114 comments for “Feminist Princesses

  1. matlun
    July 13, 2012 at 12:36 pm

    Alternative explanation for the PoC (P for Princess ;) ) and feminism correlation: In later, more modern films, Disney has been working at diversity and also at modernizing the stories from a gender perspective.

    Nice Friday story: At least some things are changing in the right direction.

  2. Melissa
    July 13, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    “perhaps because being non-white, it’s easier for (male, white) illustrators and writers to imagine them in non-traditional roles?”

    That definitely bears further discussion, though I think the biggest factor is which era the films are being produced in.

    It’s only been comparatively recently that corporate content producers have actually been responding to pressure to be more ethnically diverse, AND to present more active female characters. They certainly have a loooooooonnnnggggg way to go on that end, but I would wager the fact that some of the most recent Disney heroines are both non-white and less passive is just a marker of how North American culture and society has evolved since the earlier Disney films, albeit slowly and painfully.

    The “most feminist” heroines began to emerge from the time period where Disney, looking to keep animated features relevant, looked to take more creative liberties with their source content and/or more original ideas. If Rapunzel had been a major animated feature in the 1950s, I very strongly doubt that she’d be as high on the list as she is — she would have been Aurora 2.0, as passive in the movie as she is in the most commonly told version of the fairy tale.

  3. Esti
    July 13, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    I was going the say the same, matlun. That list is in roughly chronological order, with the more feminist princesses and the POC princesses both showing up in recent years.

  4. July 13, 2012 at 12:59 pm

    It….really, really bothers me that Mulan is made a “princess” for purposes of this list. It feels like trying to make Disney’s princesses less problematic.

    Oh, and love that the only actual princess of colour, Tiana, is also the only one who doesn’t end the movie rich and in a castle. No, she has to work, because that’s what good girls do when they’re not blond and *sweet* because they’re so busy trying to make a fucking living and being professionally nice. Also love that the only prince of colour in the whole damn list is this layabout asshole who needs reforming and doesn’t even really have a kingdom or money, and ends the movie being a cook. Awesome. No dog-whistles there at all.

  5. July 13, 2012 at 1:07 pm

    It’s also worth noting that Disney didn’t invent these women, for the most part – they adapted them from existing stories, some of which have been around for a very long time. Mulan, for instance, the most feminist of them all, has been iconic figure in China for hundreds of years. The original Little Mermaid was also hella more depressing and far less feminist – she can walk but only in constant pain, she doesn’t get her voice back and instead kills herself from the despair of rejection. I think that adds another dimension to interpreting this list – how much did Disney adapt the original story and how much did they add extra empowerment in versus build on existing awesomeness (if there was any).

  6. July 13, 2012 at 1:10 pm

    Also, none of this really makes these movies less repellent in so many other ways. :( I admit I have a lot of nostalgia for them because I was socialized on them, but damn there is so much fucked up shit there. I wouldn’t recommend Pocahontas to anyone for any reason.

  7. July 13, 2012 at 1:14 pm

    One more comment because I am being flaky today – I do actually find the original Little Mermaid story fascinating and I kind of love Andersen’s fairy tales for being dark and horrible, so I don’t want to suggest that the Disney version is superior. But the original, however interesting from a narrative standpoint, still doesn’t exactly provide an awesome role model for the purposes of this post.

  8. TheUnchosenOne
    July 13, 2012 at 1:14 pm

    It….really, really bothers me that Mulan is made a “princess” for purposes of this list. It feels like trying to make Disney’s princesses less problematic.

    Same here.

  9. Li
    July 13, 2012 at 1:19 pm

    To be fair, the inclusion of Mulan on the list of Disney “princesses” stems from Disney itself, as she’s part of the Disney Princess franchise.

  10. miga
    July 13, 2012 at 1:19 pm

    @macavitykitsune:

    1)You forgot Jasmine!

    2)Mulan is usually considered an “honorary” princess in the Disney franchise. Sort of a JV princess. I guess any woman-centered Disney film is automatically a princess film.

    3)Naveen did have a castle over in Maldonia, but his folks cut him off for being such a lazy-ass.

    Not that I disagree with your main points, because Disney is preeeety effed up and that list is a pretty shallow analysis of feminism.

  11. Esti
    July 13, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    @macavitykitsune

    Totally take your larger point, but Mulan is part of the “Disney Princess” franchise, so it’s not the post lumping her in there so much as Disney doing it.

    Also, I’d say that Aladdin was the first prince of color, but that just reinforces your point — he started out as a poor thief and tricked his way into fortune instead of showing up with a legit kingdom of his own.

  12. Li
    July 13, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    In things about the article that annoyed me: Snow White does not have “a kind of quirky beauty”. Her beauty just follows much older beauty norms than many of the other characters; Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is 75 years old and its release closer to the outbreak of the American Civil War than it is to the present.

  13. SophiaBlue
    July 13, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    Macavitykitsune and TheUnchosenOne, to be fair the author of this piece wasn’t the one who originally made Mulan a princess; that was Disney, who incorporated her into their Disney Princess line of merchandise. I will agree that it might have been better for the article to be called “Disney Female Protagonists From Least To Most Feminist”

    I always liked Mulan the character; listening to “Reflection” for the first time after I realized I was a trans woman was surprisingly powerful for me. I just wish Mulan the movie wasn’t so racist.

  14. Li
    July 13, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    Ugh italics fail.

  15. July 13, 2012 at 2:22 pm

    And this was why i was always rooting for Maleficent.

  16. cherrybomb
    July 13, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    Ariel was totally my role model when I was a child… And Ursula remains my favorite disney villian…. Her line about how there used to be fabulous feasts “back when [she] lived in the palace” always made me think there must be interesting back story there (King Tritons’ cast-off mistress? A disloyal member of the royal family?)

    I always interpreted Ariel as being a misunderstood free-spirit who wasn’t content to live the life expected of her. The prince was just a catalyst. As a child I didn’t read it as her giving up her voice for a man, but her doing whatever was necessary to achieve her dream of being a land-dweller.

    Damn it, all this reflection on the disney princesses is making me feel un-feminist about me and my ladyfriend’s plan to have disney princess dress-up sexy time. And I already picked out my sea shells, too. *Sigh*

  17. Wiley
    July 13, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    Not to bring the general IQ of this discussion down or anything, but I have a cute proto-feminist story about Disney:

    When I was about four and saw Beauty and the Beast for the first time I turned to my mom and said (of the Beast) “Well if THAT’s how he handles his anger I’m NOT EVEN going to marry him.”

    My mom hid her laughter very graciously.

