Disney and Gender Roles

cherryredhead88 cherryredhead88
We watched this youtube on Disney and Gender Roles in my SOC class today, and it got me thinking.

I mean, the older I get the more I realize how much Disney really screwed us up as kids, and how many hidden messages there actually are in the movies.

No wonder why women like a$$holes and are supposed to be stick thin, etc.

From some of the newer movies I've seen like Nemo (yes it's been a while since I watched disney movieds) it seems like they aren't as bad anymore, but I still can't believe this whole thing!

*Note- if you watch the video, it does go black for a minute on the little mermaid scene.*
06/17/2011
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DeliciousSurprise DeliciousSurprise
You know, that's how 'classic' Disney movies are. I haven't watched the video, because I can't tell you how many times this topic was debated during my soc/gender studies classes, and I'm embarrassed to tell you how many times I watched Beauty and the Beast (and Pocahontas. And Mulan.) during my youth. I could probably give you a minute by minute narration of Pocahontas, even now.

Annnyyywayy...

Yes, Disney movies are heavily gendered.
Surprise: almost everything for little kids is.

But Disney itself is hideously sexist, racist and misogynistic.

(Each word is a different link.)

Yeah, so I could go on, but, really... Walt Disney himself wasn't exactly a role model for women, so it doesn't exactly surprise me.

That being said... Disney did produce Avatar: The Last Airbender (the show, not the film) which was multi-cultural and gender positive... On the other hand, it did, also, produce The Princess and the Frog, which displays that, even if a woman is determined, she doesn't succeed until she finds a nice man.

Okay, I'm getting off my sociological soapbox now...
06/17/2011
DeliciousSurprise DeliciousSurprise
OH AND

While I'm not a fan of Disney in general, you must remember that many of the classic Disney stories predate disney (they predate film, for fuck's sake!) as they are classic stories that Disney simply animated and elaborated. And, to be honest, Disney cleaned up a few of them (ever read the more folkloric version of Cinderella? Yeah).


You can take the girl out of university, but you can't take away her Sociology degree...
06/17/2011
Destri Destri
I have been bitching about this for years! This crap makes all little girls think they have to have a man, be thin to get one and that only white people live happily ever after.
06/17/2011
sweetiebelle sweetiebelle
During the time period they were made thats what was socially acceptable. Most women and men didn't think much of it. Its only this day in age we go back and look at how "awful" the movies are.

The truth is, if the movies werent made that way at the time they wouldn't have been considered "good" or "Correct"

Thats why now you are seeing a lot more change in disney movies, because society itself has changed.

We shouldn't blame disney for making movies that were correct for the times.

They've outlasted their times because they ARE considered good kid movies.

I dont know, I grew up loving disney and I'll probably defend it till the end. I'm not stick skinny and I don't even like burly men with muscles, and I grew up on disney movies.


I dont think it effects children that much. It didn't effect me. Or my friend who also grew up on disney and is the same way as me.
06/17/2011
sweetiebelle sweetiebelle
And there are just as many reasons you can argue against it too.

Mulan promotes independent strong women.

Beauty and the Beast is about a girl who is smart, not "sexy" and its about how being gentlemanly gets the girl, not being a beasty manly jerk.

There are a lot of good morals in disney movies that outway the subliminal messages.
06/17/2011
cherryredhead88 cherryredhead88
Quote:
Originally posted by sweetiebelle
During the time period they were made thats what was socially acceptable. Most women and men didn't think much of it. Its only this day in age we go back and look at how "awful" the movies are.

The truth is, if the movies werent ... More
I'm not saying they did it on purpose, but subliminal messaging does do a lot and you may not have been (affected) by it, but have you noticed gender roles in society and the images that are portrayed in the mass media within, say, the last, FOREVER?

@DS- I you! You have a SOC major? I knew you were smart, but damn!

Please, get back on the soc soap box!

Wow. I love this pic, it explains it all: Disney Princesses Deconstructed
06/17/2011
DeliciousSurprise DeliciousSurprise
Quote:
Originally posted by sweetiebelle
And there are just as many reasons you can argue against it too.

Mulan promotes independent strong women.

