Recently, and I'm not even sure why, I began thinking of "Cinderella." It's such a claustrophobic tale: four women milling about in one house, watching each other, hating each other, sizing each other up. With an occasional fifth woman/female fairy popping in now and then. No men on the horizon. Purely theoretically, we know Cinderella has a dad because she's got a stepmother, but where is he? Again, purely theoretically, there must be male servants simply because women back then didn't drive carriages, maintain the grounds, or fix whatever needed to be fixed (except for clothing). But we never see a single guy.
And then a prince drops out of nowhere. Another human being. A promise of getting out of the claustrophobic gas chamber that Cinderella's home apparently is. No wonder all three girls are fighting to death to get him.
Or maybe it is a wonder.
I mean why on earth does Cinderella ask her fairy godmother for shoes and stuff when she could ask her for a kingdom? Or to turn her into a fairy? Or why would Cinderella's sisters need a prince when they are splendidly well off? Or how could Cinderella's stepmother turn Cinderella into a maid without social repercussions? Because surely, if Cinderella's sisters are feasible matches for a prince then Cinderella's slide down the social ladder would diminish their status too.
But you kind of don't think about it.
Because the story makes you so obsessive and paranoid. To all appearances, there's only one marriageable guy and you gotta-gotta-gotta marry him or it's the end of the world. Off goes bodily integrity/the wicked sisters' feet.* True, not in their entirety, but how will they be able to walk with no heels? Off goes common sense. Nobody asks why on earth the prince can't just have another ball so that he could recognize his true love. Didn't he see her face? Was he only looking at her shoes (or whatever else shoes represent, which is usually vaginas)? Off goes dignity. Because there's only ONE guy. Such scarcity. So give up everything. Make sure you're pretty, manicured, pedicured, coifed, polished, poised. Oh, and always cheerful. Oh, and don't form bonds with other women. Oh, and you're never enough without a guy. Anxiety. OCD. Schizophrenia. Depression. After all this, I can only envision the married Cinderella as the guy from The Shining.
*In the Grimms' version of "Cinderella," the sisters cut off their heels so that Cinderella's tiny shoe would fit them.