  18. July 13, 2012 at 2:33 pm

    Ariel was totally my role model when I was a child… And Ursula remains my favorite disney villian…. Her line about how there used to be fabulous feasts “back when [she] lived in the palace” always made me think there must be interesting back story there (King Tritons’ cast-off mistress? A disloyal member of the royal family?)

    Fanfic writers! To your keyboards!!

  19. July 13, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    @macavitykitsune

    Totally take your larger point, but Mulan is part of the “Disney Princess” franchise, so it’s not the post lumping her in there so much as Disney doing it.

    Yes, Disney’s the main culprit for trying to make their problematic heroines unproblematic because they threw in this one chick who is an AWESOME princess! (I mean, she’s not, lol, but let’s ignore that because the rest is a clusterfuck of varying levels of racism and creepyromance.) My problem is that the list buys unquestioningly into that bullshit. If you’re going to talk feminism, take the time to discuss why someone might want to spin a more positive image by shifting goalposts. Otherwise you’re being every bit as disingenuous as the originals. And I’m sorry, but when the original is Disney that’s incredibly fucking disingenuous to begin with.

  20. July 13, 2012 at 2:41 pm

    I always liked Mulan the character; listening to “Reflection” for the first time after I realized I was a trans woman was surprisingly powerful for me. I just wish Mulan the movie wasn’t so racist.

    Absolutely. I loved the story for expressing a lot of my own gender stuff, growing up in rural India.

  21. July 13, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    Oh man, did I ever ‘ship Ariel/Ursula in my time…

    My terrible childhood story about Disney movies is walking out of The Little Mermaid bawling my face off because I thought it was so sad that she was leaving her dad behind. My (inept) father likes to lord that one over me.

  22. Li
    July 13, 2012 at 2:55 pm

    My parents got me a doll of the Beast with a removable mask when I was 5, probably to distract me from the birth of my brother. I promptly hacked the hair off the human form’s head. I’d almost forgotten about that.

  23. July 13, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    (King Tritons’ cast-off mistress? A disloyal member of the royal family?)

    Ariel’s mother, who was originally human, until Triton fell in love with her and brought her beneath the ocean. When he tired of her, he deliberately disfigured and exiled because she refused to obey Triton and return to being a nobody on land. Ursula plots revenge and a takeover. Realising that Triton would counter any coup she might pull off by holding her daughter hostage, Ursula attempts to gain total control over Ariel so that she can lock her away somewhere safe until she conquers Triton. Unfortunately, Ariel falls truly in love with Eric, triggering Ursula’s feelings of betrayal and resentment at her daughter making the same mistake she did and falling in love across species, and wants to punish her and save her at the same time. When that tactic fails, she goes completely berserk in her rage and attempts to kill both men. The rest of the story, we know.

  24. Bagelsan
    July 13, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    I still love Mulan best; she didn’t take any shit. ^^

    …Yeah, that’s all I got at the moment. Just some Mulan love.

  25. Bagelsan
    July 13, 2012 at 3:07 pm

    Do these lists ever include Esmeralda as a “princess”? She’s fairly badass, albeit waaay sexualized.

  26. cherrybomb
    July 13, 2012 at 3:10 pm

    I like it, Mac!

  27. SophiaBlue
    July 13, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    Baglesan, my impression of the list is that it includes only the women who were protagonists of their movies (or at least co-protagonists), which Esmeralda wasn’t, really.

  28. July 13, 2012 at 3:14 pm

    (And yes, ftr, I know my little fanfic at #23 has problematic tropes. It was kind of the point.)

  29. Bagelsan
    July 13, 2012 at 3:20 pm

    I think Brave honestly was the first truly feminist movie out of Disney or Pixar; it even passed the Bechdel test, albeit it with a female bear… :p

  30. Bagelsan
    July 13, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    macavitykitsune @23: Or Ursula could be the brilliant-but-ugly woman who finds no place in the beautiful and shallow mer society, and self-exiles miserably to continue her research into magic, becoming more embittered as merpeople flock to her now for “cures” to being fat like she is, and then fuck off without a backwards glance. She wants her pound of flesh, dammit, and she tragically drives herself to her own death trying to get it.

  31. Bagelsan
    July 13, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    (Must… stop… spamming Disney thread… must shower and go to work. XD)

  32. miga
    July 13, 2012 at 3:29 pm

    I think Esmerelda was on the Honorary Disney Princess tip for a very short time right after Hunchback of Notre Dame came out. Gawd that movie was all kinds of messed up.

  33. July 13, 2012 at 3:29 pm

    macavitykitsune @23: Or Ursula could be the brilliant-but-ugly woman who finds no place in the beautiful and shallow mer society, and self-exiles miserably to continue her research into magic, becoming more embittered as merpeople flock to her now for “cures” to being fat like she is, and then fuck off without a backwards glance. She wants her pound of flesh, dammit, and she tragically drives herself to her own death trying to get it.

    Ooh, good one!

  34. librarygoose
    July 13, 2012 at 3:35 pm

    My favorite Little Mermaid related story was when my niece saw it for the first time. She was in love with it, mermaids, talking animals, it was her dream. Then at the end when Ariel gets married and has to leave the sea she was flabbergasted, “Why is she leaving? Where is her tail? WHERE IS HER TAIL?” So I told her, “See, you marry a guy who has no idea about who you really are and you can never be a mermaid again.”

    I was never a big fan of the Princess movies, although I loved most of the other ones. I did burst into tears when the Terminator melted himself in the second movie.

  35. July 13, 2012 at 3:37 pm

    I think Brave honestly was the first truly feminist movie out of Disney or Pixar; it even passed the Bechdel test, albeit it with a female bear… :p

    Eh, I thought Tangled had a lot of positives to it that way, and it certainly passed the Bechdel test… and the main thought that I have about Tangled is “hoshit, finally a primer on emotional abusers with a vocabulary for kids!” Seriously, my wife looked at me about a half-hour into that movie and went “so, did they know your mom, or…?”

  36. librarygoose
    July 13, 2012 at 3:38 pm

    Gawd that movie was all kinds of messed up.

    It really was. I watched it again recently. It was so fucked up. I loved that movie when I was little, and jesus fuck was it messed up.

  37. miga
    July 13, 2012 at 3:40 pm

    I hear ya Bagelsan. Disney is one of those things that is filled with nostalgia for me and so is very tough to parse out. I saw/owned pretty much every Disney movie and could sing all the songs backwards and forwards (my mom was into show tunes so maybe this was the baby version?). When Princess and the Frog came out I fist-pumped so hard; aside from the Vodun appropriation I couldn’t wrap my head around what people didn’t like about it. Plus it was non-white interracial romance– I was thrilled about that.

