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Are Fairy Tales Sexist: With the Rise of the Me Too Movement Is It Time to Say No to Bedtime Stories?

Updated on December 9, 2019
Gabriel Wilson profile image

I enjoy writing horror stories and reading horror stories. Nothing like a scary movie with a big cushion to hide behind lol.

Are you reading fairy stories to your kids?
Are you reading fairy stories to your kids? | Source

I have read some rather alarming articles recently regarding children's fairy tale stories and where they fit into our every growing feminist world. Don't get me wrong: feminism is by all accounts a good thing however even too much of a good thing can be bad for you. Celebs are very keen to speak out about sexist behaviour in support of the Me Too movement which has grown extremely complexed. I wonder if perhaps there has been some manner of confusion that has slowly clouded rational thinking. I am struggling to see a fairy tale in the same light as sexual harassment and I really don't see any positive in connecting them. Sexual harassment and sexual assault are very serious allegations. To experience either in any way is horrendous and damaging. I think an induction of clarity regarding fairy tales is required and rather urgently, Celebs should not be using such conversation to highlight their own profiles, it's wrong.

I read fairy tales growing up and loved the very idea of them and still do. My six year old loves stories and has even wrote a few herself. I see a young mind being stimulated by words as I believe was mine. Do I honestly think that she will expect all little pigs can talk as well as grunt and live in houses. No! of course she doesn't think that. Or a wolf who would really dress up as granny? Absolutely not! And what about Goldilocks: can bears make porridge? I guess not without honey.

Keira Knightly an English actress who achieved international fame in 2003 after playing Elizabeth Swan in Privates of the Caribbean said she has banned her daughter from watching Cinderella. She believes this story sends out the wrong message.

''Because she waits around for a rich guy to rescue her. Don't. Rescue yourself, obviously.'' She says.

And while she likes the songs from The Little Mermaid she has a problem that the mermaid gave up her voice for a man.

''Hello!'' she quips.

And there was me thinking Cinderella was a slave to her stepsisters and stepmother with only the mice for company. And it was in fact her fairy godmother that saved the day by magically making a beautiful dress and shoes and a carriage with footmen so she could go to the ball. I'm pretty sure Cinderella was making a bee line for the prince, thusly saving herself obviously. A little like an American lady who is now a Duchess married to a prince and jetting all over the world. And let us not forget, Cinderella kept her glass slipper. She wasn't getting rid of that. Clever Cinders knew exactly what she was doing.

The story behind the little mermaid was her desire for a human soul. She saves the prince from drowning when a storm hits his boat. She rescues him and carries the prince safely to the shore. Giving up her voice was about love. Love at first sight! It does happen. Why would anyone think that love at first sight is anything but romantic. Look at all the celebs that fall in love at first sight and get married. They do it all the time, again and again and again.

Snow White kissed without her permission!

Kristen Bell the voice of Princess Anna in Disney's animated film Frozen expresses her concern for Snow White and the messages that the movie send out to her young girls. Being kissed while asleep and without her consent, Ms Bell believes Snow White should have been asked first. Obviously Kristen didn't get the memo that Snow White was in fact in a deadly sleep, a coma of sorts having been poisoned by her wicked stepmother. The same stepmother that had sent her into the forest with her huntsman: ordering him to kill her and cut out her heart.

Indeed the original Snow White or at least the one Disney later made into a movie was based on a German fairy tale published by the Grimm brothers in the 19th century. The wicked stepmother tries to kill Snow White three times finally succeeding in putting her into a deathly slumber with the bite from a rosey red apple. I doubt very much that Snow White would be happy to stay in a deadly slumber and would be grateful for anyone to kiss her and wake her. I know I would.

Perhaps we should take these stories as they are meant to be. Fairy tales to create wonder and laughter with our children. To encourage the enjoyment of words thus reading. To open their minds and introduce them to the world of stories and books and education and conversation. It is interesting and maybe a little odd that neither of these women thought it important to discuss the evil and darkness in these stories. With all the sensational bullying in the world here you have young girls being targeted by none other than their stepmothers, stepsisters and/or witches and yet that seems ok, that is not up for discussion. Attempted murder by your step-mum it seems is not a worthy subject. And kindness too in the form of godmothers, dwarfs and even princes is a little too bland perhaps for discussion. What message does that send out to all our daughters?

On a very serious note, men and woman should respect each other in every way. Undoubtedly there has been a history of disturbing behaviour in certain environments and I certainly don't condone sexist actions. I do believe that we have a responsibility to ourselves and others in how we behave and there is no denying that elements of behaviour in the acting, singing and modelling world are questionable. There is of course the huge influence of money, drink and drugs in these worlds. Expectations and exploitation going hand in hand with desperation. The desire for fame is a slippery slope and not easily achieved by all who go there.

The Me Too movement has the power to be a positive tool against sexual harassment and sexual assault if used correctly. Speaking out about fairy tales sending the wrong message is not a positive affect for me. It has had the opposite affect. I want my daughter to know what it's like to enjoy a first kiss (when she's old enough-maybe 18). To fall a little crazy in love. I want her to have good friendships with boys and girls but mostly with us her parents. We are teaching her that we love her and she can tell us anything and that she will always come first. We are teaching her to respect herself and others, to be independent and later we will teach more things that go hand in hand with her childhood, teen-hood and adulthood.

I will continue to read fairy tales because a world without the magic of talking animals, scary witches that never win and fairy godmothers that can make your dreams come true would be a sad world for me and my little girl. We will enjoy all the wonder of fairy doors, princes and princesses who fall in love and mermaids who want to be human. And when she dons her red super-cape and tells me Tony Stark is her idol as she fishes out another Iron Man movie to watch on a wet Sunday afternoon: I will smile because I know I have the joy of Cinderella to look forward to: a story of kindness and love, a love that conquers evil and a kindness that allowed it.

Do you think fairy tales are sexist?

Would you ban your kids from watching fairy tale movies?

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© 2018 Gabriel Wilson


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