The Victorian government is helping children rethink fairy tales – in an effort to combat gender stereotypes
A teaching aid in the Respectful Relationship program encourages early childhood educators and teachers discuss gender roles within the classic stories.
Six and seven-year-old students can play “fairy tale detectives” to find out “what kinds of things girls and boys and men and women get do in fairy tales”.
Kids are encouraged to swap the gender roles of characters in stories such as Cinderella, Snow White and Rapunzel.
“The types of behaviours considered acceptable, appropriate or desirable for girls and boys (‘gender norms’) are created by societies,” the program states.
It says central characters are more likely to be male and female characters “are more often in nurturing roles, and occupations are gender stereotyped”.
This leads “to a sense of entitlement in boys and lower self-esteem in girls”, according to the authors.
Podcast: Sallyanne Atkinson thinks a woman’s place is in the boardroom. (Post continues after podcast).
After reports of fairy tales being “at risk” in schools, Minister for Families and Children, Jenny Mikakos, said the government was not banning fairy tales.
“I read fairy tales to the kids in my family, I’ll continue to do that and I urge parents and early childhood educators to do the same,” Ms Mikakos told Mamamia.
“Kids should be allowed to grow up to be whatever they want – not made to feel like they have to fit into a gender stereotype,” she added.
The idea that girls might get the message early on that they don’t need to be princesses and boys are encouraged to have caring roles in society can only be a good thing.
So what if we grew up with a re-imagining of the classics – what would it look like? The Mamamia team had a go at it.
Perhaps Rapunzel wasn't really stuck in that tower. She was actually starting her property portfolio with a penthouse.
She had to occupy her home as a principal place of residence for a continuous period of at least six months to get her first-home buyer's grant.
That six months took forever, because she wanted to make more investments. Her hair grew so long and by the time she could invest again she really wanted to get a buzz-cut. After Rapunzel cut her hair she donated it.
It's a bit wide of the plot lines - but at least we are rethinking it.
What if Cinderella was a fella? That's been done before, but even the 1960s comedy, Cinderfella, there was still a wicked stepmother.
Bustle writer Mary Grace Garis says it's "really hard" to make Cinderella into an intelligent feminist discourse after she compared and looked for a feminist version of Cinderella on the big screen.
Garis suggests Cinderella needs to make it on her own.
Some at Mamamia agree. Cinderella goes wrong when asking her fairy godmother to make her a dress and a carriage for the ball.
She would have been better off using those magical powers to take her to another town far away from her stepmother and start her own sewing business.
Snow White was savvy for doing housework for the dwarfs for room and board. Services for room and board is what a lot of backpackers do.
But she took a wrong turn at apple-biting and trusting strangers. Some life lessons there.
In all seriousness, New Yorker writer David Edelstein praised the 2012 film Snow White and The Huntsman for its "smart, feminist thinking" of the well known tale.
"The story is better when it’s the heroine who slays the monstrous matriarch," he said.
Also, in this feminist-thinking version, Snow White is strong from her integrity and inner beauty.
She doesn't know what to do - “How do I inspire? How do I lead men?" she asks. But even that unsure Snow White didn't need a man at the end.