Childhood stories are very powerful.
Much of who we are today, including our confidence and self esteem are shaped by the stories that we listened to during childhood. These childhood stories teach us what values we should aspire to, and who we can be when we grow up.
What do childhood stories tell us about women? Let us see.
Childhood Story 1 – Legend of King Arthur
There is much to love about this compelling childhood story of a brave and young king; who together with his group of loyal knights, restore hope and goodness to his kingdom.
There is adventure, there is magic, there is romance, there are wars, and there are betrayals. One cannot help but fall in love with the many colorful characters in this childhood tale including Merlin the wise and magical advisor, Lancelot the shining knight and loyal servant to the king, and his son Galahad who is both chivalrous and pure.
But what of the women characters in this childhood story?
There is beautiful Guinevere, Arthur’s queen. She betrays Arthur by having an affair with his chief knight Lancelot. Their adultery ultimately brings about Arthur’s fall. There is Elaine, Galahad’s mother, who tricks and seduces Lancelot into bedding her by pretending to be Guinevere.
Then there is Mogana le Fay, Arthur’s half-sister and a powerful enchantress. She is often portrayed as a key architect to Arthur’s downfall. In some stories, she is even cast as Mordred’s mother. She uses magic to seduce Arthur, then uses the son (Mordred) from their incestuous union, as a pawn to bring about Arthur’s end.
So there is Arthur, Lancelot, Galahad, and Merlin; all good, able, and special in their own way; helping to build a strong, just, and peaceful kingdom. Then there is Guinevere, weak at best, treacherous at worst; and of course the villainous, over-ambitious, Morgana. They both bring about Arthur’s fall, and the fall of Camelot.
Interesting what this childhood story conveys about the morality and motives of women.
Childhood Story 2 – Troy and Her Wooden Horse
This childhood story starts with a goddess called Eris. Eris, the goddess of strife and discord, was bored. So she came up with a plan to have some fun and create some strife and discord.
She presents a golden apple to three goddesses, Athena, Hera and Aphrodite. The fairest one of them would claim this golden prize. Their subsequent bickering over the golden apple put into motion a series of events which led to the Trojan War.
In essence, Aphrodite, the goddess of love made this extremely attractive woman, Helen, fall in love with a visiting prince of Troy, Paris.
Helen seduces the prince, betrays her husband Menelaus, and runs away with her new lover. The husband, Menelaus, is outraged, and together with his brother Agamemnon, goes to war with this foreign prince to reclaim his bride and regain his pride and dignity.
Menelaus and Agamemnon wage a war that lasts for 10 years against Troy that resulted in the deaths of many heroes. Troy finally falls as a result of a ruse that smuggled troops into the city with a Trojan horse. In the end, there is sadness, there is destruction, and everybody dies.
Just like Guinevere, Helen betrays her husband and brings about the fall of a nation.
What does this childhood story say about women and how do you think it could affect their self esteem?
Childhood Story 3 – Fairy Tale Princess
Finally, no childhood for a girl is complete, without reading the fairy tales of princesses in faraway lands.
There is Snow White, who is both beautiful and virtuous. In fact she is so beautiful, that her stepmother, the Queen, becomes jealous of her beauty, and hires a huntsman to kill her in the forest.
The huntsman, however, is unable to perform that evil deed, and Snow White ends up hiding in the forest with the seven dwarfs. The Queen discovers this, and manages to trick Snow White, and render her unconscious a total of three times.
Snow White, for all her beauty, was not the sharpest girl on the block.
She keeps falling for her stepmother’s traps. Finally, she is saved by a handsome prince, who sweeps her away, marries her, imprisons the evil stepmother, and they live happily ever after.
There is Sleeping Beauty, who is cursed at birth by a jealous, evil, fairy. She is carefully protected by her father, the King, for most of her life. Unfortunately, before she celebrates her sixteenth birthday, she gets tricked by the wicked fairy, and falls into a deep sleep, as does the entire kingdom.
Many years later, a prince comes to the castle, and breaks the evil curse with a kiss. After saving Sleeping Beauty, they get married, and live happily ever after. In addition to Snow White, and Sleeping Beauty, there is also Cinderella, and many other princesses in distress.
Based on these stories, a proper princess spends her days being properly obedient, sitting around waiting, and sometimes hiding. This is because her evil stepmother is wicked, jealous, and up to no good.
Princesses are pretty, but unfortunately not very clever, so they easily get tricked by their stepmothers. Once tricked, they fall into a deep, helpless, swoon. Everything looks grim until the Prince arrives, saves the princess, and gives her a happy life.
What We Learn From Childhood Stories
- Men are usually trying their best to do the right thing (e.g. Paris, Menelaus, Lancelot, Arthur, and even Mordred).
- Men may sometimes lose their way, and inadvertently rape, pillage, and war, but that is because they are driven to it by seducing, treacherous, weak women (Guinevere, Helen) who betray them; or seducing, treacherous, strong women (Morgana) who betray them.
- Women are either too weak, or too strong. The ones that are too weak give in to their baser instincts and cause the fall of man; the ones that are too strong, give in to their vanity and lust for power. Ultimately, both types of women are sinful, destroying everyone and everything.
- Proper women (Princesses) are very pretty but not very clever. Therefore, they should stay home, hide, and wait to be saved. This happens when the man, i.e. “Prince” arrives, marries them, and gives them their happily every after.
- Non-proper women (i.e. independent, assertive women), are jealous, ambitious, and wicked. These stepmothers and stepsisters hatch evil plans, which bring down calamity upon us all.
Until we change some of these powerful childhood stories and legends, it will be difficult to attain true equality for women. We often wonder why girls have self esteem issues, and why many women do not believe they can achieve as much as a man.
These childhood stories, that men tell, are a big part of the problem.