Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Clicking Our Heels - Diverse Women and Their Fairy Tales

Clicking Our Heels - Diverse Women and Their Fairy Tales

A New Year, but a re-run of an old Clicking Our Heels written shortly after we changed our logo. New members and new Clicking Our Heels next month!

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. 

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.

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?





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