    Hmm, though thinking about it couldn’t the good fairies in sleeping beauty pass the Bechdel test? They were always arguing over something or another and barely gave two shits about the prince for most of the movie, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they did.

  38. FashionablyEvil
    July 13, 2012 at 3:51 pm

    My terrible childhood story about Disney movies is walking out of The Little Mermaid bawling my face off because I thought it was so sad that she was leaving her dad behind.

    A friend of mine and I were talking about The Little Mermaid the other day and she said she had the same reaction–she couldn’t understand how Ariel was happy with Eric when she was never going to see her family again.

  39. Emburii
    July 13, 2012 at 3:54 pm

    Actually, ‘Tangled’ gets way messy if you pay attention to the dynamics of the princess’s ‘mother’/captor; she’s darker-skinned and darker-haired, specifically coded as an ‘other’ compared to our poor victimized Aryan protaganist. The ‘villian’ reminded me of some of my Jewish relatives in appearance, which led me to remember some of the nastier slurs and allegations that particular group has had to deal with in the past . At least the villain is feeding off the ‘magic’ of the girl’s hair instead of her blood, but that’s only so much better.

  40. Chuchundra
    July 13, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    No love for the amost forgotten Princess Eilonwy from The Black Cauldron. She was a pretty kick-ass female character for 1985.

  41. konkonsn
    July 13, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    @macavitykitsune

    Oh, and love that the only actual princess of colour, Tiana, is also the only one who doesn’t end the movie rich and in a castle. No, she has to work, because that’s what good girls do when they’re not blond and *sweet* because they’re so busy trying to make a fucking living and being professionally nice. Also love that the only prince of colour in the whole damn list is this layabout asshole who needs reforming and doesn’t even really have a kingdom or money, and ends the movie being a cook. Awesome. No dog-whistles there at all.

    I loved the music in this movie, but oh hell, it was full of so many problems that I’m sure other people have written about and better. Like, the only proper way for a black person to raise themselves up is to work themselves to exhaustion. If your a tricksy sort angry at Big Daddy’s money and you use that weird, non-Christian religion of yours (which is EVIL!), you’re going to get taken to the other side (I guess Mama Odie is there to counter the example, but her song is notably gospel influenced).

  42. July 13, 2012 at 4:09 pm

    Gawd that movie was all kinds of messed up.

    Just thinking about the fireplace scene makes my skin crawl. ewww….

  43. anon
    July 13, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    I think the real “Little Mermaid” is way more feminist, since the moral of the story is, “don’t sacrifice everything you have for someone you barely know simply because you think you love them.”

    The Little Mermaid falls in love with the prince, who doesn’t really know who she is and who is in love with someone else anyways. The mermaid sacrifices everything to be with him, but then realizes that he doesn’t know or care since he’s seen her for about an hour in his life, and then, when the choice comes down to killing him AND his wife or herself, decides not to murder two lovers simply because she had built a fantasy in her head not based on reality. The ending, like almost all of HCA’s stories, is she gets to go to heaven rather than totally disappear, since she behaved selflessly. It’s part religious morality tale (like all his stories), part autobiographical (HCA spent his whole life unrequitedly loving other people), and part (IMO) feminist morality tale.

  44. Emie
    July 13, 2012 at 5:49 pm

    “No, she has to work, because that’s what good girls do when they’re not blond and *sweet*”

    Really? You had to add hair color to that? Blonde, brunette, red-head it doesn’t matter. It’s white girls in general that are portrayed as not having to do any of the dang work. And yeah, that list is very problematic.

  45. July 13, 2012 at 7:05 pm

    Disney likes to forget the Black Cauldren movie ever existed. I saw that movie when I was very young and loved it so much. Then of course it was impossible to ever see again. I got into the book series the movie was based on and after being initially shocked and disappointed with how different it was from the movie, soon found myself loving the series so much. They are still my favorite books. When Disney quietly and without any fanfare released the movie and I got to see it again, some 20 years later, I was so shocked. Where was the Eilowny spunk and attitude that I loved so much from the books? Who was the milquetoast princess? I was so disappointed and disillusioned to find that the movie version Eilowny has nothing to do with the book version.

  46. July 13, 2012 at 7:10 pm

    Really? You had to add hair color to that? Blonde, brunette, red-head it doesn’t matter. It’s white girls in general that are portrayed as not having to do any of the dang work.

    I was referring to the fact that there hasn’t really been a brunette Disney Princess who wasn’t also a WOC (except maybe Belle, and even she’s a light brunette).

  47. July 13, 2012 at 7:19 pm

    I was referring to the fact that there hasn’t really been a brunette Disney Princess who wasn’t also a WOC (except maybe Belle, and even she’s a light brunette).

    Snow White too, but there’s still a trend. Also, hella emphasis on how *white* Snow White was, so there’s that too.

  48. July 13, 2012 at 7:22 pm

    In line with Mulan, Pocahontas wasn’t really a princess either, was she? Cheif’s daughter yes, but I thought most NA tribes didn’t have any type of monarchist hierarchies. Please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.

    Scads and scads of historical fuckwittery aside, she is probably my favorite for being pretty badassed.

  49. librarygoose
    July 13, 2012 at 8:25 pm

    Cheif’s daughter yes, but I thought most NA tribes didn’t have any type of monarchist hierarchies.

    I’m sure you have to be wrong, I know tons and tons of people whose great-great-great grandmother was an Indian Princess. Just based on math there must have been loads of them wandering around. Although…they were all Navajo…

  50. Tony
    July 13, 2012 at 8:51 pm

    So what’s more ‘feminist’ overall: Disney, or pre-Brave Pixar? On the one hand, Disney has been around a lot longer, so it’s a bit of a stacked deck, but Pixar’s prolific production means that they have a film to match every Disney princess. And what it all really boils down to is that at least Disney *has* female protagonists, however sexist, racist, and all kinds of problematic their stories were, whereas Pixar until Brave never had any female title characters. Is it better to be not portrayed at all than portrayed in a problematic light, or is it better to at least have a narrative POV that audiences identify with rather than be completely Othered into the role of secondary characters?

  51. JLondon
    July 13, 2012 at 9:35 pm

    A lot of the linked article bugged me. The author implied that running/ escaping/ hiding from danger is somehow less feminist than physically staying and fighting, as if getting the hell out of dodge when you’re in danger is a lack of bravery and not as admirable. WTF. Mulan, the winner of most feminist princess (as if feminism were a friggin’ competition), won because she’d taken on the least feminine expectations of her culture in lieu of more masculine roles. When you hold up any one positive, feminist characterstic such as “Defying gender norms” as the MOST important feminist value of which others in the line-up are somehow lacking, you’re setting people up to feel pressured not to be themselves if they so happen to feel comfortable with their characteristics without trying to be like the men of their culture. Also, how do Native Americans feel about Pocahontas and the representation of Indian culture? How do people from the Middle-East feel about Jasmine? Can we take a bad-ass character we like out of the context of the overall representation of the culture or race being represented?

