Technology You dreamed About Part II: Big Decisions and Changes, How Does it Affect the Blind?

Dear Readers,

How many of you dreamt of a time when we could see our lover through the phone? Or your teacher through a device you hold in your hand? Imagine you heldn in your hand the key to all the technology we have today, at least you dreamt of receiving email on your watch; receiving music and digital downloads on a perfectly working MP3 or whatever player; going all Dick Tracy with your same watch and talking from your left wrist to someone in England. Well, I’ve also noticed Google jumped in on the band wagon with watches, but because the honorable Nimer Jaber did a review of the LG Sport, good but it told me a lot, I’m seriously considering an iPhone, no, I want one by July.

I thought that Android wear 2.0 could be more accessible, but the reviews I saw of it had a common theme: the watch itself was clunky and uncomfortable. Ugh. Never mind the Talkback, an experimental feature that doesn’t work with half the apps! And some aren’t installed. Ugh.

I’d like to credit Jaber for the review, as he is crazy about technology along with Trenton. But the crazier of the two of them likes to fiddle with developer/canary CHrome, but that could lead somewhere I don’t think I’d like to go for now.

Okay, back to my decision. I would like to have an iPhone in my hand because of access to more and exclusive apps, though I won’t abandon Google completely. I’m still gonna mess with Google Home, something akin to the computer out of star trek minds. Remember the wrist communicators are also familiar to sci fi fans of Star Wars and Star Trek, along with Dick Tracy. But the only watch that will work for blind people is Apple’s watch, with its own native OS and screen reader. I saw a review of it by David Woodbridge, editorial team with Apple Vis, where I am learning about the watch. Mr. Woodbridge’s review is a lot more positively promising, and what did we expect? I can’t continue with an Android phone if I can’t properly use the watch. Plus I hate fumbling around in my purse for the darn phone. I’ll use it to check things, yes, but the watch will be useful when … say, Trenton sends me an iMessage, and the thing taps me on the wrist. Think about it. I could also use it to answer calls if my phone is locked in my purse somewhere and this is an important call. Apple watch has its place, so does Android wear, but Android wear didn’t have Talkback first on the very first OS it came out with. More developers will likely bring things to iOS first, bring access as well. Voiceover is something Apple puts on all its stuff, so you can use it right from the shelf. It doesn’t always work with any other company, except that Google’s coming along. But you still can’t cut and paste properly with Google’s talkback as well as Voiceover. Voiceover allows me access to more stuff, and my sighted buddies can stare at me while on Facetime, an audio and video chat feature available to all Apple users. Just wait till people ask for smellevision, television that smells. Or what about something akin to Feelies? Brave New World style technology is on its way, so one day you will not be just able to see and hear your partner, but if your partner sprays on cologne, you’ll be able to sniff it with smellevision which I’ve seen/smelled before in a simulator ride. But think of another thing: we could also go to movies/theater houses and we might feel what is going on. Imagine the imagery described, okay? Plus add sound, all right. But then, put your hands on the knobs, and feel yourself in the action. Well, … not that far, but the technology is already there.

I honestly believe that some day and millennium later, we will be so advanced that phones may be a thing of the past. For instance, imagine smelling the burning rubber of tires though you still can’t see it. But also imagine the raceway, then imagine yourself at home, sitting on your couch. Okay, add the raceway to your home sitting on your couch. VR is already coming, but we need virtual smelling and tasting so that the other senses can participate like in Brave New World or Total Recall. Speaking of which, I better get out of here. I phones might have smellevision one day, but could Apple possibly open the senses further by implementing this into Macs? They’ve already done away with function keys, brought Siri to it, etc., but what about being able to hook up something to your mac or TV and suddenly, you can smell or feel or hear the raceway as if you’re already there? That’s what’s next, and I hope these things are accessible for blind people.

Guys, I think today’s tech is not running out of ideas. The watch thing I thought would never truly materialize. But the smellevision may one day come as a surprise. One never knows where the imagination goes. At least one day, Google will make all its products accessible, whether on a wristwatch, which to me has to be comfiy and stylish yet durable and practical. LG’s Sport watch is not either of those things, and yes, the style has no speaker. Therefore, no Talkback. Why? I’ll talk about the future of law and ethics next time maybe. …

Beth

A Belated V Day Post

Dear Readers,

In light of a blessed Valentine’s Day, I want to put things into perspective about what love is and what it means. Love is something we don’t find anywhere these days, or almost anywhere. As I’ve known what love was, and is, I can tell you what means love and what love is about. Valentine’s Day is frequently celebrated with Cupid’s arrow and a lot of erotic thoughts might go through your head. However, it’s not just the romantic sexual stuff that we should be thinking about.

