Killing our Mothers: Our Daughters’ Fairytales

by allecto

As a child care worker I am interested in children’s media and am often increasingly horrified by what passes as children’s entertainment. After watching the latest Disney Princess movie, Tangled, it really got me thinking about the construction of female/female relationships in children’s movies and entertainment. From what I’ve seen this is a fairly easy to research issue as female characters are hard to find, blink and you’ll miss the 20 seconds of SEXXXAY fish in A Shark’s Tale, for example (yes, SEXXXAY fish in a movie for children).  The exception to the rule is of course the Disney Princess movies which are some of the only children’s films to feature females as central characters.

Having watched most of the Disney Princess movies more times than I would care to admit… there is a really disturbing common theme through most of them of mother/daughter conflict and ultimately matricide.

In Tangled, we see a young girl, Rapunzel, who is kidnapped while still a baby by an *evil* witch. The witch raises her as her own daughter, loving her (insert overprotective mother stereotypes here), teaching her about the dangers of men, etc. Rapunzel, is rescued from this evil witch by a dangerous man, Flynn Rider. Together Rapunzel and Flynn slaughter the Wicked Witch and her destruction, her love and her labour disappear into dust. The mother/daughter bond is necessarily severed so the heterosexual bond, and Flynn’s power as a man over Rapunzel, can be cemented.

In The Little Mermaid we meet motherless mermaid, Ariel, who loves her Daddy very much, but in a fit of rebellion turns to the sea witch Ursula for help in snagging another man she loves, Prince Eric. Again, Ursula is not Ariel’s biological mother, but she is a stepmother figure, a woman who has had some kind of significant relationship with Ariel’s father and who cares for her and aids her in her distress. Ursula’s influence over Ariel is depicted as evil and a little maniacal. Again Ariel enlists the help of her prince to bring about Ursula’s destruction. In a scene with very clear rapist and phallic imagery, Ursula is slaughtered by the splintered prow of a ship, which Prince Eric drives deeply and maliciously into her gut. The dismembering resolution of The Little Mermaid is Ariel rebonding with her ‘loving’ father and cementing her relationship with Eric by gaining legs and becoming penetrable.

In Snow White we have another evil stepmother, a vain and wicked Queen, who is envious of Snow White’s beauty and orders her stepdaughter’s death. Snow White escapes to the forest and is ‘protected’ by seven comical males who all love her very much. When the ‘wicked’ queen finds out Snow White is still alive, she tracks her down and poisons her with an apple. In revenge the seven little men destroy the Queen. And a prince comes along and wakes her from her poisoned sleep with a kiss.

In Aladdin, Pocahontas and Beauty and the Beast the female characters have no mothers, only doting fathers. Their unexplained miracle births remain unquestioned and unexamined. The mothers and hence the mother/daughter relationship and bond are completely erased and effectively obliterated. Pocahontas has a nice relationship with Grandmother Willow (a talking tree)… but no actual human female who has given birth to her or nurtures her ever appears.

In Cinderella, we not only have an ‘evil’ stepmother but ‘evil’ stepsisters too. Cinderella is more ambitious than the rest; not only going after the mother/daughter bond but also the sacred bond of sisterhood. The ‘ugly’ stepsisters, so described, are competing with Cinderella over the prince which the ‘wicked’ stepmother encourages. Although the ‘wicked’ stepmother is not destroyed… she is thwarted, and her ambitions for her daughters are the reason she is depicted as wicked.

In Mulan, despite the fact that the female character has a mother (and even a grandmother) who is represented in a mostly positive light, it is Mulan’s relationship with her father which is prioritised and centralised throughout the scenes which show her interacting with her family. The rest of the movie is dominated by male characters, Mulan is the only woman of note in the entire film, and it is her validation from men that she craves and risks her life for. The supposed point of Mulan is her standing up to male supremacist society by refusing to conform to the role of a perfect daughter and escaping gendered traditions by dressing as a boy and joining the army. But the movie effectively blames women (who can forget the ‘horrible’ woman in the matchmaker scene) for imposing oppressive traditions on each other, no mention is made of the fact that these traditions serve to enslave women to men.

