Some movies and stories are classic, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re not problematic. A mom in the UK wants the story of Sleeping Beauty removed from her 6-year-old son’s curriculum, and used instead as a tool to teach consent to older kids. The story has been adapted many, many times since it was written. But the current version still has some issues regarding sexual behavior and consent. Sarah Hall feels like the message it sends isn’t appropriate for young kids.
If you recall, in order for Sleeping Beauty to wake up, the prince must kiss her while she’s unconscious. However, with all the news about sexual abuse and consent, Sarah feels like subtle message in the story discounts how important consent is.
— Sarah Hall (@Hallmeister) November 19, 2017
Sarah says she normally wouldn’t have given it a second thought. But the coverage about sexual abuse, and the #MeToo campaign in particular, have opened her eyes to the culture of consent. Says Sarah, “These are indicative of how ingrained that kind of behaviour is in society. All these small things build up, and they make a difference.”
The story book she’s referring to has a character named Kipper who urges the prince to kiss Sleeping Beauty. Kipper tells the prince, “Then she wakes up. Everyone knows that.”
Sarah doesn’t want to book removed from schools completely. While she feels the message can be difficult and confusing for younger children, using it as a tool to teach older kids about consent is a good idea. Sarah says, “”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.”
It’s worth noting that many stories that have been adapted into Disney movies have very dark roots. The original story of Sleeping Beauty is particularly disturbing.
“The Sun, Moon, and Talia” was written by Giambattista Basile. In it, a king happens upon Talia’s (Sleeping Beauty) castle, where he breaks in and finds her unconscious on her bed, having pricked her finger on flax from the spindle. The king was unable to wake her. So, he rapes her and leaves her in her bed. Talia becomes pregnant as a result of the rape, and is eventually woken after she gives birth TO TWINS. One of the twins, unable to find a nipple, sucks on her finger and removes the flax from her finger.
So Talia literally wakes up, MOTHER TO TWINS, not knowing what the actual hell happened. Turns out, the king was married. And his wife tried to have the twins killed, cooked, and fed to the king. She also tried to burn Talia, the rape victim, at the stake. Everything works out in the end, and Talia marries her rapist. So. Yay. Maybe we should remove Sleeping Beauty from … everywhere.