Gender and Masculinity in Disney – A Discussion

Many of the people I know adore Disney, and many grew up watching Disney films, as I did.


However, there are many people who have found difficulties in the way in which certain character types are portrayed. Disney, in being something that children grow up with, teaches children and provides them with their first glimpses of society.

Disney films offer patriarchal ideals that focus on heterosexual love, strong males and slim ‘damsels in distress’. There are many that argue that many Disney films are outdated in their representation of societal values. A video I found in this weeks lecture slides provides examples of how gender and masculinity are portrayed in these films. See this below:

Of course, Disney cannot be blamed for the characters portrayed in the past, especially since they merely represented the ideals of the time and slowly, it can be seen, Disney are bringing in new ideas in newer films. Frozen, for example, and Maleficent both acknowledge that true love doesn’t only exist between romantic couples, but also between mother and daughter or between sisters.

Regarding all that I have discussed above, I would still choose to include Disney films into any child’s upbringing. I have fond memories of watching these films, especially Cinderella. However, I think it is important to see how Disney’s representations of certain characters can be limiting, and children should be allowed to view the world with an open mind.

It is also very important to have discussions about how the media tries to reinforce traditional ideals especially when we progress towards a more open-minded future.

Rachel Measures

I do not own the above image, it is from:

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