Self-Empowerment Saves the Damsel in Distress

We’re all familiar with the conventional fairy tales where there is a damsel in distress who’s constantly tortured by an evil queen (or a step-mother) and is rescued by a handsome prince and lives “happily ever after”.

Let’s take Rupunzel, as an example. Have you ever stopped to think what would have happened if Rupunzel broke all the conventions and saved herself? We all know she was sick of staying in that damned tower; well, what if she decided to do something about it? What if she cut her hair and used it as a rope to escape the walls of the tower? Sure as hell, wouldn’t be as painful as letting anyone climb up the walls, using her hair while it was still attached to her cranium!

“Happily ever after’s” are so rarely true in the real world and while I’m all in for fairy tales and dreamy drama, when an English Literature professor mentioned the story of Rupunzel self-empowering herself (with the mere intention of reminding and motivating us to be independent, make our own decisions and write our own destiny), I couldn’t help but juxtaposing the story of our darling little princess to the lives of all the women – and girls! – who are tortured by either the society or within the confines of their homes or (in a lot of cases) both?

A woman may be grabbed from the street, raped brutally and dropped off in the corner of some alley, naked. When she gives up and dies of shock or kills herself, she is tagged under the category of being ‘weak’; but when she tries to get back on her feet, she’s met by the expressions of disgust. How different are those people in the society then from the men who treated her like trash?

In another situation, a woman could be tortured at her home – bashed up, whipped and slammed against the walls or harassed by those who she’s supposed to call family. She’s not let outside her house. She’s treated like a slave to merely satisfy the needs of her so-called family.

Of course, I’ve only mentioned extreme situations. There could also be a situation where a girl who’s just gotten into college is married off – allowed to go to college but then must meet the demands of her ‘in-laws’ i.e. an heir to the lineage (may specifically be a son), household chores… the list goes on.

Or yet another, slightly mellowed down situation, where the woman is supposed to get married to a man just to ensure a business deal between the fathers. Or maybe, a father/mother who is overly strict, forcing a girl to study what she doesn’t desire and manipulating her – in various ways – to follow his/her ‘orders.’

Allow me to get back to the version of Rupunzel as told by the professor at my college: Rupunzel saves herself, by cutting her hair and using it as a rope. She runs off and reaches a town, where she sees a school and she wants to study. When she enquires the authorities, she is told that she requires a uniform and books and to buy them, she needs money. So she finds a job at a boutique (assuming here that she knows how to stitch), she works and earns for herself – and uses that money to buy the books; as for the uniform, she stitches it up. And she studies and goes on to be a teacher and empower her students. That could also be her ‘happily ever after’.

Now, getting back to the women who are mistreated; if these women decide to break away from the chains that are holding them back from the freedom they deserve, they could rectify their situation instead of waiting to be saved by others. And let’s be honest! We have all read at least ONE Chicken Soup book to know that if motivated enough, even a patient diagnosed with paralysis can get back on his/her feet and live again.
I’m not saying that the woman who gets out of the horrifying and nasty situation will be happy. No, because happiness is transient. You need to look for it in the little things in life and you need to work real hard to reach the summit to see the sun rise again.

However, there is a guarantee of the fact that she will be in a better place and wherever she stands, she could decide for herself what she wants; and nothing and no one will then be able to tame her into being a slave to their own desires. No obstacle would be strong enough to break her ever. She could dream and achieve that dream; even the sky wouldn’t push her back down. And that, at least in my own opinion, is one of the greatest positive attitudes any human being can own.

Author: Archita Das
Feature photo: Hearuman (Modified) 

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