A British mother wants Sleeping Beauty banned from her son’s primary school (the British equivalent of an elementary school) because it “promotes immoral sexual behavior,” The Telegraph is reporting.
Sarah Hall was shocked when her six-year-old son came home with a children’s book copy of the story. As of this writing, it’s not clear if the book was an adaptation of the 1959 Walt Disney film, or an adaptation of one of the several versions of the 16th-century story that circulate throughout Europe to this day.
Regardless, the gist of the story is the same. Sleeping Beauty is placed into an accursed sleep and is awoken by a kiss from a Prince. And it’s that plot point of a stranger kissing a sleeping woman who can’t give consent that has Hall concerned.
“I think it’s a specific issue in the Sleeping Beauty story about sexual behaviour and consent. It’s about saying is this still relevant, is it appropriate?”
Hall doesn’t want the story banned from her kid’s school entirely. Rather, she only wants it made available to older kids who are at an age where they’re able to understand such concepts as consent.
“I actually think it would be a great resource for older children, you could have a conversation around it, you could talk about consent, and how the Princess might feel.”
If you’ve woken up with a man on top of you while you’re passed out at a party, you’ll know why Sleeping Beauty isn’t a favourite. https://t.co/YPhzqKnkeb
— Rebecca Manning Reid (@RebeccaCNReid) November 23, 2017
Like so many fairy tales of European origin, the version you’re familiar with is almost certainly an extremely-sanitized version, and you have Walt Disney to thank. Disney stories such as Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Pinocchio, and so many others are known to leave out more unsavory portions of the original fairy tales. Those original tales include such things as rape, murder, child abuse, and other topics that don’t translate well to G-rated movies.
In fact, says Metro writer Rebecca Reid, Sarah Hall may have a point. Sleeping Beauty does have its origins in rape culture.
In the original tale, by 16th-century Italian poet Giambattista Basile, the princess falls asleep through sorcery and is discovered by a king, who rapes her. She was only awoken when she gave birth to his twins, and she later went on to marry him.
And as Reid says, telling kids that raping a sleeping woman is acceptable and romantic is not the greatest idea.