Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Clicking Our Heels - Diverse Women and Their Fairy Tales

Clicking Our Heels - Diverse Women and Their Fairy Tales

(The winner of our Stiletto Blog competition is  Pamela Hopkins. Please contact Debra at with your address)

To enter for a chance to win TK Thorne's House of Rose and Galactic Dreams: A Cosmic Fairy Tale Collection featuring novella's from J.M. Phillippe and Bethany Maines (and Karen Harris Tully) just comment on the blog with your favorite fairy tale. Good luck and happy reading! -- winner will be announced next Wednesday on The Stiletto Gang Facebook page - 

The Stiletto Gang spent the past two months introducing our new logo and letting you see how diverse we are over something simple:  red shoes. Not only are we different in the present, but we were raised on different fairy tales, folklore and cultural stories. Thinking back, we decided to share with you an early one we can remember and tell you why it was so impressive. 

Judy Penz Sheluk – My Mom wasn’t big on reading me fairy tales, but I remember making her read Heidi to me so many times that if she tried to skip a few pages, I’d tell her she missed something and made her backtrack.  I remember it being a story of family, friendship, hope and happy endings.

AB PlumHansel and Gretel because from a very early age I spent summers with an aunt and uncle whose house was on the edge of woods where I played with cousins and siblings. A ramshackle cabin miles from the house (really less than a football field) made it easy to imagine the witch lurking nearby.
Paula Gail BensonCinderella has a firm hold on me. I wore a Cinderella Halloween costume for years and, when I began teaching short story workshops, Cinderella was my go-to example for story structure. I guess it’s a female Horatio Alger story. Ultimately, Cindy wins when she is able to reveal herself.

Dru Ann Love – Your dreams can come true if you work hard for it. Because I knew I wanted more from life than what was dealt my family. That’s why I was the first to graduate college, the first to get a full-time job, the first to travel internationally for pleasure, and the first to own real estate (co-op).

TK ThorneSnow White and The Seven Dwarfs because I was hung up on Cinderella being blonde and the “perfect” girl, and Snow had dark hair like me. Could I be perfect too, or at least find my prince? Not very feminist fodder, but that is what we were fed and I swallowed.

Shari Randall – My Italian mom told us the story of Old Befana, the good witch who flies on her broomstick on January 8, going down chimneys to leave candy for good children and coal for the naught. Befana was known as the best housekeeper in the village, so when the Three Wise Men came through (yes, a side trip to Italy!), following the star in their search for the Christ child, they stayed at Befana’s house. The next morning, the Magi invited her to join them on their quest, but Befana wanted to finished her chores first. The Magi let and soon after Befana ha a change of heart and tried to catch them but she couldn’t find the three kings.  The story is that even today she still searches for the Child, always with her broom at her side. I’ve taken that moral to heart – if adventure calls, don’t wait – leave the housework behind!

Debra H. Goldstein – The Emperor’s New Clothes made a lasting impression on me for the way in which it mocked hypocrisy, snobbery and social class. The child’s honest cry that the Emperor is wearing no clothes versus the individuals who wouldn’t speak out, including the Emperor, for fear of appearing stupid stuck with me. It was the first time, even though I couldn’t put it into words, that I realized the importance of speaking the truth – even when it isn’t popular or goes against a prevailing rhetoric.

Linda Rodriguez – Some of the earliest tales and teaching stories that I recall came from my Cherokee grandmother, who was a huge influence in my early life. One of the most influential was the story of Stoneskin, a giant cannibal who ravaged the Cherokee, the early people. In the story, the Cherokee fought against him by arranging one menstruating woman after another in front of him, until the power of them overwhelmed him. As he lay dying, he told them all kinds of secrets and medicine lore, which became the foundation of the Cherokee traditional medicine teaching. So, much that is truly important about traditional Cherokee culture comes from a dying monster killed by a the power of women, who are capable of getting pregnant and giving birth. That story told me as a young child that there was power in the female, even though the world around me said that women and girls were weak and powerless.

Bethany Maines – I’ve recently been re-reading fairy tales and somehow I didn’t remember them being as horrible as they are. Rape, murder, incest, lots of removing of limbs and for some reason turning into rose bushes.  The one I liked as a kid were the Arabian Nights. I think it was Ali-Baba where the maid poured boiling oil on the forty thieves hidden in the oil jars. The hero seemed like an idiot and the maid saved the day. Somehow, the idea of boiling a bunch of guys in oil didn’t seem as horrific to me then as it does now.

J.M. Phillippe – Growing up, I was greatly impacted by the “Ugly Duckling” story. The message I took from it then was that if I was feeling like an outsider, I just had to wait to find my own personal “tribe” – the group who saw me for who I was and wanted me to be a part of them.

Kay Kendall – Once upon a time, when I was in first grade, my father brought home a full set of The American Peoples Encyclopedia. He also sprang for the related sets of adventure stories and fairy tales. I treasured the entries in the regular encyclopedia but fell hard for the fairy tales. The one that sticks in my mind still – and not one of the more common ones at that – is “The Princess on the Glass Hill.” I now know that this was a Norse tale. It featured handsome horses that helped the hero get up to the top of the slippery glass hill to win the fair maiden’s hand in marriage. Illustrations of the horses were gorgeous and won my heart. I was a horse-crazy little girl.

Cathy P. Perkins – I didn’t grow up on fairy tales. Instead, my brother fed me a stead diet of science fiction. I desperately wanted to be either an astronaut and explore space or move onto Pern, bond with my very own dragon, and save my people from Thread.

Juliana Aragon Flatula – I love the story of how the moon and stars were created when Huitzilopochtli slayed his sister the moon and his 400 brothers the stars and cut them into pieces and threw them to the heavens. This is why the moon has phases.

Julie Mulhern – I was an early feminist. I didn’t understand why Disney princesses’ happy endings were dependent on princes. Snow White? I did not buy into the idea of cleaning up after seven men. How stupid did she have to be to eat that apple? And how shallow is a prince who falls in love with her based on her face?


  1. I have several favorites, but my very first was the Snow Queen

  2. Replies
    1. Interesting.....but raises some questions you and I need to discuss the next time I see you.

  3. Would love copy of TK Thorne’s new book.

  4. Do modern parents still read the "old" Grimm fairy tales to their young kids? (They--the stories--were pretty grim).

  5. Wow, you guys were far more sophisticated than I was! I especially love Linda's story about the power of menstruating women. Contrast that with cultures that isolated the women because they were "unclean."