The Trouble With Fairy-tales

book-2929646_1280

Once upon a time…
Before my child was five…
I would visit bookstores…
Excited and alive…

That my child would learn…
Stories, rhymes and songs…
And this had been my hope, really…
Before my child was born…

Now looking back, I think…
Without so much as a blink,
I was teaching her such bias…
When I encouraged her to drink in…

The story of Cinderella,
Or Sleeping Beauty,
Or of Snow White…
Not as simple…
As black and white…

It’s always a dashing prince…
Who saves the protagonist…
And the protagonist needs saving…
Now you get the gist…

In Snow White,
The hunter is mean…
Leaving vulnerable SW in the forest…
But he also spares her life…
Again here, it’s HIS choice…

Finally, a prince comes along…
Gives her a kiss of life…
‘Rescues’ her from wickedness…
And we’d like to believe, more strife…

Then there are linguistically useful rhymes…
Actually committing many crimes,
Verses repeated by preschool kids…
A multitude of times…
With a rhythmic  quality ….
The tempo is quite the contrary…
To what the characters actually did!

So take ‘Jack and Jill’…
Presenting Jill without any voice..
After Jack fell down…
Poor Jill has no choice…
But to follow Jack’s broken crown!

She’s shown as submissive…
A patriarchal victim…
Why can’t Jack come tumbling after?
Because it’s not the patriarchal dictum!

In ‘Polly Put the Kettle On’…
It’s implied that ‘kitchen’ is….
Where Polly belongs…
A woman’s ‘place’…
Why couldn’t Patrick put it on…
To save the patriarchal face??

The King was in his counting house…
Counting all his money…
While… the (implied inept) Queen …
Is in her parlour eating bread and honey !!

Don’t these rhymes seem incongruous…
In an age of UN gender equality forums?
Aren’t these ‘innocent’ words…
Spoken in a ‘Me too’ era, well… ABSURD??

Make no mistake,
I’ve grown up on these…
And can still rattle them off…
With a great deal of ease…

And if you argue…
“They’re just said to please”,
Just to appease…
A crying child…
With a nursery rhyme…
Or are the teaching rule…
Of many a preschool…

If it’s taken to heart…
It’s a sure way to start…
An insidious process…
Of inferiority feelings…
That may lead to duress…
In later years…
With no success…
In gender equality…
And a firm belief ….
In patriarchal superiority !

Negative stereotypes are not just…
Embedded in feminine minds…
They also affect the tiny male child…
So we need to have a think…
Rewrite the nursery ink…

I won’t profess…
Any unwarranted success…
Because I’m trying to rewrite Grimm…
It’s a work in progress…
And any chances look slim…
That pre-schools will adopt…
My version of Mother Goose ballads and fiction…
But hope’s all we’ve got…
For any kind of transition!

So, here goes…
On one that I wrote…
“Jack and Jill went up the hill…
To fetch a pail of water…
Jack fell down…
And broke his crown…
And Jill called an ambulance after!”

Rather than fall down after Jack…
Due to some outdated idea…
About women taking flak…
And following a man’s lead…
However illogical it may seem,
Jill has presence of mind …
To deal with a difficult situation…
And a coping skill…
Manifesting hope for a feminin generation !

By Scherezade Mansukhani

Scherezade Mansukhani

Scherezade is a Clinical Child Psychologist, Part-time mother, blogger, French teacher and IATA teacher. She has worked with the differently abled, and now works on and off as a teacher.

One thought

Leave a Reply to Jasmyne Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s