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Wednesday, September 10, 20087:44 PM

Feminist Criticism

Q: What might the feminist version of Sleeping Beauty be like?


A: A long time ago there was a king and queen who said every day, "Ah, if only we had a child," but they never had one.

But it happened that once when the queen was bathing, a frog crept out of the bathwater to the edge of her tub, and said to her, "Your wish shall be fulfilled, before a year has gone by, you shall have a daughter." In utter shock, she shouted "lai ren ah!" as she had never been visited by anyone during her bath, much less a talking frog.

"Ummm Your Highness, i don't think it would be a good idea to get the guards to come at this very moment," the frog quietly interrupted. The queen whacked the frog with her wooden back brush and demanded, "Who are you to tell me what to do, you slimy green whoopee cushion of slime!" The frog, which had fallen into the bathwater from where it surfaced from, came out coughing bubbles of soap and bath oil, nearly half dead.

BANG BANG BANG. The door rattled as the guards had come by the queen's order. "Is everything alright my queen?", a guard shouted from outside the door. The queen had to think quickly, as the frog had now burst into song with melodious hiccups due to the mixture of soap and oil. "Uhhhh nothing! I'm fine actually. Found a hangnail on my toe, that's all. Dismissed!" The queen now turned to the frog, and demanded to know how it came about such a prediction, but unfortunately it had died from asphyxiation and an overdose of soap.

What the frog said had come true, and the queen had a little girl that was so pretty that the king fainted immediately from joy, so the queen ordered a great feast. She invited both hers and the king's kindred, friends and acquaintances, but also the wise women, in order that they may be kind and well disposed towards the child. There were thirteen of them in the king's kingdom, but, as he had only twelve golden plates for them to eat out of, one of them had to be left at home. The queen had offered a silver plate for the thirteenth, but as word got out that the thirteenth was in fact a drag queen, she decided it was best to leave him/her at home.

The feast was held with all manner of splendor and when it came to an end the wise women bestowed their magic gifts upon the baby - one gave virtue, another wisdom, a third attitude, and so on with everything in the world that one can wish for.

When the eleven of them had made their promises, suddenly the thirteenth barged in, being a very great sight of madly done makeup and hair. He/she wished to avenge him/herself for not being invited, and without greeting, or even looking at anyone, he/she screeched with a loud whiny nasal voice, "The king's daughter shall in her fifteenth year prick herself with a spindle, and fall down dead!" And, without saying another word more, finished the curse by stomping hard on the ground with his/her Christian Louboutin heel, and broke it in doing so. He/she huffed, turned around and hobbled out of the room. All the room had fallen silent. Some knights fainted from the pure ugliness of the thirteenth, as they had been reveling in the beauty of the newborn. A lady-in-waiting threw a spear she had grabbed from a guard at the drag queen, but unfortunately only broke the other heel, letting shim run away scot-free.

They were all shocked, but the twelfth, whose good wish had still remained unspoken, came forward, and as she could not undo the evil sentence, but only soften it, she said, it shall not be death, but a deep sleep of a hundred years, into which the princess shall fall. The king and queen would have haggled for less years, but there was no one else who could grant it.

The king, who would fain to keep his dear child away from the misfortune, gave orders that every known prick be castrated and banished to either Vostok or Svalbard. The queen, who wanted in on the action too as it was her daughter after all, ordered that every spindle in the whole kingdom be burnt. Anyone who was caught opening a black market of spindles would have both hands chopped off, and forced to spin clothes with their feet. Meanwhile the gifts of the wise women were plenteously fulfilled on the young girl, for she was so wise, spirited and full of attitude, that everyone who saw her was bound to love her. And even if they did not, she made them love her all the same.

It happened on the very day when she was fifteen years old, the king and queen were not at home, and the adventurous maiden was left in the palace quite alone. So she went round into all sorts of places, looked into rooms and bed-chambers just as she liked, and at last came to an old tower. She climbed up the narrow winding staircase, and reached a little door. A rusty key was in the lock, and when she turned it sprang open, and there in a little room sat an old woman with a spindle, busy spinning her flax. What the young girl did not know was, this "old woman" was in fact the very drag queen who had cursed her. He/she was arrested for cursing the princess over such a trivial matter, and the king and queen were still deciding what sentence to mete out for him/her.

"Good day, old mother," said the princess, "what are you doing here?"

"I am spinning," said the old drag queen, and nodded his/her head.

"What sort of thing is that, that rattles round so merrily," said the girl, and she took the spindle and wanted to spin too, with encouragement from the drag queen. But scarcely had she touched the spindle when the magic decree was fulfilled, and she pricked her finger with it.

And, in the very moment when she felt the prick, she fell down upon the bed that the drag queen had pushed there, and lay in a deep sleep. He/she was about to dance around in joy, but the sleep extended to him/her, and curled up on the hay-covered floor in a drowsy blur. And this sleep extended over the whole palace, the king and queen who had just come home with carriagefuls of Gucci and Aldo, and had entered the great hall, and began to sleep, and with the whole court with them. The horses, too, went to sleep in the stable, the dogs in the yard, the pigeons upon the roof, the flies on the wall, even the fire that was flaming on the hearth became quiet and slept, the roast left off frizzling, and the cook, who was just going to pull the hair of the scullery boy, because he had forgotten something, let go, and went to sleep. And the wind fell, and on the trees before the castle not a leaf moved again.

