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Disney and Feminism

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As a young child enjoying a Disney movie, you were probably completely unaware how they tied into the now widespread Feminism movement. This movement that strides to promote women’s rights would find fault with some of these movies, which show women as damsels in distress. Some, however, are to be applauded for their princesses who make their own destiny. From five major Disney princesses, we can see the varying portrayal of women.  

1. Cinderella 

Perhaps the most iconic Disney princess, Cinderella unfortunately showcases many gender stereotypes. To start, her role in the household was solely cooking and cleaning. This ties right into the stereotype that women are housekeepers. In addition, she was never in charge of her own person. Whether her family was bossing her around, or she was awaiting the arrival of Prince Charming, she seldom took matters into her own hands. Her relationship with the Prince itself is flawed. Cinderella rushed to fall in love with him, someone she barely knew. Later, she helplessly waited for this man to save her, instead of saving herself. Although entertaining, Cinderella is not a movie with morals to live by. 

 2. Belle 

Belle is inspirational while simultaneously following the damsel in distress archetype. She breaks the stereotype of the pretty girl who lacks in IQ points as being the only educated woman in her town. She even rejects a proposal from the most sought-after man in the town, Gaston. Although she was an outsider, she was still unapologetically herself no matter what others thought of her. Her character later shifts, however, once she is captured by the Beast. She accepts her helpless situation and falls in love with her captor. This submissive quality is a stain on Belle’s initially admirable character.  

 3. Tiana 

As a business woman with big dreams, Tiana is unique among the princesses. She never lost sight of her plan to start a restaurant in New Orleans. During a party, she runs into investors who turn down her business offer. Soon afterwards, she is transformed into a frog with Prince Naveen and goes on a wild adventure to become human again. Throughout the journey, she never relies on the Prince to save her; they instead work as a team. Once they regain their human form, she receives enough money to start her classy restaurant. 

 4. Snow White 

As the first Disney Princess, Snow White should be a positive role model for young girls who are watching her film. At the time, she may have been a good role model, but times have changed. We see Snow White as a frail young princess who is forced to work as a servant in her own castle by her evil stepmother. Although Snow White was an optimistic girl who wouldn’t let her problems get her down, she never stood up for herself.  After the evil queen uses Snow White as a servant and even sends a hunter to kill her, Snow White runs away instead of confronting her problems. Her newfound home seems to be no better than the castle. She’s the classic damsel in distress who never saves herself. When she’s falls into a deep sleep from a poison apple, she needs her prince to wake her from her slumber. Once she awakens, they marry immediately although she doesn’t even know his name.  

 5. Moana 

As the most recent Disney princess, many are charmed by Moana’s story. She is a young girl who goes on an oceanic adventure in order to save her island and people. She is unique because her story does not involve any love interests. In addition, there is no prince charming to save the day; she is the hero of her own story after succeeding to save her home from a lava monster, Te Ka. And her male sidekick, Maui, is exactly that. A sidekick. Maui doesn’t overshadow Moana’s strength or individuality in any way. It’s important for young girls to have responsible and reliable female role models. It’s good for women to positively impact other women. Moana’s mentor, her grandmother, Tala, also served a prominent role as an independent thinker and self-confident women. 

 

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