In Brief

Unhappily ever after: do fairy tales promote sexual harassment?

Mother wants Sleeping Beauty banned from school curriculum because prince didn’t get consent for kiss

The mother of a six-year-old boy wants his Newcastle school to ban Sleeping Beauty from the curriculum for younger children, arguing that it promotes unacceptible sexual behaviour - a prince kissing a woman while she sleeps.

“I think it’s a specific issue in the Sleeping Beauty story about sexual behaviour and consent,” mum-of-two Sarah Hall told the Newcastle Chronicle. “It’s about saying, is this still relevant, is it appropriate?”

The origins of Sleeping Beauty lie in a 16th century story called Sun, Moon, and Talia, by Italian poet and fairy-tale collector Giambattista Basile, The Daily Telegraph says. In the original story, a princess falls asleep and is raped by a king.

Metro.co.uk writer Rebecca Reid asks: “Is it really so bad to have a quick revisit to this story? To ask whether it’s the version we want to tell? Given that every fairy tale is hundreds, if not thousands, of years old and has been written and rewritten a hundred times, why not have another little think about it?” 

But some critics rubbish the notion that fairy tales could damage children. The Daily Express claims the debate “has gone beyond the realms of parody. What next? Georgie Porgie, pudding and pie? No longer able to kiss the girls and make them cry?”

The Daily Mail calls it another “barmy” example of political correctness and asks whether “self-appointed zealots” also question Cinderella’s body-shaming, in the form of the Ugly Sisters, and Jack and The Beanstalk’s health and safety breaches, along with gender fluidity in Little Red Riding Hood.

The mother who sparked the latest debate shared her frustrations on Twitter - where she faced a backlash from some other users.

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