The Feminist Sleeping Beauty
There once was a wicked story about a girl who had no other fate than to get married to the first prince who kissed her. It was called Sleeping Beauty and was told to all little girls to give them the idea that they themselves need to find their own Prince Charming. This story isn’t about that girl, but a very different girl named Prunella. Prunella’s story starts very much like that wretched Sleeping Beauty’s tale….
Once upon a time there was a very smart king and queen who wanted a daughter to raise with feminist ideals, so that they would have a heir to the throne that would run their matriarchal country just as they did. One day the queen was bathing by herself in the river that she so loved behind the castle. She loved to meditate and do her daily devotions while taking her bath in the midafternoon, and during this solitary time a beautiful green frog came hopping up to the river bank.
“Hello little darling frog, how are you this lovely afternoon?” asked the queen, expecting the frog to croak back in reply.
“Thank you so much for asking fair queen. For your act of kindness and compassion I will bestow upon you your true hearts desire to be pregnant with a princess” said the now obviously magical frog. The queen, not only surprised by the frog answering her in human tongue, was so shocked by this statement she spouted a quick, “thank you,” to the frog, grabbed her clothes and ran up to the castle to tell her life partner, the king. The king was so excited by this news that he planned a party for the soon to be born princess. When planning the extravagant party, the king decided that the twelve good fairies of the kingdom should be invited as well as all of his loyal subjects, and the evil fairy Minerva was left off the guest list. Nine months later, sweet little Prunella was born and the social event of the year was set for a few weeks later.
Nearing the end of the ball in honor of Prunella’s birth, each of the fairies bestowed one precious gift on the little princess. The fairies offered wonderful gifts, like natural leadership, the gift of being well versed, the ability to learn quickly, a beautiful singing voice, strong ability in the arts, natural grace, natural sportsmanship, good luck, good karma, natural ease with animals, and eleventh fairy gave the gift of feminist ideals
just then the thirteenth fairy Minerva stormed in in a rage.
“It’s nice of you to not invite me on this joyous occasion. But I will give my gift just like the other fairies have,” said the magnificently evil fairy, as she preceded to give her gift. “On this young beautiful thing I will bestow an early death; young Prunella, at the age of fifteen, will prick her finger on a spinning spindle and she will die.” Then Minerva disappeared in a puff of smoke, never to be seen or heard from again. The twelfth fairy hadn’t yet given her gift and so was able to lighten the curse that the evil Minerva had woven, by giving the gift of sleep instead of Prunella dying. But still, as a precaution, the king and queen ordered all spindles destroyed in a huge fire.
Prunella grew to be the best archer among the knights, the most beautiful girl in the land, the best singer in the choir, the best woodsperson, and the smartest person in her lessons. Prunella, like her mother, enjoyed to have solitary time where she could let her mind wander as she herself roamed around the castle exploring what would one day be hers. One day while wandering, Prunella came upon an old tower she had never seen before and started to climb the tight winding stairs up to the turret. She got to an open tower room where she found an old woman spinning wool into a beautiful yarn that was all of Prunella’s favorite colors. She felt so drawn to the yarn being spun Prunella politely asked if she could try spinning, and the old woman let Prunella sit down and guided her hand to help her spin. As soon as darling Prunella touched the spinning wheel, the spindle pricked her and Prunella and all of the inhabitants of the castle feel asleep. The old woman stood up straight and took off her face like a mask to reveal that she was Minerva! Minerva, angry that her curse was offset with the sleeping gift, conjured a large thorn bush to grow around the castle, a gargantuan thorn bush that traps anyone who tries to get past it inside, essentially pricking them to a slow, mercilessly painful death. Many princes learned of the “Sleeping Beauty” and tried to rescue her from the curse but, none had learned about the thorn hedge and either died in the hedge or got discouraged and found other brides.
So the years passed with no break in the curse upon poor Prunella, until about 100 years had passed. One brave prince heard the legend of “sleeping beauty,” and decided to see if there was truth to it. The prince traveled until he found the legendary vicious hedge, and set his mind to getting inside to marry the most beautiful princess of legend. The prince went to slash through the thorny hedge, but instead found only large beautiful vibrant red flowers with a path leading from where he stood to the tallest tower where beautiful Prunella was sleeping. So he followed the path, climbed up to the tower room where he found Prunella sleeping, like she just went down for a nap. He was in such awe of her beauty that he bent down to kiss her ever so lightly on the lips, which broke the curse and woke her and the entire castle up. The prince was so excited that he woke up sleeping beauty that he bent down on one knee and proposed to darling Prunella, but Prunella being the same age that she was when she was pricked by the spindle (15), politely declined saying “ Fair prince, I thank you greatly for waking me up from the evil fairy’s spell, but I am only 15 and not nearly ready to be tied down to you for the rest of my life. If you would like to be friends first, I would enjoy that but I’m not ready to accept your proposal.” The prince accepted lady Prunella’s request to be friends at first and joined the castle’s community. Prunella and the prince grew to be great friends over the years and Prunella, while still not accepting the prince’s numerous marriage proposals, decided to spend the rest of her life with him as life partners, and rule over her parents kingdom with the same feminist ideals they held in high regard.
So that’s the tale of Prunella the feminist sleeping beauty. This is the new version all little girls need to be told in the future, so they don’t hold a half-hearted belief in finding a man to complete who they are.