Nothing says “happily ever after” like labeling beloved fairy tale characters as sex offenders, but according to a Japanese professor, that’s exactly what the princes from “Snow White” and “Sleeping Beauty” are.
Professor Kazue Muta of Osaka University argued in December that the actions of Prince Charming and Prince Philip may have less to do with charm and more to do with lacking consent, according to Fox News.
“When you think rationally about Snow White and Sleeping Beauty, that tell of a ‘princess being woken up by the kiss of a prince,’ they are describing sexual assault on an unconscious person,” Muta tweeted on Dec. 11.
“You might think I’m ruining the fantasy of it all, but these stories are promoting sexual violence and I would like everyone to be aware of it.”
The Japanese gender studies and sociology professor went a step further, providing a link to a real case where a man had been arrested for allegedly kissing a sleeping woman on a train as it traveled to Osaka.
However, not all were on board with Muta’s accusation, as SoraNews24 pointed out the fallacy in accusing the fictitious characters of having some hidden agenda.
The Grimm version of “Sleeping Beauty” states that the prince is aware of Princess Aurora’s predicament of being placed under a sleeping curse, and truly believes his romantic gesture might actually bring her back to life.
“You could make the argument that even under these circumstances he has no right to kiss her without permission,” SoraNews reported. “But then you’d also be against mouth-to-mouth resuscitation which this is essentially a magical variation of.”
Yet, even in Disney’s version of the fairytale, the prince is led by three fairies — all women — to the princess under the assumption he can heal her. He is not driven by any perverted fantasy.
The article further suggests that, if the prince must take the fall for assault on his end, then the three who led him to the victim must also be held accountable.
In the Grimm version of “Snow White,” there isn’t a romantic kiss at all, but rather the prince happens to jostle the sleeping princess — effectively dislodging the poison apple in her throat — and wakes her up.
“Granted the fact that he wanted her corpse in the first place is suspicious, but not enough to condemn him outright,” SoraNews24 states.
And yet, Disney’s adaptation of “Snow White” has attempted to soften the act of Prince Charming by having the character’s meet — and Snow White falling madly in love with him — therefore establishing a relationship of love at first sight from the get-go.
“It’s the kiss of true love, one of the key kisses in animation history,” said 98-year-old Marge Champion, the woman who had served as a live model for animators on Disney’s “Snow White”.
“That kiss became the one to which all others compare,” she told USA Today.
Many expressed the view that it wasn’t fair for Muta to impose certain beliefs on the classic children’s stories, though even more highlighted that the silver lining to the entire debate was that Japan now had more discussion surrounding sexual assault.
Yet the sociology professor responded to the flurry of comments made by her initial tweet with an article, where she details her position that, just because the characters lived happily ever after, does not mean the initial act was justified.
“This kind of thinking,” Muta argued in her article, “fabricates the mindset of ‘the ends justify the means,’ and to what extent does this allow sexual violence to occur?”
Muta went on to suggest that many real-life crimes — such as the assault on the train — seem to mimic the actions of male protagonists in fairytales and Hollywood films, giving a subtle nod to the #MeToo hashtag, which has since highlighted sexual harassment around the globe.
“Under such circumstances, changing society’s recognition of sexual violence is not an easy thing to do,” Muta added.
“However, we must say these things loudly and boldly.”
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