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Gender and Frozen

SISU 260: Identity, Race, Gender and Culture
by

Samantha Smithson

on 29 April 2014

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Transcript of Gender and Frozen

Thesis
Throughout our childhoods Disney movies are among the first cultural influences on our lives. Disney shapes our ideas on identity, and creates examples of behavioral norms on society, the most prominent of these cultural influences being gender. This is the one element that carries throughout every film as it is highly significant in across cultures and is something we all encounter on a daily basis.
Disney movies tend to be highly formative.
They are regularly consumed by young children, who are easily influenced, around the world.
Why Frozen?

Did the makers of Frozen set out to break traditional gender roles?

Directors Jennifer Lee (along with Chris Buck) is Disney's first female director for an animated feature-length film.
Lee is first writer of animated films to become a director on same production

"Sister Summit" used to model Anna and Elsa's relationship

Gender-balanced executive crew; Lee wrote the screenplay

Who was behind Frozen?
Disney films are highly formative in many children's lives.
Especially so for young girls (Disney Princesses)
Over the years, this has led to many unhealthy norms for girls to model themselves off of.
Gender and Disney
Performativity - Judith Butler
"a stylized repetition of acts . . . which are internally discontinuous . . .[so that] the appearance of substance is precisely that, a constructed identity, a performative accomplishment which the mundane social audience, including the actors themselves, come to believe and to perform in the mode of belief”
-Gender Trouble, p. 141

Judith Lorber
- form expectations of individual from the moment we have a sonogram




Gender Roles
People should have the ability to define their own identity.

Thinking in the binary allows for there to only be the idea of a man and of a woman
Instead, gender should be thought of on a spectrum scale or
more accurately,
with two continua.
Gender Binary
Performativity
Farting, stuffing face
Breaking traditional female & princess gender role
Life isn't complete without a man
still wanting to meet someone and fall in love
Double standard
She isn't as reserved as people expect her to be
Breaking traditional gender roles
Buying the things for Kristoff
Rope, tools, carrots and a sled!
Anna
Olaf
Ambiguous sexuality
Was not pertinent to the plot
She didn't need to be established in a normal role
She seems happy alone
Maybe she isn't straight? can we make assumptions based on context?
Elsa
Gender and Frozen

Oaken
Limitations of Frozen.
In Conclusion
Gender neutral character
The name suggests male, but he breaks the binary:
Wide range of non-masculine emotions.
Expressive in ways males "aren't supposed to be."
Androgynous:
A mixed or ambiguous form of expressing gender
Olaf fits some "camp gay" stereotypical traits, but is also 'unsexable,' as he is still a snowman.
This is a character that we know is defined as being gay by the end of the scene
He has masculine characteristics, while the expectation is for him to be closer to the feminine
Female body image
Rampant dimorphism - "Help, my eyes are bigger than my wrists!"
Transgender identity and intersex identities are still invisible.
Questions?
Disney - particularly in Frozen - has taken new strides in redefining how gender should be perceived.

- Princesses do not need to be 'saved' by a Prince Charming anymore, and can instead be strong on their own accord.
- Love between siblings (sisters in particular) is just as important, if not more, than romantic love.
- Consent is visible, and hugely important to 'true love.'




by Noelle Magrino, Pat Rayball, and Samantha Smithson

Princess = Desirable
According to Disney, Princesses:
Are passive (
Snow White
).
Are domestic and subservient (
Cinderella, The Little Mermaid, Snow White
).
Reliant on the care of men (
Sleeping Beauty
,
Aladdin
).
Conform to a single body image (almost all princesses).
Hetero-normative (almost all).
Compulsory Heterosexuality
And perhaps most importantly...
Consent isn't an issue for princesses.
Things are getting better.
Princesses are shifting from
passivity
to
activity
.
They are less domesticated, and less beholden to men.
Even so, serious problems remain.
Body image.
Hetero-normative.
Gender Binary.
These complaints
are not new.
And more outside of gender...
Racial diversity is largely omitted.
Class differences are shown - but not dealt with - between Anna and Kristoff.
Disney itself enjoys some privilege and impunity, but is still beholden to the culture industry.
Video Time!
Anna sings "For the First Time in Forever", and is quite honest in doing so.
Video Time!
Olaf sings "In Summer", and shows a wide range of non-masculine and non-feminine behavior

Frozen is one of the first Disney movies to break away from strictly traditional gender roles that have dominated society in the past, and continue to influence our daily lives.
Grouping people in one of two directions can cause those who do not actually fit those groupings cause hardships and confusion to how one can identify
Gender identity is how you think of yourself in your head.
In a continua, the zero end is existing without gender or "nongendered", while on the other end of one continua is "woman-ness" and "man-ness"
The formation of ones gender identity is affected by hormones and the environment, just as much as it is by a person's biological sex
Gender identity formed around age 3
Gender Expression
How one demonstrates their gender, based on the traditional roles:
behavior
interactions
dress
actions
More than just feminine and masculine and can change day by day
Holly Boswell:
""If most people were honest about their gender and took the time to evaluate themselves and ask questions, they too would find themselves in the middle of a bell shaped curve""
Struggles with identity throughout entire plot.
Sam Killerman:
"It is important to define our true selves outside of our culture and the system of gender that we have grown accustomed to."
Indeed, many of these complaints are actually quite common, whether from academics, laymen, or those in the film industry.
Disney films are cultural icons, and create examples for normal behavior.
Gender performativity: reinforces negative ideals and solidifies as normal behavior.
"True Love's Kiss"

Anna is desperate to find 'The One'

Elsa's sexuality is ambiguous
Full transcript