Prince: The slipper fits!
Cindy: Well of course it fits… it’s my shoe
Prince: We can get married now!
Prince: We must leave at once! We need to announce our engagement to the whole Kingdom!
Cindy: You’re f* crazy!
Prince: What do you mean?
Cindy: What do I mean?
Prince: Yes, what do you mean? (*When you nod your head yes, but you wanna say no*).
Cindy: If you’re going to throw Bieber philosophy at me, you’ve got another thing coming.
Prince: Cindy, this temper of yours… it’s unbecoming! Tut tut.
Cindy: Oh I’m sorry that having an evil stepmother doesn’t have me sprouting rainbows out of my – !
Prince: Look, you’re my one love, my one heart, my one life for sure, I’m gonna tell you one time, girl I love you, I love yaaa, I LAV YAA.
Cindy: Get out.
…. Or should’ve gone down something like that. Seriously, what is up with the gender stereotyping and dodgy morality in fairytales, and the unequivocal expectation of Princes that any female character will naturally be head over heels for them and instantly want to tie the knot? Recently I have been mystified with the deeper questions that fairytales address, especially since I have started to read them as bedtime stories to my niece. Cinderella is one of the tales I find most illogical and at odds with my philosophy. It is by far my least favourite of all fairytales. I, for one, cannot understand why Cinderella, considering what she had been through i.e. entrapment and the life of domestic enslavement in her stepmother’s household, would leave at the first instant to the entrappings of another: that of fulfilling the duties of a wife and Princess in a new household with historical baggage unknown to her. Surely someone who had endured such struggle and injustice would be a little bit smarter and want their freedom first?
Not only that, of all the fairytales, Cinderella spent the least time with her Prince Charming. The Prince only met her once at a ball -> they had one dance -> and he totally liked her because she was pretty. Shallow as f*. It wasn’t as though they had a semblance of a conversation, apart from Cinderella running away and shouting over her shoulder that she had a curfew. Out of all the fairytales, Cinderella also deserves the crown for having the most depressingly woeful personality; describing her personality akin to wallpaper would be an insult to wallpaper. At least in The Little Mermaid, Pocahontas or Beauty and the Beast, the female protagonists spent some quality time with their male counterparts/love interest and thus there was some logical basis to a relationship forming. The female protagonists also appeared to have some conviction in what they believed in e.g. Ariel rebelling against her father’s wishes to pursue her Prince or Belle befriending and teaching the Beast the ways of the world. The female protagonists had some sort of agency; Cinderella on the other hand, completely lacks this.
Cinderella plays the typical damsel-in-distress waiting to be saved, whether it’s by the Prince or by a random tubby lady with a wand proclaiming to be her Fairy Godmother. I mean what kind of fairy godmother is she anyway? Why make an appearance now for one night and never appear before or after that moment in time? Sounds pretty sucky to me. The story of Cinderella espouses the notion that those who struggle will find miraculous relief at the hands of some handsome saviour and positions women in the place of the subject (dare I say victim) in waiting – ALWAYS WAITING – for something to happen to them or someone to rescue them, rather than making things happen for themselves. This bothers me by far the most and it’s not an idea that I want to pass onto my impressionable young niece.
There’s also the fact that male characters in fairytales are always in positions of power and as presumptuous as ever – I mean, of course every female character in the story wants to be their wifey – an alternative ambition is simply preposterous and unthinkable. As Helen Mirren so effortlessly put it, I’m not going to bother calling myself a feminist because “it’s just fucking obvious”. I look forward to reading a mainstream fairytale where a Prince is waiting helplessly in his ivory tower for a Princess to rescue him so that he can begin his life and find his place in the world. Wait, who wants to read a crummy story like that?
Side note: I wanted to write this blog post because reading fairytales from a young age greatly influenced my views on love, relationships, good and bad, the role of women and the nature of society. Growing up and reading or seeing reproductions of these stories over and over again, especially Cinderella, which reworks its tale for every decade and generation in film, TV, magazines, stories etc., has a profound impact on the psyche, whether one realises this or not – and especially on young girls. I guess what I am trying to say is that fairytales, although they appear simple on the surface, deal with greater concepts that pervade throughout our lives and society, and they can have a lasting skewed impression on the expectations we have of ourselves and of others. Gender stereotypes prevail for a reason, and I can’t help but feel that fairytales have made a hefty contribution to this.