ARE DISNEY PRINCESSES REALLY SUCH DISASTROUS ROLE MODELS?

Battle stations guys, quick quick, prepare for a fight. For THE fight. The loony left wing feminist folk are here again and this time they’re coming after DISNEY. The princesses no less, we must do all we can to protect them and shield them from the hairy, Birkenstock wearing militant women hellbent on taking all the good out of the world on their quest to bring down the patriarchy! 

*just in case my opening lines didn’t give it away, what you are about to read is riddled with sarcasm – I think the plot lines for most old-school Disney films are, wherever possible, in drastic need of a feminist over-haul. Should they be BANNED? Obviously not! Are they perfect and great and without fault? They most certainly are not. So there, I said it, I have my Birkenstocks on and I’m ready to go down fighting for this one*

Twice this week, famous actresses (they actually prefer to be called ~actors~ now) have come out to question if the stories that we all loved so much as little’uns are the tales that we should be showing to our twenty-first-century children.

Both Kristen Bell and Keira Knightly, in separate interviews, have voiced their concerns about certain Disney princesses; and how the topic of consent and what it means to be a powerful woman are called into question.

Twitter is in uproar.

The Daily Mail readers are all having aneurysms as we speak.

The world, as we know it, is over.

Women, officially, have too much power, not enough fun and need to be stopped at ALL costs. How very DARE they go after everyone’s favourite muted-mermaid?!????

GIVE THEM EQUAL PAY IF YOU MUST, JUST WHATEVER YOU DO, PROTECT RAPUNZEL YOU HEAR ME?!

Kristen said that she is not 100% comfortable with the classic Disney princess tales, she thinks Snow White, for example, gives kids the wrong message about strangers and consent:

“Don’t you think it’s weird that Snow White didn’t ask the old witch why she needed to eat the apple? Or where she got the apple? Don’t you think it’s weird that the prince kisses Snow White without her permission?”

Yes, Kristen, personally I do.

But I also find it weird that she chose to live with seven random dwarves with specific character traits in the middle of a forrest and that her step mother had a talking mirror but that’s Disney for you eh?!

Should we be taking this opportunity to criticise a story written before date-rape drugs became a very real concern for women daring to leave the drinks unattended at a bar?

Or instead focussing on the fact that Snow White was a kind and beautiful and the story was not about a kiss-without-consent or a roophied piece of fruit, rather a tale of true love (unlikely, given the consent issues), marriage (squished into the final scene) and a happily ever after (that we never get to see because every story finishes before we watch them begin to bicker about who’s turn it is to take the bins out… though knowing SW as I do, I suspect she’s got a well-trained deer on hand to do that)?

Keira expressed her own concerns and has gone so far as to ban her daughter from some Disney movies: “she’s banned from watching Cinderella, the film is about waiting around for a rich guy to rescue her… NO, rescue yourself!”.

Of the Little Mermaid she said: “do not give up your voice for a man!”

Was banning these films a bit strong? I imagine that Knightly film library to have a little restricted section: Cinderella, The Little Mermaid and Atonement because her kids probably need not know about their mum’s love for bookshelves.

OR, is she making a great point?

Ariel was always, in my books at least, the dappiest of all the princesses. The mermaid equivalent of the girl that was so hungry for the d that she mistakenly took a personal trainer offering advice at the gym for a come on, accepted a ‘session’ gleefully, thinking it was a date, showed up pissed, flirts shamelessly and proceeds to text fourteen times and wait in the men’s changing room to find out why she didn’t secure an end of the night kiss after throwing up on the dumb-bells.

Singing a song to a bloke who was pretty much passed out at the time, fancying him so much she does a deal with the sea-devil and exchanges her VOICE AND HER TAIL FOR A BLOKE THAT DOESN’T EVEN REMEMBER YOU… I mean, come on!

I’m sorry but if I ever found myself, for whatever reason, birthing a baby with a tail only to find out she was willing to exchange it for a hot guy I’d be furious. FURIOUS.

If I could prevent that from happening, I would. I’d go to extreme measures. I’d go so far as to ban The Little Mermaid. There. I said it. Kiera, I stand with you. We have to protect our daughters.

