When I say fairy godmother, I immediately conjure up the image of Glinda, the good witch from the “Wizard of Oz.” I don’t know why. Maybe it is because she is the only good witch I have ever seen besides the cartoon character friend of Casper, Wendy. Glinda looks mystical and like she should have lots of powers with that sparkling crown and big magical wand. Which she apparently does have, but depending on your point of view she may not be so altruistic in her use of her magical powers(Check out this blog post for a very different POV on Glinda.)
The other day, I was working on a mixed media project, which in the end turned out to be a card. The day I created this mixed media base, it was a sort of freestyle event. I was not aiming for anything but instead, I was layering and working my way through scraps and ephemera to see what would happen. I ended up with a Fairy Godman. I really liked how he turned out. He was fun and whimsical.
This project got me thinking why is it we make wishes to godmothers, but not fairy godfathers? I know that there are Godfathers, but I don’t think they are of the fairy wish-granting type. Why were the fairies who granted wishes female generally and not men?
If you think about it men have generally been equated with power in our society. Up until these last few generations, men were the primary economic providers for many families and the ones most likely to have the money to grant wishes. Even today, men wield the most power, look at who runs and controls most businesses and politics. If someone was going to make things happen odds are it is a man.
Wishes are not things you just go out and buy, work to achieve, or otherwise make it happen. If wishes are defined as things that are a bit of a stretch, possibly seeming impossible, then the use of fairies seems a likely person to turn to for help with your wishes. Is this image of a fairy godmother because women have been portrayed and largely served the nurturing role in society? Are women the people who made us believe in the possibilities and encourage us in moments when we need it most? Have women had to historically work around barriers to make things happen? Having seen women in all these roles did that cause us to imagine a fairy godmother could help us with things that seem impossible?
It is a lot of strange reflections all based on what came out of an afternoon with some scraps of paper.