Last week I was at the Alif Institute and Old Tampa Bookstore, urging people to write as quickly as they could in 15 minutes to respond to three different writing prompts.
We retold the original version of Rapunzel, Italian, called Petrosinella, or parsley. Before Disney brushed up the story, in which a mother was hungry for lettuce, rampion, for which the witch demanded a baby as the price.
Rewrite a scene from a fairytale from the villain’s point of view
A few of the participants shared the material they wrote.
Untitled by Claudia
It’s not fair. She disobeyed and I paid.
Under a hood, her curiosity brewed.
Don’t they know? Wolves are misunderstood.
In a pool of red, my body was laid,
a sacrificed lamb.
The Villain by Melissa Jennings
I watched as my rampions were stolen time after time,
Priding myself for my calm; sifting through potential payments owed.
I practiced negotiating, imagining myself a savior
Nurturing and youthful; I should mother the child.
The first time my son asked me if I was a princess, I was sitting on the stool in front of my dressing table, putting on makeup. Having grown up in the school of hard knocks, I didn’t hide anything from him.
“No,” I said. “I’m not.”
His wide eyes registered his surprise. Ever since the summer, when he graduated from the world of cuddly animals – think Happy Feet – into movies with people, life had become infinitely interesting.
We said nothing further about the subject of princesses.
A few days later, he asked me again. I was better prepared.
“Mommy are you a princess?”
“Yes,” I said. “In fact all women are princesses.”
He nodded as if this made perfect sense. Maybe because in the Disney universe, all the main characters are royalty (or marry into being royal).
When I found out I was having boys, at first I despaired. My world was very female centric and I wasn’t sure how to approach having the first male grandchildren. Now I see motherhood of little men for the opportunity it is: a chance to frame the world in a way that empowers them to treat women as equals, deserving of respect, regardless of the titles they may hold.