Sexism and Disney

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For decades now, Disney Corporation has been providing us with countless films made to delight and amuse children and adults alike. But not all Disney films seem particularly appropriate for their target audience. Many of these films portray violence, gender inequality, and skewed views of leadership roles that seem altogether inappropriate for impressionable young children. Better and more contemporary heroines need to be added to Disney’s wall of princesses in order to counteract years of sexism.

Admittedly, many of Disney’s original works are not being viewed by their intended audience. Author of Patricia Digón Regueiro's states, “it may be of interest to know that in his early cartoons created by Walt Disney were not directed at children and their stories are looking to make the audience laugh with characters who, on many occasions, behaved > wrong with the caricature of famous people and stories that included elements of social criticism.” All women in Disney princess roles fill one of two roles, and it is very rare that they stray. In the translation of Patricia Digón Regueiro's article The World of Disney Outdated: proposal of critical analysis in school she states: “The woman is submissive and obedient, is guided by his emotions, is oriented to love and marriage, is caring for the family and the home and often it is presented or the role of women “evil”or “the innocent girl”. Giroux (2001: 106-111) gives as examples, films like “The Lion King” where the lionesses have a role dependent, submissive and subordinate to the control of the lions being unable to rebel when Scar takes power; Aladdin where Jasmine's role is reduced to being the object of desire of Aladdin and her life is defined by men or “The Little Mermaid”, but in this film seems to show women in a more rebellious a nd independent, this rebellion is ultimately reduced to achieve the love of a man being able to give voice to get it because, as he says in the song the evil squid, Ursula, men prefer women silent” (Requeiro para 13).

Take for example Disney's first full length film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. This film provides an excellent example of each of these qualities. First, there are only two female characters and both have some striking flaws. The antagonist is a Queen (and Snow White's stepmother) who is so engulfed in vanity that it causes her to repeatedly attempt to kill her stepdaughter. She is given no redeeming qualities, is completely static in character, and is nearly entirely two dimensional. She is often shown as being ugly (though this is only an illusion to hide her true identity), because in Disney films, the old and unfortunate looking are almost always evil. Sadly, the main character Snow White is not much better. She is portrayed in an entirely stereotypical manner; a meek, naive, perfect little housewife incapable of any real thought. She relied entirely on the male characters to protect and provide for her. Her beauty is what counts, and is the driving force behind both her prince's love for her, and her stepmother's jealousy. There is no notice of whether she is intelligent or witty, although it is clear she is kind. Admittedly, this mirrors the format of the original story almost perfectly, which was no better. But then, the story had been around since the Middle Ages, so it was bound to be antiquated. Compare her to the ideal modern woman, someone capable of working two jobs and raising a family

The male characters also have a very two dimensional portrayal. First to be noted is the prince, who only appears in two scenes, even though he is called a main character. The first scene is where he and Snow White first meet; he watches her as she sings and eventually joins in. It is clear that, based on nothing but her singing and her looks, he has fallen madly in love with her. The huntsman, who the Queen ordered to kill Snow White, is similarly affected. It is her sheer loveliness alone that causes him to...
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