Stories matter, because they teach us how the world works.
Here's one I found in a collection of Old English fairy tales:There once was a rich merchant who grew angry with his youngest daughter and cast her out of the house with nothing but the clothes on her back.
She stopped at a stream and wove a cape from the rushes near the bank. The cape covered her fine clothes. She went to a rich man's house and got a cleaning job in exchange for a place to sleep and leftover crusts to eat. They called her Cape o'Rushes.
One day there was much excitement because all the family was going to a great ball. Cape o'Rushes said she couldn't go; she was too tired.
As soon as the house was empty, she put on her own fine clothes and went to the ball. She danced the night away and was home asleep before the rest came home.
The next morning they marveled that the young master danced with one beautiful woman and no one knew who she was.
"I wish I could have seen it," Cape o'Rushes said.
On the third night of the ball, the young master gave the mysterious woman a ring, but once again she slipped away.
The young master searched the country high and low for his love. When he could not find her, he fell into a decline and the family feared he would die.
Cape o'Rushes told the cook that she would make a broth for the sick person.
"You can't make broth," the cook frowned. "You're a scullery maid. "
"We can say you made it," Cape o'Rushes replied. She made the broth and slipped the ring into the dish.
When the young master discovered the ring, he searched until he discovered it was Cape o'Rushes who had made the broth. They married and lived happily ever after.
There now! Don't you wish you'd been brought up on Cape o'Rushes instead of Cinderella? Instead of helplessly waiting for a fairy godmother to rescue her, Cape o'Rushes faces adversity with courage. And she tests the young master's love most rigorously before she agrees to marry him.
Cape o'Rushes is an ancient story, not a '90s invention created to suit modern politics. It proves the Cinderella story is not the only way of looking at the world, and never was.