The first time—okay, the first several times—I read most fairy tales, I was aware, probably, of the concept of sex, but it wasn’t something that I thought about at all. So it took me a few—okay, several—years to figure out how many of my favorite characters were going at it like bunnies.
They embraced. He came into her room and lay down in her bed. Will you marry me? Will you marry me? Will you marry me? Newsflash, guys: fairy tales are all about sex and death, sometimes at the same time (See: Snow White).
Forget Disney. Honey, she banged that boy. It’s right there in the text.
It’s astounding. All of the things my parents tried to protect me from, and there I was holed up in my bedroom with a book of fairy tales, reading about bestiality and necrophilia. And none of us had any idea. My parents assumed that fairy tales were safe. I was barely aware of sex on a conceptual level until high school, and I didn’t have much actual comprehension of the idea until well into college.
And now, well. I feel like someone as sheltered as me should not have this high an awareness of the sexual undertones of classic children’s stories, but here we are. None of your favorite princesses are exactly unicorn-luring material. I’m not actually going to call them sluts in the text here; that seems unkind. It was just an attention-grabber.
But you need to understand that these stories do not exist in a vacuum. There are hundreds of years of history behind them, and you need to be aware of the cultural implications. This stuff didn’t start out the way we tell it now. Basile’s princesses didn’t wait until marriage. Perrault’s princesses may have, sometimes, but the dude’s a whole big mess with his pretentious self-righteous Moral-at-the-End-of-the-Story, and his local contemporaries (more on them later) sure didn’t make their girls wait. Asbjornsen and Moe were not about the abstinence, and neither were the Grimms.
In fact, I have here, for your viewing pleasure, a list of stories in which the heroes and heroines didn’t bother with an “I do.”
1. East of the Sun, West of the Moon
· Every night in the dark, guys.
2. Beauty and the Beast
· Fun fact: “Will you marry me?” is a mistranslation. It’s actually “Will you sleep with me?” Beauty said yes, and the spell got broke once the deed was done, so, you know. Not even in human form when they got down and dirty.
3. Prince Lindworm
· This comes after she tortures him mercilessly, and before he turns from a tortured snake monster into a handsome prince. Can we all say “yuck”?
4. The Twelve Dancing Princesses
· Come on, you know “danced through their shoes each night” has gotta be a euphemism.
5. The Frog Prince
· All he wanted was to lie in bed with her, and she threw him against a wall! So let’s count this as a technicality, because it totally would have happened if she wasn’t the only princess in the history of ever to find bestiality squicky.
And on our This Is Concerning List:
1. Sleeping Beauty
2. Snow White
· Seriously questionable consent
There isn't actually a whole lot of point here. Um. Avoid stereotyping, I guess?
Oh! Hey. Got it.
Look, I love these girls. But any day now, we can totally stop holding them as cartoony paragons of virtue. Honesty is the best policy, after all, and I think it could do some good things regarding the upcoming topic of folklore and feminism.