Sleeping Beauty becomes sleep disorder specialist as Berlin Senate wants non-discriminatory tales

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(Photo: V4 Agency)

By: V4 Agency

To replace classic tales that are viewed “discriminatory, racist or sexist”, a guide partly financed by the Berlin senate suggests stories where Little Red Riding Hood ends up finding happiness as an animal rights activist, and where Sleeping Beauty becomes an expert who treats sleeping disorders.

The Senate of Berlin also sponsored the production of a brochure offering suggestions about non-discriminatory  fairy tales, according to a recent article on the PolitikStube portal.

Published by the KiDs counselling centre in Berlin, the guide titled “Once Upon a Time” warns adults that most classic tales are fundamentally discriminatory, containing elements that are not only anti-Semitic, racist or sexist, but also generally hostile to people with disabilities.

The authors criticised, for example, the way female characters are presented in tales. When women play an “active role” in stories, they mostly appear as evil witches or wicked stepmothers. Princesses, on the other hand, only play “passive roles” wating to be saved. The arcitle also points out that, rather regretfully, homosexual, transgender, coloured or Muslim characters are never featured in the tales.

Tales also tend to convey racist ideals of beauty, with phrases like “her skin was white as snow” or “her hair was like gold,” the article says, adding that in the world of fairy tales everything “dark” is automatically associated with evil.

The centre therefore suggests that children be kept away from these tales, to prevent them from being confronted with such discriminatory images from the outset, arguing that German society is already being shaped by discrimination.

They specifically warn that the National Socialist’s propaganda also relied on the Grimm brothers’ fairy tales.

Finally, the guide suggests some solutions, for example to reverse gender roles in popular fairy tales. Little Red Riding Hood can be a boy and her grandmother can be a grandfather. To counterbalance the rich variety of the Grimm brothers’ tales, the guide mentions several books that teach children without discrimination.

These include stories where kids can meet strong female characters, protagonists of colour, and not all love stories are heterosexual.

In one book, “Rapunzel becomes a world-famous architect of magical buildings,” “Little Red Riding Hood finds happiness as an animal protection activist,” and “Sleeping Beauty gains a reputation as a medical expert who specialises in sleeping disorders.”

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