Beauty and the Beast is about a girl who is smart, not "sexy" and its about how being gentlemanly gets the girl, not ... More
Um.

Well.

Since you went there...

Let's look at Mulan, one of my favorite films.

In this one, Mulan masquerades (a woman with no control over her life, as seen by the beginning of the film) as a man for the beginning, after which she is shunned by the (MAN!) she will later fall in love with (You didn't forget the ending, did you?) Only after the emperor (ANOTHER MAN!) says that it's okay for her to be an ass-kicking lady does he get up on with it. What message is this promoting? That it's okay to be who you are, if you know that all your "friends" are going to abandon you when they find out you aren't who they think you are? And in the film, Mulan isn't lauded for being a woman: she's lauded for being masculine (I mean, let's face it: being a warrior is far more masculine than feminine.) Even SO! At the end, she goes back to being the submissive woman in the garden, with the soldier "coming home" to her.


I'm only going to briefly discuss Beauty and the Beast since it's been about a decade since I've seen it... But let's pause and think about how verbally abusive Beast was to Beauty, threatening her, and breaking objects while screaming at her. And then she falls in love with him and they stay together. Stand by your man, Belle Wynette.
06/17/2011
DeliciousSurprise DeliciousSurprise
Quote:
Originally posted by cherryredhead88
I'm not saying they did it on purpose, but subliminal messaging does do a lot and you may not have been (affected) by it, but have you noticed gender roles in society and the images that are portrayed in the mass media within, say, the last, ... More
Yes, I have a Bachelor's degree in Sociology and I'm a member of Alpha Kappa Delta Sociological Society.

Explains a lot about me, huh?
06/17/2011
cherryredhead88 cherryredhead88
Quote:
Originally posted by DeliciousSurprise
Um.

Well.

Since you went there...

Let's look at Mulan, one of my favorite films.

In this one, Mulan masquerades (a woman with no control over her life, as seen by the beginning of the film) as a man for the beginning, ... More
I couldn't stop thinking about that Gaston idiot when we watched that clip today.

If I think about the guys I'm attracted to (Freudian belief aside), they are all parallel to the mind set from these movies. And I don't just mean the muscle-y looks, I am talking about the concept of fatal attraction here.

The a**holes who objectify and stratisfy women. And the people behind them, who agree, <-- And that is a gender neutral comment.
06/17/2011
cherryredhead88 cherryredhead88
Quote:
Originally posted by DeliciousSurprise
Yes, I have a Bachelor's degree in Sociology and I'm a member of Alpha Kappa Delta Sociological Society.

Explains a lot about me, huh?
It does. My respect for you totally just multiplied ny a TON. I have been thinking about minoring in Sociology, but I would be more of a symbolic interactionist and for reform. (that's right, I threw some awesome terms in there to sound smart too, lol) Seriously though, I would be a reformist, and I totally think that Karl Marx guy had something good there... I wish we had a devil smiley.
06/17/2011
DeliciousSurprise DeliciousSurprise
Quote:
Originally posted by cherryredhead88
It does. My respect for you totally just multiplied ny a TON. I have been thinking about minoring in Sociology, but I would be more of a symbolic interactionist and for reform. (that's right, I threw some awesome terms in there to sound smart ... More
I'm not big on Marx, but if we're gonna discuss it, I'm a structural functionalist and I prefer Durkheim.

I don't want to derail your thread, but my foci was neither reform nor theory (but I guess you decide if you want your thread derailed, no?).
06/17/2011
cherryredhead88 cherryredhead88
Quote:
Originally posted by DeliciousSurprise
I'm not big on Marx, but if we're gonna discuss it, I'm a structural functionalist and I prefer Durkheim.

I don't want to derail your thread, but my foci was neither reform nor theory (but I guess you decide if you want your ... More
Lol doesn't matter to me!

I did notice that the majority of newer disney movies have had more of a focus on animals as the main characters, but I'm sure there are some types of gender roles/race-ethnicity roles instilled. I don't know if it's even possible for anything today to have something without them, including any kind of TV or music. Today's society is so stereotypical that anything can be translated into some sort of role or judgement.

