profound downside to holding out for someone better.”
Gottlieb, 40, recounts that she, a never-married single mom who finally had a child via a sperm donor, essentially messed up. Instead of holding out for “Mr. Right” in her 30s, she should have married one of the many “Mr. Good Enoughs” she dated then but who aren’t as plentiful in her 40s. She believes the same is true for many still-single women her age.
Gottlieb contends that any never-married woman in her 40s who says she doesn’t want to be married is lying. I’m not sure that I agree, but in any event her advice to such women, and to their younger sisters, who are holding out for Prince Charming? Don’t waste your time — or your ovaries. Men aren’t perfect, and (the audacity) we women aren’t, either.
A full life can be had with a man who isn’t Mr. Perfect.
Gottlieb notes that when it comes to marriage, men happily “settle” all the time because men tend to be (delightfully) uncomplicated creatures who don’t waste their time dreaming of a lifetime with the perfect “Princess Lovely” and no one else.
A man I appreciate very much recently said to me, “One of the things a man finds most attractive in a woman is to discover that she appreciates what he does for her, and that she is in fact capable of being pleased by him.”
If today’s women can’t appreciate and be pleased by a real man, what a loss for them.
Meanwhile, “Enchanted” is full of the romance that I admit I love. But, in the wonderfully predictable end, Giselle ends up eschewing the fairy-tale prince and choosing a real-life love instead. In fact, she seems to wisely change her very definition of the happiness she is seeking, which is why it’s still fair to say that she and her man lived happily ever after.
(Betsy Hart hosts the “It Takes a Parent” radio show on WYLL-AM 1160 in Chicago. Reach her through betsysblog.com.