I warned you. Last week there was a clear warning about this fairy tale rant. So feel free to look away now…
Alright, you’re still with me. Let me assure you that I’m not some cranky old crone with a hate of all things magical and pretty. Because I’m all about the magic. I love fantasy and I love stories that have their basis set in fairy tales.
What I can’t stand is the depiction of women in traditional fairy tales, something I’ve only noticed after having a kid. Women are treated as disposable objects by the male characters and villains both male and female. Look, this isn’t a thinly veiled rant about feminism, well, kinda, because I can’t talk about fairy tales without mentioning the treatment of women. This is about the lessons passed down to my daughter from these fairy tales, to the point there I’m considering writing these classic tales with 2016 commentary.
I understand that when these books were written the treatment of women is a reflection of their times. So why should I get so worked up about it now? If I don’t like the messages then stop reading them to my kid, right? Or you might be thinking that I heard them when I was a kid and I’m a believer in equality, and lady these are just stories. Well you’d be right on all accounts. But this is my blog and I’ll write what I want to.
Some of the stories I read to her I’m now flat out paraphrasing. I also add little notes on the end like: “If a man threatens to kill you if you can’t spin straw into gold, then don’t marry him. Run far away!” Seriously, this king is obviously delusional if he believes that straw can be spun into gold in the first place. Really? How did you become king?
Here are some changes I’d make to the fairy tales in my daughter’s books:
Rumpelstiltskin – Like I said above – Don’t marry a king that threatens to kill you or one who is clearly delusional.
The Princess and the Pea – If the Prince is after a ‘real’ Princess, what kind of husband is he going to be? He obviously expects you to be Princess-ly at all times. God forbid you are un-princess-ly one day in your tracksuit pants, baggy stained t-shirt and frizzy hair, because you have cramps and want to kill anyone that looks at you because, you know PMS. Also, if you can feel a pea through 20 mattresses then that doesn’t make you a ‘real’ princess, it means you should get that checked out by a Doctor immediately.
Rapunzel – The Prince wants to marry Rapunzel as soon as he sees her (in the original it’s said that he sleeps with her first). I’m going to quote the Disney movie Frozen here
“Wait, you got engaged to someone you just met that day?” High five Kristoff! Also if he offers to bring you silk handkerchiefs so that you can fashion a hanky ladder and escape, it means that he likes you locked in the tower where he can come and have sex with you – otherwise why not just bring a ladder? You’re a Prince, I’m pretty sure you can afford one.
Cinderella – The Prince stalks her to put a shoe on her foot. Can’t he remember what she looks like? I mean you spent the entire night with her, she’s your dream woman! Were you drunk? The fact that she didn’t give you her name means that she just isn’t that into you. Let it go dude, she doesn’t owe you anything after one dance.
Snow White – In the original she wakes up on the Prince’s horse
on the way back to his castle. What was he going to do with the body of a ‘dead’ girl? Plus, he has to kiss her to wake her up, besides being creepy, why didn’t he just kiss her wherever he took her from? That screams ulterior motive to me.
Sleeping Beauty – She’s cursed asleep as in the modern day story. But in the original the king sees her sleeping, rapes her and 9 months later she wakes up with twins.
The moral of all of these stories is basically don’t be a woman. I’d like to mention that these stories are not complimentary to men, at all. This is another reason I hesitate to read her these verbatim. The behavior of men in most fairy tales is not the kind of behavior good men exhibit or the kind of treatment she should expect from her would be husband.
Most of the events that happen to these women, are due to decisions being made for them. They are passive spectators in their own lives. Usually because they are naive, or locked in a tower since birth.
Do I want my daughter to learn these lessons without my added comments? Or even if I simplify it more and take out the sex and abuse of the originals. Do I want her waiting for a Prince to come and rescue her and let her believe that life will just be happily ever after?
I don’t want her to sit in her ivory tower brushing her long hair? I want her to hack it off, and climb down herself.
Also does the Prince even want the task of rescuing anyone? These women seem to be really hard work. Surely there are maidens not locked in towers or cursed asleep by a witch?
Done. Next week will be back to the usual programming.