Fairy Tales are Sexist


Cover of "Fairy Tales (Kingfisher Mini Tr...

Cover of Fairy Tales (Kingfisher Mini Treasury)

Most of us, if not all of us, grew up with a knowledge of fairy tales. From Snow White, to Hansel and Gretel, to Cinderella, we have been subjected to these stories from infancy to early childhood. Fairy tales are seen as a means of entertaining our young ones, and at the same time, imparting good moral values to them.

I myself love fairy tales. I remember when I was young, I never grew tired of listening to these stories, and they inspired me to learn how to read, because, in my eagerness for more fairy tales, I wanted to be able to read so I could start reading these stories by myself and not wait around for my parents to read them to me.

As an adult, I have, of course, graduated on to more mature level of books. But once in a while, I do go back to my beloved fairy tales. While they still hold a special place in my heart, I have come to realize that fairy tales are awfully sexist.

In particular, I am referring to the way the evil stepmothers are always villainized – while the fathers get off scot-free. Yes, those evil stepmothers are really cruel and they deserve the punishments they got at the end. But how come nobody ever asks what in the world those fathers were doing while their family was being mistreated by their evil wives? Or better yet, why did they LET their wife do those awful things to their family? And might I ask also how come men in fairy tales seem to have such poor taste in women, in that they always pick the worst ones?

Fairy tales featuring evil stepmothers don’t just have one villain – they have TWO. While the evil stepmother is the obvious villain, there’s another villain lurking: the man who has forsaken his beliefs, his morals, and his family for the sake of the evil woman.. or any person for that matter. There is no person worth sacrificing our family for – our family, who has been there for us our whole life. Any person, be they male or female, who forsakes their family, is the biggest fool and the worst villain of all.

Pain Does Good


Shaun the Sheep

Shaun the Sheep (Photo credit: Diva Sian)

A lady tourist was visiting mountainous Switzerland. One day, she waked up to a sheep pasture on a hillside. There sat a shepherd with his flock of sheep lying at rest around him. Nearby on a little pile of grass lay a sheep which seemed to be in pain. It was; it had a broken leg. The lady asked the shepherd, “How did it happen?”
To her amazement, he answered, “Missus, I broke that sheep’s leg myself.” He went on to explain, “Of all the sheep in this flock, that one was the most disobedient; it would never obey my voice. It always wandered off and led the rest of the flock astray. I had had this problem before, so I knew how to cure it. I broke its leg to save it and my other sheep.”
“On the first day, I went to it with food and it tried to bite me. I left it alone for a few days and it got hungry. Then I went back to it. Now it not only takes the food but licks my hand as well.”
“Let me tell you something; when this sheep is well again – as it soon will be – it will be the model sheep of the flock. No sheep will hear my voice more quickly. None will follow so closely at my side.”

— Bert Balling

Why are we so afraid of pain? Or to be more exact, the possibility of incurring pain? When I was around 10 years old, my father taught me how to ride a bike. After three lessons, I did successfully learn how to ride a bike. But while he was teaching me, there was one thing he said which I never forgot. He said that it’s okay to fall from the bike and that I SHOULD fall. I was like, are you crazy? My goal is NOT to fall from the bike. Then he said, If you never experience falling off a bike, you would always be afraid of falling. But if you fall, then you learn how to fall properly, and you will not be afraid of falling anymore because you have seen that it’s not as bad as it looks.

Sure, getting hurt is no fun at all. It’s a pain in the ass. But pain makes us stronger, physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually.

“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the suffering of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed.” (1 Peter 4:12-13)

Letters to Juliet versus Dead Stars


Letters to Juliet

Letters to Juliet (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A few days ago, I watched “Letters to Juliet“. Sophie, a fact checker for The New Yorker, is engaged to be married. She and her fiance go on a ‘pre-honeymoon’ to Italy. During one of her walks in the city of Verona, she stumbles upon Juliet’s balcony. Turns out, there’s a tradition in Verona wherein women from all over the world go there and post their letters to Juliet. These letters mostly deal with heartache, and the women ask Juliet for her advice. At the end of the day, a ‘secretary of Juliet’ comes to collect the letters. The Secretaries of Juliet is an organization of women whose job is to read the letters and send an answer back to the women who’ve written to Juliet. Well, Sophie follows this secretary and she ends up becoming a sort of ‘honorary’ secretary of Juliet. One day, while helping one of the secretaries collect the letters, she discovers a letter, written fifty years ago, hidden in the wall.

“I didn’t go to him Juliet. I didn’t go to Lorenzo. His eyes were so full of trust. I promised I’d meet him to run away together because my parents don’t approve but instead I left him waiting for me below our tree, waiting and wondering where I was. I’m in Verona now. I return to London in the morning and I’m so afraid.

Please Juliet, tell me what I should do. My heart is breaking and I have no one else to turn to.

