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Feminism and The Disney Princess

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Grace Grigg

on 12 August 2014

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Transcript of Feminism and The Disney Princess

Progress or Preservation?
Feminism and The Disney Princesses

Disney's First Princesses

No Disney princesses were introduced during WWII because of women's involvement in the war effort. "Since women were leading the war effort at home and managing entire households and companies on their own, few would easily or readily identify with the passive damsel awaiting her prince" (Stover 2).
"Sleeping Beauty"

The aftermath of the Great Depression, Catholic reform movements, and competition for labor pushed women back into the home. Snow White represented the innocence, purity, and submissiveness of a proper maiden. She instantly falls in love with her prince.
Snow White
Key Events in Women's History before the first Disney Princess Movie
1792: Mary Wollstonecraft writes
Vindication of the Rights of Women
July 1848: Seneca Falls Convention; Declaration of Sentiments (demand for women's right to vote)
1851: Sojourner Truth gives her famous “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech
1874: Woman's Christian Temperance Union organized
1912: Alice Paul & Lucy Burns (influenced by British suffragists) took over NAWSA's Congressional Committee in Washington, D.C.
1912-1913: Radical young women first used the term "feminist"
1920-19th Amendment passes
1924: The Equal Rights Amendment is first introduced in the U.S. Congress

In the post WWII era, there was a push for women to return to the home and men to return to the workforce. Cinderella portrayed the ideal woman as beautiful, gentle, domestic, and in search of her one true love.
With Sleeping Beauty, Disney continued to represent the ideal woman with traditional characteristics of femininity. However, this image of the ideal woman was becoming less appealing to the changing public.
Disney's Middle Princesses
The Little Mermaid
(1989), Disney introduced a new type of princess, one who was adventurous, brave, and determined. Ariel explores, Belle reads, Pocahontas chooses family over love, and Mulan is a heroic warrior.
Belle enjoys reading AND she does not fall in love at first sight.
The Second Wave of Feminism
Betty Friedan publishes
The Feminine Mystique
in 1963.
Women are fighting for legal, reproductive, workplace, family, and sexual rights.
1968- Women protest against the Miss America Pageant.
Tiana, the First African American Disney Princess, has dreams of opening her own restaurant. She achieves her dream AND gets her prince.
Rapunzel is ambitious, and she saves Flynn multiple times throughout the movie.
Merida is an independent young woman who has strong relationships with women in her life. Brave was hailed by many as the "first feminist princess movie."
Disney's Latest 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.
Ariel wishes for something more, but ultimately, she needs her father, King Triton's approval.
Jasmine, Pocahontas, and Mulan are more diverse heriones.
Much of the progress made in the evolution of a stronger, more feminist princess is undone by Disney's marketing of the Disney Princess Line. Toys are marketed to enable girls to dress and appear like their favorite princesses, who are redesigned to be ultra-feminine and girly.
The Redesign Controversy
Before inducting them into the Disney Princess Collection, Disney gives its princesses a makeover.

"When little girls process these images, the ability to identify with a strong female character becomes the desire to dress like her, to emulate in appearance not action" (Stover 8).
Since they first appeared in 1937, Disney princesses 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 and responses to the women's rights movement. As you view this presentation, consider and be prepared to discuss the following:
Have the Disney princesses evolved to represent strong, powerful, equal women, or do they restrict girls to traditional submissive gender roles?
How has marketing played a role in the evolution of the Disney princess?
What effects do the Disney princesses have on young girls? Are they harmless or harmful? Explain.

Merida's Redesign-Sexualized?
Merida's makeover resulted in controversy and a Change.org petition.

Disney plans to induct Anna and Elsa into the Disney Princess lineup sometime this year.
The question of whether Disney princesses represent positive leaps for women remains controversial. Some believe Disney has, in fact, given 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. What do you think?
were released during this period.

Pocahontas opposes her father and saves John Smith.
Mulan wants to be herself, not who she's expected to be.
"Maybe I don't want to be a princess."
Some have praised Disney's
for presenting the relationship of sisters over the love connection in the movie.
Critics of Disney point out that the lightening of skin shows a lack of respect for diversity.

Bartyzel, M. (2013, May 17). Girls on Film: The real problem with the Disney Princess brand. Retrieved from theweek.com: http://theweek.com/article/index/244284/girls-on-film-the-real-problem-with-the-disney-princess-brand

Child, B. (2013, May 13). Brave Director Criticises Disney's 'sexualised' Princess Merida Redesign. Retrieved from theguardian.com: http://www.theguardian.com/film/2013/may/13/brave-director-criticises-sexualised-merida-redesign

Disney Movies Guide. (n.d.). Retrieved August 7, 2014, from http://www.disneymovieslist.com/princess-disney-movies.asp

Disney Princess . (n.d.). Retrieved from Disney Store: http://www.disneystore.com/disney-princess/mn/1000016/?cmp=OTL-Dcom&att=DcomM_HP_Store_PrincessStatement_140804

Hoffmaier, A. (2014, February 2). Disney has responsibility to be progressive leader. Retrieved from thetartan.club.cc.cmu.edu: http://thetartan.club.cc.cmu.edu/2014/2/2/forum/disney

Sawyer, N. (n.d.). Feminsts Outlooks at Disney Princesses. Retrieved August 7, 2014, from jmu.edu: http://www.jmu.edu/commstudies/conflictanalysis/wm_library/SawyerFinal.pdf

Stover, C. (2013). Damsels and Heroines: The Conundrum of the Post-Feminist Disney Princess. Retrieved from scholarship.claremont.edu: http://scholarship.claremont.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1028&context=lux

Timeline: Woman's Rights and Feminism. (n.d.). Retrieved August 8, 2014, from http://backtohistory.osu.edu/resources/events/Suffrage%20and%20Feminism%20Timeline.pdf

Woman Suffrage Timeline (1840-1920). (n.d.). Retrieved from National Women's History Museum: http://www.nwhm.org/education-resources/history/woman-suffrage-timeline

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