A mom in the U.K. is calling on primary schools there to drop the fairy tale "Sleeping Beauty" from the curriculum because, she says, the story promotes sexual assault.
According to The Chronicle, Sarah Hall, who hails from Northumberland Park in Britain, has launched a one-woman crusade against the popular story which features a handsome prince waking Sleeping Beauty — or Princess Aurora, in the Disney version — from a decades-long slumber with "true love's kiss."
Hall told the paper that she was reading the book to her six-year-old son when she realized that Sleeping Beauty's story wasn't romantic, it was downright terrifying. Since Sleeping Beauty is asleep and, therefore, can't consent to what Hall considers a "sexual" touch, the prince is, in effect, sexually assaulting the dozing damsel to the great delight of the fantasy kingdom.
That, Hall says, teaches boys that it's fine to sexually assault an unconscious woman.
“I think it’s a specific issue in the Sleeping Beauty story about sexual behaviour and consent," Hall told the Chronicle. “It’s about saying is this still relevant, is it appropriate?”
“In today’s society, it isn’t appropriate — my son is only six, he absorbs everything he sees, and it isn’t as if I can turn it into a constructive conversation," Hall added.
Hall also says she recognizes that not all schools will be able to wipe Sleeping Beauty out of their curriculum, and that the character is now so embedded in the cultural Zeitgeist that it would be difficult to erase Princess Aurora from our collective memory. But now, in such a progressive, "woke" era, she says, it may be time to start having "constructive conversations" when the story is mentioned in an educational setting.
“I don’t think taking Sleeping Beauty books out of circulation completely would be right. I actually think it would be a great resource for older children, you could have a conversation around it, you could talk about consent, and how the Princess might feel," she says. “But I’m really concerned about it for younger children, [and] would really welcome a conversation about whether this is suitable material."
It's not immediately clear that Hall realizes parents are likely reading Sleeping Beauty to their children — or that the tale is a work of fiction. That "true love's kiss" wakes the sleeping royal is, perhaps, among the least strange of the story's details. Few women, in this day and age, are being born with their parents having to consult an evil queen, nor are they regularly enchanted with a sleeping spell that will render them immobile upon their sixteenth birthday.
Heck, unless they're living in Portland and trying to make their way in the artisan crafting community, few women in the 21st century will ever prick their fingers on a spinning loom. Those hipsters should probably watch out, though.