Straw into gold, my my my
In honour of the many blogs where political correctness is of the utmost importance, I offer a highly plagiarised story…………
Long ago in a kingdom far away, there lived a miller who was highly economically disadvantaged. This miller shared his humble dwelling with his only daughter, an independent young woman named Esmeralda. Now the miller was ashamed of his poverty, rather than being angry at the economic system that had marginalized him, and was always searching for a way to get rich quick.
“If only I could get my daughter to marry a rich man,” he mused, in a sexist and archaic way, “she’ll be fulfilled and I’ll never have to work another day in my life.” To this shabby end, he had an inspiration. He would start a rumour that his daughter was able to spin common barnyard straw into pure gold. With this untruth, he would be able to attract the attention of many rich men and marry off Esmeralda.
The rumour spread throughout the kingdom in a manner that just happened to be like that of wildfire and soon reached the prince. As greedy and gullible as most men of his station, he believed the rumour and invited Esmeralda to his castle for a May Day festival. But when she arrived, he had her thrown into a dungeon filled with straw and ordered her to spin it into gold.
Locked in the dungeon, fearing for her life, Esmeralda sat on the floor and wept. Never had the exploitativeness of the patriarchy been made so apparent to her. As she cried, a diminutive man in a funny hat appeared in the dungeon.
“_Why are you crying, my dear?” _he asked.
Esmeralda was startled but answered him: “The prince has ordered me to spin all this straw into gold”
“_But why are you crying?” _he asked again.
“Because it can’t be done. What are you, specially abled or something?”
The differently statured man laughed and said, “Dearie, you are thinking too much with the left hand side of your brain, you are. But you are in luck. I will show you how to perform this task, yes, but first you must promise to give me what I want in return.”
With no alternative, Esmeralda gave her assent. To turn the straw into gold, they took it to a nearby farmers’ cooperative, where it was used to thatch an old roof. With a drier home, the farmers became healthier and more productive, and they brought forth a record harvest of wheat for local consumption.
The children of the kingdom grew strong and tall, went to a cooperative school, and gradually turned the kingdom into a model democracy with no economic or sexual injustice and low infant mortality rates. For his part, the prince was captured by an angry mob and stabbed to death with pitchforks outside the palace. As new investment money poured in from all over the world, the farmers remembered Esmeralda’s generous gift of straw and rewarded her with numerous chests of gold.
When all this was done, the diminutive man in the funny hat laughed and said “That is how you turn straw into gold.” Then his expression became menacing, “Now that I have done my work, you must fulfil your part of the bargin. You must give me your first-born child!”
Esmeralda shot back at him “I don’t have to negotiate with anyone who would interfere with my reproductive rights!”
The vertically challenged man was taken aback by the conviction in her voice, deciding on a change in tactics; he said slyly, “Fair enough, dearie, I’ll let you out of the bargin if you guess what my name is.”
“All right,” said Esmeralda. She paused a second, tapped her chin with her finger, and said “Would it be Rumpelstiltskin?”
”_AAAKKK!!” _shrieked the man of non-standard height. “But….but….how did you know?”
She replied, “You are still wearing your name badge from the Little People’s Empowerment Seminar.”
Rumpelstiltskin screamed in anger and stamped his foot, at which the earth cracked open and swallowed him up in a rush of smoke and sulphur. With her gold, Esmeralda moved to California to open a birth-control clinic, where she showed other womyn how not to be enslaved by their reproductive systems and lived to the end of her days as a fulfilled, dedicated single person.