Final - My P Le WG211 JP2011 Womens Power in Traditional...

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My P Le WG211 – JP2011 Women’s Power in Traditional and Contemporary Fairy Tales Women's talk has been regarded as frightening and dangerous since even before the Church taught that Eve's words tempted Adam and led to the fall. St Paul wrote that women should be silent, and warned against their idle gossip. The talk of women was seductive and wicked. Yet throughout history, fairy tales have been women's stories, passed down orally by the mothers and grandmothers. When the tales began to be a literary form, the number and output of female authors vastly exceeds that of the males. Fairy tales and their relatives – myth and folklore, have always been tied in with women's wisdom and power. Some scholars might suggest that fairy tales are a means to sustain the power of patriarchy as fairy tales imply that women could not gain power and female ambition for power equates evil and wickedness. As Fisher and Silber demonstrate in the following passage, women’s quest for power ultimately results in vanity: For ambitious women in fairy tales, coercive ruses to impose their own wishes ultimately prove futile as acts of empowerment. Women are not allowed to achieve real and lasting power. Instead, the stepmother’s ill-fated reign serves as a cautionary message about what happens to women who dare to imagine having power over others. Possessing no respectable status in the patriarchal kingdom, the stepmother can only assert influence with lies and disguises that soon implicate her as wicked. But power derived from falsehood is false power, and deceit consistently results in the liar’s own demise. (76)
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It is partially true that the majority of traditional fairy tales support a patriarchal government. Fairy tales are used to sustain common cultural customs that maintain the role of women as subordinate to men. This is illustrated in the qualities that female characters in fairy tales demonstrate. Good women in stories are to be silent, passive, without ambition, beautiful, fertile, and eager to marry. Fairy tales associate weakness, passiveness, and emotionality with the female sex. These attributed characteristics to the female gender allow for submissive convictions about women to be instilled in young children, so as to further a male-dominated society and government. However, I could see from another lens to the submissive role of women in traditional fairy tales. In a time of political censorship, where women had few rights, fairy tales were one way that they could make their opinions known. Fairy tales might not be the means to pass down the patriarchal beliefs but serve as media through which women implicitly criticize the societal structure. By the tales of themselves, the heroines comment on the double-standards of the times, arranged marriages, and the false glory of war. Still, it is unfortunate that groups of people such as women must suffer at the expense of continuing heritage. The roles of women are already changing in today’s culture. And our fairy tales are beginning to recognize the change in societal
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This note was uploaded on 10/27/2011 for the course ECON 125 taught by Professor Diannelabert during the Spring '11 term at Hamilton College.

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Final - My P Le WG211 JP2011 Womens Power in Traditional...

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