Sleeping Beauty actually does have positive depictions of the mother/daughter relationship with Aurora being cared for by three good witches. However, this is kinda undermined by the fact that there is a fourth witch who is ‘evil’ and turns into a giant dragon which the Prince slays in order to ‘free’ the princess from Maleficent’s wickedness. In true rape culture style, the prince penetrates the woman/dragon with a large sword, sexualising her annihilation even further.

In the movie The Princess and the Frog, Tiana’s mother is present and nice and it is the father who is dead, which is a first for the Disney Princess genre. However, although the father is physically absent, he is depicted as spiritually and emotionally present to both the daughter and the mother. He is centralised, even posthumously, in his daughter’s narrative. Tiana’s quest to run a restaurant is living out her father’s dream. The mother, who is both alive and present, is decentralised by the father’s spiritual presence in the narrative!!! So despite the mother being alive and depicted in a positive light, she is still negated by being overshadowed by the father and the prince.

Mother/daughter relationships are depicted in wholly negative or negated ways within Disney Princess movies. As the main object for the Princess is to cement a relationship with a prince and in doing so negating herself, the mother must be destroyed or nonexisistent. If the mother is destroyed, it represents the slaughter of the daughter’s Background Self as she is taken in marriage by the prince. If the mother does not exist in the first place, the daughter is already a non-existent entity in waiting for a prince to come along and actualise her; she becomes substantial by becoming his. Ultimately the destruction of the mother and negating of the mother/daughter bond is a symbolic representation of the devaluing of women’s Background Selves. In erasing or destroying our Backgrounds, our maternal histories, they create a female who is not a person but a thing, an object for men, to be used and taken. She is represented as being formed and created by them.

And this is the message that is being internalised by our daughters as we subject them to the indoctrination inherent in Disney Princess movies (along with myriad of other destructive and woman-negating ideologies). The mother/daughter bond, a human relationship with the most potential for significance, the birthing of a female child from a female person, is also one that is targeted by males for elimination. The princessification of little girls is a deliberate strategy by males who are invested in their supremacy. Princesses do not need mothers but they do need a prince.

30 Comments to “Killing our Mothers: Our Daughters’ Fairytales”

  1. It is precisely as Mary Daly outlined in Gyn/Ecology – the destruction of Tiamat is played out over and over again.

  2. I love this, Allecto! So many great points about how female relationships are framed, how the heterosexual bond is often used to devalue/destroy our background connections with other women, and the constant craving/pursuit of male attention.

    The princessification of little girls is a deliberate strategy by males who are invested in their supremacy. Princesses do not need mothers but they do need a prince.

    Right on. Princess=in need of prince.

  3. A contrast to these are the books “Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West” and “Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister: A Novel.” Fascinating that these books were widely read, with “Wicked” having more than 1770 reviews on Amazon, and “Confessions” more than 300. These show the women as complex and with difficult lives, including loyalty as sisters. A man wrote these books and they are not free of misogyny, but they do quite well in challenging the stereotypes that we see in Disney. Although the mothers in these novels are not good supportive mothers, they are portrayed as women in very difficult circumstances doing the best they can, rather than somehow unaccountably evil by virtue of being women. They are not for kids, and even adults may find them challenging reading at times. I enjoyed reading them.

    Also, these stereotypes are so often ageist. Older women are either fairy godmothers/grandmothers or unmitigated evil. This appears intentional. Older women have often gotten a clue, and are no longer enamored of males. No longer princesses willing to kiss these toads. We can’t let those experienced women have the power. Then there’s the evil or ridiculous spinster (likely a Lesbian), or the ridiculous sisters who live together without men. They were never enamored in the first place, so no power to them, either. Make them look evil, ugly, ridiculous, or dim-witted.

    Then there’s the envy of pregnancy in Pinnochio. . .

  4. Another thought just hit me. Perhaps many of the M2Ts we are seeing are boys who internalized the princess messages in these movies when their older sisters were watching them on video. Seriously.

