Pretending I was Triggered by Cinderella to get an A+

Cinderella is called to “remain pious and good.” These two words, especially the latter, can be taken to mean many things. Often when defining a word like “good”, a theoretical, lasting statement of it’s quintessence is sought, but by adopting a Marxist praxis we can judge the solid relevance of the word as it is defined by the plot of the story. With this material understanding of the “good” encouraged by the story, the support for the psychological persecution of women can be inspected.
To understand the definition of “good” promoted by the story, let’s look closely at the way Cinderella behaves. Early on, it is said that “The girl went out to her mother’s grave every day and wept, and she remained pious and good.” This description of Cinderella’s behavior post being called upon to “remain pious and good,” suggests that goodness is obvious. It is like looking up a word in a dictionary and finding that the definition of the word is the word itself. This may already show signs of promoting undesirable ideology which “in order to ensure their acceptance among the citizenry, pass themselves off as natural ways of seeing the world instead of acknowledging themselves as ideologies.” (Tyson 56). This circularity is also of concern among some feminists “that oppose the traditional tendency to believe there is a single best point of view.” (Tyson 83).
Before offering some clues as to what the story might mean by “good” it introduces “evil”. It says that Cinderella’s step-sisters “were beautiful, with fair faces, but evil and dark hearts.” This may seem innocuous, or at worst raising the same concerns as the previous quote, but there is more to be found here. An analogy might lend some clarity. If a story said, “they were black, with charcoal skin, but kind and compassionate hearts,” we would clearly see the problem. The problem is that there is the suggestion that being black is normally the opposite of kind. In the case of the step-sisters, it is implied that being beautiful would normally be the opposite of evil. This gives the reader the impression that being a beautiful, fair faced woman is naturally synonymous with being good, as opposed to a cultural belief. This obsession with the female appearance as opposed to just the character, is a product of the ingrained tendency to pander to the male point of view which gazes on women as erotic objects.
Much of the evil done by the step-sisters is verbal abuse and rejection but one of the evil actions consists of having taken her beautiful clothes and dressing her “in an old gray smock” and “wooden shoes.” This idea that every woman wants to dress up is a sexist ideology handed to us as if it was an innate characteristic of women without recognizing that it is the objectifying gaze of men that created this desire in women. The fact that the step-sisters consider the reduction of Cinderella’s sexual luster a properly evil thing to do, makes visible how women have been culturally programmed to perceive.
Although these insights reveal some of the undesirable ideologies at play, the “good” that describes Cinderella has not yet been pinpointed. To do so, it is necessary to read between the lines of this text for example, “There she had to do hard work from morning until evening, get up before daybreak, carry water, make the fires, cook, and wash. Besides this, the sisters did everything imaginable to hurt her. They made fun of her, scattered peas and lentils into the ashes for her, so that she had to sit and pick them out again. In the evening when she had worked herself weary, there was no bed for her. Instead she had to sleep by the hearth in the ashes.” This is not so much about what Cinderella does, but what she doesn’t do. She unquestioningly obeys the “ruling power system” (Tyson 57). It becomes clear that this is the “good” being promoted by the end of the story because she is favored by the ending. The ultimate defining of this behavior as “good” serves to mold the patriarchal woman, understood by Tyson to be, “a woman who has internalized the norms and values of patriarchy, which can be defined, in short, as any culture that privileges men by promoting traditional gender roles.” (Tyson 85). As the young female reader grows convinced that Cinderella is admirable, she may also take on accompanying messages like that good women should be very sentimental. Cinderella wept so much that she watered a branch to the point that it became a beautiful tree. Tyson says of marxist theorists that, “all agree that the most successful ideologies are not recognized as ideologies but are thought to be natural ways of seeing the world by the people who subscribe to them.” (Tyson 57). To make clear how this relates to Cinderella’s watering of the tree, it might be necessary to imagine how a male would appear if he cried so much that he gave rise to a beautiful tree. The fact that this would likely yield a different reaction is a prime example of the traditional gender roles which, “cast men as rational, strong, protective, and decisive; they cast women as emotional (irrational), weak, nurturing, and submissive.” (Tyson 85).
We see just how weak, emotional, and submissive Cinderella when the sexist contraption of the king’s festival sets all the women eagerly squealing to be the prince’s bride. She combs the stepsister’s hair, brushes their shoes, fastens their buckles, and weeps when she is not allowed to go. She is lied to again and again that once she completes a tedious task created for her, she will be allowed to go. Cinderella constantly cries but continues to help herself be abused. This borderline pathological tolerance(cooperation) with her tormentors sends a message that is worthy of condemnation from both the Marxist and the Feminist perspective. Marx spoke of “the opiate of the masses” to speak of the Christian religion’s effect on the faithful poor and how that allowed them to be tolerant of injustice. Here we see how Cinderella’s piety and goodness only leads to her abuse but the story insists on impressing on readers the notion that the perpetrators will get what they deserve and the lamb-like Cinderellas will be saved by their man in the end. Wether the man is a sky man or a meat man, the message is the same and serves to keep women unequal to men.
Cinderella bears all in subservience: from the cruel demands of her stepmother and stepsisters, to the parting call of her mother to be pious under God. For all the “goodness” she exudes in doing so, she is rewarded with a desirable prince. Her sisters, who are not “(gentle, submissive, virginal, angelic) but instead “bad girls” (violent, aggressive, worldly, monstrous)” (Tyson 89), deserve the wrath of the plot for their lack of sync with the appropriate role for a longing woman. Because the plot rewards Cinderella, it clearly expects the impressionable reader to view her behavior as ideal for women.
“Patriarchy continually exerts forces that undermine women’s self-confidence and assertiveness.” argues Tyson. The forces wielded against the equality of women in this story are as simple as they get, carrots and sticks. Quite a cautionary tale is imposed here for any young “bad girl” in the making. Eyes plucked from their sockets by pigeons and mutilated heels or toes. If a girl is not affected by threats of hell but rather by promises of heaven then the story prepares for them a reward laced with additional damaging substance. Putting aside the idea that to get the reward, you must play a traditional gender role, it is critical to be aware of what is the reward. The reward is to be the lucky one chosen by the prince. As if women do not or must not have more aspirations in life than to find happiness under the broad shoulders of a providing man. With these age-old techniques for reinforcing behavior, this age-old fairytale stands as a prime document of how the patriarchal ideology is propagated and sustained.

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