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Of Fantasies and Frogs

September 24, 1987

"Snow White" just celebrated her 50th birthday. The classic Disney film remains a delightful fantasy that will no doubt continue to entertain countless generations. But reality in the 1980s forces some women to reflect on Snow White--the role model. Remember the story?

Lost in the forest, the beautiful princess wanders aimlessly alone until seven little men take her home to be their live-in housekeeper. Singing and dreaming of her prince, Ms. White blithely cleans house, washes windows, launders clothes (49 shirts a week) and cooks for a house full of men--including one named Grumpy.

But a jealous queen, not a handsome prince, saves the distressed maiden from her household drudgery. The proverbial poisoned apple provides Snow White with her first good night's rest, no doubt in weeks. Yes, eventually the handsome prince does whisk her off to his castle, where the couple will presumably live forever blissfully. Andthat is the end of the fantasy, especially for many women today.

While young girls still dream of princes and fairy-tale endings, most married women find life filled with jobs, housekeeping, cooking, laundry, children and occasionally the company of a husband called Grumpy. The Congressional Caucus for Women's Issues confirms that in 1987 the American working woman continues to do most of the household chores and child care.

And so, at least for now, a woman will continue to work as many hours as her husband does, although earning far less, and will be expected to cheerfully begin her second job--with no pay at all--when she comes home at night, often to a hungry family.

Even Snow White might nowadays advise her daughter to find a husband who is willing to share these family responsibilities--a man who is more a prince than a frog.

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