I’m reading Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (a-MA-zing book!) and the main character writes fanfic, and reading about writing inspires me to want to write more myself. So this is something I wrote longhand before bed the other night. I doubt I’ll turn it into anything, so I figured I might as well post it here. Unedited, so you’ve been warned.
Side note: I actually did have a professor in college named Dr. Mitchell, and he was a total sweetheart and completely open to creativity when it came to the assignments he gave (I submitted papers in the form of a poem, a short story, and a play, because as a Senior English major I was tired of writing straight papers). So I don’t know why his name came to mind when I was writing this, but I’m leaving it there anyway. Apologies, Charlie. You’re not a chauvinist, nor did you ever, I’m fairly certain, have a pet dinosaur.
They’re wrong, you know? The fairy tales, I mean. You know the ones I’m talking about, where the damsel in distress is rescued by the knight in shining armor. That’s a load of bullshit they tell you in kindergarten that leads girls to grow up believing that:
- they need to be rescued because they can’t get out of trouble themselves;
- they’re dumb or careless, which is why they’re in trouble to begin with; and
- when this alleged knight comes to rescue them, the knight’s armor will still be shiny, like defeating the dragon or witch or whoever didn’t even make him break a sweat. No mud on these tires, no matter how much dirt was between him and this stupid damsel.
And then, what’s so great about it? Why would the knight want to be with a damsel who let herself be carried off by a dragon to a tower with no hope of escape? Why does the dragon keep her locked up? If he’s got such a taste for damsel, why doesn’t he just eat her? Why does the damsel just fucking sit there, waiting to be rescued? What does she see in the knight, anyway? Isn’t she afraid that when the next pretty girl gets tied to the train tracks, he’ll be off to rescue her because his life is so monotonous now that he craves that sense of adventure that he’s lost since he settled down with the first damsel? Or is he just so conceited that he actually took the time to clean his armor after he defeated the dragon just to impress her, like that’s what she really cares about? Fucking asshole.
So you can see why I was less than enthused when my Lit professor announced the next assignment for class is to write a modern version of the classic damsel-in-distress archetype. With a different prof I’d be on cloud nine – finally a chance to inject some feminism into it. But not with Dr. Mitchell, who I swear is so old that after the dinosaurs died out, he still managed to find one to keep as a pet. Dr. Mitchell is in the dictionary illustrating the word patriarchy, or maybe chauvinist. He doesn’t want a modern take. He wants a classic take but with cars and computers and cell phones. Rapunzel in the tallest tower in the countryside can’t get a damn signal – good thing Prince “Let down your sweet hair” saw the glint of the sun reflecting off the screen as she took her millionth pouty-lip duckface selfie of the day! Can you see me now?
I would kill to get an assignment like this in Dr. Shoenbrun’s class – not only does she like when students interpret things differently than “everyone else,” provided there is sufficient textual support examples given, but she also gives bonus points for “creativity and thinking outside the page,” as she puts it. Dr. Shoenbrun would probably drool over my self-rescuing heroine telling off the knight for taking so long to get there. And when the dragon turns out to be friendly. I wonder if she would appreciate my damsel falling in love with the dragon, or if that’s going too far even for her.