While one Northumberland Park mom was reading Sleeping Beauty to her six-year-old son, Ben, it dawned on her that the popular fairy tale might have an “inappropriate” message.
Sarah Hall took to Twitter to share these concerns and made headlines for asking her son’s school to ban the book, claiming that it teaches children that it’s okay to kiss a woman without her consent while she’s asleep.
Hall is an online advocate for gender and diversity issues as well as a public relations professional in North East, England.
“I think it’s a specific issue in the Sleeping Beauty story about sexual behaviour and consent,” the mother of two told the Newcastle Chronicle. “It’s about saying is this still relevant, is it appropriate?”
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The 40-year-old contacted her son’s school and asked for the book to be removed from the younger children’s classes, though acknowledges that the book could be a “great resource” for older children to “have a conversation around it.”
“In today’s society, it isn’t appropriate. My son is only six, he absorbs everything he sees, and it isn’t as if I can turn it into a constructive conversation,” Hall told the Chronicle.
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“I don’t think taking Sleeping Beauty books out of circulation completely would be right. I actually think it would be a great resource for older children, you could have a conversation around it, you could talk about consent, and how the Princess might feel,” she added.
According to the Telegraph, Sleeping Beauty originates from a story by the 16th century Italian poet Giambattista Basile called Sun, Moon and Talia. In the story, a princess falls asleep under a spell and is raped by a king. The princess later wakes up, falls in love with the king and marries him.
Hall’s comments sparked a debate on Twitter, where many criticized her interpretations of the story.
“Sorry what??? Sarah it is people like you making issues of situations like this that are the problem. Stop!!! You’re making an issue out of something that was never an issue before!! Ridiculous! Let’s wrap everyone up in cotton wool shall we?” someone tweeted back at her.
“You know that bears don’t really eat porridge, right?,” another Twitter user wrote.