Disney Princess Gender Roles Essay

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The messages conveyed regarding gender roles through media have a significant effect on the future interpretation of those roles. The Disney Princess franchise is one of the most popular media content directed at young female viewers that has been shown to depict stereotypically gendered messages. Although there has been a significant development in Disney princesses over time, depicting more assertive and athletic characteristics, the stereotypical gender messages of being a caretaker, and self-sacrifice, remain, which can be prevalently seen in the latter “more progressive” animated movies like Pocahontas.
According to an independent article “Gender Role Portrayal and The Disney Princesses” written by associate professor in educational leadership …show more content…

The earlier Disney movies like Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty, portrayed more stereotypical messages rather than the latter ones such as Pocahontas, The Little Mermaid, Mulan, and Princess and The Frog. In the earlier movies, princes are the ones to perform the rescue, and princesses have stereotypically female characteristics such as being nurturing, physically weak, and submissive (England, Descartes, & Collier-Meek, 2011). However, as proposed by an article published in the social science journal written by the associate professor of sociology at McDaniel College Lauren Dundes, Pocahontas marked the emergence of a new heroine. The character possessed stereotypically masculine traits such as assertiveness, athletic ability, and the desire to explore. In the movie, she is shown choosing to sail against the current when the river diverges, jumping into the water off a high cliff, and asserting herself to her father Dundes, 2001). Though, It was noted by England et al, that even though the Princess showed a high level of athletic ability she was still shown to be not as physically strong as the …show more content…

Although Pocahontas standing up to her father is a display of assertiveness and shows a development towards a princess with more androgynous characteristics, Dundes argues that it was driven by her selfishness, which towards the end of the movie is replaced by self-sacrifice, perpetuating a stereotypical selfless female narrative. Dundes brings forth American Psychologist Carol Gillians' ideas of ethics of care, where Gillian proposes that at about 10 years of age, girls start receiving messages to become more selfless. Pocahontases decision to stay behind instead of joining Smith to sail away to the new world exemplifies her transition from selfishness to selflessness. Dundes argues that while some may see this as a progressive decision on Disney's part, in the light of Pocahontas being the only princess who doesn’t end up with a prince, there is no bigger purpose shown behind her decision plotwise, which undermines what could have been a feminist portrayal to a stereotypical norm of women being selfless. This argument is made on the basis that Pocahontas does not say that she wants to stay back in order to be an ambassador of peace, instead, she just says that she is needed there, which signals selfless sacrifice. Thus women are socialized to step aside from their desires Dundes, 2001). To further disembed the feministic facade of

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