Friday, April 29, 2005

Now it seems even Fairy Tales can be bad for you.

Last Saturday, the Grauniad printed an article about findings that some women who were influenced by Fairy Tales such as Cinderella were more likely to stay in abusive relationships, which led to a fair few debates on TV shows and so, as to whether or not these findings had any truth in them, and even asking if they should be banned.

The psychotherapist who wrote the paper, Susan Darker-Smith, argued that the women with the ‘Cinderella complex’ put up with serial abuse because they believed they could change their partner with patience, compassion and love.

Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t that what The Bible preaches?

So if Cinderella goes, then ergo, bye bye Bible.

Point being, that it’s not what anybody reads, but how they’re influenced by it. Does everybody who reads Catcher in the Rye want to shoot celebrities? As Alex Harvey sang ‘There’s no such thing as a dirty book, it’s just the way you read it’.

Ms. Darker-Smith also cited Rapunzel as a flawed character for a role model as ‘she remained locked in a high tower until rescued by a knight on a white horse, who broke the door down’. The question, said Ms Darker-Smith, is why she did not break the door down herself.

I asked a male friend for his opinion on that comment and he replied ‘Maybe the hinges were the wrong way round. Sometimes a door can be difficult to break without help’. (I’m thinking of Firemen now for some reason, but I digress)

When I read Rapunzel, I wondered why she didn’t make a ladder out of her hair if it was that long. It certainly didn’t make me want to wait around for the Handsome Prince, but then again I preferred reading Pippi Longstocking.

Anyway, this ‘Fairy Tales are bad for Women’ bit has been going on for a long time now. Back in the early 90’s, Cynthia Heimel wrote ‘Fairy Tale Poison’ which I totally agree with, but I still don’t believe Cinderella and Co. should be banned. There’s nothing wrong with a girl sometimes wishing that she was pretty and a handsome prince would come along and ‘rescue her’ as long as she knows how to look after herself in the first instance. We all want to love and be loved, but learning the difference between what’s real and what’s fantasy helps. Maybe a big ‘reality check list’ should be included in the footnotes and possibly a discussion after reading the stories as to how different the outcome of Rapunzel would have been if she’d carried a screwdriver around with her would benefit, but don’t ban the stories, please!

Also, if Ms. Darker-Smiths findings are true, does it mean that there are men around wishing that they had a castle and a horse and are just waiting to find the princess of their dreams to be happy ever after with? So far, I haven’t heard anybody talking about the influence that Fairy Tales might have on boys at all, but the princes in the stories all seem to be fairly decent and all they want to do is lead a happy life away from the Evil Stepmothers and Tyrannical Kings who were giving the princesses all the grief in the first place.

What’s wrong with that? Can Fairy Tales have a positive influence?

When I was very little I wanted to be the Sleeping Beauty. I now have my own castle which is surrounded by thorns and brambles, I feel I could sleep for a hundred years and I’m fed up with pricks.

Anybody out there got a white horse?

PS, I always carry a screwdriver too.