  5. Good article! This is such an important thing to name because one core problem with patriarchy is the lack of sisterhood. Patriarchy thrives because it manages to keep those sisterhood bonds broken. Without unity, without solidarity, women don’t have any power.

    Trying to deal with mother issues may be one of the most difficult things feminists have to do for themselves, but it’s absolutely vital because our mothers are our first female relationship. If that relationship was rocky then it colors our perceptions of women later in life and makes it really hard to be in solidarity with other women. It’s an incredibly tough situation because the patriarchy is working constantly to dismiss and discredit mothers. To make matters even more difficult, most of us were raised by human beings, rather than people who achieved that saintly image of motherhood. Some of us even had horrendous mothers. I’m not saying that feminists must expose themselves to toxic relationships, just that we need to examine these issues for ourselves, for our own healing.

  6. Thank you for this essay, Allecto. This analysis has such clarity. I have not fully looked at the matricidal subtext before. There are so many ways women are manipulated in literature to conform to patriarchal expectations. As a writer I am so aware of the pressure to write stories that have this subtext for adults as well as children. Literature (and movies) is a strong way of shaping thinking. Essays and non-fiction don’t have that emotional component and don’t use poetry to also grab the soul and make people listen and be changed. That is why I feel so strongly that we need visionary novels with the subtext that women are central and capable of heroism without martyrdom. I feel that we can’t move forward without a goal to look toward that has been immortalized in literature.

    In the 70s a number of such visions were introduced for almost the first time: Russ’ The Female Man, the Tiptree stories, Marge Piercy’s book Woman on the Edge of Time, and some of Ursula K. LeGuin’s work. These were all in the science fiction genre and therefore had limited audiences, but that genre also is more accepting of visionary work so it makes sense it would be a vanguard. Feminist science fiction has continued to develop, but where is the major mainstream novel, the equivalent of Franzen’s book Freedom, with women, not male characters? The answer I think is not only that external pressures such as publishers simply refusing such novels as “unpublishable” have prevented such work: there is a very strong internalization for women writers of such strictures. Women (and little girls) simply do not have enough great novels which feature them and give them a vision of themselves as independent beings yet. I am hoping before I die to see one, and I will do my damnedest to write one.

    It is said that there are very, very few plots. A plot has a conflict between good and evil and a goal the good person is striving for. We all know the plot of good man vs bad man in competition to mate with a woman, or to gain treasure or some other goal; but this plot, good man vs evil older woman to achieve the goal of mating, is just as ancient, as we see here. Since it is really rather hard to demonize older women against all evidence of their being harmful to others in general, the “mother” often is just disappeared as you say, Allecto, or dies conveniently of some disease or something.

    The plot that is missing in literature, even though it has full psychological truth and authority, is the plot of good woman vs bad man for the goal of betterment of women, in which the good woman wins. There are some out there for little girls. Teachers, librarians, and mothers can help by pointing out clearly these subtext “plots” and their positive or negative effects on little girls. Mothers will do better if they can just get the information that is in the post above. And here again, writing an academic article about it, or doing some scientific work on it, won’t get the message across as broadly as it will if it’s in a mass-market, popular, accessible novel. At least IMHO.

  7. Another thought just hit me. Perhaps many of the M2Ts we are seeing are boys who internalized the princess messages in these movies when their older sisters were watching them on video. Seriously.

    well that would explain the obsession with pink and sparkles. but seriously this is an interesting thought isnt it? and because little boys never have to worry about growing up into “evil” women, these messages arent problematic for *them* at all. same with all the rape imagery (like being kissed while you are asleep–hello!) little boys arent members of the rape class who know to fear men as the rapist class who feel entitled to female bodies (not male) and who impregnate and enslave women (and not men). i can actually see how this might play into the trans fetish: all the pink and sparkles with none of the pain. for girls its a little more complicated isnt it?

  8. i know, i know: trans isnt a “fetish.” and i have a bridge for sale!