Durkheim is everywhere in our book, lol. It's just SOC 211 but it's very interesting. I don't even remember everything that Durkheim did off the top of my head, all I know is I like the idea of society being more leveled out. It really pisses me off that women get paid less than men, no matter what the position.

I like functionalism as well, it opens up a different way to think of things. Who ever knew that homelesness was functional to society? I sure didn't.
06/17/2011
Sir Sir
I completely disagree that movies screw people up. I love Disney movies, alright, and I turned out fine. I do not expect a woman or man to be stick thin and perfect, and I don't expect a man to be a charming, wonderful prince. So really, I think that that's horribly fictional. Just because it messed one person up doesn't mean that it's the movie's fault - it's the person's fault for having a skewed way of looking at things.
06/17/2011
Sir Sir
Also, Disney movies aren't supposed to teach children that they won't be anything until they "find a man to save them." Their point is to show that love is just as important as other things in life, and that having love is very strong.
06/17/2011
namelesschaos namelesschaos
Quote:
Originally posted by sweetiebelle
And there are just as many reasons you can argue against it too.

Mulan promotes independent strong women.

Beauty and the Beast is about a girl who is smart, not "sexy" and its about how being gentlemanly gets the girl, not ... More
"There are a lot of good morals in Disney movies that outway the subliminal messages."

When ever this debate comes up the same contradiction comes up: people says how kids aren't effect by messages in movies (when issues of gender roles are bought up)but then immediately add all the ways that kids can be positivity effected by the same movies other messages, despite messages having no effect on them a few seconds earlier. To truth is that Disney movies transmit both positive (good morals) and negative (highly-gendered good morals) messages and both have an effect.

Also, the gender roles in Disney movies are in no way shape or form "subliminal messages", not even close. It is such a misuse of the term that it hurts my head.
06/17/2011
cherryredhead88 cherryredhead88
Quote:
Originally posted by Sir
I completely disagree that movies screw people up. I love Disney movies, alright, and I turned out fine. I do not expect a woman or man to be stick thin and perfect, and I don't expect a man to be a charming, wonderful prince. So really, I think ... More
It's not just one person, and it isn't just Disney movies. As children we are highly impressionable and strive to imitate those we look up to. So when we see nothing but the messages portrayed in movies and the world around us, that is what we subconsciously strive for.

And no one's view is skewed, it is all about perception and cultural location. What one person thinks is unacceptable, another thinks is fine. It also isn't anyone's fault how they see the world, because it is how we are socialized as children. We can't pick how we act, what we feel, and how we see things when we are children. We learn what we see.
06/17/2011
Ms. Paprika Ms. Paprika
I think that Disney movies are definitely part of the problem in terms of creating and furthering restrictive gender roles, but really they wouldn't be successful if they didn't already conform to what society in general expects men and women to be.

Where they are most dangerous is in their popularity-although the older "classics" are certainly heavily gendered, in part because they are based on fairy tales, even the newer ones can contain some messages-such as the Princess and the Frog (as pointed out above), or even in Ratatouille, where the prickly female chef just melts when kissed by the geeky protagonist.

It's true that as we get older we can look at the messages received in youth with a more critical eye, and reject gender norms. However, I will say this: when I was eight I wanted to be a knight for Halloween, complete with a cardboard sword. But I decided not to tell my parents that because I knew they wouldn't approve (not a "girl" costume), and instead was a princess with an uncomfortable headband tiara. Disney didn't cause this viewpoint. But it also didn't argue against it with their movies.
06/17/2011
CuteDee CuteDee
My fav Disney movie is Beauty and the Beast. I like Belle cuz shes smart and funny and gives up her freedom for her dad. = )

But Ive seen this before and seen videos of the hidden stuff, which I just think is dumb. I usually watch all movies w/my 8 yr old daughter and we talk about things that went on.
06/17/2011
DeliciousSurprise DeliciousSurprise
So, I was pondering Mulan last night, as I was falling asleep, and I wanted to look at it from the flip side: what is it saying about men? Let's check out the title song, "I'll Make a Man Out Of You"


The first verse has these lyrics:

Did they send me daughters when I asked for sons?
You're the saddest bunch I ever met.


