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Author Comment
rosyelf
(4/10/04 10:20 am)
Where are the men ?
Now, I know that most people posting here have a pseudonym which is often not indicative of a particular gender, but I do get the strong impression that the VAST majority of people posting threads or answering them are women. Not a criticism, just an observation.
And far more women are publishing retellings of fairy tales than men-I think of Donna Jo Napoli, Tanith Lee, Robin McKinley, Patricia McKillip, Jane Yolen, Terri Windling, Alice Hoffman-see what I mean ? Of course, there is Charles de Lint-whose work I love, by the way-and Orson Scott Card, whom I've touched on elsewhere, but there aren't many, are there ?
I would be interested to have ideas about this-not for a paper or thesis or anything, just for fun.
thank you

Jess
Unregistered User
(4/10/04 10:55 am)
Not surprising
I hardly find the dominance of women as fairy tale story tellers surprising - that is the history of fairy tales and folklore generally. But there are more male writers than you think - on this board alone we have among others Greg Frost and Richard Parks. And you have left out a whole genre in fairy tale retellings which I think you may find (I haven't done the empirical study) is dominated by men, namely film retellings. Whether you like them or not, film retellings definitely have a male mark on them at least at the producer level: Disney, Bluth, Lucas, etc. And these producers are often co-writers whether or not they are given credit as such.

Jess

Veronica Schanoes
Registered User
(4/10/04 2:44 pm)
Re: Not surprising
Don't forget Terry Pratchett's Witches Abroad!

But I agree it's not surprising. Fairy tales have long been associated, usually dismissively, w/femininity; hence the term "old wives' tales." Also, the current association of fairy tales w/children and child-care continues to feminize them. Not to mention the originally and still often derogatory use of the term "fairies" to refer to gay men, and you have a whole host of reasons why fairy-tale discussion might be off-putting to men. Though obviously not all of them, I'm glad to say!

Terri Windling
Registered User
(4/10/04 6:55 pm)
Re: Not surprising
There are indeed men devoted to fairy tales: scholar Jack Zipes, author Gregory Maguire, and Marvels & Tales editor Don Haase, to name just a few. Yet I've noticed that the majority of readers for the fairy tale anthologies I've edited with Ellen Datlow are women, as were the majority of stories submitted for them.

Personally, I like the fact that fairy tales have such a strong female tradition. For me, it's the feminist strain that runs through the tales (from the women salon writers of 17th century France to the women fairy tale poets and revisionists of our own day) that has hooked my continuing interest in these stories. Though many of my favorite fairy tales come out of the literary rather than oral tradition, they have their roots nonetheless in oral folk tales -- a form of creative expression that has been used to great effect over the centuries by those without clear avenues of social power, especially women and peasants. As a woman from a lower class background myself, I'm particularly interested in the way that such stories can contain subversive qualities. In recent years, women writers like Angela Carter or Anne Sexton have highlighted these subversive qualities....creating a literature that particularly resonates with many feminist readers (of both genders).

Edited by: Terri Windling at: 4/10/04 7:01 pm
rosyelf
(4/11/04 4:46 am)
gregory maguire...and thanks
Yes, don't get me wrong, I love the female tradition of fairy tales, too, the way that they have evolved from, and address themselves to, persons and communities on the margins of the Establishment.And thank you, Terri, for pointing me in the direction of Gregory Maguire. I had not heard of him but now there are several of his books on my (ever-growing) wish list. May I also say, off the subject, that I have been reading The Wood Wife this week and think it is superb-I couldn't put it down. A big THANK YOU for that. And, Jane Yolen, if you are reading, I have recently received both Take Joy and Touch Magic and am finding them invaluable-THANK YOU.

wrightales
Registered User
(4/11/04 9:01 am)
Re: gregory maguire...and thanks
I think more women than men become involved with fairytales,(reading, writing, studying) because they are more willing to try something that may be considered silly or childish by society. My personal world view is that men tend to base their identity on external things like jobs, power, wealth. Women tend to derive their identity from internal or inter-personal things such as being a mother, homemaker, caretaker. Fairytales speak to the internal and inter-personal. On one level they are "about" integrating disparate parts of yourself into a more healthy whole which is about as internal as you can get. IMHO.

