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Friday, April 22, 2005

Fairy tales linked to violent relationships

So, apparently a British student of psychotherapy has written a paper linking women who grew up with fairy tales like Cinderella to violent relationships later in life. The article doesn't go into much detail about her theories except to say that she postulates that girls raised on traditional fairy tales with submissive female characters identify with those characters and believe that if they love their partner enough, they can change his behavior -- even violent behavior.

I'm not sure what I think about that. Yes, obviously, when taken on the surface, stories like Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, and even (especially?) the original version of The Little Mermaid do not provide exactly stellar role models for young girls, but are they really to blame for women who find themselves trapped in violent relationships? She claims that "Girls who have listened to such stories as children tend to become more submissive in their future relationships."

Now, let's think about this for a minute. I was raised on Disney princesses as much as the next little girl. I had a bookshelf full of fairy tales -- both the original versions and the Disney-fied versions, I played with Barbie dolls, I dressed up as a princess for Halloween. And yet, I wouldn't put up with a man who hit me for a single second. What would this woman have to say about that? Besides which, where do you find a significant portion of the population who didn't grow up hearing those sorts of fairy tales in one incarnation or another. I mean, seriously: if you asked random people on any given street corner if they'd ever heard the story of Cinderella, how many of them would tell you no? How on earth could she quantify a higher instance of women brought up with fairy tales in abusive relationships?

Also, the man in that picture is tiny. He's a midget. Either that, or Cinderella is enormous.

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