  52. July 13, 2012 at 9:38 pm

    Tony,

    I think it’s a six/half dozen issue. Pixar has NO record until Brave (incredibly problematic) and Disney has a (somewhat) improved record from their initial actively anti-feminist work. Which is a goddamn shame, because there’s nothing necesarily gendered about most of Pixar’s stories (I don’t see how a genderflipped Up or Monsters, Inc. would have been even remotely implausible). And fairy tales, which were thoroughly eviscerated of female agency by the time Disney got to them, and Disney got to the bottom of that and kept digging.

    (Am I the only one here who enjoyed fairy tales as a teenager specifically because they had female protagonists, as opposed to the classic epics? Because when I read Hindu or Greek epics, I just hear that goddamn catchy MEN-MEN-MEN-MEN-MANLY-MEN-MEN-MEN title song from 2 1/2 Men…)

  53. karak
    July 13, 2012 at 9:41 pm

    Princess rage: Mulan is NOT a princess, but Esmerelda is, and I hardly ever see her in the Disney Princess line. *grumblegrumble*

    Alice is also sometimes called a princess, and she isn’t.

    But, I’d argue it’s progression, like a lot of people have mentioned, and also the fact that most of these stories are told in rigid format. Once you break part of the format, in this case, Whiteness, suddenly you have a huge amount of space to play in understanding and interpreting this story. Characters of color force a start of real creativity, and once that starts, the dam just breaks.

    I, for one, am eagerly looking forward to the Disney story where a Princess finds her Princess, or a Prince his Prince.

    Ariel is hands-down my favorite story and princess, because I would have shanked someone to get to be a mermaid as a kid (probably still would) but Belle was very special to me as a little girl because she was a brown-eyed brunette like me. I always assumed I was “average” or “boring” looking until I saw Belle, and it meant a lot to my five year old self that someone who looked like me was so beautiful. I look back on that moment as a tiny window into what PoC and other groups feel when they finally have someone who looks like them represented positively.

    The ‘villian’ reminded me of some of my Jewish relatives in appearance, which led me to remember some of the nastier slurs and allegations that particular group has had to deal with in the past .

    Oh my god. When I watched that movie, my friend leaned over and quietly whispered, “Her step-mother is every negative stereotype of a Jewish woman EVER” and I could. not. unsee. I don’t know if that was intentional or not, or some kind of unconscious racism, but yes, I saw it too.

    And, in my personal fanfiction, King Triton rules over all the species of the sea, and unified his Kingdom with alliance with the Octopus people and their Queen, Ursula. They ruled together until she was overthrown by popular demand, leaving her bitter but cruelly amused that the people who rejected her as their Regent now trusts the same woman with their very lives.

  54. ericoides
    July 13, 2012 at 9:44 pm

    I wanted to love the Frog Princess so much, and it sucked so bad, because it violated the number one fairy tale rule: the person who gets hirself into trouble is responsible for fixing things. And it is Naveen, not Tiana, who makes the bad decision that starts things rolling. They made Tiana too perfect — she needed to be the one who made the bad bargain, not him. It would’ve been easy too, plotwise.

    Also, I thought Naveen was an unappealing jerk. Eric at least was a genuinely nice guy. The plot wandered all over, what with cutesy characters sort of randomly appearing. It made me so angry — the first African American all-animated disney feature film, and they screwed it up so badly.

    Little Mermaid is a great story of the fairy tale type because she makes the dumb decision (trusting the sea witch for a quick and easy method to get what she wants instead of the difficult path of negotiating wit her father) and then has to fix things. Actually, she and Eric work as a team to defeat Ursula, and they use tools (the old ship) to do it, which is one reason I really like the film. And it seemed to me that she wasn’t completely cut off from her family since it was trivially easy for Triton to change her. He could always change her back for a visit, which is what I presumed he would do.

    Plus I absolutely hated the original ending, which I would say was *not* about not giving everything up to get a man, but about undergoing suffering to upgrade from subhuman to someone deserving of God’s love, a soul, and heaven. Souls, pffft!

    Merhida (sp?) in Brave is a classic example of this trope. Off she goes, asks for a potion and sho’ nuff there’s an unintended consequence. In Beauty & the Beast this aspect is somewhat disguised, because it’s Beauty asking for a rose that endangers her father, whose place she takes, which is kind of lost in the disney version. The disney version picked up on some elements of Robin McKinley’s version, which I adore, so I’m probably more willing to give it a pass than is perhaps deserved on strictly its own merits.

    Aladdin is about Aladdin; in the earlier stories, such as Snow White and Cinderella I’d argue the story is mostly about the male characters, the dwarves or the mice. Sleeping Beauty is indeed the blandest of the lot, with her fairy godmothers’ squabbles being the cause of the problem, and again, and iirc the story is more about them than her. Pocahontas isn’t really a fairy tale, in terms of structure.

    Tangled was another one that aggravated me, because it’s more about the reformation of the male character who also, you’ll note, is the one who de-magics her hair — at least Ariel made the decision *herself* to swap the tail for legs!

    Mulan of course, was great, no arguments there. She makes the dangerous choice (transgressing the law against cross dressing) and succeeds brilliantly.

  55. July 13, 2012 at 9:51 pm

    When I watched that movie, my friend leaned over and quietly whispered, “Her step-mother is every negative stereotype of a Jewish woman EVER” and I could. not. unsee.

    INFINITE D: D: D: D:

    I’m not so familiar with Jewish stereotypes, and I confess I spent most of that movie alternately laughing my ass off and triggered as fuck, so maybe it just didn’t occur to me then. Now, though, cannot fucking unsee. I don’t know how I missed that comment above….

  56. librarygoose
    July 13, 2012 at 9:59 pm

    I always read Little Mermaid old religion style. First there was Ursula and Trident, but Ursula was a Bad Lady and wanted too much power, so there was a battle and she was banished. Leaving Trident to rule unopposed over the mermaids and mermen he created. But he gave them free will so they did douchey shit and got into trouble. Since it was Disney, I’ll say Christian style…but that lends a lot of reading into the end when Ariel gives up her place in the “Eden” created by Trident…huh.

  57. librarygoose
    July 13, 2012 at 10:00 pm

    *Triton.

    I have no idea where my mind went while writing all that.

