I don’t write about patriarchy as often as I could, or should. Male privilege is still a constant force in our society and one that needs to be called out and addressed as much as ever.
Say what you want about Disney these days. The company is so big, it’s hard to even hammer down a real identity. It seems like they’re doing good things. I met Bob Iger once; he seems like a swell guy. But for as different as Disney may be today as compared to the past, one thing hasn’t changed: the princesses.
Despite all the new movies that have come out over the decades, the Disney princesses reign supreme over the Magic Kingdom. Heck, they even showed up in the Kingdom Hearts video game! I mean, I think the mere fact that I can say “Disney princesses” and you know pretty much exactly which characters I’m talking about is telling. In fact, we know them by name: Cinderella, Belle, Ariel, Snow White, Jasmine, and Aurora (aka “the one from Sleeping Beauty”). Disney also counts Pocahontas, Mulan, and Tiana (from that new frog movie). Oh, and if you’re curious, Mandy Moore will be providing the voice to Rapunzel later this year. All we need is another damsel in distress.
Disney makes a lot of money off of these princesses, and I think it’s disgusting and awful. I’ll let this wonderfully snarky image (hat-tip Boing, Boing) do the explaining:
The image is funny, but only because the statements are true.
The Disney Princesses are, in my opinion, horrible role models, but they unabashedly reign supreme! Just take a look at Disney’s Parenting a Princess page. It’s pink and purple and submissive all over.
A lot of people think we’re way past gender roles, and the truth is we’re holding onto them tighter than ever. It’s like we want gender equity, so long as women can still be dainty and men can still get away with rape. Sound a bit too drastic?
Think about the prince’s messages:
Mmmmmmmmmmm, Stockholm syndrome!
It’s no wonder Disney doesn’t have a franchise for its princes. They’re entirely unappealing characters; it’s much harder to hide the fact that they are contributing to the oppression of women. They’re often called the “hero,” which seems to imply that if they save the woman, they deserve her. The only real thing I think they have going for them is that they’re hunky.
So, to all you Disney aficionados out there. I know. Disney is magical and awesome. I’m with you.
But can we stop endorsing such archaic gender roles as ideal models for youngsters? I feel like they deserve better.