Gender stereotypes in children's fairy tales

Reply Thu 5 Nov, 2015 02:16 pm
Growing up, we all loved watching, reading, and hearing about fairy tales. These fairy tales always seemed perfect to me when I was young. For movies based around princesses, the princess goes through something tragic (generally parents or family dying), falls in love with a prince, and after overcoming another hardship and learning an important lesson, marries the prince and they live happily ever after. That is the world young children are exposed to. Could that scenario get any more stereotypical? The woman is dressed up in frills and bows and the man is perfect--handsome, strong, eloquent--everything the princess wanted. But it's so unrealistic. I have yet to see a movie or story that bridges those sexist and stereotypical views.

I need some other thoughts on this.
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Reply Thu 5 Nov, 2015 02:35 pm
You may want to look at the origins of many of the fairy tales you like and question why (and how) the stories were changed in recent years.

It's an interesting area of sociological studies ... and literary studies ... and linguistic studies ...


M. Atwood on Grimm/transformation

Disability, Disease and Deformities in the Grimms' Fairy Tales

Fairy Tales and Society: Illusion, Allusion, and Paradigm: Illusion, Allusion and Paradigm [

The Irresistible Fairy Tale: The Cultural and Social History of a Genre

If there is one genre that has captured the imagination of people in all walks of life throughout the world, it is the fairy tale. Yet we still have great difficulty understanding how it originated, evolved, and spread--or why so many people cannot resist its appeal, no matter how it changes or what form it takes. In this book, renowned fairy-tale expert Jack Zipes presents a provocative new theory about why fairy tales were created and retold--and why they became such an indelible and infinitely adaptable part of cultures around the world.

Drawing on cognitive science, evolutionary theory, anthropology, psychology, literary theory, and other fields, Zipes presents a nuanced argument about how fairy tales originated in ancient oral cultures, how they evolved through the rise of literary culture and print, and how, in our own time, they continue to change through their adaptation in an ever-growing variety of media. In making his case, Zipes considers a wide range of fascinating examples, including fairy tales told, collected, and written by women in the nineteenth century; Catherine Breillat's film adaptation of Perrault's "Bluebeard"; and contemporary fairy-tale drawings, paintings, sculptures, and photographs that critique canonical print versions.

While we may never be able to fully explain fairy tales, The Irresistible Fairy Tale provides a powerful theory of how and why they evolved--and why we still use them to make meaning of our lives.

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Reply Thu 5 Nov, 2015 02:36 pm
softie15 wrote:
I have yet to see <snip> story that bridges those sexist and stereotypical views.

read the originals

they're not so pretty/sexist/stereotyped
Reply Thu 5 Nov, 2015 02:49 pm
I have yet to see a movie or story that bridges those sexist and stereotypical views.

This is clearly wrong. You are starting with a 21st century narrative and then cherry picking the few examples that support your narrative while rejecting the hundreds of examples that refute it.

There is a question here. Are you willing to look at this from a balanced, objective view, or will you be sticking to your preconceived notions in spite of any evidence? (Because if you are not open to looking at this in an objective way, this exercise will be a waste of time.)

There are hundreds of traditional stories that refute these "sexist and stereotypical views".

1) Aladdin, Hercules and Ulysses are all examples of male character taking what you think is the "princess role". In Hercules you have a pretty powerful female character who is in charge.

2) Add Jack in the Beanstalk, Puss in boots.

3) In Hansel and Gretel it was Gretel who saved the day and Hansel who was the hapless victim.

4) In Rumpelstiltskin the female lead has both ability and saves the day.

5) In The Snow Queen it is a female friendship that saves the day.

6) Goldilocks is adventurous and is impinging on others.

I can go on and on... but if you look at this realistically... there are very few of the children's stories that fit into the 21st century stereotypical box you are trying to stuff them into.

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Reply Thu 5 Nov, 2015 03:02 pm
If you look for sexism in everything you are going to find it even where it doesn't exist.
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Reply Sat 5 Mar, 2016 04:19 am
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