  58. July 13, 2012 at 10:09 pm

    I loooove Ariel, and even though giving up her voice for a man wasn’t a feminist thing to do, it was something the movie CRITIQUED, not encouraged, as demonstrated by Ursula’s words:

    “They’re not all that impressed with conversation.
    True gentlemen avoid it when they can.
    But they dote and swoon and fawn
    on a lady who’s withdrawn.
    It’s she who holds her tongue who gets a man!”

  59. cherrybomb
    July 13, 2012 at 10:32 pm

    even though giving up her voice for a man wasn’t a feminist thing to do, it was something the movie CRITIQUED, not encouraged

    They’re not all that impressed with conversation.
    True gentlemen avoid it when they can.

    I’d forgotten that amazing section of the song. how did I forget that? It’s one of my favorite parts!
    I need to watch The Little Mermaid tonight, it’s been too long.

  60. Donna L
    July 13, 2012 at 10:58 pm

    There are people here who know infinitely more about fairy tales and their academic study than I do, but there are a number of Grimm’s fairy tales, certainly, that are very strongly reminiscent of, and ultimately derived from, anti-Jewish stereotypes and archetypes. Rumpelstiltskin, obviously, is one example. And then there are the ones that are even more obvious, like “The Jew in the Thornbush.” It doesn’t end well, as you can probably guess from the title.

    I always used to enjoy watching The Little Mermaid because of Ursula, as much as she terrified my son when he was small (just as I was terrified by Maleficent once upon a time). She was, of course, drawn and conceived to resemble closely the person who was originally supposed to be her voice — none other than Divine.

  61. Unicorns
    July 13, 2012 at 11:09 pm

    librarygoose @ 53: I love that, especially because I always assumed something along those lines too (not that they co-ruled, but that Ursula had gotten into trouble for being a power-hungry *woman*)!

    On a ‘childhood story’ note, I used to pretend I was Ariel, and man, Ursula used to scare the SHIT out of me as a kid…but you know what? Nobody beats Maleficent, that was one bad bitch. I’m rambling and about to catch some Z’s, but I wonder what this discussion would start to look like if we started discussing feminism as applied to the Disney villainesses…maybe there is a list like that out there, I will Google!

  62. chava
    July 13, 2012 at 11:16 pm

    Meh. The new movies have gotten slightly, SLIGHTLY better with the princess characters. Where they haven’t gotten better is with all the other female characters.

    Basically, any older woman with power is Evil and Other. And obsessed with her lost sexual power/threatened by the new girl’s position in the patriarchy. It makes it hard to root for the heroine when they insist on making the stepmother/mother/queen/whomever such a terrible stereotype.

  63. cherrybomb
    July 13, 2012 at 11:33 pm

    Donna–
    I was always a fan of the original versions of fairytales… somehow I never looked back to examine rumplestiltskin.
    When I first read your comment I thought “poor girl gets pawned off by dumb dad who lies about her gold-making abilities, then marries the king who threatened to kill her is she didn’t make gold”….. “promises baby to strange magic guy who wants to steal and…. eat (?) baby…. Oh, duh. Now I see the antisemitism.”
    At six I was mostly concerned with why the daughter was willing to marry the king, since he just wanted her for her gold making abilities, and why the dad would tell such a ludicrous lie. But wouldn’t have been able to “see” antisemitism in a story, as I wasn’t aware of it as a child (not til 5th grade, anyway, when I read “number the stars” and became very preoccupied* with the holocaust). I’ve never heard of “The Jew in the Thornbush,” but that does indeed sound like it can’t end well. I’m almost afraid to google it.

    My son was (and still is) terrified of Ursula, too. I don’t know why, I always thought she was fabulous.

    *preoccupied in an “OMG how on earth was this allowed to happen–and in fairly modern times?!” kind of way.

  64. Miss S
    July 13, 2012 at 11:36 pm

    I haven’t seen Mulan, but I briefly read the summary. This discussion came up on another website the other day, and it’s my understanding that she had to pretend to be a man in order to succeed.

    That’s as appealing to me as a story about a Black woman who had to pass as white to get ahead. It’s not inspiring, it’s fucked up. Am I missing something?

    I hate that the Black princess couldn’t have been more of a typical princess. The issue of Black women and femininity is a little more complex than some realize.

    I loved the Little Mermaid. Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t Ariel want to become human and live on the land before meeting the prince? I thought she did. I still find the idea of a young woman wanting to explore the unknown world inspiring. And yes, I do have the Little Mermaid theme song on my Ipod :)

  65. Clementine
    July 13, 2012 at 11:48 pm

    Okay, I can’t resist. Upon a recent rewatch of Little Mermaid, I thought it was actually pretty feminist. Not in a “she kicks ass and doesn’t need a man at the end” way, necessarily, but I thought she made the best out of a bad situation. In my interpretation, she’s kind of like an anthropologist who wants to do research (heck, she even curates an entire collection of human artifacts), and her father is the ultimate patriarch (what with the “you’ll do what I say when you’re in my kingdom!” stuff) and goes into a violent destructive rage when she tries to assert her sexuality and her passion for research and learning. She chooses to leave a deeply patriarchal society, one in which she has no power (because her dad has a fucking trident that can blow the shit out of everything) and leaves for a human society that isn’t a whole lot better but where she’s at least on reasonably equal footing with her beau, even if she can’t speak (but at least he can’t blow her up with a trident)

  66. July 14, 2012 at 12:04 am

    I haven’t seen Mulan, but I briefly read the summary. This discussion came up on another website the other day, and it’s my understanding that she had to pretend to be a man in order to succeed.

    That’s as appealing to me as a story about a Black woman who had to pass as white to get ahead. It’s not inspiring, it’s fucked up. Am I missing something?

    She does, initially, but it’s explicitly attributed to sexism and is part of the conflict. Ultimately she reveals herself as a woman and forces everyone to deal with that – there’s no message that pretending to be a guy is better than being a woman, just the opposite. There’s a lot of racism in the Disney version, but it does probably fail the least on sexism.

  67. Cactus Wren
    July 14, 2012 at 1:22 am

    “They’re not all that impressed with conversation.
    True gentlemen avoid it when they can.
    But they dote and swoon and fawn
    on a lady who’s withdrawn.
    It’s she who holds her tongue who gets a man!”

    And as Katha Pollitt pointed out in her essay The Smurfette Principle, since Ursula’s the villain, we’re really not supposed to notice that she’s right.

  68. anon
    July 14, 2012 at 2:53 am

    There may be anti-Semitic undertones to Grimm’s fairytales, but Hans Christian Andersen actually was actively a spokesperson against anti-Semitism. His main adult fiction was about the evils of anti-Semitism and the hardships of Jews in Northern Europe. It was apparently tedious and overly-didactic, so pretty much no one has read it and it is forgotten. Any anti-Semitism in the Little Mermaid movie would be an addition by Disney.