Oops, sorry, that's sexist against women. My bad!

I meant to copy this part:

You're a spineless, pale pathetic lot
And you haven't got a clue.
Somehow I'll make a man out of you.


So, if you aren't brave (and you're pale) then you're not a man, but, dammit, this virile brawny guy is gonna beat you down until you grow a pair! Check.

We must be swift as the coursing river
(Be a man)
With all the force of a great typhoon
(Be a man)
With all the strength of a raging fire,
Mysterious as the dark side of the moon.


Other qualities required for manhood include: speed, strength, power, and ~*mystery*~ Check.

Is this really what we want to teach our sons? That the only way to be a "real man" is by being strong, quick and good with a sword (or a gun, or their fists, for that matter)?


Now, let's check out another song, this time dictating the woman's role ("Honor to Us All"):

We'll have you washed and dried
Primped and polished
'Til you glow with pride
Trust my recipe for instant bride
You'll bring honor to us all.


Only pretty girls get married. Check.

Wait and see, when we're through
Boys will gladly go to war for you
With good fortune (and a great hairdo)
You'll bring honor to us all


If you're lucky (and have really good hair) you'll be worth something.

A girl can bring her family
great honor in one way
By striking a good match
And this could be the day.


The only way you (a girl) will have value is by getting married. Check.


I'm not even going to touch on "A Girl Worth Fighting For" or its lyrics of, "How about a girl who's got a brain, who always speaks her mind? ...NAH."

It may not seem like a big deal, but it's part of the socialization we all live through, teaching us gender roles in ways so small that we don't notice them as they're happening. Off the soapbox I go...
06/17/2011
DeliciousSurprise DeliciousSurprise
Quote:
Originally posted by Sir
I completely disagree that movies screw people up. I love Disney movies, alright, and I turned out fine. I do not expect a woman or man to be stick thin and perfect, and I don't expect a man to be a charming, wonderful prince. So really, I think ... More
Movies don't screw people up, I agree with that--but I DO think that they (re)enforce gender roles and stereotypes that help to create fucked up people and fucked up societies.
06/17/2011
alliegator alliegator
I was going to start with a quick comment, but got caught up and this turned huge. I totally understand if you skim past this

I was a little girl in the late 80s early 90s, and I love Disney movies. To this day I still sing along to various soundtracks on my ipod. I also can recognize the horrendous sexism, racism, stereotypes, and cultural appropriation that make up the typical Disney movie. But that doesn't mean we need to hate what came before. Yes, we should as a consumer population demand more female speaking roles, more racial diversity in leading roles, more physical and personality differences in characters. But the movies for all their flaws, aren't all bad. In fact, many are very good and entertaining. We just can't allow them to be the only message kids receive. Talk about the films with them, both their strengths and weaknesses.

Belle was trapped between two masculine men one of which she saved by the power of her love, but she was also an educated woman and assertive (the "control your temper!" scene post-wolf rescue).

Having a positive outlook about your job, taking pride and joy from your work is a good ethic. Snow White cleaned houses and cooked. Should we belittle her for that? No. The responsibilities within the domestic sphere have too long been undervalued. We should instead wonder if she was paid a fair wage beyond room and board. The dwarfs had a frickin diamond mine. They could afford to pay Snow White the wage she deserved for her work.

So have the movies gotten better? Lets look at Tangled. (Disclaimer: I've only seen it once, and that was on vacation, sitting on a beach, drinking a pina colada. These are just my casual observations. Also, major spoilers.) Rapunzel is the only Disney princess to not have her name included in the title or have it allude to her if she is the main character. I'm not sure if I'm bothered or proud of that yet. She was thin with long blonde hair, had an evil witch mother figure, was the naive girl counter to the worldly man, and at the end was planning to sacrifice her happiness for a man. Not so original. Yet, I still enjoyed it. The humor was well done, and I like it when the characters sing.

