Gender inequality in Disney

As I’ve mentioned previously in another post, I am writing my dissertation on Disney which is regrettably forcing me to over analyse every aspect of my favourite films. I love Disney and I don’t think that will ever change, but over the last week I’ve stumbled upon some interesting points about the the animated films which have definitely touched a nerve!

I’ve been reading a chapter from a book by Rosina Lippi-Green entitled Teaching children how to discriminate, and it has brought out my inner-feminist. In one section of the chapter, she discusses a study which she carried out on all of the Disney films out at that time (1997); she began by counting the amount of male and female speaking characters that were present. Her findings showed that almost 70% of characters with speaking roles were male, and this is the first issue that I have. As a form of entertainment with such a large audience, both male and female, why are men so overrepresented? Because men are the dominant sex in our society and women are supposed to just ‘fit in’ where necessary.

As well as the unfortunate ratio of men to women in the films, they are also trapped in stereotyped roles. Lippi-Green points out that men typically play men doctors, waiters, kings, thieves, hunters, servants, detectives and pilots; women are either mothers, princesses or daughters – with the exception of an evil villain here and there. Are these the roles that we should be teaching children to aspire to? That little girls should just accept their fate as being someone’s wife and not desire a life of their own?

Similar to this, Lippi-Green also found that men are allowed to change and develop in character; they can start off as being bad, but improve themselves and end up being a good guy. Women, however, do not have the same opportunity. A woman is either good or evil, and she cannot switch between the two.

After reading this chapter, I started thinking about my favourite Disney movies and how these themes were apparent throughout them. Another issue jumped out at me: female characters rarely interact with each other, and when they do it’s often not a pleasant encounter. Is popular culture telling girls from a young age that women should not get along with each other, and that they can only have positive encounters with men?

It’s a shame that gender inequality even stretches to family-friendly, much-loved animated films and television programmes, especially by such a large and prominent company such as Disney. I do have to say, however, that Frozen probably comes the closest to trying to resolve these issues: probably the reason why I love it so much. Even though initially it appears as though the theme of love is going to be shown between Hans and Anna, it takes a beautiful twist and ‘true love’ is shown between two sisters, and not a romantic relationship between a prince and a princess. And even though Anna and Elsa’s relationship gets a bit rocky in the middle, they’re soon back to being best friends and showing that not everything is about guys.

“Who I am and why I’m here”

I’m a little late with this, but better late than never, hey?

This month I’m partaking in Blogging 101 to try and develop and improve my blogging skills. The first challenge, set on Monday, was to write a short introduction about yourself. I’ve already done this in the About section of my blog, but thought there’s no harm in giving it another go!

I’m Laura, 22 years old and currently in my third year of studying English Language and Media. I come from a small village – basically in the middle of nowhere – but have recently moved to a city to study at university. I love city life, but do occasionally enjoy the odd visit back to the beautiful English countryside.

Throughout my studies I’ve had a couple of assignments where I’ve had to write a blog, and I must say that I really enjoyed writing them. I love to write and I’ve been meaning to start my own personal blog for a while now, but have always struggled to make the first post and think of a topic to write about. I finally made the first step of actually creating a blog last week, and it was then that I came across Blogging 101. What perfect timing!

I’ve decided that the best things for me to write about are topics which I find particularly interesting, and have a strong opinion about.  A lot of these will be media related, discussing various things I have seen across social media platforms, or providing a response to an article I have read. Something which I’m particularly passionate presently is gender equality and also how women are portrayed in the media. I wouldn’t go as far as calling myself a feminist though, as there a few issues I don’t agree on (which I’m sure you will find out for yourselves soon enough!).

Who would I like to connect with via my blog? Just anyone and everyone who finds what I have to say of particular interest! I welcome comments from people who both agree and disagree with what I have to say, as I’m a strong believer that everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

By blogging successfully throughout the year, I aim to improve my writing skills and develop my own ‘voice’ and style. But as well as this I hope to create an interesting and thought provoking body of entries, and in doing so connect with people around the world. I think that blogging is an excellent thing to do, and I hope to keep it up for the foreseeable future!