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Fairy Tales like Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty have women as passive characters? YES!
When we teach children about the stories where a girl is a victim and is always rescued by a boy and without a boy, she is helpless and hopeless then we are teaching them the concept of sexism, patriarchy, and inequality. Some will say these stories are just for entertainment but we all know that children have a stronger grasp on things than anyone else, so to tell them in an indirect way that if you’re a boy, you’re supposed to be the stronger one, you have to be the “man” and solve problems and help girls because without you a girl will always be helpless, it’s is like serving them with bad virtues indirectly with fairytales as a platter. Similarly, through these fairytales, girls get the idea that they will have to rely on a prince charming to come up and save them every time they are in danger and the fact that they are weak to save themselves.
There is no doubt that traditional fairy tales have elements of sexism. At the time they were written, women were supposed to be inferior to men. A common trope from fairy tales is the evil stepmother like in “Cinderella” and “Snow White”. It indicates that women are a threat to one another and will not support each other. It also suggests that a girl is a victim of the cruelty of her stepmother, tarnishing the relationship that a child and a stepmother share. The female character is often painted as a victim who lives an uneventful life alone depending on some miracle to happen that could save her or waiting for a prince to solve her problems and then be rescued by him and then marry him, and live happily ever after. These fairy tales also bring unrealistic beauty standards for girls. It is a fact that the female character is portrayed as perfect, extremely beautiful with no flaws. Through this, girls get insecure about themselves and try to run after the fictional beauty of the character. It also implies that women who are not fair or perfect in every way and unmarried are worthless, which is an outdated idea for modern times.
Fairy tales are supposed to teach children good values, the lesson of good over evil and so on. If it contains messages that indirectly uphold sexism, patriarchy and inequality instead of actually empowering girls then they should be amended. Otherwise, they have no use to society anymore. We need tales that empower girls, show equality of all genders and smash social taboos. We don’t need to have fairy tales that indirectly preach immorality.