A child’s mother would read him or her stories before sleep; a grandfather would enchant his grandchild with wondrous stories about the prince who fought dragons or the girl who married a prince. Usually fairytales are told to children to teach them basic principles, to tell the right from the wrong, good from evil, but that’s not the only thing we’re teaching them.
Initially, fairytales were made for adults and were a form of adult entertainment. But later they were altered, simplified and then converted to stories for children. Now if one looks closely at these so-called children’s stories, one would find an absurd depiction of reality.
The most common thing is the level of stereotyping: The beautiful and mesmerising heroine who is passive and powerless while her hero, who is always a prince or some rich man, is strong and dominant. The villains in these fairytales are always ugly or weird, which projects the perception that looks can label a person good or evil. None of the heroines are average looking, they are always the most beautiful or the most attractive, projecting that being beautiful is the most essential thing in the world for a girl. Women are often depicted as really weak, unable to stand up for themselves and waiting for their prince to come and rescue them.
Zobia Hakim, by email