I completely agree that works like The Alchemist and Alice in Wonderland have a lot they can teach us. I’m a big Joseph Campbell fan. My one caveat is that a large percentage of traditional stories like Sleeping Beauty teach disempowering gender roles, and I say this not out of some sort of feminst ideology but out of my own experience. I know that in my younger years (not sure when I finally got over it — maybe high school) I had the impression, due to the perponderance of stories like this, that men were the central figures of the world, and that the good ones kindly rescued and took care of the princess. They were strong and self-assured and knew what they were doing. All I had to do was hope that one might deem me worthy of being saved by them.

These stereotypes really don’t serve either boys or girls, and while one or two is not egregious, children’s literature and movies are still overwhelmingly populated with male characters who speak the most lines, even in supposedly female-oriented stories. I think that the current rash of super-hero movies is the new mythology culture (how we are meeting our societal need for those kinds of stories) and that although there is still room for improvement, it is starting to balance out the harmfully gendered stories of the past.

Dispelling cultural myths with research-driven stories. My favorite word is “specious.” Not fragile like a flower; fragile like a bomb! Twitter @ElleBeau

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