Fairy Tales in the News

I’ve been very irritated lately at the articles surfacing in the news and in the “blogosphere”.

A recent study looked at a number of female victims of domestic violence and discovered that most of them identified with passive female fairy tale heroines and believed that, like the fairy tale heroines, they could change their partners if they only loved them enough. The article, of course, implies that this has more to do with the images in the fairy tales than anything else and that perhaps it is dangerous to read fairy tales to girls. I *hate* when I read this kind of thing. It is so backwards. It isn’t the fairy tales’ fault that women delude themselves like that. If girls are read classic fairy tales (a variety of them, not just twenty versions of Cinderella), the picture they get from them should be much more healthy and well-rounded. I think that if women are getting the wrong ideas from fairy tales than it has more to do with our attitudes and thinking about fairy tales than it does with the stories themselves. Read Bettelheim if you need further arguements about that, he is much more qualified to discuss it and eloquent about the subject than I will ever be.

Fairy tales are not the problem and studies that say they are need to dig deeper. It’s more complicated – a lot more complicated.

This article reminded me of another article on fairy tales that also made me angry. This one has many of the same problems the domestic abuse study does, and made me just as angry when I first read it. It states that fairy tales mess up women’s value systems when it comes to physical appearance. It also misses the point.

Fairy tales are not bad. Read your kids fairy tales. Read the articles, but think about them as well. They are not looking at the big picture, just a little thing they can track. Lesson 1 in fourth grade science is that just because when “A” happens, so does “B” it does not mean that “B” is caused by “A”. These studies totally missed that day, it seems.

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