Wednesday, June 8

The Other Princesses

Quite a while ago, I found the website “Rejected Princesses” and fell in love with it. The princesses, noblewomen, queens, and normal women listed there are not the kind Disney would make a movie about, but each and everyone gets a wonderful ‘poster’ drawn by the owner of the site and a very well-written account of her background.

The list of ‘princesses’ includes historical characters like the Mirabal sisters or Elisabeth Bathory (who gets a fair treatment here, which is rare), mythical people like Iara (the Brazilian equivalent of the western mermaid or nymph) or Thákane (who proved a woman can slay a dragon even better than a man), and literary characters like Lolita or Beloved.
The history of the person (or a good, albeit short retelling of her tale) accompanies every poster, giving information on just why the woman in question deserves being called a rejected princess. Strong women from throughout history, often labelled mad or cruel by their male peers to put them back in their place, get a voice.
Their stories get told, be it that of the Russian woman who had killed 309 enemies (among them 33 enemy snipers) at the age of 25 or that of the researcher who found all the basics of DNA, but was never mentioned by her male co-researchers. Be it the female mathematician in Greece killed by Christians merely for being a woman of knowledge or the widow of a British tribe leader who raised an army and destroyed several Roman settlement after having been attacked and raped together with her two daughters by Roman soldiers. Be it the granddaughter of Genghis Khan who beat all her suitors and won herself over a thousand horses or the French opera singer and fencer who ignored the rules of society and even rightfully married another woman. Many of the stories show one thing: even an average, mild-mannered woman can become a dangerous adversary and display greatness when the time and the place demand it.
And even the legends, novels, and fairy tales show strong women who forge their own path instead of just waiting in their tower for their prince to come. Quite often, it seems, they even forge their part through the prince in question who, for reasons of his own, wants to keep the put. Other women show courage and wisdom beside their husband or lover, are excellent co-regents or cross the most deadly areas to be reunited with the person they love.

The princesses are very diverse in race, in age, in background. They come from all over the world, as this map shows. All of them have a very interesting story to tell and can and should inspire women today to realize there’s more to being a princess than sitting in a tower and waiting for your prince to arrive.

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