Being that Disney movies are some of the beloved films by all individuals from different ages (from the young generation to elderly individuals); the message passed in the films is identified to be having a more significant global influence. Throughout the world, Disney movies are recognized as some of the highest grossing movies in the film industry. However, in the Disney princess' movies like Aurora, Snow White, Belle, Ariel, Cinderella and seven dwarfs, there is considerable controversy surrounding the beloved films: the modern feminism and the changing gender roles of the characters. The dominant image that has been portrayed in most Disney movies is that the female characters are perceived as weaker and inferior to the superior and masculine male characters. The level of inequality portrayed in the Disney movies is a bad lesson to teenagers and most youths. It is inaccurately educating the youths that there exist common expectation and behaviors for certain genders with the notion that female characters in Disney movies being inferior and weaker. However, the princess who played the stronger role models changed the tradition on how society should view females. This essay will, therefore, raise arguments on the changing gender roles and modern feminism portrayed in Disney films. The arguments will be raised based on the Damsels in distress and the stronger female role models in Disney princess.
It has become a tradition in the Disney princess' films for the princess to always get her happily ever after through getting married to her prince who portrays a superior character. This happens by rescuing her when she is a damsel in sorrow. However, through this tradition, women are being limited to possess a particular gender role. According to Wendy Kaminer, men are always stereotyped to be having specific jobs, and if a woman does the same job, the society finds it uncommon and ends up adding something to the name. However, in the Disney princess' movies, Belle and Cinderella are waiting and searching for their true love so that they can be saved. Each princess is viewed to be unrealistically close to perfection and usually recognized by their beautiful singing voices. In fact, in most Disney princes' films, singing and cleaning are some of the significant skills every princess portrays.
From Disneys Snow White and the Seven Dwarf; Snow White is a demonstration of the gender-specific female stereotypes in the social order. She is seen nurturing the dwarfs, doing domestic work, taking care of animals and taking care of the house. Through this story, Snow White provides a message to young girls that their duties are to take care of others, manage the cleaning process and just wait for their prince to save them. The main question is why cant women take care of themselves when they are in the state of distress? Why do women need happily ever after that involve men? The female characters in the Disney princess are associated with the various stereotype: they are ordinarily weak and are controlled by others tentative, affectionate, complaining and troublesome when the comparison is made to their male counterparts.
However, in some of the Disney movies, the changes in the role of princess have been experienced with attention being created through building some of the complicated characters. Ariel in the Disney story is identified as one of the most realistic adolescent girls with great potential in achieving her goals. She is spontaneous and questioning, showing some of the initiatives that are far beyond being stuck in the castle. In the story, she is portrayed to be dreaming of exploring and transcending the existing lifestyle. This is entirely different from what has been associated with the previous princess. Additionally, Ariel is perceived to be well grounded than another princess that came before, with the film focusing on suggesting some supernatural attributes towards the general motivations and feminine behavior. In this case, Ariel is no longer damsel like any other princesses, but she is viewed as one of the rebellious and strong young ladies who refused to conform and aligned to the general roles of the society. This should not be a surprise since as argued by Wendy Kaminer, women are of course equal to men, they are not supposed to be looked down up in any situation, and it is possible that women are capable of pursuing and accomplishing everything that can be achieved by every man. Just like Ariel, Belle, Mulan and other new princesses in the story, the role of women have been changing, and now they are being allowed to choose their path without being controlled by other individuals.
According to Kaminer, women are perceived to play an equal role with men, they are not supposed to be locked down as a result of stereotypes, and that women are capable and can pursue everything that a man can accomplish. On the other hand, Kaminer provides evidence that society, in general, is altogether shocked when a woman proves herself to by achieving some of the things that most women have not achieved. Some of the examples raised is that if a woman becomes a doctor, they call her a woman doctor, and if she becomes a politician, she is considered a woman politician. If one thinks about it, such statement is viewed to be true. Generally, through the evidence that is provided in the Disney stories, what comes out is that it is so authentic and compelling that some women are facing prejudice and societal stereotype even though others have overcome all the odds.
