Monday, April 25, 2005

Frogs Don't Turn into Princes, After All

Yahoo News (AFP):

LONDON (AFP) - Young girls who enjoy classic romantic fairy tales like "Cinderella" and "Beauty and the Beast" are at greater risk of becoming victims of violent relationships in later life, a British researcher says.

A study of both parents of primary school children and women who have been involved in domestic abuse claims than those who grew up reading fairy tales are likely to be more submissive as adults.

Susan Darker-Smith, a graduate student who wrote the academic paper, said she found many abuse victims identified with characters in famous children's literature and claimed the stories provide "templates" of dominated women.

[...] "They believe if their love is strong enough they can change their partner's behaviour," Darker-Smith said. "Girls who have listened to such stories as children tend to become more submissive in their future relationships."

I always suspected there was something unwholesome about the way Cinderella's mind worked. Of course, it's not like we're really allowed to say that Fairy Tales warp little girl's minds but it strikes me as common sense that if you use a submissive princess as your role model, you're going to end up in a heap of hurt as an adult. Nothing ever ends happily ever after.

I'm currently reading a fairy tale that pretty much explicitly says this, The Princess Bride. William Goldman lays it out plain and simple: life isn't fair. Things don't end happily, or neatly. They don't really end, either.

Fifteen minutes after they are reunited, Westley and Buttercup have an argument. Westley chides her for not being that bright, and she gets on his case for not being dead. They still love each other and as anyone who's seen the movie knows, they do ride off together at the end but not before having to overcome doubts, complications, promises made and broken, and realizing that perfection, while it sounds like a nice thing, is more trouble than it's worth. Princes aren't charming, they're selfish. Princesses aren't beautiful, they're vapid. Pirates on the other hand, understand real inner beauty and appreciate the value of true love.

(Link via Jessa Crispin at Bookslut)

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