Love is being able to accept your mate or friends for all they have. This wasn’t apparent in schools like St. Teresa’s or at times Titusville High School, and most of that nonacceptance came from parental figures or other peers. Peer victimization is so common in these places you would think I could never survive, but I did.

Love is when you allow your partner to have choices and freedom at any time. I dated a guy once called Jason, but really, he’s a major creep. He did not allow me the freedom to be myself, would make fun of my character, and took advantage of me. He is currently dating another friend and is in counseling for the abusive behaviors, hopefully for the rest of time. However, this man was not right for me because of his abuse. My parents’ guardianship could be a grave example of what even a love between parent and child is not. My parents believe I am too “naive” for relationships, and they could disapprove marriage for Trenton and myself due to race if they so chose, but could mask that with “she’s not been with him long enough.” I’ll get to Trenton later.

However, Mom and Dad just want my freedom sucked out because of disability. Many parents of children with disabilities don’t let them grow up, which is sad to say the rule for too many of these families. If you truly love your child with a disability, you’d let that child have choices and freedom and let them explore and reach for the stars, which I’m sad to say my parents refused to think I could do, and only masked their problems with mine.

Love is never abandoning your partner or best friend when they’re in crisis, or when they have the case of depression or the blues. This includes postpartum depression and baby blues. I know a girl who has several disabilities who was sadly abandoned after some abuse from a husband who did not like her having the disabilities she has. She has since filed for divorce which was the right thing to do, but her current partner does not abandon her at all. They talk daily, do things together over Skype and other things. Blake never wanted to abandon me, and has never done so, even when we broke our relationship. I personally don’t want to because of the circumstances surrounding why we broke up in the first place. Abandonment shows you don’t love someone and these are examples.

Love is being able to accept any challenge, and when asked, for married couples especially, this person takes the spouse or significant other in sickness and in health. There was an NBC news story yesterday about a girl with cancer so severe she could’ve died, but her boyfriend proposed when she got the c word diagnosis. Brenda and Gary are now married, happily in all things.

Love is unconditional, never changing, and does not shrink with time. The best love is that which stands the test of time. I thought when Blake and I were dating that we’d stand the test of time, but we didn’t because of family issues. This can have a terrible impact on a relationship. No family should shove their belief about a person in the member’s face. So what should have happened? There should never have been a breakup but still, friendship can stand the test of time.

However, I feel Trenton can be a better spouse than anything I’ve seen before. We’re going to celebrate a full year together on February 24, 2017. We’re also considering marriage, though wedding plans have been halted due to my family. In all honesty, I hope that my family steps off the plank and out of my love life because it’s my love life, whether the relationship begins or ends at all.

Valentine’s Day was personally good for me. I felt and still feel as of this writing a bit gassy and bloated, could be a medical side effect. I’ll have to have the doc check it out. But the gas bubbles in my stomach are still there, as though I am sick, but I’m not sick. Anyway, that’s my Valentine’s Day for you.