Lisa

bielie
Registered User
(4/11/04 9:27 am)
The XY voice
Hi. I'm a man.

When I was young fantasy was purely a guy thing. Maybe a bit geekish, but stil a guy thing. We grew up assuming that girls were too stupid or grown up to be allowed into our imaginary worlds.

I'm a bit freaked out to hear I was wrong all the way. From now on I'll switch to drinking beer, burping and watching ballgames on TV in my underpants.

Veronica Schanoes
Registered User
(4/11/04 12:02 pm)
Re: The XY voice
Different kind of fantasy, I think! There's still the "heroic fantasy" province which is, I think, largely identified w/men--the Lord of the Rings, Wheel of Time, Shannara, Dungeons and Dragons genre of things. I was a big fantasy-reader throughout high school, but I never really got into that end of things. Then there was the "drawing unicorns on things" area of fantasy which was firmly in the camp of dreamy-eyed girly girls. I never got to into that end of things, either.

But fairy tales draw on a different set of cultural associations than do those sequences, in my opinion.

I've never understood the ballgames-in-underwear stereotype. As far as I'm concerned, it's vitally important for me to be wearing my Yankees t-shirt, dark blue jeans, and possibly my Yankees jersey as well, because otherwise they might lose!

Larry A Tilander
Registered User
(4/11/04 4:45 pm)

Ahem
I was a pointer last time I checked! I'll probably hit setter status in about 2040 though.


Come Read At My Main Site

Take The Kids To My Childrens' Site

janeyolen
Registered User
(4/12/04 5:22 am)
Re: More
Recently back from a (ugh) hospital stay. Sorry if I am coming to this late. Some other men in fairy tales not to be missed (and not yet mentioned): Tolkein and Lewis of course, on a slant. Andersen used much folkloric material. Frank Stockton, A. E Housman's brother, Laurence Housman. Oscar Wilde.

More modern--in children's books I would especially point to Eric Kimmel, Julius Lester, Howard Schwartz. In adult books be sure to seek out Greg Frost, Neil Gaiman, and the up-and-coming writer Adam Stemple who happens to be my son and whose first two novels PAY THE PIPER (co-authored with me) and SINGER OF SOULS (solo) both coming out fromTor next year have folk lore themes.

Jane

Ktales
Registered User
(4/12/04 9:09 am)
New Anthology
Of relevance to this discussion, albeit in the distant future, will be a new collection I'm under contract to edit called Brothers and Beasts: An Anthology of Men on Fairy Tales. As you may gather, it has the same organizing principle of my previous collection, Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: Women Writers Explore Their Favorite Fairy Tales (in which Terri Windling and Midori Snyder, frequent contributors to this site, have beautiful essays).


Kate

Valkith 
Registered User
(4/12/04 10:08 am)
Re: Where are the men ?
I am a man, just not much, at times, to say.

Terri Windling
Registered User
(4/12/04 10:50 am)
Re: Where are the men ?
Off-topic: Larry, could you please do some of us with old computers a favor and not put pictures in your messages? It screws up the margins on my browser and makes threads like this quite difficult to read. Thanks.

aka Greensleeves
(4/12/04 12:07 pm)
Re: Where are the men ?
Off topic in response to Terri--I think ezboard allows administrators to disable the custom sigs and personal photos for a particular board (I have to make a conscious effort to "unclick" the boxes at the end of the page each time I post, b/c my account is global, and I noticed nobody here seems to have sigs/photos). Just a thought--not meant as anything personal against Larry!!

Erica Carlson
Registered User
(4/12/04 12:18 pm)
Re: Where are the men ?
My brother and I used to play "sorcerers" when we were little, a sort of elaborate make-believe that was heavily influenced by Tolkien. But he was more into fantasy per se than fairy tales. Fairy tales and fantasy are closely linked but I have the feeling that men tend to be more drawn to the one than the other, with a few notable exceptions of course.

