What did Disney teach us as Children?
DISNEY. IS. MESSED. UP. We are taught at a young age that our society promotes us to be confined within our gender roles and if we step outside those gender roles we are cast out and isolated from our society. In Disney movies, these ridiculous gender roles are generally portrayed through the cliché main characters. For instance, girls are taught to strive to become a thin, young, submissive and dainty damsel in distress that NEEDS to be rescued by a handsome, somewhat muscular man—‘hero.’
Now ladies, I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be an incompetent woman like the damsels in distress portrayed in Disney that prance around all day wearing dresses and heels and have to look pretty all of the time (like the majority of Disney princesses).
I mean, c’mon! I don’t know about you, but some days I just want to wear some sweats, pull my hair back into a messy bun, not even bother putting my contacts in, and go roll around in the mud playing football.
Furthermore, unlike the damsel in distress, I don’t think women should have to be defined by man. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against relationships, love, marriage, and all that jazz, but I have a voice too and I most certainly have the right to have as much power as a man.
So why hasn’t Disney changed their perspective and portrayal of women in their movies?! We have come so far. Women have the right to vote, the right to an education, and the right to any career, and furthermore, women can do this without having a man by their side. Unlike Disney’s portrayal of the damsel in distress, women are very competent and can now be in a position of power.
However, the women who have power in Disney movies are the villainesses. But what girl wants to strive to be like a villainess (not the evilness, obviously, but the independence they have) after how Disney displays them? Certainly not me. For instance, Ursula, the ‘sea witch’ in The Little Mermaid, is not attractive. I mean, her character is based off of a famous drag queen, Divine, that is a man for Pete’s sake!
Similarly, the Evil Queen in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs lacks feminine features such as a hair (it’s never revealed in the movie), but possesses a wide variety of masculine characteristics such as an angular face, raspy voice, and a pencil-like figure due to her gown.
So what is Disney teaching us?! They are teaching us that women who have power are ugly. Does Disney teach men that they shouldn’t have power as well? Of course not! Look at Gaston, the powerful villain in Beauty and the Beast, he is handsome, muscular, a good hunter, and gets all the ladies in town (except for Belle of course).
These are traits that men typically strive for. By displaying Gaston like this, what on earth is Disney teaching us?! Disney is teaching us that men should have power and women should be submissive. This is absolutely preposterous!Yet, this portrayal, goes hand-in-hand with out patriarchal society where it is more acceptable for men to be in a position of power and women be their sidekick—housewife.
So Disney, I call for change! Our society has changed (slowly might I add), but why haven’t you kept up? I realize that Disney has made some changes, for instance in Brave, where the main character, Princess Merida, is the heroine and the movie doesn’t end with her falling in love with a man, but this is the only Disney movie (at least that I can think of) where this happens. So perhaps, Disney, you could attempt to not focus your movies on the same cliché plot of the girl falling in love at the end and make more movies like Brave. Even though the plot line in Brave wasn’t cliché, it still made a success in the box office, which signifies that the same repetitive patriarchal plot pattern is not needed to make money (if that’s what Disney is concerned with).