Commentary on Part one The Fairytales in “Woman Hating” by Andrea Dworkin

book commentary, Fairytales

So far, I am really enjoying the book “Woman Hating” by Andrea Dworkin. Although this book was written in the 70’s, before the time of third-wave feminism, there are many characteristics that make this book seem beyond its time.

Part one of the book is about fairy tales.  I already had my doubts in my mind about the fairy tales I grew up with, but it seems as though my eyes were still half shut, trying to protect that which I held so dear. As an avid reader, fairy tales was my weakness as a child. I would re-read them, again and again. However, the ugly truth was brought to my full attention through these chapters.

“Terror, then, is our real theme.” page 35

Dworkin goes into detail about the characteristics of each figure in fairy tales, the mother, the stepmother, the father, the girl, and of course, “The heroic prince.” She uses the most famous fairy tales in order to get her point across, often taking snippets out of the tales and inserting them into her text.

In one of these sections, Dworkin writes about the father of Cinderella, how he was not dead, and how he watched Cinderella be beaten by her stepmother. “He was a good man.” I guess modern tellings of Cinderella, such as Disney, thought that was a stretch and killed off the father.

At times, Dworkin seems very radical, even for today. It is incredible to think this book was written forty years ago! However, her point of view is unhindered and anything but shy. She is straight forward and strong in her presentation. I was definitely captivated by her.

I like how she characterizes the princesses as victimized and often a tone of disgust creeps in when she talks about the princesses looking more like objects to the princes. I feel the same disgust and repulsion, especially as these stories are displaying a male-female relationship that embodies rape culture.

Now of course, these fairy tales are similar to the ones I grew up on, but Disney has switched some stuff around. However, one thing that has not changed is the evil queen or evil mother. Even now, movies are still giving these women no explanation. They are evil and vain and selfish and greedy and whatever else you can think of.

“Whether called mother, queen, stepmother, or wicked witch, she is the wicked witch, the content of nightmare, the source of terror.”

The way Dworkin speaks makes me feels as though she has been through a lot in her lifetime. I have not done any research on her to begin with just so I could have a fresh start to the book.

“It tells us that the happy endings is when we are ended, when we live without our lives or not at all.”

See you next sunday!