Although there are exceptions to the rules, as there always are, the whole premise of the Disney Princess thing was sort of just that these women, these girls, really, were on the hunt for a man; they were in need of saving and of being loved.

As was classic of the era in which these stories were written, a woman should be prepared to give everything up for a man because ultimately, that is what our ‘happily ever after’ entailed. Our stories would end when we found our Prince.

There was no romance or glamour in the apres-menopause-business-course we took, the online shop we set up whilst pregnant with the second baby, the amazing woodland-animal-sacnturay we opened because we were so bored at home all on our own whilst hubby was out working and we had an unprecedented amount of badgers in and out of the kitchen.

The story started with a man and ended with one.

That was the world before feminism took flight. Disney movies were representative in a way, of the world back then.

Not the squirrels doing the dusting or mice acting as seamstresses necessarily, but of what romance was suppose to look like.

So, just because they are entrenched in the traditions of both being a little girl and raising one, do we still need to be watching these films? Why do we hold them, and their, let’s be honest, out-dated plot lines, to such high regard? Is it maybe time to make something new and more indicative of how times are now?

Is it time to banish Cinders for Elsa and let little girls aspire to a bit more than waiting around for a bloke to snog us and change our fortunes?

I’ve seen a lot of “I hate the world now” tweets from women in the wake of these comments by Kristen and Keira. They say these are just fairy tales and that this is ‘feminism gone mad’.

“Remember kids, it’s not woke to wake Snow White from her deathless slumber” – Ironic Tweeter no.03929188293.

But, times have changed; maybe it is time that the stories we tell our kids change too.

We don’t HATE Cinderella now or blame her for the role she played in holding up the patriarchy, the poor girl was guilty of nothing more than riding in an enormous pumpkin to party for goodness sake, but in the same way that even Germaine Greer has lost her place in the modern feminist agenda, sometimes role models need to be updated.

Having said that though, they are sentimental and magical to so many of us and as a generation, we’re not doing badly, so maybe it’s not as bad as we first though.,.

I used to dream of the sparkling dress that the Fairy Godmother bestowed upon Cinderella and that hasn’t stopped me from growing into the passionate feminist that I quite clearly am today.

Even having watched, countless times, as Sleeping Beauty aged 16, so barely legal, was woken by the kiss of Prince Phillip (no, not that one) I still knew, I think, the lines around consent.

And perhaps because of the nativity of Snow White taking that poisoned apple, I was even less inclined to take food from strangers than I was after watching Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Bang, so that’s a good thing I suppose.

But the fact that we are fed the same story over and over again, IS damaging.

Everything I watched when I was a child, everything sparkly and magic was around this idea that one day a Prince would save me. And sure, I might be sleeping whilst he kisses me for the first time, but he’ll be good looking and rich, AND HE’S DOING ME A FAVOUR, so it’s fine.

I don’t believe that making the observation that times have moved on is feminism gone mad. Nor is wanting to change the conversations we have with both our daughters AND our sons.

The world has changed, why do we resent this so much?

And WHY is everyone so angry that a couple of actresses have chosen to point out that not every bedtime story needs to include romantic tales of the old-school-patriarchy that are currently trying so hard to break free from?

My parents made me wait until I was a little bit older before I watched Jaws, because they didn’t want to instil a fear of sharks in me.

With that in mind, would it not be sensible to make little girls wait a little longer before watching Snow White?

I don’t know about you but as a grown woman I’m far more frightened of having someone slip date-rape into my drink or kiss me without my consent than I am of being gobbled up by a great white….

Some food for thought, anyway.

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1 Comment

  1. Katie
    October 18, 2018 / 4:07 pm

    I have no problem with limiting the movies/ideas your kids watch, good for you for paying attention. But don’t idea shame the rest of us. I don’t need celebrities telling me what my kids should and shouldn’t be allowed to watch. Maybe they were just trying to start a conversation but Twitter seems to always escalate “conversations” into brawls.

    Personally, I think we should just let kids be kids. They will have plenty of time to worry about these issues later and if you really want them to think about these things now then use the movies as teachable moments.

    And like you said, we all watched those movies growing up and we turned out to be critical thinkers, independent and strong women. I just think there are bigger fish to fry than Disney princess movies🤷

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