The Official Blog of Author Tristan Vick
Rebel Girls & Fairy Tales
I saw this video online and although I love the book they're promoting, I must strongly DISAGREE with their message about fairy tales.
I read my daughter the original fairy stories. You know, the original Cinderella, where the stepsisters cut off their own toes to cram their bleeding stubs into the tiny glass slippers.
And when she says "Ew!" and asks me, "Why would they do that daddy?"
I tell her the truth.
"They're freeloaders who want a free ride. Don't be like them."
"What about Cinderella, daddy?"
"She's the worst offender," I tell her. "She's a freeloader and she's beautiful, so she gets away with it. Don't be like her either."
That's how you get a rebel daughter.
I do like the book they're advertising at the end though.
But I disagree that reading fairy tale stories is unhealthy. Parents need to be smart enough to provide context.
I still think it's important to read the original fairy stories. They are morality tales for a reason.
Little Red Riding Hood or Rumplestilstkin all make just as much sense with a male protagonist. And so does Hansel and Gretel and many other fairy tales.
In Little Red, a woodsman ultimately saves her, true. But the lesson she learns is not to talk to strangers, and that's a good message for any child.
In Rumplestiltskin, the girl outsmarts the imp and wins the day. And in Hansel and Gretel, they don't learn anything except that adults can be extremely cruel, and even your own parents will sometimes try to kill you (especially the poor, destitute, and uneducated and all around crappy parents). If the witch doesn't succeed first.
That said, fairy tales aren't for everyone. They're violent, dark, and yes--often have strong patriarchal undertones and overtones. There's no escaping the antiquity in which these stories were first created. But they are some of the first folklore humans ever told to one another, which is of some historical relevance, if not culturally profound.
I think that to deprive children of such stories simply to tell them a story about how wonderful Beyonce is is, well, going to deprive the child of an otherwise amazing story by replacing it with the banal story of a woman who got rich shaking her booty.
Yeah, yeah, she can sing too, but people will likely remember her for her booty. So, pick your battles carefully, but maybe pick your heroes & heroines more carefully too.
That said, I have nothing against Beyonce. I listen to her with my daughter. She likes the fact that Beyonce cusses and uses strong language in her latest album. But Beyonce's life story is sort of like the princess stories these authors so decry. But I'm sure there are better stories int he book too. About real women heroes. And that's improtant to learn as well. But not at the expense of depriving a child of the wonder and magic of fairy tales.
At the end of the day, I say: read them both. After all, we want educated rebels, not pampered princesses, right?
Leave a Reply.
By day I am an educator and a cultural ambassador. By night I entertain notions of being a literary master. In reality I am just a family man and ordinary guy who works hard and loves writing just about as much as I love my family. Just about.