When living in the tower Rapunzel baked, knit, and cleaned, but she also painted, worked out, and read. She blackmailed Flynn into guiding her to the lights, and showed complex emotions as she left the tower (even though the back and forth nature was played for laughs). I loved her use of the frying pan, and how she used her hair and environment in creative ways to move around and defend herself. Jackie Chan would have been proud. I thought how she saved Flynn aka Eugene because the power came from within her, not her hair, was well done. I'm glad her hair didn't magically grow back, and she kept the brunette pixie cut. Yay for having a princess that doesn't have long flowing hair straight out of a shampoo commercial. I liked her dipping and kissing Eugene (and how much do I love his name!) because she seemed like a very active character in the film and it fit.

The one thing about the ending I hated was that Eugene cut off Rapunzel's hair. Even though he did it to save her, I was bothered that he was the one to cut it. To me that belittled her choice and took away her free will. She had been raised defined by her hair and what it could do, and for him to be the one to cut it felt like violation. Mother Gothel could have refused to let Rapunzel heal Eugene, or stalled until he died (which he did anyways) and the ending would not have changed much, except for one thing. Rapunzel cutting off her own hair in retaliation, as a way to fight Gothel would have been an empowering action for Rapunzel, not an event she was a passive victim of.

So my long-winded point: Disney princess movies have both good and bad elements, you just need to look beneath the surface. It's also ok to just sometimes relax and enjoy a movie for simple enjoyment and/or nostalgia. I want a t-shirt of Rapunzel not with long, blonde hair but the brunette pixie cut. And maybe her frying pan. (How long did it take before we saw Fiona merchandise in her ogre form? I can't remember if it was only after the second movie, or we saw toys and the like after the first movie.)
06/17/2011
alliegator alliegator
Forgot to add to above. Yes, I realize that my perception of an attractive man has been heavily influenced by the Disney leading men. I admit it: I'm almost always turned on be men that can sing.
06/17/2011
Sir Sir
Quote:
Originally posted by cherryredhead88
It's not just one person, and it isn't just Disney movies. As children we are highly impressionable and strive to imitate those we look up to. So when we see nothing but the messages portrayed in movies and the world around us, that is what ... More
Alright, true. Children are highly impressionable. However, if you feel that children learn these things by watching such movies, films, society, reading books, etc., there comes a time when a child turns into an adult (most times). At that point, it is the adult's choice whether to keep that false outlook on life or get rid of it.

Again, I watched Disney movies as a child, and I still love Disney movies. They're sweet, cute, and romantic. If I decided to be a misogynist prick who thought that all women should be thin and perfect and wonderful, sing like angels and dance like who knows what, then that would be my problem, not the movie's.

I understand where you are coming from and what you are saying, and many people would agree with you and have the same thought process, but I personally do not agree with you. I think that human beings have freedom of choice, mind, and spirit, and no matter how they are socialized or raised will one day make decisions on their own to either stay as how they were socialized or break away from it.
06/17/2011
BBW Talks Toys BBW Talks Toys
Well, fucking shit. I can't even reply to just one person.

I grew up a good 5-10 years before some of you (with half of my family being traditional, Cuban, and Catholic--and the other half traditional and Baptist... Progressive they were NOT) and what I was taught about gender, sexuality, marriage, etc. was much different and as my knowledge broadens and expands I see, now, how narrow it all was. THAT SAID... I agree and disagree.

Yes, I see what everyone is saying about the messages that Disney movies send. (I saw the video and I skimmed the gazillion links.) I watched all these movies. My favorites having been Beauty and the Beast, Mulan, Aladdin, and Lion King. In all honesty though, what I took from these stories is this:

Beauty and the Beast: Reading and knowledge are attractive qualities. (and it's no wonder that the people I'm most attracted to are well-read)

Mulan (yes, a little after my time but OH I LOVE THIS MOVIE): Women can do anything men can do and excel at it (and often do it better)

Aladdin: Aside from the pantaloons (smirk), I learned that it's okay to be choosy and opinionated about love and that you don't have to accept the first offer that comes around. (A lesson I wish I'd remembered....)

Lion King: Often times, women are the more level-headed species. We are adept at keeping our heads and solving problems and it's okay to kick "your man" in the ass to get him to come around if he's got his head up his ass.