  69. Donna L
    July 14, 2012 at 3:14 am

    People weren’t talking about The Little Mermaid in that context, but an entirely different movie.

  70. Medea
    July 14, 2012 at 3:45 am

    Oh my god. When I watched that movie, my friend leaned over and quietly whispered, “Her step-mother is every negative stereotype of a Jewish woman EVER” and I could. not. unsee. I don’t know if that was intentional or not, or some kind of unconscious racism, but yes, I saw it too.

    I figured it was deliberate–that someone involved in the making of the movie was getting revenge on his or her Jewish mother.

  71. rayuela23
    July 14, 2012 at 3:53 am

    I guess she’s not a princess which is why she didn’t make it in here, but Disney’s Anastasia is quite amazing. I don’t remember all of the plot, but at the end Anastasia and the cute boy she’s been hanging with are fighting the evil monster (who I’m pretty sure is… the spirit of evil communism?… or something?) Anyway, boy gets knocked out, Anastasia rallies, throws some explosives into the centre of the monster and then *runs to boo and lies over him, sheltering his unconscious body from the shrapnel*. I’m not making that up. Seriously, I think my mouth dropped open in that scene.

  72. librarygoose
    July 14, 2012 at 4:21 am

    Anastasia wasn’t Disney, it was Fox.

  73. Li
    July 14, 2012 at 4:24 am

    rayuela, Anastasia was most certainly a “princess” in the sense of being royalty, but the film wasn’t Disney.

  74. rayuela23
    July 14, 2012 at 5:25 am

    Ah, OK, thanks! I thought it seemed too out there for belief…

  75. samanthab
    July 14, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    JLondon, good point. I’m not sure why violence is so often equated with feminist liberation. For the same reason, I’ve never been a fan of Ridley Scott’s would-be feminist movies nor the Battlestar Gallactica series. Violence is, by its nature, creates hierarchies. It can’t be about equality- it iss always about winners and losers. I’m not interested in its glamorization, no matter which gender’s involved.

  76. karak
    July 14, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    @samanthab:

    Many earlier feminists stood on the border of being a domestic terrorist, and a few even walked over it.

    I, personally, have no issue with violence, because it makes former winners losers. I’ve never understood the need to equate feminism with pacifism–I honestly believed that’s internalized misogyny, that women should be good and not make messes by arguing, fighting, or “making a scene” and if we DO decide to stand up for ourselves, we have to be perfect angel-martyrs, to be ignored or pitied.

  77. July 14, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    But they dote and swoon and fawn
    on a lady who’s withdrawn.
    It’s she who holds her tongue who gets a man!”

    Nahida, I know I’m replying late, but that song stuck in my brain last nigh and I think I finally put my finger on why that song’s subtly subversive: the idea of “holding her tongue” could easily be symbolic, as Ursula figuratively “holds” Ariel’s tongue (her voice) by the end of the song, and Ariel doesn’t actually get Eric until she reclaims her voice.

    Which isn’t to say the rest of the movie isn’t fugly, feminism-wise, but… yeah. >_> Okay, maybe I just love Ursula way too much.

  78. samanthab
    July 14, 2012 at 1:50 pm

    Karak, if you’re going to call pacifism internalized misogyny, you’re going to have to do more to justify it. Misogyny entails hate, and pacifism aims to refuse hate. So right there you have so problems.

    Also, you’ve made a leap there. You can be opposed to the relishing of gratuitous violence and still not be a pacifist. A lot of ground exists between those binaries.

    You haven’t really refuted my point that violence is fundamentally hierarchical, either. You’ve just decided you like some hierarchies even if they’re the stuff of fantasy. How often is violence really used to good ends as opposed to horrific?

  79. DonnaL
    July 14, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    Jane Yolen on Rumpelstiltskin:

    So I looked more carefully at the little man, Rumplestiltskin, himself. He has an unpronounceable name, lives apart from the kingdom, changes money, and is thought to want the child for some unspeakable blood rites. Thwack! The holy salmon of inspiration hit me in the face. Of course. Rumplestiltskin is a medieval German story. This is an anti-Semitic tale. Little man, odd name, lives far away from the halls of power, is a moneychanger, and the old blood-rites canard” (Yolen 2000, 288).

  80. Treebeard
    July 14, 2012 at 4:30 pm

    she couldn’t understand how Ariel was happy with Eric when she was never going to see her family again.

    I thought the implication was that this was the start of diplomatic relations between the two countries, what with them all being at the wedding and everything. So while Ariel will never be able to live underwater again, she can keep in touch with her family because they can all meet up at the beach and talk on the surface of the ocean.

  81. Treebeard
    July 14, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    Also, I am always confused when people say Ariel gives up her whole culture for a man. The movie is very clear that Ariel is obsessed with the surface-dwellers and wanting to be like them long before she sees Eric.

  82. DonnaL
    July 14, 2012 at 4:36 pm

    A link to “The Jew in the Thorns” if anyone’s interested in Grimm’s fairy tales that aren’t even as thinly-disguised as Rumpelstiltskin:

    http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/grimm110.html

    It was commonly included in published Grimm’s collections until the 1940’s; I have a copy of the edition with Arthur Rackham’s illustrations, from about 1910, and there’s a color plate illustrating the story.

    There’s another one called “The Good Bargain” that’s similarly anti-Jewish.

    And then there were tales collected by the Grimms that weren’t subtle at all, as you can see from the very beginnings of these two. You may notice a pattern:

    The Jews’ Stone

    In the year 1462 in the village of Rinn in Tyrol a number of Jews convinced a poor farmer to surrender his small child to them in return for a large sum of money. They took the child out into the woods, where, on a large stone, they martyred it to death in the most unspeakable manner. From that time the stone has been called the Jews’ Stone. Afterward they hung the mutilated body on a birch tree not far from a bridge.

    The Girl Who Was Killed by Jews
    Germany

    In the year 1267 in Pforzheim an old woman, driven by greed, sold an innocent seven-year-old girl to the Jews. The Jews gagged her to keep her from crying out, cut open her veins, and surrounded her in order to catch her blood with cloths. The child soon died from the torture, and they weighted her down with stones and threw her into the Enz River.

    A few days later little Margaret reached her little hand above the streaming water. A number of people, including the Margrave himself soon assembled. Some boatmen succeeded in pulling the child out of the water. She was still alive, but as soon as she had called for vengeance against her murderers, she died.

    You can probably guess how it ends.

