What Disney Taught Us About Gender Roles


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Disney movies are timeless, and you don't need to be a child to enjoy it. Although adults are not the primary target audience for them, it's safe to say that most people love them just as much as a child would. The reasons why many enjoy watching these movies for hours on end at times lies in the pure aesthetic delight of the film. Each Disney creation has its own unique style of storytelling; it teaches us inspiring values that everyone can learn from — regardless of age. Some characters are even created uniquely to break burgeoning stereotypes, specifically amongst girls. This article dives into the lessons that Disney movies have taught us about gender roles.



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1. Mulan — what are gender roles, really?

An excellent example of a feminist is Mulan. Her character is part of a hugely diverse film, filled with characters and memorable dialogues that rise above the movie screen. Mulan is someone who wants to be more than just a beautiful face, she shows us that women can be brave and empowering. According to John Bathres, Mulan intends to prove that women can be tough while also undergoing the pain and self-sacrifice that is present in war. She challenged the idea of what makes a man. She not only battled for her father but for herself because she wants to prove that she is more than just a housewife. This movie reminds us that gender roles can be flexible, each individual is capable of doing things that are both 'feminine' and 'masculine'.



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2. Beauty and the Beast— inner beauty is the real beauty

In most Disney movies, the princes are good looking. Except for the Beast, he is far from the handsome prince he used to be. His bad attitude and bad temper do not help his notoriety either. As the film progressed and he was spending more time with Belle, she discovered that even though the Beast may look harsh and gruesome on the outside, he was warm-hearted at his core. And on the flip side, even though Gaston was handsome and had many accomplishments, he was still selfish and arrogant. This lesson is important as it reminds everyone not to judge a book by its cover. People can often judge others by the way they look on the outside. However, from Beauty and the Beast, we learn that our looks have nothing to do with our personality.




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3. Moana — creating your own destiny

Moana is another good example. It is the story of a girl who is the daughter of a chief on the island of Motunui. Now, there is no doubt that she is a brave person, you can see it in her demeanour. In the film, there is a scene which indicates that her parents did not want her to travel past the reef. The island's villagers were scared of the unknown. Still, Moana took the risk and followed her grandmother's advice to save her island and restore the heart of Te Fiti. Similar to Mulan, the movie showed both Moana's masculine and feminine traits. It also shows that women can work the same job a man could do as well as work alongside the opposite gender.


While watching a movie, we may learn some lessons and values from them. Disney movies, in particular, have taught us that inner beauty is more important than outer beauty. In today's society, external beauty is more favourable than the heart of a person and empowerment of women is always the topic being discussed by the public. Therefore, Disney keeps creating these kinds of movies in an attempt to shape our perspectives. In the end, a good film will educate, inspire and shape us in many ways.


By Yee Yin Kei





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