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.

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Christmas Gifts


Christmas gifts

Image via Wikipedia

Here’s a little Christmas humor. 🙂

A mother and her small daughter were thumbing through a Christmas catalogue looking at toys. “I’d like that big red bike,” said the child.

“When you’re bigger,” the mother said.

The little girl pointed at a toy stove, a doll pram, a little fridge. Each time the mother made the same answer, “When you’re bigger.”

The girl kept pointing at still more toys and each time the mother’s answer was, “When you’re bigger.”

Finally, they closed the catalogue and the mother asked the daughter, “Well, have you decided what you want for Christmas?”

“Yes, mommy,” she replied. “I want to get bigger.”

— Arthur Tonne

Treasure in Heaven


Gold Guilder

Image via Wikipedia

A wealthy man lay on his deathbed. His entire life had been centered around money. As his life ebbed away, he presumed that in the afterlife, money would also be everything. So he gave orders that a purse filled with gold coins be placed inside his casket along with his body. His last wish was carried out.

In the next world it took the bookkeepers a long time to find his name in any of the good books. In fact, it took so long that he got very hungry and thirsty just waiting. He looked around and sure enough, he saw an attractive eatery not far away. “Aha,” he said to himself, “it’s just like I thought. It’s a good thing that brought some money along with me.”

His mouth was already watering as he approached the restaurant. But before he sat down to eat, he was told that the money he had brought along had no value now. In fact, only money that was of any value now was the money he had given away on earth. The rich man dropped his head in deep thought, but could not remember having given any money away.. So now he had none.

As an Englishman of another stripe let his tombstone explain:

“What I spent I had.

What I kept I lost.

What I gave I have.”

— partly after Leo Tolstoy

Quotes I Live By


I believe in the sun even when it is not shining. I believe in love,even when there’s no one there. And I believe in God, even when He is silent – Author Unknown

These words were scratched on the walls of a cellar in Cologne, Germany by a Jew hiding from Nazi persecution.

Showing off is the fool’s idea of glory. – Bruce Lee

Sadly, a lot of people today think that in order to gain attention and to get positive feedback from other people is to show off – sometimes in such desperation that they resort to stealing other people’s ideas and identity.

Give with a free hand, but give only your own. – J.R.R. Tolkien, “The Children of Hurin”

Sometimes, we tend to be very generous when it doesn’t have to come out of our own pocket. Say, office supplies. Employees tend to use them excessively or even take them home as “presents” for their friends and family. That’s because we’re not the ones paying for them. But this kind of practice can be counted as stealing. Never mind how small or trivial the items are. If it’s not yours, it’s not really up to you to decide how to spend it.

False hopes are more dangerous than fears. – J.R.R. Tolkien, “The Children of Hurin”

The pain of having your hopes trampled and crushed is worse than the pain of having your fears come true.

A thing is not necessarily true because a man dies for it. – Oscar Wilde

We tend to believe that if a person fights hard for something or even dies for it, then it must true, because otherwise, why would that person be so passionate about it? Well, how about just to save face? Or maybe, he just can’t handle the truth – the real truth.

True peace is not the absence of war; it is the presence of God. – Loveless

Amen.

The Curious Case of …


“My name is Benjamin Button, and I was born under unusual circumstances. While everyone else was agin’, I was gettin’ younger… all alone.”

Adapted from the 1920s story by F. Scott Fitzgerald, this film depicts the life of man who was born in his eighties and ages backwards. Set in New Orleans at the end of World War I in 1918 to the 21st century, this character-driven story takes us on the journey of Benjamin Button’s not-so-ordinary life. From the places he discovers along the way, to the fascinating characters that gave color to his existence, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” shows us that family, friendship, sacrifice, and love can exceed the boundaries of time.

This film was so heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time that by the end of it, I was an emotional wreck. The beautifully written dialogues will simply take your breath away. Powerful performances by Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett made the story come alive. It gracefully shows us a love that survives extraordinary circumstances.. and the grave sacrifices people can make for it. Real love transcends sagging skin, wrinkles, graying hair.. it transcends wetting the bed, acne, or acting childish.

Daisy: Would you still love me if I were old and saggy?
Benjamin Button: Would you still love ME if I were young and had acne? When I’m afraid of what’s under the bed? Or if I end up wetting the bed?

It’s not just the man who ages backwards who is unique. Everyone has their own special something that they impart to others. “Along the way you bump into people who make a dent on your life. Some people get struck by lightning. Some are born to sit by a river. Some have an ear for music. Some are artists. Some swim the English Channel. Some know buttons. Some know Shakespeare. Some are mothers. And some people can dance.”


Atonement


Everybody makes mistakes. That’s a fact of life. But what happens when that seemingly “innocent” mistake of yours drastically changes the fate of the people around you and there’s no easy way of making amends? How do you own up to what you’ve done? How do you rebuild the broken relationships? And most importantly, how do you ask forgiveness from the ones you’ve wronged?
One hot summer’s day in 1935, young and impressionable Briony Tallis looks out her bedroom window and witnesses a moment’s flirtation between her older sister Cecilia, and the servant’s son, Robbie Turner. Misgivings and doubts begin to harbor in Briony’s mind, which further escalate and worsen when she reads Robbie’s letter that is intended for Cecilia’s eyes only. Then a terrible crime is committed, and Briony, overflowing with a sense of righteousness and over protectiveness for her sister, testifies and points to Robbie as the perpetrator. This act sets a chain of events that would shatter years of their lives.
Properly entitled “Atonement”, this book takes us mainly through a conscience’s journey to make amends for one mistake that has severed relationships, destroyed a family, and tormented innocent souls.
This book is like a conscience that nags you with two profound questions: How far would you go for atonement? And if you’re the person on the other side of the fence, how much can you forgive?


