In the second instalment of her column, More than a Fairytale, Jess Steadman examines the interplay between gender and heroism in medieval folklore. Artwork by Chen (Cornelia) Chen.
“Well, our storytellers have always been slightly uncomfortable with the possibility of a woman selfishly having any kind of physical power. I say ‘selfishly’ because in folklore and fairytales, the male hero is unapologetically narcissistic and egotistical… and for centuries, we loved him for it. Unfortunately, we still kind of do.”