Archive for May, 2009

Apropos of Nothing

Posted by on Friday, 29 May, 2009

I was lying awake last night when for some reason it dawned on me that in “well known” fairy tales in our culture, the protagonists are predominantly female.

Snow White
Sleeping Beauty
Little Red Riding Hood
Goldilocks and the Three Bears
The Little Mermaid
The Princess and the Pea
Beauty and the Beast1

Compare With:
Jack and the Beanstalk
The Frog Prince3
The Boy Who Went Forth to Learn What Fear Was4

Hansel and Gretel – Obviously, one of each.
Puss in Boots – While the cat’s master was male, I think this and any other stories in which the main characters are animals fall into a seperate category and gender tends to be largely irrelevant.

1 Depending on whether one considers the Beast to be a protagonist, in which case this would be like “Hansel and Gretel.”

2 This is technically from a different culture. In fact, the only other stories which I could name from 1001 Arabian Nights (even if I do not actually know the plot) are “Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves” and around seven or so “Voyages of Sinbad.” Since all of these feature a male protagonist, I would hypothesize that that particular culture’s folklore does not contain the female dominance that I am attempting to illustrate here.

3 This story also features a female main character, (not to mention an animal) so might not rightfully belong in the “male protagonist” category.

4 Is this story even “well known”? I was really reaching by this point. There were some other tales that I did not include because I remember nothing about them beside the name. Whereas on the other end of the spectrum, (realizing that I am presuming a lot about my audience) I suspect that most of us could probably recount the story of “Little Red Riding Hood” start to finish right off the top of our heads.

Even ignoring the above caveats in my quick list of tales, the females outnumber males two to one. If we were to throw out anything with a footnote…. well then that is simply no contest at all.

I welcome your comments and counter examples.

For Years

Posted by on Friday, 22 May, 2009

In New Orleans a couple of years ago, the church at which we were staying had a time for people to share there experiences from the week. I do not remember any of what was said now, but I do recall the sudden realization that my mother did not know that I was currently in New Orleans helping hurricane victims. My mother did know that I had been there the previous year either. This is simply because my mother never knew about Hurricane Katrina.

It was stated at the recent dedication of CSUSB’s new literacy center, “Kathy taught ESL at 10 locations on three continents… in five different languages.” Through “Kathys’ Corner” in said literacy center, mother has managed to continue teaching children to read four years after she died.

What have you done lately?