Today I have a question, instead of a story.
(I totally did not slack off on posting, nope)
I have heard stepmothers and adoptive mothers complain time and time again about how badly stepmothers fare in fairy tales. Is there such a thing as a kind stepmother in tradition?...
Recently my good friend (and fabulous storyteller colleague) Danielle Bellone did a guest post on this blog, talking about creating "new trad" fairy tales in the face of the lack of LGBT+ representation in traditional stories.
Fairy Tale Lobby revolved around whether there are any female-to-female friendships (not sisterhoods) in folk stories. We found precious few.
All of these (and more) experiences made me muse a lot recently about tradition - since I primarily work with traditional stories as a storyteller - and representation.
Here is the thing:
1. Yes, fairy tales are symbolic, and folktales are often simplified and streamlined, smoothed by centuries of telling.
2. Many tellers will claim that you are supposed to absorb these stories on an instinctive, spiritual level, and not take them literally - e.g. every princess is "beautiful" because it represents their inner beauty.
3. The fact that audiences do complain, however, does mean that something is up. You can't simply blame your listeners for not "absorbing" properly.
4. A lot of "missing" things are actually there - but few and far between, or only in certain cultural traditions (or in other genres, such as epics or legends). They exist, but they are not well known.
5. "Tradition" is an ongoing thing.
Okay okay, I'm getting to the question:
What is it that YOU would like to see (more of) in traditional storytelling?
Is there something you think is missing? Or something that we would need more of?
Something that you thought was weird when you listened to stories as a child?
Something that is not accurately represented?
Something that could do with more diversity?
I'm curious to hear from you!