  9. Yes, and the M2Ts do seem to internalize the hatred between women from what we have seen, including wanting to kill “evil” women off. The whole “catfight” thing, the competition of M2Ts with females appears to be a strong trans theme, like some of them seem obsessed with it. Maybe this is a part of the picture (added on to regular entitlement, etc). These assumption have seemed very weird and out of place to me. These are just male competition themes, both in the stories and in M2T constructs. I don’t see them the same in females.

  10. Yep, and feminism has its “evil stepmothers” too. You know, those outdated, 2nd wave feminists who need to be destroyed, villified, mocked, pigeonholed and stereotyped as richwhitefeminists in order to make room for the young, dick lovin’, postmodern, postgender feminists.

  11. tiptree, yeah: in patriarchy, there really is only one plot. in fact, in human relationships there has only ever been 2 plots: the original, which is real : the other who gives birth to her son/consort, and the constructed father-daughter relationship, which necessarily includes the killing of the goddess/mother figure first, to assert this unnatural relationship or gain the daugher’s loyalty.

    all cultures instill cultural values through storytelling: because Disney is a central media for instilling cultural expectations in youth in western patriarchy, all of the stories include this second narrative.

    smart post.

  12. uh, that should read “mother,” not other.

  13. Hi, Sonia,

    I actually feel a sort of awe thinking about these grand archetypal stories about woman/goddess which are still to be written. It gives me a shiver. The patriarchal story is threadbare and there is nothing fresh there, no new insight for anybody. Whatever talented woman writer finally gets her teeth into such a story and produces a great novel will be so lucky.

  14. Just to clarify, I don’t mean that the woman who produces the first great non-patriarchal novel will be “lucky”, exactly. She may be hounded to her death. She will be vilified and as with women writers in the past will be invisibilized. But this novel will be the one that cannot be denied, and its vision and characters will be ineradicable, and change our thinking. Or it will be a movie, I don’t know. A children’s tale, very likely (how sad that Rowling didn’t make Harry Potter a girl, as I’m sure she wanted to.) Maybe even a video game. The bottom line is that we will have a vision.

  15. alamodey – that’s a really important point! Women my age and younger are constantly told that “feminism did some good things in the ’70s but it’s not needed anymore and, really, it’s men who are the victims now because feminism has gone too far” – an important part of this approach is that we should shun and/or pity older women who were involved in feminism and reject them – they don’t know anything anymore apparently, and haven’t caught up with the real world and changed their ‘man-hating’ ways…. the whole concept of ‘sisterhood’ is also totally trashed and ridiculed

  16. This afternoon as I was shopping I was startled awake from the usual supermarket stupor by the male-female (of course) duet playing in the background. Because she was singing, “make me a woman, tonight” and he was singing “make you mine, tonight,” and soon ad nauseam. We continue to be taught in our adulthood that we are only actualized as a man’s possession, that our whole personhood hinges on being a man’s woman – only the Disney stories are transposed into insidious, background songs that seep in.

  17. Manuela, that song sounds yuck! Actually I think shitty sexist pop music is much harder to avoid than Disney movies. And there were a couple Disney movies with great female characters, like Lilo and Stitch and Ratatouille. Loved how Lilo and Stitch was all about celebrating non-traditional families, and the happy ending had nothing to do with falling in love with a dude. Yes, Lilo’s older sister Nani had a boyfriend but he was a minor character and they don’t end up getting married. The movie was really about Nani’s ultimately successful attempt to gain legal custody of Lilo and for Nani, Lilo and Stitch (the pet from outer space) to bond as a family. Plus Lilo is a very unconventional little girl!

  18. (how sad that Rowling didn’t make Harry Potter a girl, as I’m sure she wanted to.)