I think that part of the reason for this is that some books are geared more toward one audience than another, if not by content than frequently by cover art. It would be a brave adolescent boy indeed who would carry around some of the books I loved as an adolescent--they tended to have pictures of women or flowers on them. I've been reading The History of Reading by Alberto Manguel, and he has a very interesting chapter where he discusses his childhood reading (he grew up in Argentina, I believe) and how childrenís books were color-coded and boys were not supposed to read the pink books (it called their masculinity into question), but girls could get away with reading books of any coloróone of the advantages of being a girl. What we read as children can have a large effect on what we read later in life. And while adult men tend to be less subject to peer pressure (usually), Iíve watched men in bookstores put books down just because of the Oprahís book club sticker.

bielie
Registered User
(4/12/04 12:46 pm)
fairy fantasy?
"Fantasy" and "fairytales" are not synonyms?

Damn! That old hag of a librarian who insisted on putting "fantasy" and "sci-fi" on different shelves must have hacked this list.

Or maybe I'll have to adjust my paradigms. Again.

Veronica Schanoes
Registered User
(4/12/04 1:15 pm)
Re: fairy fantasy?
I agree that "fantasy" and "fairy tales" are not synonyms, especially when talking about fairy-tale revisions. Margaret Atwood's "Bluebeard's Egg," for instance, is a fairy-tale revision, but there is nothing fantastic about it. Similarly, David Eddings's books are fantasy, but I don't think they have any more in common w/fairy tales than, say, Jane Austen's novels.

In what ways do you see fairy tales and fantasy as being equivalent terms?

I always wished that SF and fantasy were shelved differently. Shelving them together always struck me as the equivalent of shelving mystery novels with suspense/thrillers. Yes, there's overlap, and yes, they often share similar elements--but they're not the same thing.

Helen J Pilinovsky
Registered User
(4/13/04 6:32 am)
Re: fairy fantasy?
I also can't help thinking that there's another factor to keep in mind: generations. Fifty, forty, thirty years ago, women simply weren't involved in academia to the extent that we thankfully are today: thus, most of the folklorists and fairy tale scholars of the preceeding generation - Jack Zipes, U.C. Knopflmacher, Jack Haney, Alan Dundes et. al. - are male, with the occasional female scholar such as Alison Lurie. This is true of pretty much every field, actually ... but as involved scholarship became more and more accessible to women, women began participating more, in concert with the retirement of the "Old Guard" (I note that the above have, mostly, thankfully, yet to retire, but many of their peers have), to the point that many fields are now beginning to be dominated by women, at least in the graduating classes of the last twenty years or so. Why is this more prevalent (if it is) in fairy tale scholarship? *shrugs* I'm not sure ... there have been theories put forth concerning women's influence on the field of education as a whole which say that it's pretty much a self-fulfilling cycle: that education has always been a slightly less prestigious field than, say, law, making it easier for despised minorities (TM) to make their ways in them, thus associating the fields with despised minorities, thus making them less prestigious, on and on and on in a vicious circle. I don't know that I buy it, and I don't know if it's applicable ... just a possibility, and one which might not be too, too far out of the ballpark considering the history of the field. Hope we shadows haven't offended ...

Best,
Helen

bielie
Registered User
(4/13/04 11:10 am)
Re: fairy fantasy?
Long ago, in a far away land, lived a powerful warrior who married a beautiful queen. When she became pregnant, the queen realised her hero was seduced by the forces or darkness, and fled from him. She gave birth to twins, a boy and a girl. She died, and the twins were seperated and hid, to save them from their father. Years later the princess and her brother (They did not even know they were related) became involved in a rebellion against the dark lord and his servant. Little did they know the evil servant was their father...

Fairy tale, Sci-fi or Fantasy?

Helen J Pilinovsky
Registered User
(4/13/04 11:46 am)
Re: fairy fantasy?
Good example, but Lucas was deliberately employing fairy tale themes, and the elements that make it at least nominally s-f are almost tangential to the story-line, despite the general characterization ...

GreenMonk
Registered User
(5/27/04 11:27 am)
RE: re: fairy fantasy?
While Lucas uses Mythological archtypes in his film fables, I don't know that you can call it a fariy tale theme... While it seems to me that fairy tales are certanly a sub-set of mythology, I don't know that the opposite is true... Kindof the square/rectangle thing.

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