While some scholars believe traditional fairy and folk tales portray a message of female and male equality, Marcia Lieberman argues against this frame of mind. Lieberman suggests the portrayal of male and female characters in fairy tales result in the prevalent negative sexual stereotypes associated with the role of men and women in society. These sexual stereotypes act a limit to the extent a certain sex can achieve and succeed. In relation to the process in which “children are socialized or culturally conditioned by movies and television programs” (Paragraph 3), Lieberman explains the similar effect of fairy tales: these fairy tales “have been been made the repositories of the dreams, hopes, and fantasies of generations of girls” (Paragraph 4).
The author introduce her argument by upbraiding the association of certain character traits with appearances. She believes this “acts to promote jealousness and divisiveness” ...view middle of the document...
With marriage comes reward, wealth, and a happy ending, a combination that causes many children to “develop a deep-seated desire always to be courted” (Paragraph 25). By setting marriage at the end of stories, it is inaccurately portrayed that a girl’s life ends with marriage and there is nothing more for them to seek beyond that. This aspect of fairy tales greatly influences the love life of young girls and, since their ultimate goal was marriage, there is a loss of purpose and desire after marriage.
Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of fairy tales is their portrayal of women as powerless and reliant on men. Lieberman states “the best-known stories show that active resourceful girls are in fact rare; most of the heroines are passive, submissive, and helpless” (Paragraph 10) In Sleeping Beauty, the princess can do nothing but lie asleep until some audacious prince stumbles in, kisses her, and saves the day. In Cinderella, Cinderella is helpless without the aid of her fairy godmother. After the ball, Cinderella once again is rendered powerless; she can do nothing but wait at home for the prince to find her. In Rapunzel, Rapunzel is stuck in a tall tower without means of escape; that is, until the prince comes along and rescues her. In the rare chances that women do have power, such as the stepmother in Cinderella, the witch in Rapunzel, the wise woman in Sleeping Beauty, and the queen in Snow White, the women are portrayed as wicked.
Although Marcia Lieberman widely focuses on the sexual stereotypes on women, she also touches upon the sexual stereotypes invoked on men. From a young age, fairy tales have taught young boys the be the bold, handsome prince who saves the day. This creates pressure on males that is ubiquitous in our society today from social media to relationships. On magazines, men are always displayed with perfect abs, muscular frames, and beautiful faces. This has caused many teenage boys, including me, to feel the need to work out for the sole purpose of fitting in and looking good. In terms of relationships, the male is expected to take the first action by asking the female on a date. These sexual stereotypes not only affect female, but males as well.