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About those fairy tales…

Will Davis writes in The Guardian‘s book blog about the latest round of controversy over the appearance of gay characters in children’s lit in Britain. Davis was not surprised to hear of condemnations from Christian Voice, “that embodiment of all the things that can go wrong with a religion,” but he was more taken aback by denunciations from parents on other blogs. “[I]t would seem the fear a child might decide to try out homosexuality apparently outweighs the risk they might be scarred for life by vicious bullying.”

What’s weird is trying to figure out where this fear that children will start experimenting with gay sex comes from. A tale about a space girl who has two mums is hardly Tipping the Velvet, and neither is it political correctness taken to ridiculous extremes as with Baa Baa Rainbow Sheep.

It gets even weirder when you consider the messages already present in some of the classics that children routinely get read. If I were a parent, I would be far more nervous about the implications of Sleeping Beauty, or Rapunzel, or Snow White, in which heroines just lie back and wait for a prince to come and kiss them into queens. Cinderella might have had the gumption to go to the ball, but the real initiative is left to the prince: to seek her out and get her foot into a glass slipper, thus making her the most desirable woman in all the land because she has a daintier tootsy than anyone else.

Now, this Quillblogger grew up with fairy tales and loved them, but in retrospect, there are plenty of messages that could be cause for concern when considering their effect on young minds – the aforementioned passive heroines, the equation of beauty with goodness, the maligning of stepmothers, not to mention the pervasive promotion of the heterosexual lifestyle.