Open Letter to the President,

Dear President,
Hello. My name is Beth Taurasi, a resident of Denver, Colorado. I am currently unable to sleep at night. Why, you might ask, am I writing this letter at practically 3 in te morning? Well, from night worries about a civil war that could happen on our so called orders to the thought of my fiance being bombed in the quest for your world domination, I have many many worries. You want to run this country like you do your businesses, which are dropping off Amazon like flies! You know, a friend of mine who’s Jewish says she supports a move like that from Amazon, including removing sales of Ivanka Trump products as well, and removal of Breitbart news ads. Why? Ask Mr. Bannon.
First of all, you are attempting to spew hate in this country, and with your lack of empathy, that’s not hard to do. Listen, you need to learn some behaviors that will neutralize the lack of empathy problem. Try to imagine yourself in my shoes for a second: you live with a fiance who is of a different race, you both live in an apartment complex specified for elders and disabled people, you’re blind, you only make so much in SSI per month, you’re on Medicaid. Think about what you want to do with the 70% of us blind folks who don’t work, but what about outlawing contractual guardianships so we adults with disabilities can have home work businesses like Melaleuca and Plexus work for us? What about Legal Shield? Heard of that? This is how I’m attempting to challenge my family’s right to force me into working as a waitress for less. And may I add that my breast size should not determine whether I get a job at Twin Peaks and I won’t allow some foreign bachelor to cop a feel. Remember, I have a loving partner here.
You think Steve Bannon is a great pal, but guess what? It’s guys like him, that Mylo Themopolis guy, and this other young troll I’m about to mention that are eyesores for this country and cannot be allowed to speak. Yet your GOP senators silenced a woman for quoting famous black figures. THis is unacceptable behavior. And cut out the executive orders.
We don’t need immigrant bans, and why don’t we need them? Don’t tout the Obamas for this. You don’t want to work with your enemies. You consider Somalis enemies, and this is making it hard for an ex of mine and good friend to be able to carry out the duties of husband to a woman who was matched with him from Kenya. Yes, I said Kenya, not Somalia. She may be ethnically Somali, but she is Kenyan born. Let Deq’s wife through. Deq is a blind Somali who became an American citizen as a refugee, and he did it legally before you snipped the threads of who could come here. Now his wife will have to fight the ban in order to be his wife.
Mr. President, my fiance sometimes has nightmares, empathic moments, etc. All because of your horrific actions against everything from the Congress, Elizabeth Warren, and everybody else to those who don’t look like you or your wife and kids. Consider Milania for a second. Just because she is white doesn’t give her privileges. By your orders, she should be banned from this country because she’s in a so called questionable country, perhaps she’s Russian. Do you really think Putin is cool beans? No, he’s ruling Russia similar to Soviet times, and Sochi’s wiinter games weren’t so great because of Vlad Putin.
You should also consider that since you are unempathetic toward your own people, you should get counseling and listen to the video of your victims. Read the following story of how I was victimized even before you moved to Trump central in D.C.
Ivan Soto, now sixteen, trolled me four times, disguising himself as an adult claiming success. He used disposable emails, and I dug some into said emails, then used Republicking1 on Twitter to attempt further trolling which was put to a stop when I blocked him and his personal account, Ivan Soto himself. He also impersonated my ex boyfriend, stating in mild language that he was glad to be rid of me, as if Blake would talk like that. Blake knows better because he had a great upbringing, even when we broke up he still talks to me. What Ivan did by impersonating Blake was to anger him, and I wish his mom had found Ivan personally and whipped him a few times for impersonating her son using mild language. Kathy wouldn’t have something like this.
Ivan went on to suggest that my fiance “rob a deli” as a means to succeed. That’s one way to put my man in jail, of course. My man is not the type I would expect to rob anything, and impersonating Blake and suggesting that my man rob a properly running establishment was all inspired by you. You should consider that Ivan’s family is Mexican, so I don’t know all the details of his parents’ background. The same thing happened when another young girl called Mabelin Ramirez attacked me on Twitter and WordPress the way Ivan did previously mentioned. Mabelin tried to spread a rumor about me, but covered up her own trail. I wonder if those two, Ivan and Mabelin, should both be exiled to Mexico for their actions toward me, a law abiding citizen of America who truly does not want to see someone get hurt. Mr. President, think before you sign that next order. Congress are your buddies, friends, whatever. This is a country, not a corporation. You can’t pay me to be silent on issues that mean business and are of importance. One more thing, fire anyone who further marginalizes blind people. We’re sick of being bullied, made to feel helpless, etc. I want a wedding grander than any of your weddings. I want a life better than the one Ivan Soto proposed. I will never rob a bank or a delicatessen store in order to make a living. And my fiance is not a gang member. Nor will any son of mine be a gang banger. Don’t think that all blacks are like this, and notice I didn’t even use my sweetheart’s name. I don’t want you coming after him.
Anyway, read my letter and realize that you need to learn empathic behaviors toward your own people. Narcissism is not something we need right now.
Sincerely,
Beth Taurasi,
Who says insomnia really sucks.

