As the mother of two sons, I’m all for baby boys. But I’m having a moment of feminist horror over Tina Brown’s smug approval of Kate Middleton for having “once again” done “the perfect thing” by giving birth to a boy. “She does the traditional thing, and she gives us a prince. She gives a king,” Brown, Daily Beast and Newsweek editor, said on Morning Joe on Tuesday, echoing what CNN commentator Victoria Arbiter said Monday.
The necessary corollary: Having a girl would have been the wrong thing. If the royal baby were female, her family would be more than a tad disappointed. “I mean, let's face it, the queen will be thrilled,” Brown went on. “She and the Duke of Edinburgh, much as they would have said they would have been fine with a girl first-born, they really did want a boy, and they got one."
Isn’t it a bit cheeky of Brown to speak for the queen? And Brown’s boy-favoring is irritatingly off message for a woman whose own famed professional acumen and strength of personality have made her a force in publishing for decades.
Nor am I ready to give her a pass based on some retro royalty exception to the basic principle that babies should be equally welcome, whatever their gender. The British don’t even treat princes better than princesses any more! In 2011, the royal succession rules changed so that the first-born child of Prince William and Middleton (the Duchess of Cambridge) would be the heir to the throne, no matter which gender.
I’m not sure why Brown is stuck in the past on this one. Maybe 87-year-old Queen Elizabeth II, exemplar of a successful female monarch for 61 years, can disabuse Brown of her musty and narrow notion of the “traditional thing.”