Monday, February 15, 2010

Beauty vs Beast? (Article)

Beauty & the Beast

I didn't post half of what I wanted to yesterday for Valentine's Day so please forgive me if I continue with this love and romance in fairy tales theme for a couple more days yet.


I've gone back and forth on whether to post the link to this but fairy tales don't shy away from dark and difficult issues so here goes:

I found this post, originally by Rod Van Mechelen quite a few years ago, at a site labeled "What Every Man Should Know About Feminist Issues". (You read the warning above, right?) It discusses the problems one man has in using "Beauty and the Beast" as an allegory for a successful marriage/relationship.

The article/post appears to have been written in response to a book called "Why Women Shouldn't Marry", which should tip you off to the strong feelings/opinions discussed. (In other words, it's one guy's complaint at feminist expectations (and treatments) of potential male partners. And no, I have not read that book.)

Please note: I do not agree with the points the writer of the article is trying to make, though I do not mean any disrespect. I actually think there's rather a lot wrong with the whole thing BUT at the same time I can understand some of the concerns the article writer has, as extreme as they are. The reason I'm posting a link here is because this is - apparently - how some people think, and it's a good example of the sorts of problems people have with using fairy tales as templates for relationships. (And yes, usually people of this mind have not read the originals or read fairy tales in general at all but are responding to the pop-cultural impression of the tropes.) It also is a different example of how fairy tales can be interpreted and how, even from a negative point of view, they can touch on deep issues.
Beauty and the beast
by Johanna Ost

Needless to say (but I will anyway) the post is written rather defensively in its presentation of worrying-yet-interesting ideas. If for nothing else, here's a great example of how some disillusioned or negative characters might think, which can be very useful for writers of fairy tale retellings.

Here's an excerpt:
The essence of the myth of the marriage relationship, as it is endlessly replayed in the timeless allegory Beauty and the Beast, is that marriage transforms the "Beast" into a man, and thereby empowers the "Beauty." But today's reality is that women are helping to transform most men into sex starved "Beasts" by eroticising themselves as evanescent "Beauties," and then promoting their sex as a scarce commodity by making men beg and pay for it.

Every woman who "plays hard to get" or lets men make all the first moves, plays a part in this.

Told you it may read as controversial! ;)

You can read the whole post HERE.

One final note: if you wish to leave a comment on the article (or this post) I welcome all points of view - I just ask that you please be respectful in choosing your words and be aware that issues like these can be emotional (and sometimes confusing) for people in their personal situations.
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