Letter to the Secretary of Education

Dear Mrs. Devos,

Now that you have the job you want this badly, let me introduce a new concept for you. Blind children don’t benefit from private education in charter or Catholic schools. I was one of those children, at the mercy of parents who wanted a perfect Catholic daughter to marry off to some purity obsessed xenophobe. The only way they’d have it their way was to send me to St. Teresa’s School, a small community in Titusville that didn’t have enough extracurriculars, except for choir and bells, which I wasn’t allowed to do. Mrs. Devos, you don’t want to send a blind child to St. Teresa’s School because Catholic children seem to be entitled these days. Part of why I left the Catholic church was the pope, of course, the sexual abuse of little boys and girls in said church, and the refusal of STS to provide services for blind students and students in wheelchairs. Mrs. Devos, I dare you to do the following things in Washington D.C. because I do this every day:

First, start by closing your little eyes. Close them, turn off the lights, make it dark. Feel what it is to be blind, and seek out ways you can see stuff other than your eyes. Second, make yourself a frying pan of scrambled eggs in your big kitchen, no cook allowed. Try using a NuWav Precision Induction Cooktop Gold Edition, something I use every time I want to make some delicious scrambled eggs with cheddar cheese. Then, experiment by cooking the eggs on medium high which is the second set of temperature buttons on the right side of the cooktop. Try making other things on there for lunch, pack your lunch, then try using a long white cane to go to the Metro to get to work. You might think “I’m too good for the Metro.” Not so fast, I sometimes take the bus or Lite Rail in Denver and it’s accessibly awesome. Mrs. Devos, I triple dog dare you to try using the D.C. Metro lines to go to your office, don’t use a limo and use a cane. You might want to feel the sidewalk, sweep with a wide arc with said cane so you can learn how your constituents find their way around Baltimore. Talk to people such as my friend Chris, Chris Nusbaum, a young man from Maryland who’s currently training at LCB, Louisiana Center for the Blind, where he learns how to use the tools to succeed in order to walk around Monroe, bus travel, getting a job, etc. Why you ask? Because blind children benefit from public free education, and nobody’s going to pay for Braille instruction, just as sighted kids don’t pay for free pencils and such. As a blind female, I was bullied in school as well, and your agency should be doing more to make sure children with autism, blindness, and other disabilities are not bullied. You have the job, but you need to be doing your job properly and learning as much as you can about the education system in America. Which I’m sure you know nothing about.

This is what we need in the DOE. First, enforce the IDEA, and ADA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1970, no ifs ands or buts. Don’t deny blind kids like Chris and other potential Chrises the right to training outside the state they live in. Informed choice should be the key here. NFB is trying to say something to you, and you should be learning Braille yourself, no wealthy maids allowed in this operation. If you want to try using a dog, try Florida State University’s School of Vision Rehabilitation. In Tallahassee, this school teaches TVI’s in Florida, some of the best TVI’s I know. They also have a guide dog expo, which they use to show students how to work with a guide dog. You can also consult guide dog teams who currently work. For instance, Deanna, a friend in Ohio, went to a school and obtained Mambo, her current guide. Talk to people who use guide dogs, and see that the health of guide dog teams is sought for. Talk to disabled kids’ parents who want the child to use a service dog but the school says no. Guess what? You need to say yes to service dogs, and this is because kids with autism or other disabilities benefit from the companionship of a dog. The dog works with autistic kids to ensure they’re balanced, I mean dogs can do that for people. Secondly, a lot of disabled kids need friends. Dogs can be like friends, companions. Ever had a beloved pet you lost to old age? Do you miss said beloved pets? I have friends who’ve put their guide dogs down because the dog was sick, and they talk about the life of that dog the same way you would talk about your great aunt. Please consider this when doing service dog in education policy.

We understand as a blind community that fake service dogs are bad, so make that distinction. But denying all guide and service animals to staff and students is a no no. It is also a big no no to deny blind children the chance to succeed. I am one of 70% of the blind who are currently unemployed or underserved with a job. I don’t see any meaningful jobs open to us except customer service. Fix that, please.

Anyway, if you see this letter, Mrs. Devos, by way of the Internet, read it. I dare you to hook up a Braille display and try reading it the way I do. Braille was invented by the Frenchman Louis Braille, who was in any case a student at the Paris institute for the Blind. Mr. Braille was very frail by the end of his life, and I’m sure he’s pretty much rolling in his grave because only 10% of the people he invented Braille for actually read it, including myself. It’s not that hard to read Braille. Ask Tom Anderson, the founding Braille instructor at the Colorado Center for the Blind, recently retired and moved to Kansas. He and his wife Linda use Braille in their daily lives, to mark things, read books, cook, find recipes, etc. Both also use Text to speech, and so do I. Look at your computer. Then, I dare you to turn on the accessibility features of it, listsen to it read this letter. And others like it.

