One more, and then I’ll put the “princess” theme to rest for a while.
Watching fairy tale movies with the little kids for whom they are made gets one thinking. They deal extensively with things beyond the experience of children: falling in love, battles to the death, marriage. Since I’m on a Disney kick, think of that beautiful scene in Sleeping Beauty where Prince Philip meets Princess Aurora in a forest. We know from experience what draws men and women together, and we can read that understanding into portrayals of love at first sight. How does a child understand it?
Foolish thought! The opposite would be closer to the truth, that the fairy tales of my childhood made it possible for me to one day understand sexual attraction.
Man never experiences even his own biological urges unmediated by understanding and imagination. I cannot imagine what hunger would be like to one who doesn’t know about food. Take the intentionality away, and all that would be left would be some inexplicable discomfort. By the time I reached the age of sexual maturity, my mind–and, more importantly, my imagination–had been made ready for it. I had just enough knowledge about marriage and babies, and I had an aesthetic intuition from all those images of how masculinity and femininity are drawn together. So the sexual urge came to me not as some new meaningless physiological trigger, but already humanized and mythologized. I knew it as the yearning for intimacy with a woman and experienced it as such. Without this preparation, the sex urge might be experienced as just some strange new sort of itch, which we can all agree would be monstrous and degrading. This is not to say that having a properly mythologized sex drive will keep one out of trouble–through my own grievous fault, mine led me into plenty of sin–but it is the start of a sensibility that can see the logic and beauty of chastity.
What must it be like for the coming generation, so many without both biological parents, growing up in a culture that has abolished the sexual archetypes and “heteronormativity” in the name of equality?