  83. July 14, 2012 at 4:46 pm

    @Donna,

    What the hell did I just read? that wasn’t even a story, it was just sort of “let me paste a narrative around my anti-Semitism so it has an excuse to be in this book”. D:

  84. July 14, 2012 at 6:50 pm
  85. stonebiscuit
    July 14, 2012 at 8:46 pm

    Treebeard @ 81:

    Also, I am always confused when people say Ariel gives up her whole culture for a man. The movie is very clear that Ariel is obsessed with the surface-dwellers and wanting to be like them long before she sees Eric.

    Yes, this. I can’t tell if people (not just in this thread) are misremembering, or just ignoring story elements that don’t fit into their pre-determined narrative, but Ariel is desperate to be human from the beginning. The very first thing we see her doing is digging up human artifacts. She sings “Part of Your World” before she even lays eyes on Eric. At the end of The Little Mermaid, Ariel gets what she wants: to be a human. Furthermore, her father finally recognizes her agency and ability to make decisions for herself, and uses his power to honor her choice. Someone please explain to me how that’s problematic. (Also, there’s no indication she can’t be changed back, or that Eric could be made a merman, or that the other merpersons can’t be made human, for visits and suchlike.)

  86. teaspoon
    July 15, 2012 at 6:06 am

    How was Mulan racist?

  87. Tracey
    July 15, 2012 at 1:39 pm

    I think the best part of Mulan is not that she defies gender stereotypes in and of themselves, but that she signs up for the army in order to spare her father. She is willing to sacrifice her life to save her father’s and also knows that she doesn’t see a future for herself in what her family initially expects of her.

  88. DonnaL
    July 15, 2012 at 2:18 pm


    @Donna,

    What the hell did I just read? that wasn’t even a story, it was just sort of “let me paste a narrative around my anti-Semitism so it has an excuse to be in this book”. D:

    Don’t forget, those were just the beginnings of those stories. They both go on, although pretty much in the same vein.

    If you want an exciting plot, go read The Jew in the Thornbush.

  89. SophiaBlue
    July 15, 2012 at 4:28 pm

    How was Mulan racist?

    It’s been a while since I’ve seen it, but from what I recall:

    1. The Huns’ character design makes them literally look like monsters. Gray skin, the whites of their eyes are black, and if I remember right at least some of them actually had fangs.

    2. Chi-Fu, the adviser character, who has a stereotypical Chinese design and is the only character with any kind of accent, is portrayed extremely negatively.

  90. July 15, 2012 at 5:12 pm

    If you want an exciting plot, go read The Jew in the Thornbush.

    *wibbles* I read that one too, it was what I was referring to! It was pretty horrific.

    I’m suddenly realising how much privilege I have as a Hindu, that most older narratives about my religion and culture are positive, even those written by other cultures. (It takes until British colonial influence for the ugly shit to really start, and even then, there was a well-intentioned “orientalist” for every white guy who thought we were all barbarians…)

  91. July 15, 2012 at 5:29 pm

    …I’m just going to put this out there, as a storyteller, to anyone who’s wondering where the racism is in these Disney narratives…

    If the producers’ thought process seems to have been “You know who would be hilarious in this movie filled with X people? A Stereotypically X Person! Hahahahahaha!” then it’s racist. Seriously. Fullstop. Whether it’s a racist caricature of Powerful Chinese Guy (Mulan), The Black Man With Aspirations (Jungle Book, which if you think about it technically has an all-POC cast), The Layabout Brown Dude (The princess and the frog, one of the few human-centric Disney movies that actually passes a race-Bechdel)…. it’s all automatically racist.

  92. SaraC
    July 15, 2012 at 5:42 pm

    Brave’s Merida wasn’t in the article- technically, Brave is Pixar. However, just in case anyone is interested: http://thenewinquiry.com/essays/just-another-princess-movie/ is a really interesting (feminist minded) review of that movie. I was very impressed with Brave: even though it’s a “princess movie,” there’s no love interest, and it’s primarily about the relationship between a mother and a daughter.

    Also, to the Little Mermaid fans out there who really want to geek out, Anderson’s version was heavily inspired by siren tales, particularly French folktales about Melusine and perhaps Undine, a French literary story. They’re all really cool and worth reading.

  93. Bagelsan
    July 16, 2012 at 10:37 am

    Whether it’s a racist caricature of Powerful Chinese Guy (Mulan)

    You mean Chi-Fu/the scribe guy?

  94. July 16, 2012 at 11:09 am

    You mean Chi-Fu/the scribe guy?

    Yes and no? I was thinking of Shang’s father, who certainly fulfills the Stoic Asian Dude trope while being powerful, but Chi-Fu’s pretty much a caricature, too. And then there’s the totally random bonus of having the comic relief be inexplicably “black” in terms of stereotypical sense of humour and accent. Because, you know, those people with that type of behaviour and all.

    I just…I love that movie, I do. But most days, I’d rather watch its (awful, btw) Hindi dub; it makes most of the icky go away.

  95. July 16, 2012 at 11:41 am

    @ SaraC:

    Disney bought Pixar in 2006.

    @Tony:

    So what’s more ‘feminist’ overall: Disney, or pre-Brave Pixar? On the one hand, Disney has been around a lot longer, so it’s a bit of a stacked deck, but Pixar’s prolific production means that they have a film to match every Disney princess. And what it all really boils down to is that at least Disney *has* female protagonists, however sexist, racist, and all kinds of problematic their stories were, whereas Pixar until Brave never had any female title characters.

    But it does nobody any good if the portrayals are rotten. Fangs for the Fantasy discuss these tropes often with regards to POC and LGBT characters.

    Also, two of the most feminist characters (imo) ever animated for the big screen by an American company were Ellen Par/Elastigirl and Edna Mode in Pixar’s “The Incredibles.”

  96. EG
    July 16, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    The “best” thing about “The Jew in the Thornbush” is that in the earlier known versions, according to D.L. Ashlimann, a folklore scholar, it was a monk in the thornbush, so, basically, nineteenth-century Germans went out of their way to make it an anti-semitic story.

  97. July 16, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    so, basically, nineteenth-century Germans went out of their way to make it an anti-semitic story.

    -_- If someone did that in a story it would be considered ham-handed and ineffective foreshadowing…

    It’s really beginning to sink in why so many Jews get ragingly angry when people refer to the Holocaust as a one-off “shocking” thing. It’s only shocking and unexpected in its scale, not that it happened at all.

  98. cherrybomb
    July 16, 2012 at 4:15 pm

    It’s really beginning to sink in why so many Jews get ragingly angry when people refer to the Holocaust as a one-off “shocking” thing. It’s only shocking and unexpected in its scale, not that it happened at all.