My mother was an Army drill sergeant turned single mother, and while I did lust after traditional romance as a child, I was never taught that women, in general, were to be demure, submissive, meek, or powerless without a man. (Though my mother did try to tell me that if I wasn't thin and pretty I would never find a man to marry me. I proved her wrong.) (She wasn't the most loving or supportive parent, but I still respect the life she led before alcohol and cancer destroyed her.)

But my mother brings me to my biggest point: parenting. I let my kids watch Disney movies (their favorite is the Toy Story franchise and Cars... they own, but are not big on, the princess movies and will watch them very rarely). I do, however, teach them that they are strong and beautiful girls and that they don't have to try and be someone they're not. I try and teach them to value the same things that I respect in others: Intelligence, respect for others, humor, love... not in gender, but as individual people.

I say it much better here The article is not as encompassing of sexual orientations as I should have written it, but yeah... I think too much emphasis is placed on what media does and not enough teaching going on from the parents.

(as for the Mars Needs Moms reference: *sigh* I know some AMAZING dads. Like, kick-ass amazing men who are amazing fathers. But in many, many (I'll say it: MOST) traditional families, Moms are the ones who do it all and get no credit. I haven't seen the movie, but I would imagine it's a great tribute to all the work that moms do that is so often unappreciated by kids and husbands)
06/17/2011
cherryredhead88 cherryredhead88
Quote:
Originally posted by alliegator
I was going to start with a quick comment, but got caught up and this turned huge. I totally understand if you skim past this

I was a little girl in the late 80s early 90s, and I love Disney movies. To this day I still sing along to various ... More
I feel like a lot of people are taking what I said waaaay out of context, it was an interesting issue to bring up. I'm not saying that I hate disney or that it's all evil, I am just saying I realize how strong the messages can be in it. Also take note that I said the messages are strong, wasn't related to good or bad, although I admit the focus was more on bad when I started this.

@ alliegator:
"I was a little girl in the late 80s early 90s, and I love Disney movies. To this day I still sing along to various soundtracks on my ipod. I also can recognize the horrendous sexism, racism, stereotypes, and cultural appropriation that make up the typical Disney movie. But that doesn't mean we need to hate what came before. Yes, we should as a consumer population demand more female speaking roles, more racial diversity in leading roles, more physical and personality differences in characters. But the movies for all their flaws, aren't all bad. In fact, many are very good and entertaining. We just can't allow them to be the only message kids receive. Talk about the films with them, both their strengths and weaknesses."

I agree! I am a very open parent with my son and I am glad that I am aware of all these messages, not only in disney but everywhere, so I can talk with him about these things.

@BBW- some great messages you found there! And I do plan on talking to my son about things like this as well. As far as parents teaching their children... that is a whole 'nother topic.

@Sir- I agree, everyone has choices, but not everyone knows they are there. Luckily the majority of people I know of (myself included) choose to take a better path on life.
06/17/2011
hjtee hjtee
I can't even make a good post on this, because it will go forever.

I *love* Disney movies (classics).

I feel people take from them what they want to. And I'm stopping there.
09/27/2011
Errant Venture Errant Venture
Meh. That's all I can be bothered to say. It's Disney, after all. More than that, it's (mainly) old Disney. Made in times when women weren't equal to men (for the sake of argument let's just say that women, on the whole, are, nowadays). As for the more recent ones I tend to look on them a bit more softly. Mulan was sexist, yet it was depicting an era in Chinese history where that sort of thing was the norm. The portrayal of those gender roles were factually correct. Still are, to some extent.

And I won't even get started on Aladdin. Except to say that I loved Jasmine. I even remember that scene. Made me pitch a tent before I even knew what pitching a tent was.
09/28/2011
Zinzai Zinzai
Parts of the Disney stories depicted in the video are taken out of context and the first comment on YouTube effectively explains them.

The only valid part to the argument were body types which were beyond physical limits, but I believe were done so out of character design and aesthetics.
12/09/2011
aimtoplease aimtoplease
Quote:
Originally posted by sweetiebelle
During the time period they were made thats what was socially acceptable. Most women and men didn't think much of it. Its only this day in age we go back and look at how "awful" the movies are.

The truth is, if the movies werent ... More
Great point!
12/09/2011
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