Sunday, April 3, 2011
Feminist Karen Rowe has a lot to say about the feminism in fairy tales. She believes that, "subconsciously woman may transfer from fairy tales into real life cultural norms which exalt passivity, dependency, and self-sacrifice as a female's cardinal virtues (342)." Although there are many valid points supporting her argument, people fail to look at the affects characters have on young boys.
I have a five year old cousin, whom at a recent family gathering was outfitted in all things Spiderman. He had a shirt on with the Spiderman mask, and shoes with Spiderman webs and was telling us all about his new Spiderman video games. Is there a difference in the effect Spiderman has on my boy cousin as opposed to the supposed effect the Disney fairytale Princesses have on his three year old sister.
As previously stated, Rowe thinks that young girls are subconsciously effected by the portrayal of women in fairy tales as passive and subordinate. She believes that young girls will then grow to think that is how women should act and be treated. I am not saying this is wrong by any means, it could definitely have a subconscious effect. But, dreaming to be a Princess is the same as dreaming to be a Superhero. Unless you are going to magically marry into the royal family, a woman will not become a Princess. At the same time, there is less of a chance for a man to become a Superhero, as Superheroes are not real.
So while many young girls are subconsciously being drawn into thinking women should be passive and subordinate, young boys are believing that they can be as great as the Superhero they admire. Both of these characters give young children a false sense of how real life is. But by the amount of criticisms towards Disney fairy tale Princesses, and the lack of criticism towards Marvel Comics and their Superheroes, does that mean it is okay to be given a false sense of reality if you are given a belief that is above your obtainable potential as opposed to far below.
I personally believe that characters such as Princesses and Superheroes shape the person you become and do not have such an effect as Rowe and others may think. Every situation and person a young child encounters has their own personal effect on the growth of the child. The person a child becomes will not be effected by the viewing of fairy tales alone.
Rowe, Karen. "Feminism and Fairy Tales." 1979. Folk and Fairy Tales. 4th ed. Buffalo: Broadview, 2009. 342-58. Print.