‘The Hobbit’ is a Must-Read!


“The Hobbit” is J.R.R. Tolkien’s prequel to the famous “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy. This book chronicles the life and journey of Bilbo Baggins. It sheds light on why Bilbo went on his infamous journey and how the One Ring eventually came to his possession. Readers get to enjoy Tolkien’s masterful storytelling style, as he weaves you in his magical world of Middle-Earth. From trolls, dwarves, wizards, to dragons, each page will have you breathless with excitement. The story flows in a faster pace as compared to the LOTR trilogy. If you’re someone who’s still unsure how to go about Tolkien’s works, I think this is the best book for you to test the waters. If you enjoy this book, most probably you will also enjoy Tolkien’s other works. If not, then either try again, or maybe you’re just not cut out for Tolkien. Watch out also for the upcoming movie version of “The Hobbit”. I’m sure it will be another superb blockbuster! 🙂


‘The Kite Runner’ Will Blow You Away


When a co-teacher of mine first mentioned the book “The Kite Runner” to me, I wasn’t immediately thrilled with the concept of the book. Being a rather “conservative” reader, I tend to steer clear of books that contain emotionally draining, graphic scenes. But I had no choice, so to speak, but to read this book when it was given to me as a birthday present. And read it I did and so much more. “The Kite Runner” not only opened my eyes to a different world, a different culture, it changed the way I looked at the world around me.
Hauntingly beautiful and sad at the same time, “The Kite Runner” follows the lives of Amir and Hasaan, best friends, brothers, torn apart by the war in Afghanistan and the eventual occupation of the Taliban. It’s a story within a story, as I would like to put it. In the outer shell, we have the situation in Afghanistan providing the dramatic backdrop of the story. In the inner shell, it follows the story of Amir and Hassan, two boys – one born into privilege, the other born into poverty and discrimination – from the time when they were innocent boys playing in the streets of Kabul, to the impact of the devastating war, to their separation, and to their “reunion”. I don’t really want to give away too much of the story, as this is a book that MUST be read, and not merely summarized.
A fellow book lover once asked me, “Maybs, kanino ka mas naawa, kay Amir o kay Hasaan?” (“Maybs, who did you sympathize with more, Amir or Hasaan?”) I answered, “Well, pareho. (Well, both.) In a sense, all both of them ever wanted was to be loved. Remember, in the earlier parts of the book, it was said there that Amir’s first word was ‘Baba’ (meaning, ‘Father’), while Hasaan’s was ‘Amir’. These two words laid the foundation of the events that happened. For me, that pretty much sums up the whole book for me.”
“The Kite Runner” presents a myriad of contemporary issues, but the one thing that struck me in this book is, however different our circumstances might me, whatever culture we grew up in, there is one thing we all have in common – and that is, the desire to be loved and accepted.


‘The Life of Pi’ Made Me Cry


After a devastating shipwreck of a cargo ship, only one lifeboat comes out of the fiasco. This lifeboat contains a sixteen-year-old boy named Pi, a hyena, a zebra with a broken leg, a female orangutan, and a 450-pound Royal Bengal tiger. Along with the unusual characters in this book, Yann Martel offers a multitude of surprising events in the course of Pi’s efforts to survive and be rescued. Just when you think the surprises have ended, Life of Pi will serve up something totally unexpected that will make your jaw drop, literally. This work of art offers a magnificent mixture of story telling, drama, comedy, survival tips, insights on religion and spirituality, and animal welfare — all rolled up in a little lifeboat bobbing helplessly in the middle of the wild, blue Pacific.


The Lord of the Rings Trilogy


It has often been my (and many other people’s) observation that the book (or, in this case, books) is often way better than the movie(s). This observation also holds true for the LOTR trilogy. Which is my way of saying that I don’t have enough words to describe the beauty, marvel, and impact of the LOTR books. While the LOTR movies have given fantasy a whole new realm, with its astonishing portrayal of Tolkien’s amazing Middle Earth, you will surely appreciate the movies more if you read the books. The trilogy books will give you a lot more meaning and insights into the world of Hobbits, Dwarves, Elves, Men, etc., that the movies (more than three hours long each) were not able to fully give to the audience. Also included in the books are characters not seen in the movies, as well as an epilogue that chronicles the fate of the characters after the Ring was destroyed and Aragorn reigned as king. Questions like: “Whatever happened to our beloved Legolas?” “Did Arwen and Aragorn have children?” “What happened to the other hobbits: Merry, Pippin, and Sam?” “Did Faramir and Eowyn end up together?”, and many more, will all be answered. But, hey, don’t take my word for it. Pick up a copy and sit back, relax, and enjoy three of the greatest books of all time. 🙂