Disney movies, while delightful nuggets of our childhood, are not known for their progressive attitudes toward women. Based upon classic fairy and folk tales, most created at a time when women were barely even a thing, Disney didn’t really help us out by giving us strong female leads, dependent upon no one and able to live her own life. But now in a brave, new, post-Frozen, post-Brave world, let’s look back on some of the lessons the older movies taught us…and hope they don’t teach anyone these lessons again.
The best thing you can wish for is a makeover and a dude’s attention.
Cinderella was trapped in an abusive home (with three female abusers, no less) and she gets the magical fairy-ordained chance of a lifetime to get something better…and her fairy godmother gives her a dress and a ride to a party? How at no point was Cinderella like, “Um, thanks FG, swell party — can I have my dead dad back, or can you turn this pumpkin into a small efficiency apartment so I can get out of this hole?” And what time did this wish even come true? 11:30? She’s there maybe 10 minutes — long enough to walk in, dance for a quick minute then have Princey Pie ooze all over her without a real conversation. Then of course he rescues her — based solely on her tiny delicate feet — and she never gets even a taste of independence. Also, I bet glass slippers REALLY hurt. That’s a bunion waiting to happen. I hope her mice are good with a lance.
Don’t talk. As long as you’re pretty, that’s all that matters.
The message of “change yourself completely and give up your voice so a man will love you” isn’t even hidden in The Little Mermaid. Boys don’t want to hear what you have to say, little lamb. Just sit there and be pretty — the kind of pretty he wants you to be, of course. And kind of stupid. He’ll be really endeared to your fork hair combing.
Also, does it count as passing the Bechdel Test if the only woman any Disney princess ever talks to is trying to kill her?
It’s OK to kiss a woman who’s passed out.
Mm-hmm, Sleeping Beauty‘s Prince Phillip, I see you. Consent. Look it up.
Personality is overrated. Just let the menfolk save you as they see fit.
I cannot name a single character element of Snow White. Does annoying voice count as part of her character development? No? Then, no I can’t do it. There is nothing to her. She’s sent away for being pretty, saved by seven dudes then saved by some other dude. All because she’s pretty and can cook and clean. Oh, and she gets kissed while passed out, too. THIS IS SOME COSBY SHIT, DISNEY.
It’s OK for a man to yell at you, isolate you from your family and make you dress the way he wants. Totally OK.
Stockholm Syndrome, thy name is Beauty and the Beast.
The closest thing to a happy ending you’re going to get is pick the man who gets the job you deserve.
In Aladdin, Jasmine is told by her father than she has to marry a prince because she can’t lead the kingdom alone BECAUSE WOMAN! In the end though, she gets the happy news she wanted…kind of. She still can’t rule her kingdom, the one that she was born into ruling as a princess, BECAUSE WOMAN, but can pick the totally under-qualified man to do it for her. Um…thanks, dad.
[Photo credit: Disney]