Peggy Orenstein

“Maybe tangled will be a spectacular rump. maybe i will adore it: it could happen. But one thing is for sure: tangled will not be rapunzel. And thats too bad , because rapunzel is an specially layered and relevant fairytale, less about the love between a man and a woman than the misguided attempts of a mother trying to protect her daughter from (what she perceives ) as the worlds evils. The tale, you may recall, begins with a mother-to-bes yearning for the taste of rapunzel, a salad green she spies growing in the garden of the sorceress who happens to live next door. The womans craving becomes so intense , she tells her husband that if he doesn't fetch her some, she and their unborn baby will die.
So he steals into the baby's yard, wraps his hands around a plant, and, just as he pulls... she appears in a fury. The two eventually strike a bargain: the mans wife can have as much of the plant as she wants- if she turns over her baby to the witch upon its birth. `i will take care for it like a mother,` the sorceress croons (as if that makes it all right).
Then again , who would you rather have as a mom: the woman who would do anything for you or the one who would swap you in a New York minute for a bowl of lettuce?
Rapunzel grows up, her hair grows down, and when she is twelve-note that age-Old Mother Gothel , as she calls the witch. leads her into the woods, locking her in a high tower which offers no escape and no entry except by scaling the girls flowing tresses. One day, a prince passes by and , on overhearing Rapunzel singing, falls immediately in love (that makes Rapunzel the inverse of Ariel- she is loved sight unseen because of her voice) . He shinnies up her hair to say hello and , depending on the version you read, they have a chaste little chat or get busy conceiving twins.
Either way, when their tryst is discovered, Old Mother Gothel cries, `you wicked child! i thought i had separated you from the world, and yet you deceived me!` There you have it : the Grimm`s warning to parents , centuries before psychologists would come along with their studies and measurements, against undue restriction . Interestingly the prince cant save Rapuzel from her foster mothers wrath. When he sees the witch at the top of the now-severed braids, he jumps back in surprise and is blinded by the bramble that breaks his fall.
He wanders the countryside for an unspecified time, living on roots and berries, until he accidentally stumbles upon his love. She weeps into his sightless eyes, restoring his vision , and - voila!- they rescue each other . `Rapunzel` then, wins the prize for the most egalitarian romance, but that its not its only distinction: it is the only well-known tale in which the villain is neither maimed nor killed. No red-hot shoes are welded to the witch`s feet . Her eyes are not pecked out. Her limbs are not lashed to four horses who speed off in different directions. She is not burned at the stake. Why such leniency? perhaps because she is not, in the end, really evil- she simply loves too much. What mother has not, from time to time, felt the urge to protect her daughter by locking her in a tower? Who among us doesn't have a tiny bit of trouble letting our children go? if the hazel branch is the mother i aspire to be, then Old Mother Gothel is my cautionary tale: she reminds us that our role is not to keep the world at bay but to prepare our daughters so they can thrive within it.
That involves staying close but not crowding them, standing firm in one`s values while remaining flexible. The path to womanhood is strewn with enchantment , but it also rifle with thickets and thorns and a big bad culture that threatens to consume them even as they consume it. The good news is the choices we make for our toodles can influence how they navigate it as teens. I`m not saying that we can, or will, do everything `right,` only that there is power-magic-in awareness.”


Peggy Orenstein, Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Frontlines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture
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Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Frontlines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Frontlines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture by Peggy Orenstein
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