Please do as I am recommending, this way you can educate yourself about children with disabilities, including blindness.

Sincerely,

Beth Taurasi,

Denver, Colorado

The Best and Most Beautiful Things: a Review of a Recent Documentary

Hello all,

I would like to express first of all my deepest gratitude for some things. First, I support any community that has been marginalized over the past months since the hothead took office. This includes disabled people, LGBTQIA people, sex positive communities, African Americans, etc. I am a straight ally to LGBTQIA people, and I’m not afraid to say so. People are scared to support this kind of community but there is love in it. What about two million other things I support though? As my dear love lies sleeping, I want to confess that I was ignorant about the community at large of blindness, and sadly there are people in the community who don’t deserve full attention.

There is one documentary that draws attention to a woman I’m sure will brighten everybody’s day. I watched a documentary about a very positively awesome woman, Michelle Smith, who is living independently in Maine, and her story is told in so much detail.

The thing of Ms. Smith is that she’s blind, and I can relate to that, but she was evaluated for what is called High Functioning Autism, and people have low expectations of her. As a disabled person at large, I feel the same way she does, marginalized and unable to work. She and I have both been fired from job training or internships because of emotional issues. Michelle’s are different than mine, her having lost the family she loved when Mom and Dad got divorced and a brother died at age five. Unfortunately, my circumstances are more extreme. I’m currently challenging my family’s illicit attitude toward blind and abused females and I can’t even recall my parents’ emotional attitude that their poor baby daughter is incapable of a, b, and c. Michelle’s mom has to drill her sometimes because she takes multiple medications, human growth hormone being one, and birth control another. Due to psychological abuse and treatment as an inconvenience, I have to go to therapy and work out issues and take medications. The only psychological medicine I take does not mess up the birth med I take that regulates things. I see it doing two things for me though: preventing unwanted pregnancy and regulating the cycles that women are supposed to have and for me, 32 days.

Michelle’s and my lives are different, but due to Florida psychological doctors having a bad attitude about disability and blindness, they made up a very flawed diagnosis of high functioning autism, and my parents treated me differently. They just patronized me, whereas Michelle’s mom supported her choices about independence.

I have only a few words to say: go get ’em, girl. She is a very sweet person, and from her documentary, I gather she loves to play with her boyfriend, and yes, in the most positive way. however, the statistics are very bleak for blind females like myself and Michelle.

For women like Michelle and I, it is 90% likely that a parent will make a decision that will put the female in no position to have children, or understand sex, or learn about teen maturation issues. For us women with disabilities, 80% will have been raped in their teens, me knowing about 8 women who said they were. Some women are also taken advantage of in other ways. Jane (name has been changed) was nearly raped by a man who, sadly, was also blind. Jane’s former boyfriend is one of 90% of blind males who feel lost sexually and don’t know how to address what I call “sexual etiquette”. This means when she says no, it means no. Michelle is blessed and lucky that she fell into the 10% of women with disabilities who live active lifestyles and have a support system.

Let’s meet Leyla (name has been changed), an Asian born blind woman with Autism who has a really awesome support system, two men act as father figures for her, and she sings and jams in a band. I know many women who dream of lives like Leyla’s, but she knows firsthand what Michelle went through. But one thing stands between Leyla and Michelle, Leyla was viciously isolated and abused and stood up to her family and cut them off. This is what I plan to do because of the family’s disabling attitude toward me. Look at my life for example. While Michelle is in her apartment in Maine, I live with my boyfriend in a two bedroom apartment in Denver, and we have a relatively great life together. Yes, we have arguments, but Trenton usually brings me to a point where I can rest and be at peace. None of the other boyfriends I met in person could do that, even a sighted man I met on Craigslist Personals. Note to self: I won’t be needing Craigslist to sell or maintain things anymore because of scammers and people who want to take advantage of me. I won’t be dating online because I don’t feel comfortable around sighted mankind who seem to think I’m just too naive for relationships. My father is included in this list, and I’m planning to marry Trenton and get rid of this ghastly maiden name at once because … funny you could ask me why.

