I’ve been thinking about fairy godmothers here recently. I’ve come to the conclusion that they know how to make stuff happen. We don’t get stories about fairy godfathers making awesome stuff happen. It’s the fairy godmothers who roll up their sleeves and bippity-boppity-boo the heck out of whatever problems you might be having. That’s how it works in real life too, by the way.
Now, most of us will bring to mind the fairy godmother from Disney’s Cinderella when we think of fairy godmothers. I think she actually has a name, but I’ve forgotten what it was. The woman is pretty awesome. She turned a pumpkin into a carriage and some mice into people to drive that carriage. She’s not the only fairy godmother in tales though, there are actually lots of fairy godmothers. Aurora has three in Sleeping Beauty. Mother Holle is a fairy godmother. If you haven’t heard of mother Holle you need to do some reading. Shrek has a fairy godmother, but she’s not as wholesome as some of the other fairy godmothers we run across in stories.
The idea of a fairy godmother is this female person who shows up unexpectedly to help you with your problems or desires. I wish I had one of those from time to time. Recently, I have decided to re-watch the Sabrina the Teenage Witch on Hulu, and there is this commercial that keeps coming on for Toyota. In that commercial, Penny from The Big Bang Theory shows up as a fairy. She grants a family several wishes, one of which includes infinite witches, hehehe. That’s not really important to my point, I just thought I would mention it.
As you know my friend Charlotte Henley Babb wrote a book called Maven Fairy Godmother: Through the Veil. Maven is a Southern woman turned fairy godmother and I love it. Her unconventional approaches to being a fairy godmother are humorous and interesting at the same time. Charlotte’s book brings to mind that a fairy godmother isn’t necessarily all candy puff and sweetness all the time, ditto for the fairy godmother from Shrek. All that woman is trying to do is get her son married off to a princess. That whole thing makes me wonder who his father was. I guess that thought will never be answered.
I like the whole idea that a fairy godmother can be something other that purely on your side. She’s a person too right? She has wants and feelings. Maybe she gets tired of granting wishes to girls who scrub floors. I think the more modern approach of both Charlotte and the makers of the Shrek movies put a little more humanity in the idea of a fairy godmother.
For the most part, we look at a fairy godmother as a type. Fairy godmothers do this one thing. They’re as sweet as candy. They smile and are grandmotherly. That’s all they can ever be, but as I have mentioned a couple of people have thought about fairy godmothers a little differently. I like that.
I have to wonder why there aren’t many mentions of anything like a fairy godfather. First of all, it’s probably because fairy godfather sounds like someone who is going to poof into your bedroom with a tommy gun instead of a wand. Nobody wants that. It could be an interesting story though. Just imagine fairy godfather, poofs into your bedroom with his magical tommy gun to grant your wish. He speaks with an Italian accent and has “buddies” that help him grant wishes. Also, if you tell anyone about him, you’ll be swimming with the fishes.
Anyway, most likely this whole thing is due to the fact that women have always been seen as the nurturers of the world. There are people who will argue with you about this for days, but the idea still exists. Women are the primary nurturers to children and other people. Most likely, if someone stops to help you out in the grocery store, or whatever, it’s probably going to be a woman. This is changing, but that’s how society and the world has been for, well, forever.
The closest thing I can think of on the male side of the fairy tale spectrum would be a genii or that magical fish that grants wishes, although, I’ve never really been sure if that fish is male or female. A genii is generally male and grants wishes. Besides the fish I can’t really think of any other male characters who are big on granting wishes. There is Rumpelstiltskin, who does kind of grant wishes, but it’s always with a catch.
I guess it’s official, anyone who does anything in the fairy tale world is a woman. That leaves me wondering what all the men are up to. There can’t be that many dragons.