Disney Princesses: A Step Back for Feminism

The concept that women are fragile or weak is still present in today’s society. This idea can be commonly seen in children’s movies. These films ultimately end up showing the message that women and men are not equal to both young boys and girls.


The link above leads to a short snippet of one of Disney’s classics: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. In this scene, Snow White is seen lying down presumed to be dead by those around her. The prince then comes and kisses the fallen damsel and moments later Snow White is brought back from her death-like state and calls for the prince to take her away so they can live their happy ending. This film and other Disney films like it portray women as damsels in distress and are in desperate need of a man to save them. This is a huge step back for the feminist movement seeing that in the early twentieth century women weren’t able to vote because of women’s “frailty, irrationality, and emotional excesses.”(Baynton 41) These films spread the message that women and men aren’t equal, when feminist activists have put so much effort to put an end to hegemonic masculinity.


How can the notion that women are frail and weak creatures be removed from society’s perspective? If Disney were to change the way it portrayed it’s princesses, can future generations see past the dominance of men in society? Will women forever be in the shadows of men?




2 thoughts on “Disney Princesses: A Step Back for Feminism

  1. Though Disney has historically portrayed its princesses as dependent on a man (or men, in Snow White’s case), it is slowly changing that pattern. This can be seen in current movies such as Brave, where Merida refuses to be married and follow the hegemony of female weakness and dependency, and Frozen, where true love is not necessarily between a princess and prince, but between two sisters.

    Even with these changes, men are still seen as the dominant gender. Of course, it will take more than just a couple of “revolutionary” Disney movies to change people’s perceptions of gender roles. After all, gender and the differences between female and male are largely hegemonic; many people consent to certain ideals without the need for coercion.

    Therefore, raising awareness (through the media, the feminist movement, etc.) and time are necessary to change the perception that women are frail and weak. Furthermore, feminism must be a global movement. Though things are definitely different from when Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was released, it will take even more time to change the notion that women are inferior to men due to how long this idea has been ingrained in society.


  2. Although Disney, through their children’s movies, has had a history of suggesting hegemonic masculinity and the idea of women as typically frail and weaker than men, they have actually more recently taken a step forward in their films with regards to feminism, not a step back. For example, both the two recent Disney films “Brave” and “Frozen” portray strong female leads, without any male assistance. Disney ridded of the idea of a helpless girl in need of rescue and instead made the girls their own heroes. Disney is taking a step towards feminism and the idea of strong, independent woman in society. So, I do believe that the notion of women as frail and weak creatures can be removed from society’s perspective, and that they can can and will be able to come out of mens’ shadows for progressive steps like these by huge, influential companies such as Disney. Disney has changed the way it has portrayed it’s princesses, and this will lead to future generations seeing past the dominance of men in society.


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