    I’ve never heard Jo Rowling say definitively whether she wanted Harry to be Harriet or not, but I do that she changed her name just so the books would be read by more boys and men — more accepted. She has no middle name, she used her mother’s name’s initial (I think) and thus became J.K. Even without a female lead, I thought the characters of Lily Potter, Hermione Granger, and McGonagall were great as feminist roles. Although I suppose it could be argued that Lily did marry James (someone who she initially loathed for being a general asshat to her best friend Snape, and also someone who essentially tried to force her into a date) and have his son, and then sacrifice her own life to save him. As for McGonagall, she was painted as that strict, prudish maternal old witch (literally!) and “good” for being such a proper lady. As for Hermione, she’s brilliant and that’s a “bad” trait in women, but it could be said that she had no female friends, just Harry and Ron mainly, and that although she did care a great deal about academics, she spent much (some?) of her time trying to conform to male beauty standards (like in Goblet, around the Yule Ball). And then there were the Death Eater women. Bellatrix was the worst, she was “evil” and “ugly” and she was painted in that light. She was also subservient/obsessed with pleasing Voldemort, who is essentially the ultimate patriarchal asshat. That considered, it’s just dawning on me how even more awesome ‘twould’ve been with a Harriet Potter.

    As for Cinderella, I haven’t been able to decide which is worse: Disney’s version or the original Grimm? Truthfully, I think it’s Disney. Not that I think children should be exposed to such violent imagery (in the original Grimm, the stepsisters cut off their heels and toes to fit) and I know that girls today are still taught that beauty is pain… but I just feel like maybe if they saw people mutilating themselves to become someone they aren’t for a man — before they’d really been indoctrinated — they’d realize how horrific it is. Plus, the original Cinderella DOES actually have her father in it, and he just sits around and watches the abuse his daughter takes. I know the women are punished in the end — but I don’t remember what happens to the father? :/ When I think about it, the entire premise of Cinderella is disturbing: Being tracked down by a man so he can marry you? How rape culture-y is THAT? Ew.

  19. I think I might have said something that got my earlier post moderated so I’ll try this again, anyway I was linked here by the feminist frequency facebook page and I want to say kudos on pointing alot of this out… I didn’t make the connection in Tangled since she does reconnect with her birth parents at the end of the film, though it would have been nice for her birth mother to be more then just an onscreen prescence… she doesn’t have any lines.

    But the trait of European folklore of slaying one’s parent is rather omni-present and of course carries over to Disney. Sadly the lack of strong mother figures even finds its way into feminist fantasy like Tamora Pierce’s Tortall Saga (In Song of the Lioness Alanna’s mother is dead before the saga begins, in The Immortals Daine’s mother is present but her father is a deity and the source of her powers)… This trope is rather pandemic.

    About the only really positive examples I can think of are the first season of Sailor Moon, where Usagi’s earth Mother is potrayed in a positive light and the mother from her past life is present in spirit and is the source of her powers. And the second most recent run on DC’s Supergirl comics which foccused both on her relationship with her birth mother, and a stand-in mother figure on earth (Lana Lang)… while her birth mother dies, her relationship with Lana is continually strengthened throughout the story, sadly it seems like DC might be jetesoning the Lana relationship in their reboot next month.

    This is something I’ll have to keep in mind for the two writing projects I’m working on, which both in part deal with Mother-daughter relationships (and in one case a daughter/godmother relationship).

  20. Wow! Thanks for all the comments.

    Picking up on the theme of the Dark mother, it is interesting that you point to the destruction of Tiamat, Susan. I agree with what many of you have pointed out the it is women’s power that is being depicted as fundamentally corrupt. Powerful women who are out of men’s control and all of these women are single, either their husbands have died or they are not married in the first place; they are dangerous, loose women. Women’s power must be tamed and controlled by men, depicted as formed and created by them and used only in their interests. Men fear the true power of women not under their control. They must destroy the idea of women’s freedom, represent it as wicked, evil and corrupt. Condition women into their passivity and subordination, through celebrating our manufactured weakness and prettiness.

    I love the connection that alamodey made about second wave feminists. They are represented as the ultimate evil mother. It is their idea of revolution, of women coming into our own power that is horrifically monstrous to men. It is the reason that they spend so much time and energy in creating these montrous images of women with power outside of the control of men, to make women afraid of our own liberation. But the cruelty of it doesn’t just end there, they teach us to love and embrace our confinment (marriage to a prince, the slaughter of our mothers).

