The Little Mermaid: Hegemonic Femininity The transition from a girl to a woman is created by the socially constructed ideals of femininity often depicted in commercials, books, and mainly films. One of the famous animated princess Disney films, The Little Mermaid can be easily added to yet another Disney film portraying hegemonic femininity. In the 1989 film The Little Mermaid, (Ron Clements, John Musker) a beautiful, young mermaid is willing to make a risky deal with an evil sea-witch because she yearns to walk on land and fall in love with a Prince, while secretly the sea-witch wishes for the mermaid to lose the deal. Ultimately, mermaid ends up achieving her dream of marrying the Prince, although the evil sea-witch tries to destroy the plan.
Gender roles can be defined as the behavior learned by a person as appropriate to their gender, determined by the prevailing cultural norms. Gender roles still influence modern thoughts even after the woman’s rights movement and still appear and impact daily life. There are numerous sides to gender roles, including; men's and women's stereotypes and norms, the pros and cons, and how it can be fixed. As Ostrovsky stated in her article, “we have evolved. But our ideas of gender have not evolved very much,”.
Unlike ‘sex’, which typically refers to the biological and physiological differences, gender is a sociological concept that describes the social and cultural constructions that is associated with one’s sex (Giddens & Sutton, 2013, p. 623-667). The constructed (or invented) characteristics that defines gender is an ongoing process that varies between societies and culture and it can change over time. For example, features that are overly masculine in one culture can be seen as feminine in another; however, the relation between the two should not be seen as static. Gender socialization is thought to be a major explanation for gender differences, where children adhere to traditional gender roles from different agencies of socialization. Gender
Disney Company is notoriously known for making revolutionary cartoon movies that always gets the kid’s attention and win their hearts. The vast majority of their movie are targeting kids, kids under the age of 15, who are unbeknownst to the hidden messages about the movie(s) they’re watching. For example, The Disney film Sleeping Beauty, the main character Aurora was cursed to be sleeping forever by an evil witch. And Prince Phillip is bound to kiss her for a “true love’s kiss” and wakes up. It is pretty evident at the ending that the prince kissed Aurora without consent and she had no idea that it was going to happen for she was asleep. In another perspective, the prince basically took advantage of Aurora. Another Disney film that is quite peculiar on its ending is Little Mermaid –
Gender roles, also known as gender stereotypes, are social and cultural norms on how females and males should conduct themselves within a society. Every culture has certain roles both genders are expected to follow. An example of this in traditional American culture is a man becoming a doctor while a female becomes a nurse or men being the hard workers and women being stay at home mothers. Gender development researchers, similar to other developmental researchers, focus on questions of change over time in gender related subjects (Ruble and Martin 1988). Research suggest that children are socialized to understand gender stereotypes at an early age.
The Impact of Culture and Gender Roles Heather Richardson-Barker Drexel University Society has clearly defined boundaries between what is considered to be male or female. The development of an individual’s gender role is formed by interactions with those in close proximity. Society constantly tells us how we should look, act and live based on gender, as well as the influence of family, friends and the media have a tremendous impact on how these roles are formed and the expected behavior of each gender role. The term Gender, as defined by the United Nations, includes the psychological, social, cultural, and behavioral characteristics associated with being female or male. It further defines acceptable
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
“When I grow up I want be a princess.” Almost every little girl 's dream was to grow up and live the life of the princesses we saw in movies. It was not until I actually started to analyze the movies that I realized that I do not want to be the princess I see on the screen. For so long I fell in love with the idea that I will one day find a man who will take care of me. I also pushed myself to fit the image of a “perfect princess”. By this I mean, I was obsessed with becoming a size 0, wearing dresses all the time and even trying to talk like the princesses. One of my favorite princesses from Disney was The Little Mermaid. Analyzing this movie has made me realize that women have been portrayed in such a diminishing way at such a young age.
Although some people believe that nature affects the gender identity, others argue that, based on the education an individual receives, it is actually nurture. For example, John Moore, a teacher at a female-only school, says, “My findings suggest that, in some senses, the single-sex school is strongly feminist” (Moore, 2005). On the other hand, many societies teach the children gender stereotypes to try and limit them from becoming against what the society feels is appropriate. Gender roles or stereotypes are “a set of qualities, behaviors, and attitudes that are considered appropriate for males and females based on their biological sex” (Whalen & Maurer-Starks, 2008). Most of the time, these stereotypes are taught and explained to the children in the early stages of learning, since as mentioned above, gender identity is most likely detected after the child is two years old.
Little Giants and the gender role in society I remembered when I was young, there were plenty of movie that has girls play dolls and boys play football. These movies were popular amongs children that day until now, girls were meant to be soft and boys were meant to be powerful and strong. Then one day, I’ve watched a movie that has a girl play in the football team and I were supprised because it’s the first time that I’ve seen a movie that shows girl can be both femininity and masculinity. This movie has a huge impact on young children behaviour and has influenced childrens in constructing gender roles in the society. ‘Little Giants’ has shown the characteristic of the main character to be abnormal and changing the gender stereotypes in young audiences’ perspective.
From the very beginning of our lives, a majority of us are told or taught upon by cues on how to act according to our gender. Saying that if one wants to perform gender right, than girls should act a certain way, while boys act another. In,“Night to His Day,” Judith Lorber discuses how the formation of gender begins, “For the individual, gender construction starts with the assignment to a sex category on the basis of what the genitalia look like at birth” (Lober 1994:55). Solely based off the genitalia, it will be determined if the child is a boy or a girl; from their parents will dress their child in a certain way to make that gender prevalent to an outsider.
It is well-known in modern culture that children begin developing gender identities from a very young age. As soon as children are able to comprehend media and the actions of those around them, they are bombarded with examples of gender roles. In fact, they are presented with these examples even before they can comprehend them. Parents may begin reading children books right from birth. The gender roles that are often present in these picture books aimed at young children become ingrained in the minds of the children, kickstarting the development of gender identity.
Society today still lives up to this “norm”. Nevertheless, is this really what we are perceived as? Are males not allowed to express their emotions or are females not allowed to become Doctors because it is considered “incorrect”? “They allow grownups to take the path of least resistance to the dominant culture, which always requires less physical effort” (Pollitt 11). Adults teach their children the way a girl and boy are suppose to act for the reason that it is much easier than teaching them the opposite - or even both.
Mia Adessa Towbin, author of “Images of Gender, Race, Age, and Sexual Orientation in Disney Feature-Length Animated Films” discusses the gender roles in Disney films. She states, “Men are depicted as physically aggressive, non-expressive, and as heroic saviors, particularly of women. Women are portrayed as beautiful, dependent on men, and engaged in domestic responsibilities” (Towbin, 35). This demonstrates the idea that women are depicted as weak and submissive, and are expected to be affectionate and nurturing whereas males are dominant and strong and meant to save the day. In the popular Disney film, Beauty and the Beast (1991), gender roles are clearly depicted.
The use of archetypical characters and situations provides readers realism to identify the characters and situations in the real and social world. In Linda Seger’s essay, “Creating the Myth,” Seger reveals that most successful films are based on universal stories. Her essay states the ten steps of hero stories to describe common characteristics of most succeeded heroic stories in the society. To learn more about archetypes, I analyzed characters of an animation, The Little Mermaid. In this animation, diverse characters appear to form an interesting story for children. With the characters, I found interesting facts of characters in the story. Many children fairies portray common archetypes of each character. For example, the main character,