In the fairy tale, Cinderella, the glass slipper was symbolic of a woman finding her Prince Charming who would cherish her forever, treat her like a princess, and support her in style.
The glass slipper, since it didn’t fit on any other woman’s foot except Cinderella’s, was also symbolic of a woman who was so delicate and in need of protection, that this tiny glass slipper would only fit on her foot.
This was the way many men looked at their spouse, as someone who needed protection and couldn’t fend for herself. Nor could she make sensible decisions without the guidance of her big, strong, logical husband.
It didn’t matter if she made all the major decisions, as long as she gave him credit for it or as long as she manipulated him into thinking that he was the one who made the decisions. Many marriages are still that way, even today.
Some women still want the Cinderella fairy tale. They don’t want to be responsible for making decisions and they don’t want to be responsible for putting food on the table and paying the bills. They want someone to take care of them and they are quite content to do the cooking, laundry, and assorted household chores as an equitable tradeoff.
They may even complain about how hard they work around the house but they are not willing to put themselves on the line and risk rejection by applying for jobs, especially in this economy.
On the other hand, there are many women who want to spread their wings and have a career. They are willing to do whatever it takes to be the master of their own destiny and they don’t want to be relegated to the role of “the little woman” who needs someone to take care of her.
Cinderella didn’t help women develop as full partners in their relationships. Even today, when things get bad, money is tight, or their children get into trouble, many women still secretly long for Prince Charming to sweep her off her feet, carry her off into the sunset, and make all her problems disappear.
The problem with that scenario is that things have changed radically. While part of a woman might wish that she had a big, strong man who could make her problems magically disappear, society has changed too much for women to believe that this will happen. She might still be the stay-at-home mother or wife but now she knows that no one is going to rescue her.
I am hopeful that someday women will realize that their feet have outgrown the glass slipper and they will want to be equal partners in their relationships.