  21. Excellent post, Allecto. The reading of it (and the comments) was punctuated with a lot of ‘YES!’es. As a bookseller this is an issue I deal with daily. It is a constant struggle to find even halfway decent books for girls. The first thing I look for is a girl charcter who’s mother is actually ALIVE. As you’ve pointed out, it’s not too common.

    Every time I read the Harry Potter books or see the films I have a fantasy running in my head about a babydyke called Harriet (or Angharad). Dumbledore & McGonagall are swapped and Hagrid is Hagrida etc etc. Don’t you think that the magical world would be matrifocal?

    I do a ‘radical rewrite’ in my head almost every time I read or watch something, actually. I wish there was something fictional I could truly enjoy all the way through wothout throwing the book across the room/pressing stop/yelling at the TV.

    I’m not usually a fan of animated films but I’m really looking forward to Brave, as the main character is a girl who seems like an awesome redhead. I hope her mother is alive but being Pixar/Disney she probably won’t be.

  22. ‘Killing mother’ and the destruction of the mother / mature woman architype appears across a variety of cultural narratives including adult feminist literature, of which Virginia Woolf’s ‘Killing the Angel in the House” is perhaps the best known example (the Bronte’s also feature tales of motherless girls who must contend with older ‘wicked’ women in order for the heroine to be transformed into an adult heterosexual woman / mother). Of course we could say that the fairytale narrative is a reversal of Woolf’s premise that in order to achieve selfhood, a woman (singular) must kill the good selfless angel that she has been socialised into becoming, rather than the fairytale narrative that tells us that the older mother figure must be killed (and certainly her influence must be destroyed) in order for the girl to be a ‘good’ wife and mother. Of course this is about transformation – from girlhood to womanhood, from girl child to sexual object and from the realm of a type of child freedom to a type of servitude (or feminine duty) that being to become a carer – both a sexual carer and carer of men to a carer of children and elderly or infirmed people. Here we have the body of ‘woman’ being rendered into a social body and a body that is the bedrock of social cohesion. Of course the girl child must side with the father as the father IS a representation of the social world – a woman who does not do this is a monsterous aboration to social cohesion and MUST be killed – either literaly or through belittling and humiliation. What I think is important to say about this is how the rise of feminism has coincided with the rise of the ‘destruction of a cohesive society’ narrative and as such the rise of these fairytales that show girls they have a moral duty in the (male social) world. That duty is to sacrifice their own needs to the survice of male need, which is shown to be a benign need it these fairytales through the love of the father for the daughter or the love of the husband to the wife. The tension in these narratives shows and their rise in popular discourse demonstrates the ways in which patriarchy has a deep grip on women’s psychological lives by positioning control as love and duty as love. However I feel the Woolf’s murderess is also just as problematic (especially for hetero women) as we do NEED to love and we do NEED each other – woman is not an island. As feminists we need to construct new narratives that show how woman and men can support each other and that both sacrifice and gain by this mutual support. The fairytale genre really must be taken up by more feminists and new fairtales must be constructed, but not from a defenisive standpoint – we must do more than just defend ourselves, we must write our own lives our own stories and then tell these stories to OUR girls.

  23. Have you heard about the book called Fearless Girls? This was written by Kathleen Regan. She was an anthropologist and she was tired of reading her daughters stories with male protagonists so she searched through something like 50,000 stories and came up with a terrific selection of stories with girls as the main character. I think some of these stories could be the basis for some wonderful animation and/or video games if someone wanted to take on such a project. cheers from australia Joannie

  24. “If the mother is destroyed, it represents the slaughter of the daughter’s Background Self as she is taken in marriage by the prince. If the mother does not exist in the first place, the daughter is already a non-existent entity in waiting for a prince to come along and actualise her; she becomes substantial by becoming his.”

    Awesome post.

