Representation of Female Gender in Walt Disney Feature Animated Films

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REPRESENTATION OF FEMALE GENDER IN WALT DISNEY FEATURE ANIMATED FILMS

CONTENTS

ABSTRACT……………………………………………………………………….... 3 INTRODUCTION………………………………………………………………….. 4 DISNEY PRINCESSES AND FEMINIST MOVEMENTS……………………….. 5 First wave: Cinderella, Snow White Second wave: The little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast Third wave: Pocahontas, Mulan CONCLUSION………………………………………………………………………8 REFERENCES……………………………………………………………………….9

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UNIVERSITY OF HERTFORDSHIRE

BHSAD | MOSCOW

ABSTRACT
This essay is about representation of female gender in Walt Disney animated feature films according to contemporary woman‟s social roles in given period of time. The 20th century was era of active feminist movement. With significant changes of female position in society there were changes in characteristics of Disney cartoon‟s heroines, their lives, behavior, dreams and wishes. While Snow White in one of the earlier Disney films is waiting for price and can take on a mothering role and look after the dwarfs, heroine of The Little Mermaid does not as her father tells her and is capable to take the initiative to find her true love. At the end of 20th century female characters in Disney films are so brave and self-reliant that they can save their tribe or even country.

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UNIVERSITY OF HERTFORDSHIRE

BHSAD | MOSCOW

Disney is more than a corporate giant; it is a lost a cultural institution that fiercely protects its legendary status as purveyor of innocence and moral virtue.1

INTRODUCTION
From release of first animation in the beginning of 20th century to our days the products of Walt Disney Company have been very popular all around the world, its feature animated films became classic of worldwide cinematograph and their characters grew to independent recognizable personages with range of specified characteristics. With spread of television cartoons became one of the most powerful instruments which has influence on children‟s dreams, their ideas about good and evil, their feeling about surrounding world and even their future: How do children gain information about gender, couples, and relationships? First, they learn by observing and participating in their own families. However, parents typically do not discuss the topic of romantic love, marriage, or sexuality with young children; hence, for many young children their earliest exposure to these themes likely come from media sources.2 Therefore in many cases animated films have not only entertainment function but also should be based on system of values of contemporary social life in given period of time. That is what O‟Brien wrote in her article about earlier Disney films: Representations of women in Disney films are due partly to the fact that Walt Disney's personal feelings about family life shaped the Disney Company, and partly to the fact that his attitudes mirrored the 1

Bell, E., Haas, L., & Sells, L., Editors, From mouse to mermaid: The politics of film, gender, and culture. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1995, p.86 2

Tonn, T., Disney's Influence on Females Perception of Gender and Love, A Research Paper Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Masters of Science Degree With a major in Human Development and Family Studies, University of Wisconsin Stout, 2008, p. 9

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UNIVERSITY OF HERTFORDSHIRE

BHSAD | MOSCOW

patriarchal cultural beliefs of the 1940's about what roles women should play in society.3 The 20th century was defined by feminist movement which has influence on all aspects of human life. Female position in society had considerably changed from role of housewife to independent woman which has now the same economic, cultural, politic rights as man has. Following changes of woman's position of society characteristics of Disney's heroines transformed. Firstly they became stronger, self-confident ready to find their true love and fight for it. Then they...
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