If you and me have ever sat down for a chat, odds are you've heard this argument in some form or another. It always comes up and never fails to stir angry thoughts in my head. Why did it come up now? Because every time I go into a toy store to buy my little nieces a present, I am bombarded with fairy tale princess pillow covers, balloons, cups, dresses and barbies. And I know that if I got any of them, I will score points with the girls. And that always bothered me.
Fairy tales don't just suck, they are stupid, criminally superficial and probably evil. And this isn't simply a feminist argument about them making little girls wish and wait for their prince charming, although there is much to be said about that. The problem is more profound: fairy tales emphasize the importance of wealth, status and beauty and send a clear message that one cannot be happy without them (I would argue that happiness cannot be attained with or without them, but that's for another, more morbid post).
In many fairy tales, like Sleeping Beauty and Snow White, the female protagonist meets her prince charming just once before the kiss of life, after which marriage is inevitable (I'm actually going with the Disney interpretation. In the original story, they never even meet before the kiss). But because he's a prince and she's a pretty girl, the union is bound to be successful. Isn't it obvious? Cinderella only gets one dance with the unnamed prince (Has anyone ever noticed that prince charming never has a name? Why aren't guys ever insulted by that?). Rapunzel's case is a little less extreme, for she spends time with her prince and gets to know him - but it's only because she has no other choice. He's the only male who knows where she is.
Of course the worst one by far is Rumplestiltskin, in which the prince actually threatens to kill the girl if she doesn't spin hay into gold. When she does, he marries her! And that's supposed to be a happy ending! Luckily though this specific fairy tale did not find its way into recent literature and was never adapted by Disney.
Now I know that modern fairy tales have been trying to shed these conservative notions. A great example is Shrek, which is an awesome parody of fairy tales that actually plays out as one. But I can still find remnants in some of the stories I'm reading or movies I'm watching. Disney's Beauty and the Beast, in essence, has a commendable moral: Look beyond appearances and you will find love. But let's face it, her name was "Beauty" and the beast turned out to be prince charming after all. I felt uneasy seeing him transform at the end, because she was ready to accept him as he was. Instead, she was "rewarded" for being capable of loving such an ugly creature.
So I say let's close the curtains on this antiquated part of our history, because even though I am not insulted by all these stories as a woman, I am insulted as an intelligent human being, who would take a beast over a prince any day. And you know what, I've never heard of a single real life prince who is in the least bit charming. Have you?