Letting Our Hair Down for Prince Charming and the Beast

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A researcher in London recently did a study where she suggests that fairy tales may end in horror. Graduate student Susan Darker-Smith’s thesis is that young girls who are fed an escapist literature diet of Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, and Rapunzel are more likely to end up in abusive relationships. She feels that the themes of such stories are that girls should be submissive and that awful significant others can change. Darker-Smith’s study is called The Tales We Tell Our Children: Overconditioning of Girls to Expect Partners to Change.

I know that a lot of people in fandom were especially raised on such literature. There tends to be a lot more subdom sexy play within fandom than amongst other social groups, but I tend to think there is not more domestic abuse. I know that wealthy and educated women get abused as well as poor and illiterate women, but I have the possibly incorrect notion that it tends to happen less often. It might, however, just be reported less. I suppose one is less likely to annoy the neighbors into calling the police if one has an acre of land between the abuse and the neighbors versus just a thin apartment wall.

Certainly Darker-Smith’s work is food for thought and should spur some interesting feminist debate.

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