Smith and Bell are common last names, but Taurasi is not. Taurasi is hard to pronounce and spell for some American phone people, and while booking a cab on the way home from the restaurant my friends and I went to, I had to spell it twice because someone couldn’t find my information on this thing. I was using a Medicaid account, and since my last name is hard to spell and pronounce, the guy could not look it up and he handed the phone to another person. I use nonmedical Medicaid transit to get around because the resource is there, it saves me anxiety and money, and it operates on the weekends, finally. But in rural Titusville, Florida, or Juliette, Georgia, or even some places in Arizona, places like Sierra Vista or Camp Verde even, that resource is null and void, not there. Bangore, Maine even might have better resources than the rural towns I mentioned. I’m struggling to build a support system even now because Trent and I are no place near getting married, and churches won’t help us with wedding bills. I wish people would be more supportive and not have to be paid to do things for me, but Titusville, Juliette, and Camp Verde are all red spots with red states written all over them. Boston, Massachusetts is where Michelle plans to move, and boy will she be in for a treat. Boston is the feeder city for Perkins School for the Blind, where Michelle went to school. Perkins has had a long and proud history, and in the documentary, the staff there seemed understanding and wanted Michelle’s potential to grow.

Alumni weekend is where the blind school alumni hang out for three days during a class reunion, and I can say this for certain: Michelle’s doing fine. However, she gave up her acting career because of Los Angeles being so spread out. I personally don’t like Los Angeles’ reputation as a gang city along with Chicago, Illinois. Chicago does have Horizons for the Blind, where a buddy of mine who follows me on Twitter works. However, moving to Boston, CHicago, or L.A. would mean leaving my love behind and his family can’t all come. I don’t know what to do to convince any person’s family that sometimes you have to leave certain things behind in order to follow on with what your heart desires, but that’s the only thing I did not like about this documentary. Michelle could have made Los Angeles work. I know a few Angelinos who made it work, one of whom was my first boyfriend who grew up in South Central. Henry and I didn’t work out, but I’ll never forget when he got his first dog, and made it work with the dog as guide dog partners in travel. The golden retriever had helped Henry navigate the roads and byways of L.A., but then again, would it work for Michelle? Her life is different, but she might have wanted a guide dog sometime in her life. I would say if she can handle the dog being occasionally sick, cleaning and grooming, and of course travel, Michelle might look into it. I personally don’t want a dog right now, only as a pet, and then only when I get my own property so the dog can be a dog. Of course, I’d train the dog to bring in the mail and do things dogs do best, but a guide dog or pet dog would be too much scooping up waste unless you’re my buddy Melissa who bought a special toileting harness and poo bags for her dog, problem solved. I would follow her example, but then I had a buddy who lost his dog, and she died young because of cancer. Poor Jilly was a great dog, but now she’s fetching balls in a field of wildflowers, endless fields of flowers called Heaven. She’ll join another two friends who had dogs go there too.

Losing a dog isn’t the same as losing a cane. Michelle does mention the low expectations of a mobility TVI, but what she didn’t mention was the guide dog scenario. Dogs and people can potentially have a strong bond with each other. Cats can do the same thing, and Michelle did have a cat of her own with her mom, it was shown right in clear black and white.

Overall, I felt energized watching Michelle’s documentary, and I felt she made the right choices after the Los Angeles trip after all, even though she gave up on acting. I want to sing, and a song has planted itself somewhere in the garden, now I have to water it and make it bloom. For me and Leyla, songs are what keeps us alive. For Michelle, it’s anime, cats, and Hello Kitty. I don’t think it’s wrong to like Hello Kitty or dolls or anything. Dolls are cool, and maybe I’ll customize a doll from Pleasant Company, it’ll be blind and hold a cane, but I’ll use said doll to teach a potential child a lesson about blindness and how blindness does not define me. I do not keep company with people who don’t support me, only those who do. I have a few friends, but again, because of SSI, I can’t finance a wedding or do anything without church or family help.

I’m only talking big ticket stuff here.

Anyhow, I’m happy to say that Helen Keller’s quote about the “best and most beautiful things” is correct. It must be seen by the heart, not the eyes. And I hope you all see this also.

Beth

Disney Princess Mania: What’s This All About?

