We read the wrong books to our daughters
There always seems to be an ongoing debate over children’s literature and what we think is ‘right’ for children to read. If you haven’t seen it, there was an interesting video circulating Facebook a week or so ago, titled ‘If Cinderella were a guy’, promoting a new book of ‘good night stories for rebel girls’. And all I can say is what a disappointment the whole post turned out to be. I was infuriated by it. But before I begin I will do the usual ‘everything in this post is my opinion and my views may or may not be shared by anyone else’, just in case. By the way, a link to the video can be found here.
My thoughts on the video
So, the video opens with a male voice over stating ‘If Cinderella were a guy’, but the following screen then says there was a ‘boy’. Now I don’t know about anyone else but to me a ‘boy’ is not the same as a ‘guy’ (for one the word is different). Similarly, the narrative voice goes on to say this ‘boy’ is called Cinderfella, suggesting another form of male-ness through the use of ‘fella’, which again I can read as something that is not a ‘boy’ and perhaps also not a ‘guy’. But what I find particularly interesting is the fact the video began by saying ‘What if Cinderella were a guy’, but in order to be a ‘guy’ there had to be a name change to something that is deemed more ‘male’ (as seen through the term ‘fella’).
The video continues, mirroring the Disney version of Cinderella with an evil stepfather and ugly stepbrothers who were jealous of Cinderfella’s beauty and didn’t want him to go to an event that interestingly is not disclosed to the viewers. Naturally I assume it is the ball that he later turns up to in the video, but neither his stepfather nor stepbrothers are seen or said to be there.
But to return to my point, they tear up his suit and a fairy godfather appears to give a new suit and glass loafers; something that can perhaps be read as a male item of clothing. I can only guess loafers were specifically chosen because they can be slipped on and off easily for the sake of the story – although they are shown to have laces later on, so who knows. I did enjoy the humour interjected at this point when Cinderfella questions the use of glass, asking if it’s dangerous, to which the fairy godfather replies ‘Beauty is pain, son’, closely relating to ideas of women, pain and fashion.
The fairy godfather is, of course, wearing an outfit that is similar to the fairy godmother’s in Disney’s Cinderella. My conclusion on the fairy godfather’s robe and not a suit or casual wear, is that it’s closer to the dress-like outfit of the fairy godmother. Although it’s interesting that the fairy godfather wears a robe that looks similar to the fairy godmother’s, but Cinderfella wears a suit and not a dress. Perhaps a robe is somehow considered more fitting for a ‘magical’ character.
The events unfold as we expect from the usual Cinderella tale and it leads to the Princess’ servant looking for the owner of the glass loafer. Note that the servant is male not female, undermining the idea that this is a mirroring of the original tale.
The narrative voice comes to an end as it tells us that the Princess and Cinderfella get married and live happily ever…before suddenly being interrupted by ‘We wouldn’t read this to our sons. Why read it to our daughters?’
And here’s where things start to get really interesting.
But hold tight. I’ll be posting more thoughts on this video and the book in the next few days…
In the meantime, if you’ve seen the video, post your comments below as I’d love to hear what you think.