STEROTypical Gender Biased Fairy Tales
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Stereotypical Gender Biased Fairy Tales
Children's literature and fairy tale stories have been used for centuries to capture young minds imagination and take its listeners, or viewers on fantastical and magical journeys into another time and place. Most children enjoy story time because it captivates, stimulates, and leaves an impression on their young minds. When children are frequently exposed to something as impressionable as fairytales, they will subconsciously come to believe the stereotypical roles of males and females in these stories to be true. The biased sexiest manner in which genders are represented in children's literature and fairy tales will have a significant impact on children's attitudes, and perceptions of gender appropriate behavior within society. There are clear-cut gender role expectations in society. Literature points to two main ideas, patriarchy brings about separate sexual standards (femininity is associated with being modest, refined, and demur, while being strong, brawny, and healthy are associated with masculinity; and second, the family is the primary socialization agent that perpetuates the disparity (Emma Concepcion Liwag). Most Fairy tales are sexist because it portrays female characters as the weaker sex. Gender biases for women are typically externally based from physical appearance (pretty, passive, powerless); rarely internal personal attributes. In direct contrast the male characters are usually his external attributes such as physical traits, power, and social status. It does not matter if he is ugly as a fish or frog to capture the young girl’s attention as long as he magically turns into a rich and mighty man of stature and material wealth that rescues the damsel in distress. Kasner pointed out the possible psychological preconditioning of gender roles in early childhood stages, “Freud and other psychoanalysis theorists considered identification an important personality development of early childhood. In addition, Kohlberg's cognitive approach suggests that children do their own gender stereotyping. They classify themselves male or female and then organize their behavior around that classification. They do this by adopting behaviors they perceive as consistent with their gender”. Studies indicate that not only are girls portrayed less often, but also both genders are frequently presented in stereotypical terms. Sexism in literature can be so insidious that it quietly conditions children to accept the way they see and read the world; thus, reinforcing gender images. This reinforcement predisposes children to not question social relationships. Numerous studies analyzing children's literature show the majority of books are dominated by male figures. In fact, male names were represented twice as often as females. Boys are typically described as adventurous, rescuers, fighters, and capable. Males symbolize ingenuity, and perseverance in many stories. Surprisingly, female characters in children's literature typically are represented as victims, and seldom triumph if not for beauty. Characteristically, females are represented as passive, submissive, and dependent on male figures. The female character is shown as achieving "her" goals because of the male's help. Rarely are female characters represented active or assertive. Clearly, strong girl roles are an exception. (Kasner)
Both modern and traditional fairy repeatedly reinforces the same prejudiced stereotypes in their stories of a...