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The female protagonist in most fairy tales is a damsel in distress. Do we really want these to be role models for our daughters? And sons?
The showcasing of damsels in distress that exists in fairy tales is so out-dated and just plain wrong in my opinion. The damsel is portrayed in distress and is helpless until a dashing and strong-willed prince comes along to rescue her from the miserable life. In most fairy tales we are also introduced to nasty witches and villain stepmothers.
Meet Snow White, the fair maiden who takes a bite from an apple and apparently goes in deep slumber. But then a prince appears and is enchanted by her beauty and kisses her and voila the spell is broken. We have Sleeping Beauty who also needed to be kissed by a prince for her happily ever after life else she would be lying in bed forever-alone. Then there is Cinderella who needed a prince to marry her so she could break free from the chains of her evil stepmother and stepsisters.
Why are the mothers and sometimes fathers of the leading girls in fairy tales missing? Why does a child aged 1-6 years need to know about who or what stepmoms are? Why are the girls always suffering in these stories? And why is it that it is always the girl’s physical beauty alone that makes her attractive to the prince thus leading to the long awaited rescue mission? And pray tell me what the witch’s problem is? With all the magical powers the witch has, why does she not take a mouse, change it to a child and eat it instead of capturing Hansel and Gretel?
Remember that girlfriend or friends you might have had in school or college who was always love struck? She would always be on the lookout for the boy of her dreams who would perhaps come on a horse and sweep her off her feet. Check with her, for I feel she was exposed to too many fairytales in her childhood. How does one expect a girl child to read all of this and believe that she can grow to empower herself? As for boys reading these stories, do we really want our boys to have reasons for superiority complex? I think not.
Also, I fear that these stories can be very dark and fairly violent. Just because they have happily ever afters does not qualify them for the category of sensible stories for little kids.
It is time to take these fairy tales and put a modern spin on them. We want Cinderella to pursue engineering at MIT and if that is drastic then let her be an interior designer or a writer. Let there be more to her than just her beauty. Please, let there be a boy in the story that gets charmed by her ability to either design software or by her presentation skills. Maybe she meets her so called prince at a business meeting or university.
Or else these classics shall get dumped in the attic for today’s parents wish to empower their girl child. Parents do not want to project the image of damsel in distress to their girls. There is a world beyond the kitchen and beyond physical beauty and our girls have the smarts to conquer that world. After all, look at their mothers!
Published here earlier.
Image source: YouTube