User:Sog1970/Fairy Tales: A feminist analysis
Fairy tales are the traditional folk tales of Northern Europe and have been helping to form the minds of children for centuries. But are they harmless entertainment? I say no! Sistas, these so called Fairytales are the very root of our male-dominated culture, perpetuating out-dated gender-roles and subjugating women to little more than faceless mothers or beautiful damsels too bolnde to save themselves. And, worst of all, they're most frequently told to children by women, thereby making us responsible for our own enslavement. If we just penetrate the mask of childish innocence to reveal the misogeny beneath these stories we will do the world such a favour as it has rarely been given. I say, the evil platitudes of Hans Christian Anderson must be banished forever! Rise up sisters and join me as I tear down the gingerbread house of dishonesty and send those Grimm brothers back to the depths of Hell from whence they surely came.
In the last chapetr we saw how Little Red Riding-hood's journey through the dark forest represented the passage of a young girl on the verge of becoming a woman, her hood symbolising her impending menstruation. We discussed how keen she was to see her wise Grandmother to learn how to control her own fertility and so avoid becoming a mere baby-machine. But along the way she is waylaid by a lascivious "wolf" eager to taste her pie. We have seen before how our culture's obsession with youth and beauty forces poor Snow-white to flee from a step-mother driven insane starving herself to maintain the anorexic figure required by men. And how did this story teach us to survive? By selling our bodies for disgusting group orgies with multiple dwarves. Is this really how we wish our daughters to behave.
But Jack and the Beanstalk is a story of heroism. Surely it is a heart-warming tale of young boy making good in a hostile world. But look deeper, Sistas!
Case Study 1: Jack and the Beanstalk
Jack and the beanstalk, the tale of a simple boy who overcomes poverty through his own enterprise. What could be more wholesome? But look just a little deeper into this enchanting story and the iron-fist of male-repression is barely concealed by the glove of folksy charm.
Let us first of all consider the female cast in this tale of horror. The nameless Giant's wife is so fearful of her own husband that she dare not admit a stranger to her own home and, when tricked into doing so, is so fearful his discovery that she hides the boy in an oven! What are we to make of this? Such paranoia is clear evidence of physical and emotional abuse. Indeed, the giant in this tale embodies male aggression, his outlandish size a clear sign to all impressionable young females - challenge the men in your life at your peril.
Jack's mother, it seems, is not even worthy of a name beyond that bestowed on her through the privilege of giving birth to a man-child and is a sadly oppressed woman. Just why is she forced to live alone with her mentally-challenged son? We are led to believe that she has been prematurely widowed but there no mention of her husband. Even in her penniless despair she does not cry out at the injustice God has perpetrated in taking away her beloved. What can we read into this? Surely she is no widow. It is obvious that, in a typically shallow and selfish male act, she has been abandoned by the man she loved as punishment for rearing a (male) retard. Doubtless Jack's father has found himself a younger, blonder replacement who's life he can began to crush out of her anew. Either way, Jack's mother must don widow's weeds or suffer the unwanted attentions of the village's predatory male population.
And so to Jack, "be he ever so simple". Or is he? It seems more likely that he is just another feckless male. As callous as his father has been in abandoning his responsibilities, he could not quite disappear with the house and livestock in tow. Jack has been left a home with sufficient land attached to graze at least one cow and room enough to grow a beanstalk that can reach as high as the clouds. Why has Jack not even attempted to create a market-garden when a mere six raised beds could provide most of their needs and still leave a surplus to sell at market? Because, like all men, he is content to live paracitically on his mother like some overgrown fetus.
And yet, when their poverty descends to desperation, Jack's mother still trusts him to sell their only remaining asset, the family cow. Why? Retarded or simply feckless, this is clearly a risky idea and reflects her terror at being caught outside her own home where she can be accused of witchcraft by neighbours and suspicious (male) clergy before being burned at the stake as another victim of Medieval masculine refusal to accept a strong independent woman.
Sistas, let us consider the background to this “harmless tale of country folk.” Even the most cursory inspection shows us that this is a horror story; another tale of male aggression used to scare young girls into their place and to teach boys their “rightful” dominant role.