Contrary to the character of Snow White, Belle portrays a different character, showing features of a female who is free thinking, present in equal level with their males counterparts, and more independent. Belle of Beauty and the Beast is shown to be a very educated and intelligent, with no interest in men. This is very different from Snow White who could just clean, sweep and wait for their prince charming to save her life; Belle doesnt provide sway to his aggressive attentions but instead ended up becoming a princess by circumstances. Even though she is identified to be a beautiful young woman, the dominant theme in the video demonstrated the importance of inner beauty and fought against all stereotypes.
Even though the society still views men to be superior human beings, this is not the case in Belle, Beauty and the Beast.However, according to Kaminer, feminists have long been ridiculed for their efforts of purging sexism from various languages by mentioning of words like chairperson and not accepting words like a male pronoun in making use of the general words that can address both the sexes (Let's Talk about Gender, Baby). Women are to be embraced as beautiful and are supposed to be firm in dealing with some of the distress in their own normal life.
In the Disneys Sleeping Beauty, Aurora from Sleeping Beauty came a princess at first sight. Prince Phillip fell in love with her and played a savior role. This was by saving Aurora from death through a kiss. Since love, at first sight, shows that beauty is all that matters, it is demonstrated that if youre beautiful, a prince will fall in love with you, even before knowing you. This is different from Disneys Aladdin Where Jasmine is born and plays the role of an active princess. Even if instructed by the father to marry a prince, she ends up rejecting the offer since all she wanted was to marry one whom she loves. This is one of the positive stories that every young lady should learn. In the current society, it should not be a great shock when a woman decides on whom to love without being directed or even being forced to love someone just because he is a prince. According to Kaminer, women can accomplish some of the things men can do, and society needs to perform a better job in understanding that women are capable of fulfilling some of the things. Just like Pocahontas, who demonstrates an independent, compassionate and a strong girl who only follows her passion.
In the society today, girls are not supposed to be limited by the societal prejudice, they are supposed to think like Pocahontas, one of the beautiful Disney princess. She fell in love and ended up standing up for John Smith when she needed her most. Pocahontas, in the long run, saves John Smiths life from her father (Azmi). This is one of the roles in the Disney movies where the princess ends up coming to rescue. In the society today, this should be one of the inspiring roles that most women are to admire and look up to. They are supposed to be providing a solution to some of the current challenges that we are facing. It is important to note that sexual difference should not be a hindrance and ladies should start viewing them as normal terms that differentiate the body make up.
Additionally, the new role of women is experienced by Disney Mulan, where a brave, powerful and independent Disney princess defied the stereotypical female roles and demonstrated one of the strong male characters that aim in fighting for her fathers place. In this story, Mulan plays the role of a strong character and a strong personality to take the role of a male character. She didnt depend at all on prince charming to help her conduct the rescue process. In the Disneys Princess and Frog, Tiana has been recorded as one of the first dark princesses to have appeared in the Disney film. Just like an ordinary man in the society that wants to be the provider and to impact change in the family and community in general, Tiana dreams of kissing the frog, owning a restaurant. In this story, Tiana is not saved by prince charming but pursue her dream of helping to find the cure.
In the United States, the Supreme Court has managed to outlaw discrimination based on gender without recognizing how it is differing from discrimination based on sex. The society should also stop using some of the terms to prevent gender discrimination, and stop discrimination against a person just because someone is a woman. However, when the growing generation emulates some of the role models like Mulan in the Disney, young girls will step out into the society and become their own hero.
Azmi, N. J., et al. "Gender and Speech in a Disney Princess Movie." International Journal of Applied Linguistics and English Literature 5.6 (2016): 235-239.
Let's Talk about Gender, Baby. The American Prospect, prospect.org/article/lets-talk-about-gender-baby
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