Grimm Fairy Tales Are Dripping With Sex
The first book in the Beauty Awakened series, The Queen and the Honey, has been out for a little over a year now. Back then, I got this review that has nagged at me ever since.
It was one of the first reviews I got on this book and to be honest, I was really confused! I’ve never publicly responded to it because authors are not typically supposed to respond to criticisms of their books—plus, the review seemed to be from a nice person who simply didn’t love the book, rather than someone who was snarking or trolling.
This particular review confused me so much because the reader felt that Grimm fairytales and sex didn’t mesh. She thought it was weird that I tried to combine sex with a fairytale, as if it were some new idea, and not a very popular trend in all types of fiction.
I don’t want to single out this person or make her feel bad. Obviously, she’s never seen sex and fairytales go together, which is fine—there’s a first time for everything.
However, I personally feel that sex is a huge undertone in all of the Grimm fairy tales. And be honest, I’ve probably read more of them than most people. So let me provide a little bit of proof to back up my claim:
Exhibit A: Sleeping Beauty (the tale that is the loose basis for Beauty Awakened)
In the modern retelling of Sleeping Beauty, from the Disney version to more recent retellings like The 10th Kingdom miniseries and the television show, Once Upon a Time, Sleeping Beauty is awakened by her true love’s kiss.
However, in the original version, she’s actually awakened by “true love’s” rape, which is the inspiration for my series, as well as Anne Rice’s The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty series that grew popular after 50 Shades of Grey became an international phenomenon.
Exhibit B: Little Red Riding Hood
In the sanitized version of Little Red Riding Hood, the Wolf is trying to eat a little girl by tricking her into thinking he’s her grandma.
In the original version, the Wolf is trying to lure that girl into his bed. The girl symbolizes a virgin, a common object of Grimm fairy tales. The wolves themselves symbolize aggressive, animalistic men who can’t control their desires, alluding to another rape scenario.
Even in modern society, wolves symbolize masculine men who live in excess—Wolf of Wall Street anyone?
Exhibit C: Rapunzel
In the sanitized version of Rapunzel, a prince rescues her from a tower by asking her to let down her hair.
In the original version, the Prince is the one who imprisons her because she’s pregnant with his child. This is alluded to when the Prince spends days frolicking with Rapunzel right before the incident where she’s imprisoned.
Now, I’ve mentioned before that Lily Briar’s story isn’t the only one I have to tell within the Enchanted Forest world—in fact, the retellings of Little Red Riding Hood and Rapunzel are on their way, once I clear some other projects off my plate and finish Lily’s story!
But the reality is, I didn’t come up with the idea of sex + fairytales. The tales that the Grimm brothers derived their stories from were never intended for children, and even more importantly, the motifs that are repeated over and over are not only violent but also extremely sexual and even racist at times.
Beauty Awakened was never intended to be a piece of untouchable art, and I certainly welcome all the criticism I’ve received on it. But I do hope that by retelling these fairytales with amped up violence and sex, as those stories were originally told, I can bring awareness to the history of a piece of long-standing literature that is deeply ingrained in our modern society.