Saturday, 8 March 2014

International Women's Day

Where you're for or against the need for a stand alone day celebrating women, it's here, and it's today (there are many arguments online to cover both sides).  The United Nations theme for Internaitonal Women's Day this year is "Equality for Women Is Progress for All", but its well known that Disney has not always shown women in the best light within its films.

I'm not a writer, I'll not pretend to be, but I do enjoy reading other people views on the matter, and I've highlighted a couple of them here.  There are so many negative views regarding the female characters within Disney films, I've tried to focus on some of the more positive.
I've attached links to blogs for all quotes, so please check these out - there are some great writers out there.


Jasmine is clearly a trophy, in most parts merely a love desire for Aladdin and the first Disney princess to not be the centre star of her own film.  On the plus side, she's the first to not be of white European origin.  The arguments against her stack up in their plenty, and usually follow along the lines of 

She was naive before Aladdin shows her a "whole new world" - she is the passive learner while he is the active teacher. (Not Another Wave)

But on further reading, she may not be as anti-feminist as we might first have thought:

Jasmine, from the very beginning, has a mind of her own. She may have some fantastic romantic notions that seem a little unrealistic, but she also refuses to be forced into marrying someone just because of the law. Then she, a princess who has never been outside the palace walls in her life, decides to run away to make her own life on her terms...She saves Aladdin’s life from the guards, giving up her own attempt to get freedom, proving that her romantic notions aren’t just born from selfishness on her part...Last, but certainly not least, Jasmine shows extreme bravery in the face of Jafar even while he has her enslaved. She refused to marry him, throws a glass of wine in his face, repeatedly defies him, and ends up being instrumental in distracting Jafar while Aladdin is attempting a rescue.  (The Snark Who Hunts Back)


Wikipedia calls describes the story of Hua Mulan as one of the first poems in Chinese history to be in favour of the notion of gender equality.
It’s said to be an inspiration to the women of China...Mulan breaks out of the gender binary by posing as a male warrior and going of to fight the Huns (Treasury Island)


Great, from a feminist perspective, were the amount of women represented in the film.    The leader of the entire galaxy- female.    The main protagonist- female.    The person the protagonist interacts with the most- female.     A fair amount of generic background people- female.     It might not seem that impressive on the surface, but very few animated movies have even just equal representation of female voices, let alone more than half.    Usually you get the main protagonist, maybe an evil person, and then that’s it.  (Feminist Disney
Lilo shows all little girls out there that they do not have to be Princesses locked up in a castle to feel the need for an adventure, or indeed to be capable of one.


Tiana, the protagonist, seems like a modern feminist herself—she’s a hard-working waitress who plans to open her own restaurant and doesn’t need a man to make her dreams come true. Tiana does eventually fall in love with Prince Naveen, a fun-loving yet lazy and materialistic guy; however, Tiana then teaches Naveen to cook and in the end the two marry and found Tiana’s dream restaurant together. With themes of gender equality and overcoming racial adversity and poverty, The Princess and the Frog seems like a feminist dream come true. (The Feminist)
There is a flouncy, white, blonde, prince-obsessed character in The Princess and the Frog, but we’re actively encouraged to laugh at her. She falls over, she has hysterics: she’s definitely not who we’re meant to identify with. The Princess and the Frog takes everything we’ve come to expect from a Disney animation, and turns it on its head. (Treasury Islands)

Elsa and Anna
The Story from start to finish is the tale of two sisters.

In the end it is not a true love’s kiss that saves Anna. It is herself. Anna’s act of true love that saves her sister from the angry villagers is enough to save her as well. It is not the knight in shining armor or the Prince from a foreign land that becomes the hero of this movie. Anna and Elsa embrace who they are and lead their kingdom into a happily ever after that we haven’t seen in a Disney Princess movie ever before. No one is married. No one is engaged.  (Femspire)


[Merida] explains that she doesn't really want to be a princess, that she just wants to be a nrmal girl and explore...Merida is never sexualised, never falls in love, and has little to no interaction with men other than her father and brothers.  Overall, its about her journey and how she is a strong independant woman (The Individualist Feminist). 
What stood out to me the most in this movie was its examination of the mother/daughter relationship... child protagonists usually only are shown to have complicated relationships with their fathers. This ultimately reflects a lot of assumptions about parenthood and gender in society. A mother is assumed to be compassionate and loving by default, her attention always guaranteed; a father’s respect and love, on the other hand, often needs to be “earned.” How can you see this play out in “real life”? Easy example: men who spend time with their small children are praised for it. But for women, it’s an expected aspect of their role as mother. (Feminist Disney)

Like I mentioned at the start, every single Disney female has been extensively talked about in both good and bad lights, mainly bad, if we're honest.  But for today, lets focus on positive attitudes towards woman.


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