Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Masculinity in Fairytales

       Walt Disney is world renowned for coming up with creative ways to retell old stories such as Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, and The Little Mermaid. These movies are very popular with children especially in their formative years when they are developing a gender identity and a conception of what gender roles should look like. Quite a bit of research has been done about the limited and damaging scope of Disney's understanding of femininity in these movies. But what about masculinity?

       Masculinity is constructed as the antithesis of femininity; there is no spectrum for gender, either a character is or isn't. For instance Prince Eric from "The Little Mermaid." He is a sea-faring and adventurous prince who is completely carefree and at ease in his skin. In contrast, Ariel - the female protagonist who is a princess and the daughter of the King of the sea- is constantly yearning for something better a little bit of freedom which she can only find with a man's permission. It is an idea that is reinforced in many of the classic Disney movies: that a woman is only made “complete” when she successfully marries a man. In “Beauty and the Beast”, Gaston is the prince that all the women in the town want. This popular, attractive male character is rude, rich, respected, and “manly” in the eyes of the townspeople. The beast on the other hand, has the kind, timid heart, but due to his unattractive appearance, those qualities are never recognized in the eyes of the townspeople. Even though it is the beast who ends up with Beauty in the end, the hardships he had to endure (and the lack of hardships faced by the prince) just because of physical appearance could easily be seen as undermining the importance of inner beauty. 

Image result for beauty and the beastImage result for the sleeping beautyImage result for aladdinImage result for hercules

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