The concept of women’s emotional, financial and other dependency on men from The Cinderella Complex can be interpreted in different ways in today’s society and culture.
For example, in the Urban Dictionary, the following entry suggests a more modern take and how a younger generation might take the whole concept: “When a woman (often submissive and needy) spends all her time searching for her prince charming to come rescue her; brainwashed by rosy romantic images and ideals.”
This definition slightly touches on the dependency factor, but focuses more on another problem of unrealistic expectations and resulting disappointment. The dependency issue could come in because the woman is depending on an ideal man to come into her life and make her happy.
The Cinderella Complex, in Colette Dowling’s case, was mainly conflict with herself. “To have no confidence in my ability to make it in this world on my own, the new way and to be equally doubtful of my ability to succeed in woman’s old way, which is to seduce a man into being her patron and protector.”
Dowling also talked about her frustration over her dependence. "Women who yearned for independence but were frightened by what it might mean.” There is also “a psychological need to avoid independence, the wish to be saved." This relates back to the prince charming aspect.
Although this may not be officially recognized as a psychological condition, it is an interesting concept to keep in mind and could be an explanation for how some women feel.
On Colette Dowling’s Web site, she even said that she thinks the response to The Cinderella Complex caused her to pursue a career in psychotherapy. So, there might be more to this complex than meets the eye. She can even be found on Psychology Today’s directory of therapists.
Alice Eagly, a psychology professor at Northwestern University, said in an e-mail that society gives mixed messages about gender, but that dependency on men seems to be more traditional than being independent from men. “In an ideal marriage, husband and wife are mutually and equally dependent on one another,” Eagly said.
Mary Fraser, Ph.D., a part-time psychology instructor at De Anza College, said she thinks women are taught that men make decisions and have more power than women. “And then we’ve got the whole Disney thing, where Prince Charming will come and save the day,” Fraser said.
She said there is also a division between the smart and the pretty girl. “We can’t do both, evidently,” Fraser said. “And if you are both, then you’re universally hated by both men and women; women because they’re jealous of you, and men because they don’t know what to do with you.” She said that a woman “who is living up to her potential is often cast aside or becomes a social outcast.”
In an evolutionary aspect, women don’t want to have to become a social outcast.
Fraser said, “The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty are Used Against Women,” by Naomi Wolf, is more of a modern, updated take and continuation of The Cinderella Complex.