Who am I? Snow White or the Evil Witch? // Blanka Angyal
Show of hands! How many of us have had the privilege of at least one bedtime story growing up? Snuggled up in my cozy bed with only my face sticking out from under the covers. My grandmother sat in the armchair and closed her eyes as she spoke. I stared into the crackling fire, which dimly lit up the room. Her soothing voice evoked feelings of warmth, peace, and safety. It was a sacred space of connection and a space where the imagination could run wild. These were the moments that instilled in me a profound interest in stories.
Little did I know that this space would become the belly of the beast, where the evils plots, fascinating titillations of the dynamic fights of good and evil, right and wrong were instilled in my budding psyche. Little did I know how powerful the covert messages received in trust and openness from someone I looked up to and loved would inform what is moral and appropriate for me as a woman. It was through these stories that the ugly face of racism was internalized. I came to questions, whether I am White enough as “Snow White” to be considered pretty and valuable. It was through these stories that the ugly face of sexism was internalized. I learned that I need to find someone to depend on because I am weak, fragile, and scared. My appearance was to be objectified and I would need to be considered an appealing “body” before an appealing “mind.” It was through these stories that the ugly face of classism was internalized. I learned that the person I am with or the prestige of the males in my family should inform my self-worth. It was through these stories that I learned that having my own ambitions and pursuing them would be considered evil and harm those that I care for. The only woman who was independent, powerful, and passionate about something was the evil witch. The evil witch tried to murder her own daughter in pursuit of her own goals. Would having my own identity, independence, and interests be harmful to those I love?
Clearly, it is not only through fairy tales that these messages become instilled and reinforced. I share this testimony because for me it is a clear example of how deeply instilled in our everyday interactions and narratives different “-isms” are. My grandmother’s intention would never be to hurt me or bestow onto me values that would belittle, dehumanize, or objectify me in any way. Yet, it was unavoidable and present nonetheless.
My grandmother was an important female figure in my life. She was strong, independent, stubborn, and goal oriented. It was her example that helped me deconstructs these harmful messages and begged into question the schema of the good woman and evil witch. She inspired me to follow my own compass, even when it defied traditional gender norms. I would not be the feminist woman I am today without her! Her example sparked and allowed me to develop a critical consciousness, which “…comes about when individuals develop an epistemological awareness of the ways dialogic, political, and economic structures act on their everyday lives.” (Denzin & Lincoln, 2005, p. 183).
Denzin, N. K., & Lincoln, Y. S. (2005). The SAGE handbook of qualitative research. Thousand
Oaks: Sage Publications.
Image retrieved from: http://www.counter-currents.com/2011/12/deconstructing-disney/