The old fairy stories are not known for their strong female roles. Off the top of my head, there seem to be four main types of women who constantly appear:
- The young, beautiful damsel who is good at heart, but doesn’t seem to have a mind of her own and often makes foolish mistakes…. usually because she is lovesick.
- The middle-aged wife who can’t stop nagging, and essentially exists to make her husband and children miserable.
- The old hag who turns every bad situation into a far worse one.
- The wonderful fairy-godmother sort, who is always magical because she is far too good and sensible to be a normal human woman.
And then there are the handsome knights, selfless and brave heroes, charging in to rescue the damsels, silence the nagging wives and destroy the evil hags.
But damsels can handle themselves if they ignore their self-doubt, nagging wives are usually only nagging because they’re not being heard, and as for old hags… they are our mothers, aunties and grandmothers, and deserve some care and respect, goddamit!
With International Women’s Day upon us again, and the female half of the planet rising up to be heard, we continue to correct the imbalance that has been perpetuated since before the time of fairytales. The last thing a damsel needs in this kind of fight is a knight in shining armour to sweep her off her pretty little feet. She needs a knight who will fight at her side to make the world a better, and more equal place for everyone.
Fancy a new kind of fairytale where the hero is a strong female? Well, I wrote one. Just for people like you 🙂
Cover Image: Joan of Arc in an illustration from a 1505 manuscript. (Wikimedia Commons)