A little while ago, FableCroft author Faith Mudge guest posted at SF Signal on the topic “Feminism in Fairytales”. Faith’s excellent story “Oracle’s Tower” (in To Spin a Darker Stair) is a very clever reworking of a traditional tale, and her beautiful piece in One Small Step also subverts fairytale tropes. Faith blogs frequently on fairytales at her own blog, and she really knows her stuff! From the article:
I don’t know if anyone else noticed, but I’m pretty sure 2012 was the Year of the Fairy Tale. There wasn’t an official announcement or anything, but the nod was clearly given in secret circles and the retellings spread outwards like ripples on the waters of speculative fiction. Novels such as Kate Forsyth’s Bitter Greens, Sophie Masson’s Moonlight and Ashes and Marissa Meyer’s Cinder were released, there were big movie adaptations Mirror Mirror and Snow White and the Huntsman, there was even a TV series. Hell, there were two TV series! I’m a fiend for fairy tales; I was in paradise. And I was seriously impressed by the ingenuity of all these storytellers for finding something new to say about stories that have been retold over so many years.
But there was also a bitter aftertaste that’s been bothering me for some time. It was so subtle, and so pervasive, that it is difficult to pin down when exactly I first noticed it – in the reviews? The promotional interviews? The posts I read afterwards? What I noticed was this: that when people spoke about a fairy tale adaptation, the assumption was that it would be better than the original. Specifically, that the women would be better.
I highly recommend the post to you, if you’re at all interested in the resurgence of fairytale retellings in all media, and particularly the portrayal of women in these.