Fairy Tales Are Women’s Tales

28 May

Heyyyyy I have a post up on The Toast which is SUPER EXCITING for me because The Toast is pretty much my FAVOURITE THING EVER. ALL CAPS.

It’s about gender and fairytales, which are two things that I’m pretty stoked about. Also, unlike 100% of the posts on this blog, I actually bothered to edit it and I come off sounding pretty smart and not too ranty. I don’t even think there are any swear words. You should check it out!


A brief excerpt:

“The Grimms’ deletion of all things sexy from the second edition could be taken as a sort of Teutonic prudery, but when we look at it in context with some of the other alterations, there begins to emerge a pattern of marginalization and disempowerment of women. Not only did they remove any mention of sex, the majority of it both consensual and premarital, but all sorts of other details defining and limiting the female characters were added in. With each successive edition, the Wilhelm Grimm added in more and more adjectives describing what they thought was the perfect Christian woman; female characters were suddenly “dutiful,” “tender-hearted,” “god-fearing” and “contrite,” where once they had simply been “beautiful” or “young.” Wilhelm also began to alter the structure of the tales, introducing moral judgments and motivations that previously hadn’t been there. Traditionally, fairy tales had seen luck and chance count for more than hard work and obedience, but Wilhelm put a stop to that – instead the sweet, well-behaved, godly women were rewarded, and those who deviated from that mold were punished. Finally, Wilhelm added in all sorts of hints about the domestic activity he felt women should occupy themselves with – for example, in an early draft of Snow White, the dwarves only ask that she cook their meals in exchange for shelter, but by the time the first edition of his book was published, their demands included that she keep house for them, do the cooking, make the beds, wash, sew, knit and keep everything neat and clean.”


9 Responses to “Fairy Tales Are Women’s Tales”

  1. sammykur May 28, 2014 at 7:41 pm #

    I Think this is clearly your best work ever

  2. syrbal-labrys May 28, 2014 at 8:35 pm #

    Many of the stories the Grimm Brothers published were not “original” — in other words, they collected stories that had been around for a good while. I would want to take a closer look at what they had to alter to please publishers, myself. Jacob, in particular was a great collector of Teutonic stories and legends — generally still only available in mixtures of Latin, Old Saxon and such; and those tales have not been similarly stripped of content that would make the White Christ and his followers blanche with shock.

  3. Kristen Chapman Gibbons May 28, 2014 at 9:51 pm #

    Reblogged this on Big Blue Dot Y'all.

  4. Please Return to Owner May 28, 2014 at 10:09 pm #

    Wait, but if they had Snow White giving dwarfs head to live there wouldn’t that have been exploitation? Wtf’s a dwarf gotta do to get some fucking rent? Sounds to me like Snow White was just lazy. Here she is lost in a forest with someone trying to kill her, no money, no cell phone, and how do they know this stranger isn’t a serial killer? And now she wants to live their for a couple hours of cooking while they slave in the mines all day just to put a roof over her prissy little head? Fuck that, wash those dishes and do some laundry when you’re done with that. Or grab an ax and get to work woman.

  5. bookmole May 28, 2014 at 10:32 pm #

    That was wonderful! I had forgotten about Rapunzel (which I had to tell my dictionary was a real word!) I hope you don’t mind that I copied it so I could have it on my Kindle. MY kindle only. If you want me to, I’ll delete it. It’s just that web pages can die…

  6. smartypants196 May 28, 2014 at 10:40 pm #

    Reblogged this on My Blog.

  7. Kitt O'Malley May 29, 2014 at 8:33 pm #

    Congrats on getting your piece published. It is quite scholarly.


  1. Maleficent and Feminism [Spoliers] | Tangled Synthesis: Musings of a Geek Feminist - June 7, 2014

    […] I shouldn’t have been.  I was just reading an interesting article by The Belle Jar about how fairy tales are, at their core, women’s tales.  They were passed orally while […]

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