    It’s shocking for (many) children to learn, since the world is expected to be “fair” even when it’s obviously not. (source: every child who has ever said “but that’s not faaaaaiiiir”)

    Adults who are *shocked* by massive-scale injustice (or even small scale injustice) tend to just be soaking in their own privilege. IMHO
    Sadly I’ve met way too many people who are easily *shocked.*

  99. EG
    July 16, 2012 at 5:55 pm

    Yes. In his massive clearing house website on folktales, fairy tales, and mythology, Ashlimann has a special entry on anti-semitic tales.

    Trigger warning for the stories in that second link. They are stomach-churning.

    There are 13, counting “The Jew in the Thorns.” Eight are from Germany, one is from Austria, three are from Italy, and one is from Switzerland.

    This is not evidence of some kind of unique German antisemitism, of course, as what we have depends on who’s collecting tales and which tales they deem worthy of recording, etc. But these are the kinds of tales in common circulation regarding Jews as late as the mid-19th century.

  100. matlun
    July 16, 2012 at 6:45 pm

    It’s really beginning to sink in why so many Jews get ragingly angry when people refer to the Holocaust as a one-off “shocking” thing. It’s only shocking and unexpected in its scale, not that it happened at all.

    Some antisemitic stories are hardly the most convincing illustration of this.

    Anyone who knows European history should be aware that antisemitism has blossomed into full scale pogroms depressingly often.

  101. July 16, 2012 at 9:17 pm

    EG,

    That website is admirable. Its contents are sick. I am so sorry.

  102. EG
    July 16, 2012 at 10:03 pm

    Some antisemitic stories are hardly the most convincing illustration of this.

    Anyone who knows European history should be aware that antisemitism has blossomed into full scale pogroms depressingly often.

    Ye-e-e-ess. And I’ve referenced them on several other threads. But since this is a thread about fairy tales, I thought I’d go with the folklore, just to stay on topic.

  103. Donna L
    July 16, 2012 at 10:08 pm

    Macavity, the website EG cited happens to be exactly where I found those other lovely stories I cited above about Jews murdering children, etc. I guess it’s convenient to have so many examples gathered in one place, as depressing as it is.

    Interesting that “the Golem” was put at the end of the list, as # 14. An antidote to all the anti-Semitism, I guess! I always loved that story (and the German silent movie) as a child. Marge Piercy wrote a science fiction novel, loosely based on the Golem story, that I liked a lot.

  104. EG
    July 16, 2012 at 10:19 pm

    I’m sorry, Donna. I didn’t mean to step on your posts–I was out of town and must not have read carefully enough.

    There’s a great golem story in one of the Ellen Datlow/Terri Windling anthologies. I’ll try to track down which one next time I’m in my office.

  105. Donna L
    July 16, 2012 at 10:48 pm

    No, no, please, no apologies necessary! I was just pointing out that that happens to be where I found links to the actual texts of a couple of the stories I mentioned. I think that stories like “The Jews’ Stone” and “The Girl Who Was Killed By The Jews” aren’t technically part of Grimms’ Fairy Tales; they were in a separate volume of “legends” and folktales that the Grimms compiled. “The Jew in the Thornbush,” on the other hand, was not only one of the fairy tales, but was selected for inclusion in an early edition of tales that were thought to be specifically appropriate for young readers.

  106. July 17, 2012 at 12:26 am

    @Donna,

    I didn’t realise; I only read the extracts you posted, and then the Jew in the Thornbush one (which squicked me out too hard for me to really notice the webpage or anything). And yeah, the cumulative effect has a lot more impact here…

  107. matlun
    July 17, 2012 at 9:40 am

    Ye-e-e-ess. And I’ve referenced them on several other threads. But since this is a thread about fairy tales, I thought I’d go with the folklore, just to stay on topic.

    That was not a criticism against you.

    Rereading my comment now it seems a bit unnecessary. I think I was just in a bad mood and reacted against macavitykitsune’s comment which implied an unawareness of historical antisemitism.

  108. July 17, 2012 at 11:25 am

    Rereading my comment now it seems a bit unnecessary. I think I was just in a bad mood and reacted against macavitykitsune’s comment which implied an unawareness of historical antisemitism.

    Oh yes, because everyone everywhere should know medieval European history, because reasons. Yes, I was unaware of historical anti-semitism, aside from that it exists, and didn’t know exactly how far back or how deep it ran. I’m in the process of educating myself.

    How aware are you of sectarian wars between Shaivites and Vaishnavites in the sixth and seventh centuries and the lingering hostility from that breach and how that division shaped the cultural history of South India? Oh, you’re not? Because it’s not the history of where you’re from?

    Riiiight.

  109. matlun
    July 17, 2012 at 11:41 am

    @macavitykitsune: Good point. It totally slipped my mind that you were Indian, which just makes my original comment even worse.

    I apologize. Mea culpa.

  110. July 17, 2012 at 11:59 am

    *sigh* Okay, and I lost my temper there. I’m sorry I got pissed off, but matlun, please do remember I have a completely different historical background and, outside the 20th century, only pockets of knowledge about certain aspects of world history, and that I know about as much about the medieval history of any country as you probably know about the medieval history of the Cholas. I don’t have much historical knowledge of anti-Semitism because it’s not really something the average Indian library stocks texts on, okay? I’m trying to educate myself, same as everyone else here. It isn’t necessarily that I’ve been blinkering myself or toddling along as if anti-Semitism isn’t a thing; I simply do not have enough context to know all about everything and until very recently, no real forum to discuss those issues on. I’d rather not corner every Jew I know with “I require historical context, so I demand tell me all about your people and their traumas”, okay?

  111. July 17, 2012 at 5:03 pm

    @matlun,

    I posted that second post nearly at the same time you did! I’m sorry, I didn’t see your apology until just now. Thanks, and I’m sorry I got pissed off, too.

  112. Li
    July 20, 2012 at 2:12 am

    I’m reading The Picture of Dorian Gray at the moment and the random bursts of antisemitism are just excruciating. The throwaway line about Jewish doctors infusing someone with the blood of children is especially heinous.

  113. EG
    July 20, 2012 at 10:59 am

    I have a friend who, when he was little, saw a modern Passion Play while he was on a road trip with his family in which a Jewish doctor tries to convince Mary to have an abortion. I have always sensed a confluence between the forced-birth “evil doctors killing babies” rhetoric and the blood libel, and I was unhappy to have this confirmed.

  114. July 20, 2012 at 11:02 am

    I have a friend who, when he was little, saw a modern Passion Play while he was on a road trip with his family in which a Jewish doctor tries to convince Mary to have an abortion.

    Oh, racist fanfic! Awesome. Fuck. Or, you know, not.

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