Does Mulan Overthrow Oppressive Gender Norms?

Topics: Gender, Feminism, Man Pages: 4 (1308 words) Published: October 25, 2012
Philosophy Final Paper

Does Mulan overthrow oppressive gender norms?

In 1990, a novel was written by philosopher Judith Butler titled Gender Trouble. The importance of this novel was evident as it was a very controversial yet interesting analysis of the way we humans look at the topic of gender and sex. She explains throughout the book that our "gender norms" have been created by our ancestors and society. To many, crossing this boundary set by society is very deviant. Eight years after Gender Trouble was written, Disney released a very feminist cartoon movie called Mulan. During this story, the main character, a girl, joins the Chinese army to fight because she doesn't want her dad to get hurt. Girls were not allowed in the Chinese army so Mulan had to hide her identity doing a variety of different things. Many people speculate that Gender Trouble played a role in the creation of Mulan. Judith Butler believes that gender parody and bodily performance of possible alternatives to established gender norms are means for overthrowing these oppressive gender norms. I believe that Mulan uses Butler’s theory to overthrow oppressive gender norms during three specific parts of the movie. The first part in which this occurs is in the beginning when Mulan attempts to impress the women and become an honorable lady. The second part is when Mulan decides to enter the army, and the third part is when she is at the army base and is part of the army. There are numerous examples throughout Mulan that have to do with feminist issues. During the beginning of Mulan, Mulan has to dress up and be ready to visit the matchmaker. The matchmaker grants all Chinese girls "honor" by leading them to their future husbands. There are plenty of examples of both gender parody and bodily performance in this scene. As Mulan enters to town, she is instantly cleaned up and made ready for the important meeting with the matchmaker. In this scene Mulan's mother and another women are helping her...

Bibliography: Bancroft, Tony. "Mulan." Recorded 1998. Disney. DVD
Butler, Judith. Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. New York: Routledge, 2008. Print.
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