Love, Claire

The letter was written by Claire, an Englishwoman, who lives in London. Fifty years ago, she came to Italy to study. There, she met Lorenzo, a simple local boy who picked grapes at a vineyard. They fell in love with each other, and planned to elope, but Claire got cold-feet and left him. She went back home to London where she married somebody else.

Sophie answered the letter:

“‘What’ and ‘if’ two words as nonthreatening as words come. But put them together side-by-side and they have the power to haunt you for the rest of your life: ‘What if?’…

I don’t know how your story ended. But I know that if what you felt then was love – true love – then it’s never too late. If it was true then why wouldn’t it be true now? You need only the courage to follow your heart…

I don’t know what a love like that feels like… a love to leave loved ones for, a love to cross oceans for… but I’d like to believe if I ever felt it. I’d have the courage to seize it. I hope you had the courage to seize it, Claire. And if you didn’t, I hope one day that you will.”

To cut to the chase, Claire, now a widow, receives Sophie’s letter and flies to Italy, along with her grandson, to find Lorenzo. After travelling all over the Italian countryside, and a number of wrong turns, they finally find Lorenzo, now a wealthy vineyard owner, and himself a widower. So they pick up where they left off fifty years ago, and they get married, and live in Lorenzo’s vineyard, happily ever after.

As I was watching the film, I couldn’t help thinking about this story I read in Contemporary Philippine Literature class back in my freshman year of college – “Dead Stars” by Paz Marquez Benitez.Image

Alfredo is engaged to be married to Esperanza. They have been together a long time, and Esperanza is eagerly waiting for the marriage date. One day, Alfredo goes “neighboring” around their town. There he meets Julia, the town judge’s young sister-in-law, who is in town for a visit. Alfredo finds Julia attractive and interesting. He starts spending a lot of time with her, and yes, falls in love with her, to the point of almost breaking off his engagement with Esperanza. But Julia does not approve of his breaking his word to Esperanza, and she says good-bye to Alfredo.

Alfredo eventually marries Esperanza. Eight years pass… Alfredo is in Julia’s town for a business trip. He goes to visit Julia, still unmarried, whom he has never forgotten. But when he comes face to face with the Julia, he is surprised to find that he no longer feels the same way for her. The love he had felt for her has faded.

“So that was all over.

Why had he obstinately clung to that dream?

So all these years–since when?–he had been seeing the light of dead stars, long extinguished, yet seemingly still in their appointed places in the heavens.

An immense sadness as of loss invaded his spirit, a vast homesickness for some immutable refuge of the heart far away where faded gardens bloom again, and where live on in unchanging freshness, the dear, dead loves of vanished youth.”

And thus, my question, how do we know if it’s really true love, one that will survive five, ten, twenty, fifty years of separation, as opposed to just seeing the light of dead stars, love that has long been extinguished, and we’re only seeing the light, the idea, that we are still in love with that person?

The Gentle Touch


English: Cow and calf

English: Cow and calf (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Some city boys were living on a farm during vacation time. One day, a calf got out of the barn and the three of them were trying to get it back in. So one of them pulled on its little horns and the other two pushed him from behind. But the more they pulled and pushed, the more the calf just stiffened its legs and stood there.
The farmer’s young daughter came along and watched them. She smiled, walked over to the calf, and put her finger into its mouth. As the calf sucked her finger, it willingly walked into the barn.
The boys scratched their heads in wonder. They had used the wrong approach. They had insisted on doing what they wanted, completely disregarding what the calf wanted. The farm girl played the other angle: she gave the calf what it wanted, and it followed her willingly.

— William Barclay

Last night, I was feeling pretty bummed and depressed. And when that happens, I start thinking about all the sad things that have happened or have been happening in my life. I’ve been trying to get rid of this bad habit for some time now, but hey, I’m only human. Every once in a while, I suffer a relapse. Anyway, so I was feeling sad, and I started praying – asking God for what I think will make me happier. This story is a good reminder for me, for us, that in life, we are not the boss… God is. Like the boys in the story, we like to insist our own way – we treat God as our genie, someone to just grant our wishes and desires. But as the bible says, “Submit to God, and you will have peace; then things will go well for you.” (Job 22:21)

Lord, grant me the spirit of obedience and submission to Your will.

A New Year Resolution is Like an Egg


Photo taken by me. The egg was removed from a ...

Image via Wikipedia

A poor lady found an egg, called her three children together, and told them, “Children, from now on we’ll have nothing to worry about. See, I have found an egg.. and here is what we’re going to do with it. We are not going to eat it, but put it under our neighbor’s hen and it will hatch out into a little chick.

And we won’t eat that little chick either. She’ll grow up, lay eggs, and hatch them. Then we’ll have plenty of eggs chickens and plenty of eggs.