  25. @Hannah: do not get me started on talking about children’s books. They make me SO angry. When I read stories, sing songs, say rhymes to the children in my care, I change all of the male characters into female ones… unless the character is obviously male, like a lion that has a mane, for example. It makes me so angry that our little girls…. who are supposedly being raised in a free and equal society are being fed story after story about little boys, or pesky male dogs etc, or sing songs about Time the turtle, three male cheeky monkeys etc. If we want to start to create women’s culture (see cherryblossomlife’s post) then we need to start with the stories we tell our daughters. And the re-member the meanings of our female/female relationships.

    A note on good mothers which should have been included in the post. The good mothers are really Token Torturers in disguise.The fairy godmother in Cinderella does not come along and teach Cinderella to stand up for herself, teach her how to be strong, independent and refuse to be walked all over. No. The fairy godmother makes her a pretty dress so that she can go to the ball and get hit on and stalked by the prince. The three good fairies in sleeping beauty are the same. They help the prince find the princess and pay an inordinate amount of attention to the colour of Aurora’s dress. The grandmother in Mulan invites Shang to “stay forever”, encouraging a relationship between Mulan and the man who contemplated killing her because he found out she was a woman. So good mothers are women that enable their daughters to engage in relationships with men who have power over them and ensure that their femininity and passivity (as represented by the dresses) makes them ideal candidates for marriage and servitude to a prince.

  26. ” The fairy godmother makes her a pretty dress so that she can go to the ball and get hit on and stalked by the prince. Instead of teaching her how to file a restraining order against him and teaching her karate. 🙂

    I also note how the compulsory-heterosexist nuclear family nearly always appears as a given. A father (“good” or evil), the “good” ones often put their daughter in the role of wife, servant/protector/savior of the father. Not a child’s role. A mother (“good” or evil). Surrogate fathers or mothers, etc. Also the yearnings for a “good” father or a “good” mother to fulfill the heterosexist nuclear family fantasy. Even better parents lead to dreams of exceptionalism to escape the dreary reality that girls face. This model leave very few options.

    What of stories of girls being raised in Amazon-type tribes without men as part of the foundation of their social systems? They would still likely have primary mothers, but a strong extended family. (No yearnings for “lost good fathers” needed). I think that this opens up a very different narrative. What other social systems might be created? Certainly there are animals that follow different patterns, like hens and chickens. The Little Red Hen is female, and I think her chicks are, too. The lazy louts who won’t help are men, and they don’t deserve any of the fruits of her and her chicks labors. Hooray! Let’s consider some other models. I do think they can be mainstream enough to appeal widely and be read.

  27. Excellent post, Allecto! I agree with everything you wrote here. 🙂
    And to think that, as a kid, I used to believe in those stupid fairy tales…
    What a load of heteropatriarchal, woman-hating rubbish…

  28. Rubbish it maybe but it is powerful universal rubbish that has seeped its way into the patrio-culture like slime. Very few womon or girls ever question this garbage that they consume or encourage their daughters to consume…why? when it is so blatant that the images are are so female negative.
    The disney shops are a locust for womon who buy their daughters fairies, princess outfits and so many people call their daughters princess all the is all bullshit but very powerful indoctrination in preparation for the ever subservient role in the future for the girls and womon ..feminism has to be countered at all costs and by any means necessary as Dworkin maintained it is all part of the ‘ongoing war against womon and girls’……and we ignore it at our peril.
    I am so un popular within my social group for arguing that these princess images along with all the pink fluffy hard sell is all about reducing the strength and vitality of future womon…..dis-empowering them and re-inforcing the notions that womon are objects and not subjects…..

  29. Do you think it’s always a *step* mother because even the patriarchy knows it’d be too much to declare that mothers are evil and are out to get their daughters? Is it because girls wouldn’t buy it–not an outright lie like that–and the bubble would burst, Little girls would call bullshit.
    But they *do* buy the subtle messages and they do recognize the step-mother as a mother-figure… so at the end of the day these tales do sever the mother-daughter bond..
    Just musing, really. They never seem to go all-out and claim that *biological* mothers are evil.

  30. Women are so magnificent that the patriarchy must NEVER stop brainwashing us even for one second. If it did we would all awaken from the ultimate evil spell.

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