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Feminism and The Disney Princesses: Is There Progress or Still Preservation?

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Stephanie Bingham

on 20 April 2015

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Transcript of Feminism and The Disney Princesses: Is There Progress or Still Preservation?

Feminism and The Disney Princesses
Progress vs. Preservation

Disney's First Princesses

"Sleeping Beauty"

Falls in love while in a death like sleep.
Stereotypes: beautiful, domestic, with a high singing voice.
Flees from danger to start a new life.
Snow White
Of noble blood.
Domestic servant to her stepmother.
Defies step mother to go to the ball.
Falls in love at first sight.
Stereotypes: beautiful, high singing voice, domestics.
Falls in love while in a death like sleep.
Has no knowledge that she is royalty in order to protect her from the villainous Maleficent.
Stereotypes: beautiful, high singing voice, domestic.
Disney's Middle Princesses
The Second Wave of Feminism
First African American princess.
Desires to own her own restaurant.
Works two jobs to save money for her restaurant.
Ultimate goal is not true love.
Strong willed.
Walt Disney and Disney Princesses
These princesses fight for change, reject marriage pressure and their royal statuses, and represent a breakaway from traditional female roles.

However, feminist critics point out that they still search for approval from men in their lives, and love is a an ultimate goal.
Desires to go ashore to "be where the people are."
Very curious and craves to learn.
Sacrifices her beautiful singing voice for legs to live her dream.
Criticisms: sacrifices her voice in order to have Eric fall in love with her; seeks her father's approval to stay a human.
The Walt Disney Corporation was started by Walt Disney in 1923. He released his first Disney Princess film in 1937. Since then, they have been a favorite among young girls and a staple of American culture. These princesses represent much more than meets the eye; in fact, their evolution represents key movements in response to the women's rights movements. A few of my research questions are as follows:
Have the Disney princesses evolved to represent strong, powerful, equal women, or do they restrict girls to traditional submissive gender roles?
Do feminists limit themselves to criticizing these films or do they allow themselves to find positives?
Have the Disney Princess gone from loving entertainment to harmful iconic figures for young children, especially young girls?

The question of whether Disney princesses represent positive leaps for women remains controversial. Disney has proven that they do, in fact, strive to give young girls strong, heroic role models who overcome obstacles to achieve their goals with grace. Post-feminist readings acknowledge that Disney princesses are beautiful, but their beauty and sexuality are under their control, not their princes'. Feminists argue that despite its claims of progress, Disney still promotes traditional gender roles for women.
Pocahontas opposes her father and saves John Smith.
Rejects marrying Kocoum and John Smith in order to be with her family (Feminist conflict).
Serves as a mother role for her people.
Mulan wants to be herself, not who she's expected to be.
Runs away and joins the army and defies all gender roles.
Feminist conflict: She joins the army to earn honor for her family.
Has no desire to be a princess or marry royalty.
Her ultimate goal is not marriage.
She values her intellect over her appearances.
She is mostly independent and is not out searching for her true love.

Feminist Conflict:
When captured, she gives in to every word that The Beast demands and she begins to fall in love with him.
Thesis Statement
It is through careful observations and analysis, we see that Disney has steadily progressed the way these beloved princesses are presented with only slight preservation to stereotypical female characteristics once believed to be mere manifest changes by feminists and critics.
Formulaic Approach
There is a formula for creating the early princesses
1. Catchy sing-a-long songs
2. Good prevailing over evil
3. Animal sidekicks
4. Amusing inside jokes

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