News flash: The overwhelming majority of British women do not envy Kate Middleton, the fiancée of Prince William.
The fact that 86 percent of British women polled by YouGov are not reduced to teary masses of jealous spite over a man most of them have never met is not at all surprising. The fact that someone spent the time and money to conduct such a ludicrous survey is startling and deeply insulting.
Is this what pollsters (and the people who pay them) believe matters to women? Or is it just that they would prefer to believe that men compete for professional and financial success, artistic excellence, and athletic distinction while women confine their competition among themselves over men? Has anyone done a poll on whether British men are envious of Prince William for getting engaged to the educated, lovely, and elegant Kate Middleton? [Check out a roundup of this month's best political cartoons.]
Of course, this theme is hardly limited to royalty or to the British. Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton are described as "role models" for women. (Girls, sure. But adult women don’t need role models, and when John McCain was running for president, he wasn’t held up as a "role model" for men.) Women are presumed to be terribly insecure for not resembling fashion models, but does anyone assume men are crying into their pillows each night because they don’t have the physique or athletic ability of sports stars featured on the covers of magazines directed at men?
Women liked Princess Diana, that’s true. But it’s not because we all want to be princesses. It’s because Diana, despite her royal standing, had in-law problems, an eating disorder, suffered from depression, had a husband who cheated on her, and became a single mother. Basically, she was screwed up like the rest of us and managed to emerge from it as a confident woman taking on admirable social and charitable causes. And now her son is getting married. Good for him and Middleton; they seem to be in love. But it’s love that’s the prize. Not the prince.