But we won’t eat either the chickens or the eggs; we’ll sell them and buy a calf. We’ll raise the calf into a cow. Then the cow will have many calves and soon we’ll have a herd of cows. We’ll sell the cows and buy a farm… then we’ll keep buying and selling, buying and selling…”

The lady was speaking with so much excitement, that she dropped the egg on the floor…

Many new year resolutions are like that: people dream up a lot of ideal promises but many of them never even last until January the second. They are like that broken egg…

 

— Willi Hoffsuemmer

Hot Dogs for Christmas


Hot dog icon

Image via Wikipedia

One Christmas eve a prosperous businessman was hurrying to the butcher shop before closing time. “Are you buying your Christmas roast?” a friend asked.

“No. Only hot dogs,” he answered.

The he explained that long ago, a bank failure had completely wiped out his fortune. He faced Christmas with not job, no money for gifts, and less than a dollar for food. He and his wife and small daughter said grace before dinner that year and then ate a Christmas dinner of hot dogs. His wife had decorated each of them, giving them toothpicks for legs and broom straws for tails and whiskers. Their little girl was delighted and her radiant joy spread to all of them.

After dinner they gave thanks again for the most loving and festive time they had ever had together.

“Now it’s a tradition,” said the once again prosperous man. “Hot dogs for Christmas – they remind us of that happy day when we realized that we still had one another and our God-given sense of humor.”

— Tony Castle

Meaning of Christmas


Русский: Исмаил 1й 1487-1524

Image via Wikipedia

Long ago, there ruled in Persia a wise and good king. He loved his people. He wanted to know about the hardships they suffered. Often he dressed in the clothes of a workingman or a beggar and went to the homes of the poor. No one he visited thought he was their ruler.
One time he visited a poor man who lived in a cave. He ate the coarse food the poor man ate. He spoke kind, cheerful words to him. Then he left. Late, he visited the poor man again and told him clearly, “I am your king.”
How surprised the poor man was! The king thought that the man would surely ask for some gifts or favor. But he did not. Instead, he said, “You left your palace and your glory to visit me in this dark, dreary place. You ate the coarse food I ate. You brought gladness to my heart. To others you have given your rich gifts. To me you have given yourself.”

— Walter B. Knight

Motivation


Drawsko Pomorski (Dramburg) in Polen (Poland):...

Image via Wikipedia

An artist who made stained glass windows was approached by a young apprentice who had been studying under him for some time. He asked the master if he might have the privilege of borrowing some of his tools.

“Why do you want my tools, son?” asked the master.

“Oh, I just want to use them to see if they will make any difference in the work I do.”

A week later the master visited the young artist in his studio and then asked him, “Well, son, how are you doing with my tools?”

“Not so well, master. In fact, my work is no better now than when I was using my own tools.” And the young man looked disappointed.

A gray-haired professional overhearing the conversation between the craftsman and the apprentice, said to the young man, “Son, it’s not the tools of the master that you need. You need his spirit.”

Humility


Snowdon (Yr Wyddfa), Gwynedd is the highest mo...

Image via Wikipedia

A long flight of stairs is the last stage of a climb up a mountain in China. For more than a thousand years, a steady stream of pilgrims has come and gone until the steps are worn and dangerous. Numbers of pilgrims have fallen and hurt themselves.

The people of the neighborhood have asked the monks to rebuild the steps, fearing that they might lose their profitable business of housing the pilgrims. But the abbot of the monastery refused.

“It is regrettable,” he said, “that some pilgrims have suffered injury or death. But this could be because they were holding their head too high. But they are only a few of the millions who have learned that in life, one must walk carefully, holding the head high, but not so high that pitfalls cannot be seen, and not so low as to lose sight of the sky.”

— Tom Robertson

Keep Your Promise


Lou Gehrig in Columbia uniform, 1921

Image via Wikipedia

Lou Gehrig, the famous homerun king of the New York Yankeesbaseball team, visited a hospital for crippled children just before a World Series game. He told the children in the ward, “You can do ANYTHING if you want to do it badly enough.”

Then a little boy who was Yankee fan asked the great ballplayer to do him a favor, “Please knock two homeruns in today’s game.”

“Two home runs in a World Series game is a lot to ask,” said Gehrig. But now he had to back yup what he had said about being able to do ANYTHING if you really wanted to do it badly enough. So he turned to the little boy and said, “I’ll make a bargain with you. I’ll knock two homeruns today if you promise me that you will walk again.” It was a deal; they shook hands on it.

Gehrig knocked his two homeruns that afternoon. But somehow, he never got around to going back to that hospital. One day, years later, he was entering Yankee Stadium when a tall young man stepped up and asked, “Do you remember me?”

Lou couldn’t place him.

Then the young man said, “Well then, look! I CAN WALK! I kept my half of the promise.”

— Turbells Teachers’ Guide