The Gender Representation of Female Characters in Disney Films.

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The Gender Representation of Female Characters in Disney Films.

By | November 2012
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Disney is a creator of widespread and popular films predominately for young children. Most of the films Disney produces are fictional with the intention of proposing some kind of moral or ultimate lesson. Unfortunately, the moral or lesson for young females is not as positive as one may think. When interrogating traditional Disney films through a gender perspective, one will notice that the female characters are often portrayed as domestic, passive, and dependent on males. In terms of domesticity, let us take Belle in Beauty and the Beast as an example. This character, who lives with her father, is represented as completely responsible for the household domestic duties, such as cleaning the farmhouse and going into town for shopping, while her father remains “working” on machines in the garage. Rapunzel is a Disney female character who demonstrates passivity. In fact, the entire film relies upon her “passively” remaining locked in a tower, until a male prince’s strength and perseverance is able to free her. With respect to dependence on men, Snow White is the ultimate example, as she lives with 7 men, all of which care for Snow White in a various ways. Although only three characters were referenced, an examination of traditional Disney films through a gender perspective reveals the representation of females as domestic, passive, and dependent on males. As a result, young impressionable female viewers become immersed and influenced by such representations. Luckily, modern-day Disney films have somewhat limited the representations of females in this way, evident through strong and aggressive characters such as Mulan, Jane (Tarzan), and Pocahontas.

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