Let Sleeping Beauty Lie

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OK so I’m not usually one to air my views about the latest viral news story. Partly because I don’t come across many articles that make me feel like I need to share my opinions publicly across the internet; partly because I sometimes feel that the people involved don’t deserve their 15 minutes of fame. However, as a parent of two little bookworms, a lover of books and an avid reader; this article about Sleeping Beauty in yesterday’s Daily Telegraph had me ranting at anyone who would listen for a good few hours for several reasons.

#MeToo! Maybe Not

Firstly, and my number one gripe about the whole scenario, is the fact that she used #MeToo in her tweet. Piggybacking on this campaign immediately put me on the defensive as I feel that she is trivialising the whole campaign by comparing the two scenarios. I struggled to understand how on earth a fairy-tale kiss, meant to break an evil spell, could be compared to sexual abuse. We’ll be having to carry consent forms with us next on the off chance we pass out and require CPR.

Secondly, although Ms Hall wants Sleeping Beauty banned in Key Stage 1 classes, it wasn’t the original Sleeping Beauty that her son was reading, it was one of the Oxford Reading Tree books based on Sleeping Beauty.

Book Cover for Sleeping Beauty - part of the Oxford Reading Tree collection

Now I’m assuming as a child she read the story of Sleeping Beauty and didn’t automatically assume that the poor princess had just been sexually abused by the concerned prince who was trying to break the curse. If so, then why would she think that kids these days will.

I kiss my family daily, often without asking. Does that mean I’m opening myself up for a possible law suit for sexual harassment by my 6 year old son. I don’t think so!!

It’s not just Sleeping Beauty?

Finally, if her request is granted and I sincerely hope it isn’t, will we stop at Sleeping Beauty or will all the stories of my childhood be wiped out.

I mean, Jack and the Beanstalk advocates stealing and murder. Goldilocks and the Three Bears plays down breaking and entering and theft, not to mention the gender stereotyping of the Bear family. Then we have Snow White who was also woken from a deep sleep by a kiss, prior to which she was living with 7 men. And don’t even get me started on Beauty and the Beast!!

I can honestly say that I read all these stories and more and think I have turned out OK (although that may be a matter of opinion). I know right from wrong and I would like to think that I can educate my children in a similar manner. My children read and enjoy these stories for what they are – stories!

The Daily Mail have taken it a step further in this article where they discuss gender politics and the political correctness of some of our best loved fables.

Taking Pity

Anyway, before I leave you to ponder the morality of our much loved fairy tales I must say this. Despite the entire situation I do have to, albeit a little reluctantly, come to the defence of Ms Hall. She may have put herself in the firing line by posting on Twitter; but she really didn’t deserve some of the backlash she got from the army of (predominantly male) keyboard warriors. Some of the comments were downright nasty and at times I did feel a little sorry for her for having to deal with the nonsense.

So that’s my soapbox moment all done and dusted. If you want to read more of the Biff, Kipper and Chip books, including the one which caused the original controversy, you can check them out here.

Debbie x

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