If we look at some of the movies and TV shows we used to watch and love when we were kids, we would probably find a lot wrong with them, from a contemporary point of view.
Just recently, feminist writer, Scarlett Curtis, called Aladdin racist and suggested classic fairy tales should be given new, more feminist endings. We can hardly fault her, seeing as she isn’t wrong. Though fairy tales may be near and dear to our hearts, they don’t always send the best messages to young girls.
In a similar case, a mother has called for Sleeping Beauty to be banned from schools since it gives the young schoolchildren the wrong ideas of consent.
We all probably know the fairytale, or at least we know the gist of it. Princess falls into deep slumber, can only be awakened by a kiss. In swoops the heroic Prince with his lips at the ready and plants a kiss on the unconscious Princess’ mouth.
And if you view it this way, it does have the potential to raise your eyebrows…
Sarah Hall, 40, from Tyneside posted a snippet from one of her children’s books where the story of Sleeping Beauty is being told. “While we are seeing narratives like this in school,” she wrote. “We are never going to change ingrained attitudes to sexual behavior.”
She told Newcastle Chronicle that Sleeping Beauty promotes the message that it’s acceptable to kiss a woman while she is unconscious.
She says that it was the recent controversy revolving around sexual harassment in Hollywood was what inspired her to speak up:
In today’s society, it isn’t appropriate – my son is only six, he absorbs everything he sees, and it isn’t as if I can turn it into a constructive conversation.
She continues to say that she doesn’t think Sleeping Beauty books should completely stop being produced, but believes that they could be “a great resource for older children, you could have a conversation around it, you could talk about consent, and how the Princess might feel.”
“But I’m really concerned about it for younger children,” she continues. “Would really welcome a conversation about whether this is suitable material.”
She’s not the only parent concerned on the message fairy tales may be sending their kids. In fact, even Kristen Bell, who herself voiced a Disney Princess (Anna in Frozen), has spoken on how she makes sure to talk about the unconsented kiss in Snow White. Talking to Parents, the actress said she always asks her daughters “Don’t you think that it’s weird that the prince kisses Snow White without her permission? Because you can not kiss someone if they’re sleeping!” when she reads them Snow White.
Speaking on a Good Morning Britain debate panel, Scarlett Curtis suggested that fairytales were written in a different time, and when they’ve been adapted in Disney movies, they were changed to have a happy ending. If you remember, the classic fairy tales usually have pretty grim endings. Since fairy tales don’t have a sacred base text they can rely on and are constantly being “retold and retold and retold”, what’s stopping us from giving them more feminist endings?
What do you think? Should we make fairytales more contemporary, or are they good just as they are?