When my daughter was younger and she allowed “Kids’ Place Live” in the car, I would always turn up the volume when Jonathan Coulton’s “The Princess Who Saved Herself” or Robbie Schaefer’s “Fits Right In” came on because I wanted to raise a fierce daughter. And, while readers know there are times that I lament this intention, I think a powerful woman is the kind I want to raise—provided the process of parenting my little pistol doesn’t do me in, as I’ve written about before here,
I hope to stick around to enjoy — and hopefully not regret — the result. I insisted my son pay attention too as I want him to embrace and enjoy fierce women–his family is populated with ‘em, so he might as well join the party and eventually find an equal as a romantic partner.
In the song, the princess saves herself from a dragon who was bigger than a whale, forgives him once he apologizes, and turns down a prince who calls for a date. While I don’t expect my daughter to be threatened by dragons or courted by princes, I do want her to fight her own metaphorical dragons and not say ‘yes’ to the first jerk who comes courting.
When “Fits Right In” told its story of the new school girl mocked for her fashion choice, I would pull out the soapbox (conveniently, I stash them everywhere) and remind my daughter that she too has been the newbie in a situation and she is morally obligated to be gracious. Fierce + unwelcoming = bitch—and, as I’ve explained to her—I am not raising a bitch. The messages of our popular culture notwithstanding, being a strong, fierce woman does not mean you are a bitch (necessarily). These are not synonyms, despite how scary self-possessed women can be.
Granted, most of the dictionary definitions of the word fierce do not describe the daughter of anyone’s dreams: menacingly wild, savage, or hostile; violent in force or intensity; furiously eager or intense; [informal] extremely bad or severe. But if channeled properly, these definitions do describe the daughter I hope will use her privilege for good and not evil. I want her to be violent in her use of (metaphorical) force to speak up for those who don’t have a voice. To thank the universe intensely that she attends a school and lives within a community that wants her to learn, to speak her mind and to flourish. I want her to be wildly grateful—indirectly, of course at least for now—that she has parents who wanted her and still value her existence, and enough money so that she can take advantage of much of what the world has to offer. I want her to be gracious and generous with these gifts and the very special gift that I hope her existence is to the world.
I want her to be fierce in her possession of herself. I want her to be hostile –physically if need be—to anyone who threatens her person or her little brother. And I want him to do the same. I pray that my children will remain fiercely close and that they are furiously eager to celebrate each other’s victories and ease each other’s defeats.
Oh, Lord, please hear my fierce prayer… and get these gently fierce and respectful tykes the heck out of my hair and back in school so that I can complete thoughts more cogently and write better and longer posts.