Dear Readers,
Ever since I was young, I loved the idea of a princess. However, I learned in girl scouting that Disney has ultimately made girls more vulnerable to gender related biases thanks in partial part to how all the princesses were portrayed.
For instance, Snow White is, well you could only guess, white skin and raven colored hair. Cinderella was blonde and beautiful but mistreated by a wicked stepmother and marriage was her only escape from wanton cruelty by her family. Ariel the mermaid’s ending fate, spoiler alert, is not the Greek or original Hans Christian Andersen one where the girl must either kill the prince or become a child of the air. She gets exactly what she wants after killing a witch with her power of beauty alone. Well, her prince slays the witch, but the Disney adaptation of the story is profoundly sensationalized. And Ariel is not black, she’s pale like the rest of them, and has an overbearing father for a dad.
Belle was a French maiden and yes, was white once again. But has Disney created diverse enough female leads?
Mulan was by far the most badass character Disney managed to create. Though not technically a princess because she was a peasant girl by imperial class, Mulan did have some truth to her story of how she killed Huns, though Disney left out the part about her serving for twelve whole years in the army. Legends of the Hidden Temple did a better job of telling her story than Disney did. However, all other princess figures were pale, delicate, and expected to marry a prince, including Princess Jasmine, the only Arabic/Middle Eastern princess there was in the lineup. Aladdin was not a prince by any stretch of the imagination, and he was truly the main character. Jasmine was a badass because she defied Jafar, the evil vizier who wanted her for his own pleasure’s sake. Ah, the gruesome dictates of men!
So what about black and Native princesses? Pocahontas was an historic figure in real life, but married John Rolfe, changed her name to Rebecca Rolfe, and died at age 22 after having had her son. Rebecca was a Powhatan princess, but again Disney did not represent her well. The merchandise sold under the Pocahontas name and label contained one with a plastic Meko doll supposedly to braid her hair. My own bare hands could braid hair better than that. Fashion dolls of Pocahontas also showed her with buckskin clothing on, typical stereotypes of Native women of the times, but boy Disney messed it up this time because the Virginia Powhatan clan of the Algonquins married their daughters off at twelve, or sometimes younger, to chieftains like the warrior the father wanted his daughter to marry. Sadly, Pocahontas’ story does not end well for her people, the Algonquin tribe having been wiped out by European settlement and conquest. Disney does not show mercy to this strong, and yes a badass, native woman who had many hopes and dreams, but European Christianization left her role in the home only.
So what about their recent interpretation of the Princess and the Frog? Okay, toss in a black woman to play the part of Tiana, then toss in an evil white girl who wants a prince so bad she’ll mess Tiana’s life up, then turn both Tiana and the prince into frogs, and you get a story. Add some bayou buddies, like an alligator, a firefly, and some more frogs! Did we need these guys?
The Original Grim fairy tale of the Frog Prince shows us not a woman who wants to open a restaurant, messes with a voodoo practitioner, and gets a surprise, but shows us a delicate princess who lost a ball in the well. Ugh! Disney, when will you learn? There are wonderful ways you could have told actual stories of African princesses, Simba and Nala’s story left out here, but Africans had highly advanced kingdoms where women were highly respected. But Tiana was strong, but being faced with Charlotte was not how the plot should go. Tiana should’ve lost her ball in the water, Frog should have retrieved it. You went and added all kinds of frivolity to a story about promises! Robin Williams did a better job of interpreting the prince than this.
Wait till Disney tries to mess with Rumpelstilskiin. Rumpel certainly doesn’t need Disney’s help in determining what got wrong and what got right. There was a movie done of Rumpel, but I prefer him in Shreck or the original Grim book. Hey, here’s one. The little guy adopts a baby girl, spoiler alert here as well, in an alternative version of the story. But Disney, Moanna? As if we need any more princesses in our castle, Moanna emphasizes the Polynesians. Why is she a Hawaiian princess? What about a Maori princess? You left out the Japanese and the African princess stories should have more substance. No slaes, no drudge maidens, what about a few more badass girls to inspire and move our girls to be brave warrior queens? We don’t need delicate pale damsels in distress. Princess Leia should be welcomed with open arms.
Disney has some other great things to ponder. However, the choice of girls as princess and the way they portray a good princess is questionable. I’m not giving my future daughters princess only dolls. They’re going to be great girls, learn about good morals yes, but they will break the glass ceiling, be great leaders, and receive praise for their work.
Thank you for taking the time to read. Please leave a respectful comment and I will respond accordingly if you have any good things to say about what I’ve written.
Beth