Prince Charming pursues The Princess(*). It is assumed that she wants this – regardless of her words or actions – and will eventually submit. Cinderella runs off at midnight but the prince decides to hunt her down like an animal declaring – without ever asking her – that he’ll marry the woman the slipper fits. If the prince wakes the princess with a kiss, it’s perfectly clear that she should be grateful to the point of *ahem* ‘marriage’. Then there’s the princess who only qualifies for marriage to the prince if she can pee through a dozen mattresses or something (**). He’s always the one setting the conditions and at the same time always assuming that the princess has no say in the matter. The reader is supposed to share that assumption.
Counter-examples? Well, the princess kisses the frog…. but the assumption is still that the princess automatically requires a prince. To the extent of going around kissing frogs. Which she presumably wouldn’t otherwise do.
I’m not convinced the counter-examples you’re thinking of are really counter, but by all means prove me wrong. Maybe it’s Beauty and the Beast? After all, The Beast is characterised and even *named* after his appearance and a person would have to be shallow not to see his inner beauty, right? Except that he *kidnaps* Beauty – who is also named after the one attribute that’s apparently important – until Stockholm Syndrome sets in, after which yet another ‘marriage’ occurs. I haven’t seen the movie but from what I understand, even the fucking candlesticks are complicit in this grooming and eventual rape.
But it’s just possible that fairy tales aren’t representative of literature and culture in general. Are there works of wider literature in which men have been objectified?
Is this relevant to the discussion?
We’re talking about the default. We’re talking about the bias we don’t notice but should. We’re talking about the biases people try to defend by citing (or in your case not even citing) exceptions as pertinent counter-examples.
Objectification in literature isn’t automatically bad. But I think it’s pretty much automatically bad when the bias in fucking fairy tales is indistinguishable from the bias we see in real life, don’t you?
(*) Interesting that the prince gets a name and the princess doesn’t. The prince’s name is about the attributes that are supposedly desirable to the princess. She wants a ‘charming’ prince, does she? She never said so. He told HER she did and his name exemplifies the attributes HE thinks SHE should value.
(**) H/T Terry Pratchett.