Today I proselytized faux-feminist fairy tales to a Danish bakery.
“I love princesses, Mama. Yesterday I got a Snow White doll,” my five year old informed me as we sat in the bakery licking the frosting off bunny cookies.
Fairy tales are part of our cultural heritage but the versions where women are victims until some dude shows up to marry them bug me. “Do you know the story of Snow White?” I asked.
“Once upon a time in an enchanted kingdom there lived a princess named Snow White. Many in the kingdom, including the King, believed that being a good father meant providing your offspring with material goods and outsourcing all other child related duties to your wife. So when the Queen died, the King married the first woman who looked good on paper.
The new Queen was a vain, power hungry jerk. She had a Magic Mirror and instead of asking it how to be a good ruler she asked it stuff like, “Do you think she’s prettier than me?”
Being infinitely better at diplomacy than the Queen, the Mirror responded with, “You’re the fairest of them all, your majesty.”
One day, though, the Mirror said, “Snow White is the fairest of them all. Please don’t smash me, your majesty.” The Queen became enraged and ordered a soldier to kill Snow White which made the Mirror believe he was right to fear smashing.
But Snow White fled into the forest. Only, having grown up in a kingdom where dependent women with a lack of basic life skills were seen as ‘charming,’ she didn’t really know much about how to survive. Luckily she met seven friendly dwarves. They introduced Snow White to important concepts like freedom, independence, and mining.
The Queen, having discovered that Snow White was alive after all, waited until the dwarves and their common sense were elsewhere and offered Snow White a poisoned apple. Snow White took a bite of the apple and fell into a deep, enchanted sleep.
One day a prince happened upon Snow White and thought, “Wow. That comatose chick is super-attractive. I’m going to assume it’s okay to kiss her.” Since the people who made the poison believed men were the solution to all problems, even comas, Snow White woke up.
It was awkward.
Hoping to salvage the meeting, the Prince told Snow White that the townspeople had revolted against the Queen. Since she preferred politics to geology, Snow White went back to her kingdom and made an effort to be a good ruler because, as the Queen had found out the hard way, her subjects had pitch forks and weren’t afraid to use them.
After they got to know each other very well, Snow White and the Prince got married and both became emotionally involved parents.”
“Is that the end, Mama?”
“Listen to your mother,” said the old lady at the table next to us.
“And don’t take food from strangers,” said the guy behind the bakery counter.