With three daughters, I’m keenly aware of the heavy marketing aimed at young girls by Disney and whatever products they slap the sluts princesses’ faces on. (Dolls, nightgowns, notebooks, games, toothbrushes, even toothpaste for heavens sake!)
Those tarts princesses sell more merchandise than I can guess at. But where, may I ask, are the Disney fathers? Granted, they’re all probably pear-shaped, gouty, pock-marked, and shamefully weak. But it’s just plain sexist to have the young nymphets get all the attention, especially when all they do is scrub floors, get yelled at and left out of parties, go to sleep for 100 years, get run off the castle grounds, or given away to the crone next door for a handful of salad greens. What about all those fairy tale dads?
Well let’s see. There’s Rapunzel’s dad who is so worried about her pregnant mom and her gestational food cravings that he barters away his unborn child to give his wife just one more salad. While he has no right to make the executive decision to give up their child, he does acknowledge the rights of the living over those of the unborn. (How very modern of him.)
And then there’s the miller, father to the nameless waif whose purported ability to spin straw into gold gets her into trouble in “Rumplestiltskin.” Millers were notorious drunkards, and meeting the greedy young king on the road (whose personal philosophy seemed to be, “You can never be too rich or have too much gold”) is too much temptation for him. Since he’s a souse and a loser, no doubt he believes he can give his daughter a better start in life if he recommends her in some way to the king. The fact that humans had never managed to turn anything but gold into gold doesn’t matter. Leave getting out of that mess to the girl. She’s managed this far, and with a father like me. Hiccup!
But most dads are just clueless. Or spineless. There are the fathers of Snow White and Cinderella. Both marry gold-digging hags the second time around (“trophy wives,” perhaps?), and are too absorbed in their own affairs to pay much attention to what happens to their first wives’ daughters. Child-rearing being women’s work and all, they retire to their counting-houses, or wherever neglectful fathers usually retire to in order to let their new wives work their wicked wills on their defenseless daughters. The fact that Snow White’s father may well have partaken in a meal of liver and lungs believed by the queen to be Snow White’s doesn’t bode well for her being missed around the palace. But hey—she gets taken in and duly enslaved by a pack of neglectful dwarves, so all’s well that ends well, right?
And Hänsel and Gretel’s father is even worse. He marries a scheming cow just like the others, but instead of spending all his time in the potting shed, he’s lying in bed next to her as she plans the children’s deaths, and ends up agreeing to her plans! Thankfully, of course, she dies of a black heart within the month, his children return home to him laden with gold and jewels (and only a few cavities to show for their harrowing experience), and all is forgiven.
No, I think we’re giving dads short shrift in the toy industry. I think in addition to the $10 whores princesses, these fairy tale fathers should be merchandised too. If they’re plump, trim ’em down. If they’re pocked, smooth out their skin. If they’re too old and gray, give them Botox and Grecian formula. But put aside your bias toward sexpots females and add these men to the fairy tale toy pantheon. Girls will love playing with them. And burying them alive. And burning them. And throwing them down ravines.
It’s all good, clean fun.