fairy tales

Recent posts

Gender Roles in Brave

The Pixar film Brave is notable for many reasons: it’s Pixar’s first feature-length film with a female protagonist, it tackles the Disney legacy of passive and pretty princesses, and it grapples with gender roles in magical past not terribly unlike our reality (social hierarchies attempt to keep order while individuals compete for status and struggle with their relationships to the natural world and their duties). A ranking of Disney princesses from least to most feminist reveals that over the years, the princess crowd has grown slightly less obsequious and obnoxious… slightly. Brave shakes all that up by having a fearless archer for a princess… or does it? Continue Reading →

The Sexed-Up Fairy Tales Of The Past

With all the fairy tale retellings that are popular today, ranging from dark like Grimm and Snow White and the Huntsman to light-hearted like Mirror Mirror and Brave, now’s a great time to look at sex in fairy tales. As I discuss over at my personal blog, fairy tales have always been flexible in form and function. Since they tend to address humanity’s big questions – what is a family, what is the role of the individual in society, what is love – it makes sense that sex would figure in there somewhere. I’ve already written on sex in Little Red Riding Hood, so today I’ll talk about two beloved Grimms’ tales: Sleeping Beauty and Rapunzel. Both have a much sexier history than most people know. Continue Reading →

A Fairy Tale Film About Same Sex Marriage

The fairy tale is an art form flexible and abstract enough to be repurposed for just about anything. This is exactly what happened when Middle Tennessee State University professor Bob Pondillo filmed “The Miracles on Honey Bee Hill,” a short film using actors aged 8-9 years old and utilizing the tropes of fairy tales to explore the issue of same sex marriage. However, the film’s reception was controversial, as local Republican politicians were quick to decry the use of child actors as exploitative, despite the fact that the director took every precaution: letting the parents/guardians read the script, having them on the premises while the film was made, and signing releases. The main politician protesting the film has apparently not seen it. I wonder whether these people would be so quick to question the exploitative potential of, say, a pro-life protestor bringing children to a protest site. Continue Reading →

The Perfect Fairy Tale Kiss

As my colleague, fellow folklorist Linda J. Lee, discusses in her post on “True Love’s Kiss,” the kiss as awakening and  transformation motif in fairy tales has a long and less-known history. From early versions of “Sleeping Beauty” to “The Frog Prince,” fairy tale kisses are tied up with violence and sexuality in a way that would make a Disney heroine blush. This is yet another reminder that fairy tales were not originally intended for children, so their shift in audience has seen accompanying changes in content. Follow us on Twitter @mysexprofessor. Follow Jeana, the author of this post, @foxyfolklorist. Continue Reading →

Why Slutty Disney Princesses Aren’t Funny

This post about “If Disney Princesses Went to College” is, on the surface, kinda funny. Like, yeah, Belle (from Beauty and the Beast) would totally be the hot bookworm girl that all the engineering guys are drooling over. But then it gets strange. And strangely misogynist, and sex-negative, and slut-shamey. So apparently Ariel (from The Little Mermaid) is a slut because… Continue Reading →

Sex And Little Red Riding Hood

There is a movie called “Red Riding Hood” coming out in March of 2011 (trailer here), and it looks to be quite sexy. One blogger has already touched on some of the traditional aspects of the tale–visiting grandma’s house, the dangers of the forest–but I thought I would provide a folklorist’s view on how the tale has evolved over time, including its connections to sex and sexuality, so that readers can see the movie and evaluate how they feel about its departures from tradition. How old is the tale? Well, we don’t know, exactly. Part of the deal when you study folklore is that it’s frequently transmitted through oral tradition, or word-of-mouth tellings and retellings. Continue Reading →

Breasts In The Grimms’ Fairy Tales

As both a scholar of folklore and a scholar of gender and sexuality, I love to combine these two areas, which is what I’m doing in my dissertation right now. I’m researching gender and the body in European fairy tales, and since we’re devoting time to breasts this week on MSP, I thought I would discuss some of my current research that relates to female breasts. Continue Reading →

Like Cinderella, But With More Incest

Cinderella is one of the most popular fairy-tale heroines today, and yet she is far from the only pitiable servant to don a ball gown and win a prince. In European fairy tales from oral tradition, there’s a closely related story, one with a beautiful but lowly protagonist and ball gowns and a prince and … incest. This sister-tale to Cinderella starts not with a mother-figure who hates her daughter excessively, but with a father who loves his daughter excessively. He swears to his dying wife to marry someone only as beautiful as her, who turns out to be (you guessed it!) their daughter. She postpones having to marry her father by asking for magically beautiful dresses, and then disguises herself in an animal skin and runs away. Continue Reading →