Saturday, May 30, 2015

A Fairy Tale for You

Did you know that in the original versions of fairy tales some particularly nasty things happened? In Cinderella the wicked step-mother and the evil step-sisters got their eyes pecked out. The Little Mermaid traded her fins for legs...that caused her agonizing pain, and this was after she agreed to have her tongue chopped out. The Prince married someone else anyway and she melted into sea foam. Goldilocks is torn apart and eaten by the 3 Bears.  But Sleeping Beauty is the best of them all...........

Aurora is in the midst of her hundred year nap when the king sees her, gets aroused, and rapes her while she sleeps. Nine months later she gives birth to twins (STILL ASLEEP), and only wakes up when one of the children sucks the flax from her finger.  She is now the mother of two children and a rape victim. It gets even better. The King returns and she falls in love with him....even though he raped her. But... (because a rape isn't all we get folks!) he is actually married to someone else while he is parading around the kingdom raping sleeping women and she doesn't want to let him go!!??!!  She tries to have the twins killed, cooked and fed to the King and tries to burn the Princess at the stake.  

Of course, everyone refers to todays stories as being Disney-ified and that is probably true to a certain extent. But I'm also pretty sure they don't carry all the blame. No one today wants to tell these stories to kids. No one wants to tell these stories to girls and I only say that because it's mostly girls watching/reading these stories. People today like the stories of a damsel in distress, but not too much distress, maybe just some "distress-lite". A Prince to the rescue, happily ever after, true love, blah, blah, blah. Even with Frozen, which was a HUGE leap forward as far as the "You can't marry someone you just met" and the Prince turning out to be a cad and the fact that true loves first kiss was between the sisters, didn't remedy one central problem though. One message that runs through all of todays stories.

Be Nice.  

I know, it doesn't sound like a problem. How about this...."Don't be a Bitch". Sounds worse, but really it's just the opposite of being nice. If you aren't "nice" you are a Bitch, and in todays world that's bad.  

Fairy tales ALWAYS portray the heroine, or damsel, as Nice.The Evil Queen or Wicked Step-Mother is always a Bitch, and she gets hers in the end. Because no one feels sorry for a Bitch. So even when the Prince is a cad, the Princess is still Nice.  

And so the message gets sent. It may, perhaps, be the most damaging and insidious of all the messages. This idea that you must Be Nice. That if you are Not Nice, then that is very, very bad. No one is born to be nice all the time. Just check in with any two year old on the block and you will see just how Not Nice they can be. Responding with automatic niceness is a learned behavior, but it's one we only really teach to girls. Boys are told that Nice Guys Finish Last. An interesting dynamic is then created. You have half the population trained to Be Nice all the time, and the other half being told they should never be nice. So guess who the girls are left feeling like they need to Be Nice to? The boys, of course. I don't think we could have done a better job setting up a society where domestic violence is rampant if we 
were trying.  

I think the original fairy tales were on to something. They were stories of magic and Princes and Princesses, witches, good and evil, to be sure. But in the end, there were consequences, something that seems to be sorely lacking in the updated versions. They were nasty, ugly consequences too. The kind of stuff that would seriously make you think twice about going down that road at all. And that Happily Ever After crap? Who did that ever, ever, ever, ever work for???? Not the dead Little Mermaid, that's for sure. They worked as cautionary tales, not stories where everyone gets everything they ever wanted and wished for by just Being Nice, and that was a good thing.  

So, here is my fairy tale for you, complete with pictures.  Its called

 "This Is The Way Shit Really Happens......"

Once upon a time there was a little girl who wanted to be a princess, mermaid, Zorro. Zorro was a darling little girl who was raised to Be Nice. When all else fails, even if you are mad, you should still Be Nice. As a matter of fact, this is how ALL the girls in the kingdom where Zorro lived were raised, so everywhere she went, the message was reinforced. One day, when Zorro had grown to ripe old age of 19 she meet a loser, asshat, jerk  guy. He was 29.  Zorro thought maybe he was a Prince. She was certain that IF he was a Prince, it was in disguise, as he appeared to be a Hobbit, but still, having heard all the stories she knew that she would have to persevere and someday true love might prevail and reveal his greatness as a person. Her step-mother, Ursula the Sea Hag, and her father, the Carpenter, did not believe there was disguise involved, but Zorro didn't want to know that. As the Hobbit and Zorro continued, it was discovered that he liked to lie  tell fanciful stories. They were always stories about the majestic dragons he had slain and other tales of his all around greatness. Ursula and the Carpenter were very relieved when Zorro decided that the Hobbit was really just a Hobbit and she didn't want to put up with his shit  continue with this particular relationship. So Zorro found a Cowboy to dance with and the Hobbit found someone else too. But...cue the evil music) over the course of 14 months, Zorro and the Hobbit still spoke once in a while. The Hobbit wanted to "be friends". The Hobbit wanted to be "more than friends". Zorro did not. The Hobbit did not take this development well. He invited Zorro over to his home after telling her a gigantic lie  excited story about how he was moving to a new, far away kingdom called ColoRado. Zorro figured that the story was probably a huge fucking lie   untrue, but she went anyway...because according to Zorro "I HAD NO REASON TO NOT BE NICE"  

