Fairytales Can Be Feminist Too: An Introduction

Thursday, November 12, 2015


The image that comes with the word fairytales is no doubt the nostalgic wisps of childhood memories, daring sword fights, and maybe even the magic of true love's kiss. One thing is for certain, fairytales and folklore have been around for as long as the oral tradition and has thence moved to paper and ink in order preserve stories of old.

Depending on what translation, edition, or revision you encounter, the purpose for such far-fetched tales varies. Some were intended for children for didactic purposes, others were intended for the record keeping of spoken tales so that they were not lost once print became the common storytelling form, and some were even revised in order to reveal and retain the sexual and/or violent nature of the original tales.

Needless to say, fairytales have always seemed to grow and morph as the years pass. For example, Disney has greatly benefited from such an industry, producing old fairytales reimagined for children in mind. Also notice how, over fifteen years after what they call the "Disney Renaissance" was over, the company has produced newer versions of the classic tales such as Cinderella, Maleficent, and Beauty and the Beast for a newer generation. 

Thus, it is easy to conclude that fairytales and the novels that retell such classic stories are constantly changing and adapting in order to reflect society and the tastes of current culture. It is obvious that many things have changed in our culture over the last 30 years. People who identify as LGBTQ+ are more accepted in society (though we still have a ways to go), and feminism and gender equality is on the rise. That being said, these values are now being reflected in current Young Adult retellings in order to keep up with the relevancy and change our society has demanded.

In this blog series, I am going to reflect on this idea and analyze the following Young Adult titles alongside their original fairytale counterpart using a feminist lens:

The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman, Illustrated by Chris Riddell
Original tale: Briar Rose by Grimm

Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge
Wolf by Francesca Lia Block
Original tale: Little Red Riding Hood by Grimm

Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Cinderella by Judith Biorst
Original tale: Cinderella by Grimm

I invite you to join me in the research I will be conducting over these titles. If you haven't had the chance to read these books yourself, I encourage you to do so and get involved in the discussions during the next five postings.


  1. This sounds like an awesome idea! I can't wait to read the rest of this series. :)

    1. Thank you! I'm really excited about it! Expect some of the installments this week! :)


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