Today I read a post on Facebook about a couple who decided to write a book to counter in their opinion the deleterious affect fairytales like Cinderella and Rapunzel have on the minds of young women. These stories are of young women who are trapped and helpless and feel they can’t move on without the male heroes rescue. The women wrote a contemporary book about real life women who created and manifested their own realities. I think some of the characters in the book were about women like Freda Kahlo, Helen Keller, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, maybe Oprah. All great names and definitely inspiring stories of the lives of women who are excellent role models for young women. I have to agree 100% that young girls need all the knowledge they can get on how to be strong for themselves.
I wanted to write this post in defense of the fairytales out there that do depict women shall we say taking their destiny into their own hands. One of them was my inspiration for the name of my storefront. The name Madame Fortuna’s Lucky Heart Shop was inspired by the heroine of a Sicilian Fairytale called Fortunata. It is the story of a girl who is named Unfortunate who takes her destiny into her own hands and becomes very Fortunate indeed. I do feel almost all of the fairytales that I have read that have strong inspiring women in them are not traditional American fairytales. I think perhaps what has happened is that many fairytales where the woman needs to be rescued have been watered down over the years. I do believe there is evidence to support that.
I am grateful that the couple who decided to write the book decided to do so. I do wonder if they stayed true to the magical nature of the fairytale theme. To me this is as equally important as doing away with the damsal in distress. In my opinion life devoid of the mysterious and magic even with a strong heroine character is boring. I do hope the authors stayed true to being dazzled by the mysterious fairy godmother and chased by the wicked evil step mother. My cure for the damsal in distress fairytales is surely to honor the many women who have stepped up to the plate to show us all how to carry the torch, but it is also to unearth the stories that are there waiting to be discovered that have already been told and now somehow forgotten. I am remembering now one of my favorite stories Isis and the Tamarisk Tree. In this story Isis resurrects her husband Osiris Isis by turning into a sparrow hawk. As a Hawk Isis hovers over the body of Osiris, fanning life back into him with her long wings. I really like the author Paul Goble. He left with us an amazing collection of Native American stories that may or may not have been forgotten. The stories recorded in his book The Boy and His Mud Horses was recorded during the period 1890 – 1920. Very few of these stories were in circulation by the time Mr. Goble published them. The Women Who Lived with Wolves & Other Stories from the Tipi is one of his books. The title of course brings to mind Women Who Run with the Wolves, by Clarisa Pinkola Estes. I will end this post with a Lakota story from one of Mr. Goble’s books called the False Husband which is in Goble’s book The Boy and His Mud Horses.
The False Husband (as recorded by Paul Goble)
One springtime a young man and wife took down their tipi, and packing everything on their dogs, they left the village. The wife needed deer skins to make new clothes. After a short distance they again pitched their tipi, among some cottonwood trees by the river.
Early each morning the man went out to hunt, and would return before the evening. The days passed, and then on one occasion it was already dark when his wife heard him return with meat and skins. He put them down outside the tipi, and threw the meat to the dogs which were barking. Knowing how tired he would be after such a long day, she told him to come inside and lie down, while she went out to cover the meat for the night.
When she came back inside, and was taking off his moccasins to rest his tired feet, she felt the big toe of his left foot was missing. She was terrified: the man was not her husband! She was alone, far from any help. He was surely an enemy, but chattering still, as to her husband, she told him she would just go out and close the smoke flaps. “The night may be cool,” she told him. “Go to sleep now. I’ll be with you right away.”
As she was adjusting the smoke flap poles, wondering which way to run, she heard the man snoring, sleeping. Taking her knife from her belt, she stole back into the lodge. She slashed once at his throat, dashed out and fled blindly into the darkness.
At first light she found her village, and told what had happened. People rushed to see; they found the man dead, an enemy, his throat cut. He had killed the woman’s husband, and had changed clothes trying to trick her, but was himself tricked, fatally.
Endnote by the Author:
Perhaps the woman married again. Almost certainly her husband would not have painted her brave deed, like the illustration here, (there is an illustration in the book of the heroic woman with her blade), because men only painted their own brave deeds; and women painted only geometric designs. Even so, a painting on skin lasts but a few years, whereas the memory of this woman’s bravery has been remembered for possibly hundreds of years.