Soft, musical voices, long flowing hair and dreams that “someday (their) prince will come” sounds like the farthest thing from a feminist agenda that one could imagine.
In fact, some of the looniest of the feminist blogs decry the “helpless” nature of the female stars of most Disney movies.
However, I see things differently. There is a particular staunchly feminist message in every one of the Disney movies and whether you see this message as a positive one or a negative one, it’s presence is undeniable.
Many feminists (who most likely grew up watching these movies) don’t recognize that it was this ubiquitous message that ignited their passion for female “liberation” in the first place.
This hidden yet ever-present message is simply this: that “being content in your own skin is not enough, because true happiness comes from outside of yourself”.
Wait, what?! You ask. How do they say this, and even if they do, what’s wrong with that? And further more, how is this a feminist message?
Slow down, Speedy Gonzales! One question at a time.
First off: How do they say this?
The Little Mermaid – A young girl (mermaid) is discontent with life in her father’s wealthy palace where she gets waited on and doted upon by a loving, king father and all of his servants; so she chases a fantasy of what life would be like if only she could be completely transformed even to the point of risking a potentially fatal procedure to live outside of her biological predestination.
Mulan – Shaves off all of her hair and pretends to be a man. Need I say more?
Beauty and the Beast – Belle lives a peaceful and fulfilling life in a quiet village where she spends most of her time reading books and complaining of boredom (even as she walks through the beautiful town full of friendly townspeople who all know her by name and happily greet her).
Snow White – Cohabitation with multiple strange men sans wedlock (because that’s not dangerous for a single, estranged woman to do at all, right?!)
Cinderella – Sneaking out at night for a date…
Pocahontas – A woman chasing the right to “choose” ends up confused about her vocation and reconciled to singlehood.
Ok, so What’s wrong with that?
Essentially, what I’m trying to help you realize through this article is that these movies are (intentionally or not) painting a picture that to be a woman, no matter how comfortable the circumstances, somehow means to be in a state of “oppression” and/or “repression” and as a result women should be seeking liberation.
Think about what exactly such a message does in the mind a young suburban teen who has been watching Cinderella all throughout her youth and reaches high school age where she is asked to do chores around the house when she sees her classmates going to house parties to tempt college men to commit felony misdemeanors. It will be pretty difficult to convince such a girl that her life at home with her parents, uplifting and benefiting her immediate community is of as significant importance as time spent exercising her “freedom”.
Or consider, the young college-aged child of immigrant parents who grew up innocently watching the Little Mermaid just like all the other Americans. All of a sudden, when it’s time to make decisions about her future, all the messages she grew up with seem wrong, because most adults only want to oppress young women and a woman is supposed to pursue a life outside of what she knows.
So, you ask “what’s wrong with that”… There is so much wrong with that it deserves it’s own book. Raising a young person to believe that what they know and all that they are is somehow inadequate or incomplete sets them on an endless and fruitless course of seeking a poorly defined (if defined at all) ideal of what she should aspire to be (and aspire for all of her kind). And perhaps this is the goal of some, to break others of any sense of internally-based validation so as to make them susceptible to any and all messages about who and what can provide a sense of self worth. And therein lies the problem.
How is this a Feminist message
Lilac and I have agreed that the term “feminist” is an inadequate word to use in describing the pedagogical dictators who believe that they have some kind of all-encompassing wisdom about the needs and desires at the heart of every female’s core and only they have the solution to this terribly debilitating need that results from an inherent sense of lack that all women everywhere feel that results from nothing more than being a woman. Further more, the term “feminist” is weighted with emotional and experiential implications that vary as widely as the people who hear or read that word. However, for lack of a more adequate term, we will be using this one to refer to the aforementioned “dictators”.
To the “feminists” of the type described above, to be a woman is to be oppressed no matter how happy you “think” you are. [Irony alert: Isn’t “happiness” a state of mind? So, how can you be confused about how you feel? Apparently these guys have telepathic abilities so strong that they not only know what you’re thinking and feeling, but also know what you didn’t know you were thinking and feeling!] These same omniscient beings believe that men are somehow hoarding all the happy-producing experiences for themselves. So, women should go find where men are keeping these happiness givers and collect their share.
This brand of “feminists” mask this ideology by pushing ideas like “freedom” and “equality” as things women are being deprived of and should be chasing after. Somehow, this freedom women should be seeking means running away from your current status as though out of a burning building only the building is in tact and your future would have been promising if you had only stayed put and recognized your blessings. This “equality” they urge us to fight for is to become like men, even when that means giving up what intrinsically makes you a woman. Don’t get married or have children, or at least not until you have proven to the men in your life that you are better than them! Yes, deflate their ego by emasculating them and while you’re at it, propose marriage to one of them too! (cuz they sure won’t be offering you any rings, Xena Warrior Princess!)
So, let’s summarize…
- The Disney Princesses come from a culture so obsessed with chasing “freedom” that it doesn’t recognize that it’s not in chains (or at least the chains are not of the kind from which they are seeking to be freed).
- Modern feminist extremists are pushing a type of freedom that urges women to do something (anything) other than what they are currently doing, even if what they are currently doing is perfectly fine and healthy and even if the other thing is engaging in dangerous behavior. In fact, the more dangerous the behavior the more worthwhile it is to engage in. Whether it is pursuing a relationship with a likely violent beast or engaging in risky sexual encounters with multiple partners, the risk doesn’t matter as long as you’re not “bored”!