Disney Gender Roles

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Disney as a brand has reinforced the binary view of gender. The gender binary view is “the belief that there are only two sexes based off of the biological aspect of gender, which in turn generates stereotypes and expectations based off of this binary” (Palczewski & DeFrancisco, 2014, 13). The Disney Princess films reinforce the binary view towards gender by upholding gendered expectations. This line started out as a marketing campaign for young girls to identify with the characters and purchase the associated products, but an unanticipated byproduct of this marketing strategy created a consumer market called “girlhood” (England, Descartes &Collier-Meek, 2011, p.556). Disney’s girlhood is arguably one of the biggest influences on young girls…show more content…
The film begins with a female, who longs for more than the life that she is living. There is then some sort of conflict that leads to the entrance of the male figure into her life and they begin to create a relationship. This relationship is in some way threatened by some external force, in which, the female needs the male to save her from. At the end of the movie, the female and male live happily ever after, after resolving the conflict (Ayers, 2003). This repetitive plot line is in the early Disney Princess movies, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, and Cinderella and in more recent releases like Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, and Tangled. These media images, like media messages from other sources, reinforce the gender binary of heteronormativity in young children (Palczewski & DeFrancisco, 2014). Heteronormativity is how social institutions, such as Disney, “reinforce the presumption that people are heterosexual and that gender and sex are natural binaries” (Palczewski & DeFrancisco, 2014, p. 16). Thus, the formulaic plot line that Disney Princess films follows communicates to children that the normal and only sexual orientation is heterosexual and more specifically, to young girls, that marrying a man is the only way in which her life can be…show more content…
As described previously, the Disney formulaic plot line puts men as heroes who save women, or the damsels in distress, but it also paints a vivid picture of the duties of a man and a woman are. In Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, and Snow White, the women are seen happily doing domestic chores while waiting for the men in their lives to come home or to come and rescue them. This reinforces the concept that roles and duties in families are sex marked and that there are designated responsibilities for a man or a woman (Palczewski & DeFrancisco, 2014). The micro practices that this reinforces is that women are supposed to nurture, clean, and cook as Snow White shows by immediately going and taking care of the seven dwarves in Snow White and Belle first taking care of her father and then the Beast in Beauty and the Beast (Palczewski & DeFrancisco, 2014; Jackson, 1937; Trousdale, 1991). This dependence on men, further exemplified in the negative light that Queen Grimhilde in Snow White, Lady Tremaine in Cinderella, and Mother Gothel in Tangled are portrayed. All of these women are “power-women,” they are in powerful positions and are not dependent on men as the queen of a kingdom, Queen Grimhilde, as the head of a household, Lady Tremaine, or as a single mother, Mother Gothel (Ayers, 2003). This negative association is made because they are the
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