Jack, we are told, is a “plain and simple boy” who lives alone with his mother in a run-down cottage somewhere in England. For plain and simple I think we may safely read “indolent and rendered imbecilic by adolescent testosterone surge”. As for his long-suffering mother, notice that she has no name. indeed, this poor wretched drudge has no existence outside of being the mother of this feckless wastrel. And what of Jack’s father? Where is he? There is no suggestion that Jack’s mother has been widowed and the male-centred morals of the day would have seen her burned at the stake for being an heroic single-parent. She has clearly been abandoned by her vile husband; left to cope with their retarded off-spring while he has disappeared, doubtless in search of a younger, blonder and yet more compliant replacement. The swine!
And just what care has this faithless “phallocrat” taken to provide for his family? He appears to have left them little more than the homespun clothes they stand-in and the squalid slum he doubtless had difficulty selling out beneath them. Their only asset is a cow – just another nameless female on who Jack depends.
The oppressed mothers
A wiser man than Jack (if such a thing exists) would have taken stock of his situation and taken steps to improve his lot. Even the smallest of vegetable patches around the cottage could have sustained them and, fertilised by the milk-cow could have provided a useful surplus for market. This would have provided enough money to ease his poor mother’s worries and to buy milk, allowing the poor cow her natural right to become a mother. The calf, if male, could have been slaughtered and made into a more useful veal-pie. Or, if blessed with udders, could have become the start of a herd – a sorority of sistas.
But, no. Jack merely milks his cow dry, squeezing the last drops of femininity from this poor, enslaved bovine and denying her the gift of Motherhood bestowed upon us all by the Goddess. And, when she can no longer be milked, he does not thank her for her efforts. He merely makes plans to sell her – perpetuating the un-natural Y-chromosome oppression of females. He takes her to market but, typically, cannot even summon the energy to get there. Instead, he exchanges the sustainer of his youth for “Three magic beans”. Doubtless he was hoping they would get him high. Bastard!
Castles in the Air
When his despairing mother finally confronts Jack with his own stupidity, he hurls the “magic beans” through the window – symbolically spreading his seed in the wasteful way familiar to all members of the Cockocracy. The following day he wakes to a towering erection that simply rapes the sky. Jack mounts this vegetative morning wood and ascends as though to heaven – a metaphor for homoerotic encounters if ever there was one.
After a long arduous effort Jack typically penetrates the clouds without their consent. He discovers a new world pregnant with possibility and wastes no time finding a new nameless female to exploit. This time it is the poor, down-beaten Giant’s wife. Despite her obvious fear of her brutish husband, Jack tricks this trusting drudge into allowing him access to the castle – yet another forced entry on the charge-sheet of this apprentice rapist. Both the giantess and Jack panic on hearing her husband approach.
Fe, fi, fo, fum
I smell the blood of an Englishman
Be he alive or be he dead
I’ll grind his bones to make my bread.
he chants, showing both the unthinking racism and violence of intent that we might expect from this body-building non-entity, as well as displaying a dismaying ignorance of basic cookery skills. No doubt his long suffereing wife makes the bread in this castle.
Meanwhile, Jack is hiding inside the giantess's oven. A dangerous hiding place, one might think. Or perhaps a spineless return to the womb in the face of a more impressive specimin of masculinity. Either way, the giantess is forced to lie to protect the interloper and Jack rewards her by stealing his Gold - the finest gift of our mother Earth. The giantess is left to face the consequences.
And yet, within weeks the gold is gone. How could an innocent country person like Jack's mother waste so much in so little time? She couldn't, of course. But Jack most certainly could and I think we must assume that he threw it all away on fast ox-carts and loose damsels. Once again he rent boy mounts the mighty stalk in search of a fortune.
Once again he ignores the protests of the giantess and relies upon her good nature to protect him from her husband's wrath. He steals a goose that lays golden eggs - the ultimate representation of wimmin-kind. Here, in this unfortunate female, is the answer to a wastrel's prayers. For the investment of a few handfuls of grain each day Jack will receive a regular fortune. Does Jack breed a whole herd of similarly productive ladies? He does not because he would rather steal his way to financial stability. Once more he straddles the monstrous STALK.
This time Jack takes the Golden Harp. Not only has he laid his hands on the gifts of the sacred Earth mother and the very epitome of female productivity, this time he wants our very soul - represented by this musical marvel. But the Harp, in one of the first recorded cases of Stockholm Syndrome is loyal to only one master. She raises the alarm and Jack is forced to flee. Of course, he escapes. And in an act deep in male symbolism, chops down the older male's manhood. Jack and his mother live happy ever after, we are told - doubtless because to ditch his aged mother would require this murderous thief to iron his own smock.