It seems like in the late ‘80’s and early 90’s there was a surge of new fairy tales and fantasy: Feminist Fantasy. These stories took the typical princess or damsel and made her the heroine. She ends up saving the day and rescuing herself. When I was in school, I loved reading these stories. I loved the idea of a princess not being a vacuous ninny, but an empowered and capable person.
Anyone who knows me personally today knows that I am probably the last person to ever have anything to do with feminism in the developed world. Still, I enjoy kicking back and reading these books every now and again.
The Enchanted Forest Chronicles follows the adventures of Cimerone, an improper princess. Cimerone starts out bored and begins to remedy the problem by learning things she’s actually interested in (things improper for a princess). One thing leads to another, and an arranged marriage later, she finds herself running away to the mountains and becomes a dragon’s princess. Of course she’s smarter than princes, knights, and some dragons and ends up saving the day.
The best thing about this book is Ms. Wrede’s approach to the stereotypes in fairytale and fantasy. Kings tend to hire dragons or ogres to come and terrorize their kingdom and take their unwedable daughters off to make them more desirable (for some reason having to fight a dragon makes a princess more attractive). She even makes commentary on wicked step-parents and uncles.
Somethings that I found reading the books this time around are values that I feel pretty important. Cimerone learns how to use a sword, not because she likes the idea of fighting or anything, but because she’s bored. Later she finds her knowledge useful to defend herself. Ms. Wrede has nothing but negative commentary on doing things because of tradition a *nd being proper in society. She values actions for honesty and getting things done effectively and efficiently. Cimerone and her love interest even have different strengths and abilities that complement each other.
Cimerone is endlessly outwitting her enemies in her adventures. Every now and then the need arises for her to pull out her flashy sword and slay a few snakes. I love that she is not a victim. She doesn’t wait around for her love interest to get around to saving her or some knight/ law enforcement entity to come to her aid. She takes responsibility for her own safety.
I am all about not being a victim. Throughout my young adult life I have taken self-defense classes along with developing other skills to protect myself. Superman has never had to worry about leaving Princess Pea and me alone because of my skills.
I think the best thing is to learn to take care of yourself and protect yourself rather than waiting for others to do it for you.
Ah, I could go on all day about the ridiculousness of proper society. It’s proper for us to ask people we don’t know or care about how they are doing and small talk, but the worst thing plaguing our society is political correctness.
Being politically correct is such a terrible thing. We are so worried about saying the wrong thing, titling things incorrectly, calling or stereotyping something the wrong way. It’s as silly as saying all princesses must learn embroidery and manners classes but not politics and how to run a country. DUMB!
We run around looking for things to be offended about and looking for ways to phrase things so it isn’t perceived as bigoted. Why can’t we just give everyone the benefit of the doubt? Why can’t we just say things as they are and be honest rather than pussyfooting around? It’s nonsense.
Differences between the boys and girls
OK, Cimerone’s love interest is *Spoiler alert* Mandanbar. Mandanbar has a different skill set than Cimerone, but he values her abilities and talents. Cimerone sees that Mandanbar is able to do things and understand things that she doesn’t. The balance is perfect and wonderful.
Another thing that I love about this is Cimerone never hates being a girl or feels that being a princess is a bane on her life, but rather looks for a better way to do it. She never discounts getting married or having kids because that would be “princess-y”, she accepts that she is a princess, a woman, and values her feminine qualities.
Women and men are different. Gender is more than a social construct, it’s biological. Superman and I are very different. He is logical, scientific and athletic. I am more emotional, artistic, and eccentric. We also have a lot in common. We love children and families and want to help others, we value our family above everything else, and we both have similar hobbies and interests.
We need to be happy that we are not the same and celebrate our different strengths and natural abilities rather than shaming them and locking them up in the dungeon with my dad’s inner child. We need to celebrate our masculinity and femininity rather than shaming each other and ourselves for having any trace of our biological gender traits.
The Enchanted Forest Chronicles is a fun read, even if you don’t want to look between the lines. The series is perfect for any princess or king that has no patience for nonsense.