But round about the castle there began to grow a hedge of thorns, which every year became higher, and at last grew close up round the castle and all over it, so there was nothing of it to be seen, not even the flag upon the roof. But the story of the intriguing sleeping Briar Rose, for so the princess was named, went about the country, so from time to time princes came and tried to get through the thorny hedge into the castle. Wise ones gave up, as they were not sure if it was worth risking their lives for. Overly-chivalrous ones however, found the task impossible, for the thorns held fast together, as if they had hands, and the youths were caught in them, could not get loose again, and died a miserable death from being poked at endlessly.

After long, long years a prince came again to that country, and heard an old man talking about the thorn hedge, and that a castle was said to stand behind it in which a wonderfully beautiful and wise princess, named Briar Rose, had been asleep for a hundred years, and the king and the queen and the whole court were asleep likewise. He had heard, too, from his grandfather, that many kings, princes had already come, and had tried to get through the thorny hedge, but they had remained impaled in it, and had died a pitiful death.

Then the youth said, “I am not afraid, I will go and see the beautiful Briar Rose.” The good old man might dissuade him as he would, he did not listen to his words. “But brave son, she is well over a hundred and fifteen years old! I’m not sure about the part regarding beauty!”
But by this time the hundred years had just passed, and the day had come when Briar Rose was to wake again. When the prince came near to the thorn hedge, it was nothing but large and beautiful rafflesia flowers, which parted from each other of their own accord, and let him pass un-stinking, then they closed behind him like a hedge. In the castle yard which was now overgrown with weeds, he saw the horses and the spotted hounds lying asleep, but strangely had piles of poop around them. On the roof sat the pigeons with their heads under their wings, cooing gently. And when he entered the house, the flies were asleep upon the wall, the cook in the kitchen was still holding out his hand to seize the boy, and the servant was sitting by the fat black hen which he was going to pluck.

He went on farther, and in the great hall he saw the whole court lying asleep, and up by the throne lay the king and queen, swamped with shopping bags. Then he went on still farther, and all was so quiet that a breath could be heard, and at last he came to the tower, and opened the door into the little room where Briar Rose was sleeping.

There she lay, the legend that many foolish princes had died for. Her image intrigued him that he could not turn his eyes away, and he stooped down to give her a kiss. But as his lips were about to touch hers, lo and behold, she awoke! Her eyes widened in horror as she stared at the large face that was less than an inch away from hers. She screamed and screamed at the top of her lungs, “LAI REN AH!!!” waking up the rest of the castle. The prince shouted too, for her hundred-year morning breath was just too overwhelming.

The king and queen and the whole court jumped, rudely awoken. And that was just the start of the commotion. Horses kicked and dogs yelped, while the pigeons on the roof scattered into the sky as quickly as they could. The flies on the wall hurriedly flew as far away from the castle as they could, the fire in the kitchen burned up with extra heat from the screaming and flickered and cooked the meat, the joint began to sizzle again, and the cook let go of the scullery boy in shock, dropping him onto the floor and causing him to scream too, adding to the noise pollution. The servant jumped from his seat and hit his head on a pan, scaring the fat black hen he wanted to pluck a hundred years ago, and it ran a good far distance away from him to warn all its other hen friends.

Guards rushed up to the tower, but at a pretty slow pace as a hundred years of sleep just makes one so very lethargic. When they got to Briar Rose, they found her defending herself against the prince and the drag queen by throwing hay at them and poking at them with the spindle. They were both arrested and led away to the king and queen. Much as everyone was groggy and all, but a questioning of the prince was in need of immediately. The drag queen, in the meantime, was locked up in a yoke and gagged should he/she say something stupid and curse everyone.
“I’m a prince! The prince of Schadenfreud, to be more specific,” the prince declared haughtily. “I came to see the legendary Briar Rose, whose story and beauty has reached far and wide, and attracted many brave knights seeking to rescue her. I came for that purpose too, but I guess I am not of any use any more…” He turned away with disdain.

Another blood-curling scream rang through the castle. “Now what is it?” the king stood up, feeling mighty annoyed from being startled so much in a day. “Mother! I think I have wrinkles on my forehead!! WRINKLES!!! And I’m only fifteen!” (Remember that she had no idea about the curse.)
“Wait, good and brave son,” the queen stopped the prince in his tracks. “Would you still like to have Briar Rose as your princess? I think she would need someone to spend time with, after so much has happened and gone by. Everyone she once knew has passed on. And we do apologize for the misunderstanding as well.” Briar Rose was called down and told to stop fretting about her looks as there was a prince waiting for her. “Our dear child, would you take this brave youth to be your husband?” both the king and queen enquired gently.

Briar Rose observed the prince, and slowly summed him up. “Good prince, you are brave and all, but I don’t think it would between you and me. For one, you are the prince of Schadenfreud. SCHADENFREUD. How will that look for my parents? Plus you are quite stout, and have pretty bad acne and teeth. Not to mention bow legs and a uni-brow, coupled with hairy hands and ears. So, I’d have to say no. I am so very sorry.” She explained. “NOT.”

The prince walked away dejectedly, occasionally tripping over his ear hairs which grow unusually fast when he gets unhappy or sad. And everyone in the castle celebrated the breaking of the curse, with absolutely no one being upset with Briar Rose’s insults and decision.

As for the drag queen… That’s up to you to decide :]

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