As we pause for intermission, let me inform the readers that in real life? The real life you are living right now? YOU DON'T NEED A REASON.

Now, back to our story...

When Zorro appeared at the Hobbit's home, she was led in and given a gift by the Hobbit which turned out to be an empty envelope. Then, the Hobbit attacked Zorro. With his weapons. But Zorro was brave and smart and she managed to escape and save herself. The Hobbit had harmed her greatly. He harmed her body, but mostly he harmed her heart.  Zorro is no longer the "Gay Blade" she once was. Now Zorro is sad and scared a lot. Zorro doesn't feel safe in her kingdom anymore. This brings great sorrow to The Carpenter and The Sea Hag.  

Eventually the Palace Guards found and arrested the Hobbit. There was a convening of Wise Ones in the Halls of Justice to decide what should be done with him. They decided that Expediency is easier than Justice, so they offered the Hobbit a Bargain. And what a bargain it was!  If the Hobbit admitted that he did something wrong, not ALL the things, just one, they would let him go. Now, he would have to check in with The Minders every once in a while, but he would be essentially free to live his life.

This upset Zorro even more. This made Zorro even more frightened.

However, since Ursula the Sea Hag is one of the evil villains, she did not feel the need to Be Nice about this.  

With much help from many of her Knowledgeable Friends, she left her secret lair and went to the Halls of Justice herself to tell the Wisest One in charge of all Final Decisions that this was wrong. The Wisest One listened closely to Ursula's stories of how the Hobbit had harmed others in the past and how he was a Danger to the Kingdom. Because she was the wisest of them all, she decided that the Hobbit must be thrown in the dungeon. However, because of the Bargaining of Others, she could only throw him down there for 9 months.

9 Friggin' Months

So when the 9 months are up, Ursula and the Carpenter will once again gather Zorro and Flotsam and Jetsam, their other children, close to them and wait and see what happens. It is a shitty way to live.

The End.

Why is this the end? Because, Boys and Girls, domestic violence isn't taken nearly as seriously in America as it should be. (NFL anyone??) For all our complaining about how other places and cultures demean and degrade women, we are far from perfect. Better?  Yes. But there is no glory in being the best of the worst. We are not what we should be for a place that preaches equality and justice for ALL its people. If he had attacked another man, out on the streets, having a record of prior prison time for Attempted Manslaughter, and was charged with 3 counts of Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon and one of Kidnapping, 9 months would never happen  9 years would be more like it. But all they see is a "he said/she said" and no matter how many times women are beaten and hurt in domestic violence situations, they always seem to think that the "she said" is probably just a lie. Even after He admits it's not.

So, here is what I have on my hands now. A 14 year old daughter who prefers Jurassic Park, River Monsters and Planet Earth to princesses and has a mouth on her like nobody's business.  Yet...I am hesitant to overly correct her. I don't want her to think she HAS to be nice. To anyone. Ever. Being nice is a choice, the same as being rude is a choice, but they aren't the ONLY choices. It isn't an either/or situation. There are lots of stopping spots in between. You can always be polite without being nice, just like you can be firm without being rude. You can be calm, quiet, distant, friendly, pleasant, happy, enjoyable...but NICE carries a different meaning to women in this world. NICE tells you to paste a smile on your face, shut up and put up with whatever is coming at you. So I don't want to tell her to Be Nice. Especially to someone who may not deserve it.

Therefore, if I am nice to you, know that it is because I want to be. I have made a conscious decision to be nice to you. If I'm not, don't take it personally because it isn't about you. It isn't something you are OWED and it isn't something I'm required to provide.  

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