Are Disney Films Sexist?
Before we start, please know that we're big Disney fans. We're mostly children from the 80s and 90s and grew up with Disney films on a monumental scale (and we've turned out ok...we think). No; this is something that was a big story at the weekend, when Anna from Frozen (AKA Kristen Bell) said that it was not okay for the Prince to kiss Snow White when she was asleep. This started a massive twitter storm, and as you can imagine led to many, MANY more issues with Disney films; The Queen spiking the apple, The Little Mermaid at 16 changing who she is to be with a man...the list goes on! As Carrie Bradshaw would say, this got us thinking...have Disney films brought up a generation of women who think it's our destiny to be saved by a man and are they fundamentally sexist?
So Kristen Bell had a good point. Obviously, if this was real life, there's no situation where it's acceptable to kiss women without permission. However (we're feminists, so stick with us) this was made in 1938, for children, and it's a FAIRYTALE. Are we allowed to judge old films in the context of today's society? Is it okay that Snow White took food from a stranger and basically wasn't "fully woke". As children, we watched them and didn't know adult connotations that could be perceived from this "innocent" story. We didn't think about stuff like that, and that's okay.
When Arial met Price Eric, she was 16. Even without taking her age into account, she literally changed her whole being for a man. Now this isn't a good message for children, girls or boys. But did we sit there and think about that? No. We sat there and sang 'under the sea' and think about how much we wanted to be a mermaid. So why is this a big thing now? Over the past few years, especially with Trump (someone who has multiple sexual assault accusations made against him) being President of The US, the #metoo movement and generally being move aware of the inequality that still exists between men and women, had led to some pretty fair questioning of our society and it's values.
Most of the films; Cinderella, Snow White, The Little Mermaid, Sleeping Beauty, do have a female character saved be a man. The women also tend to be incredibly feminine, polite, well behaved and don't really have an opinion. However, newer films like Moana, Brave, Frozen, Pocahontas and Mulan all have female protagonists who are brave, sharp, intelligent and save themselves. The earlier films are clearly a product of their generation; where women were seen very differently. But, if we start looking back at things that have happened in a different time, and compare them to now, things aren't going to end well. I mean, there are pretty strong suggestions that Walt Disney himself was a Nazi. In that case, we should really get rid of the whole Disney thing in it's entirety, but that would mean millions of children would lose out on the magic that has been created over the past 70 years, all for something completely out of their control.
Kristen did make a point that Disney has progressed over the past 10 years, with Frozen (how coincidental Anna!) having sisters save each other, rather waiting for a knight in shining armour. However, we think Disney has a long way to go. I mean it was only 9 years ago when they had their FIRST black Princess - yes 2009 people and there's no sign of representing same sex couples any time soon either. Pretty disgusting really. There's also the argument that children really don't think about these issues like we would and even if they did, they're a product of today's society and upbringing, not just a few films they watched when they were little. We are all proud feminists who want equality for everyone. We grew up watching the Little Mermaid. We're in happy, equal relationships, we're career women and feel pretty bloody empowered. We watch Disney films with fond memories, and although the older films may use older stereotypes of women, we still think there's a place in the heart for a heartwarming fairy tale, where everything is innocent and carefree. Take it with a pinch of salt people and enjoy them!