Feminist or Not? a Disney Princess Narrative

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Feminist or Not? A Disney Princess Narrative

Media has been a pervasive tool in affecting societal views on gender roles. Its extensive reach in today’s society, made possible with recent technology, has made it difficult for us to escape its influence. With the thought that children are generally more susceptible to external influences, it is thus vital to understand how media has played a part in shaping their perceptions of gender. Among media targeted at kids, Disney films have a considerable share in the market with approximate 200 million viewers yearly (as cited in Wooden and Gillam, 2008). Its’ stereotypical portrayal of gender (England, Descartes and Collier-Meek, 2011) and its’ effects on gender perceptions in children is thus an area of study that we need to look into in order to better shape the gender identity of children.

Female characters are portrayed weaker than males due to the inability of woman in Disney films to adapt to her circumstance. Unlike the male characters in Disney/Pixar films, such as Mr Incredible in The Incredibles, who in the face of failure learns to accept his dependencies, which is inherently a feminine characteristic, thus allowing character development to overcome the obstacles faced (Wooden and Gillam, 2008). The princesses in Disney Princess films are dependent on the male protagonist to rescue them from their circumstance (England et al., 2011), as opposed to overcoming their situations on their own.

Furthermore, the romance between the female and male protagonist in Disney emphasizes male dominance over woman. It is often seen in earlier movies that the Princess is “chosen” by the Prince and “obligingly” fell in love with him. (England et al., 2011, p.563) The ability to choose whom to love is taken away from the princess. Also, the princess “tended to be forced to abandon her own decisions and desires, or her need for socio-familial rules in marriage” (Lee, 2008, p.14), while the marriage in the male’s...
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