Disney Princesses Are My (Imperfect) Feminist Role Models


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Feminist or no, Disney is still the Antichrist.


Really cool perspective. In pointing out the massive problems with a lot of Disney Princesses, we can loose the fact that they are a step (awkward, but a step) toward better things.

I propose the next Disney princess be maybe a little chubby. And Latina! If only Aztec myth didn’t almost inevitably involve blood-sacrifices…but maybe there’s some good Carribean or South-of-the-US American fairy tales that would be good for the pop culture blitzkrieg treatment.


Sleeping Beauty has always been my least favorite story. She’s practically irrelevant to the plot, spending half of it unconscious; as they say, you could replace her with a sexy lamp and tell the same story.

Mulan was my favorite of the Disney movies, just beating out Beauty and the Beast. And Mulan is super-light on the romance. Her and Li Shang flirt a little, but it doesn’t end with a wedding or even a kiss.


I suspect someone else here linked this site in the past which is why it’s stuck in my head, but I’ll link it again anyway…

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Granted, I can’t think of any others.


A bit tongue in cheek, but with a ring of truth nonetheless:



Besides being rich, charming and good looking doesn’t the prince have to do something dangerously heroic like slay a dragon or thwart the evil ambitions of his nemesis? This is the fairy tale metaphor or are we still talking about Disney :wink:

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Though not with its flaws, Tangled was better than Frozen. I didn’t really see the appeal of Frozen.

Mayan myths are pretty blood-sacrifice free, aren’t they? (although this doesn’t make any sense if you’re looking for something latina… more indigenous American characters are good though!)

If you’re making a list you could always add the Blade trilogy of films, if you consider Wesley Snipes as a vampire hunter a superhero.


Not for the first couple of films at least. The prince in Snow White showed up long after the evil queen had been defeated and wooed the princess with an act of necrophilia.

The prince in Cinderella has a whole different set of issues. He’s basically just a well-groomed prop for other characters to compete over even though he’s clearly less interested in women themselves than in their shoes. (That’s not an exaggeration—the king spends a good portion of the film wondering aloud why his son just doesn’t seem interested in girls, while the Duke rolls his eyes knowingly and tries to find a tactful way to defuse the situation.)


Call me bitter, but I wouldn’t say movies about pretty ladies singing their way to (inevitable) true love are particularly progressive. I guess traditional gender roles are a hard habit to kick.


I eventually got completely fed up with Fables, but I did like their take on him.


Merida did have a “fuck it, I’d rather go shoot something” approach to dating.


Yeah, I wish Brave had more to say about that than about…uh…bears.

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Enough with your anti-Frozen agenda – just Let It Go…


And giving birth to the 'You Tried" Li Shang meme.

I know one thing, my daughter loves Mulan probably more than most Disney movies…and I’m guessing Mulan being the character she is certainly is part of it. Disney’s track record is uneven, to be sure, but since ‘The Little Mermaid’ there has been a clear attempt to play against the classic ‘princess’ tropes. Frozen and Brave, in particular, are direct reactions and counter-arguments to them: Brave has no romantic lead, while Frozen plays directly against it.

Thanks for this thoughtful analysis of the genre. I think something that is often missing is the whole “parental guidance” thing, particularly when it comes to young boys. They are never encouraged from a young age to seek out or appreciate heroines, and they’re not allowed to like strong female characters.

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Well not counting Aladdin, Ariel’s prince is named Eric, and Aurora’s is named Phillip. :wink:

No, I get the point. I mean, at first it seems like it’s more objectifying to the men who haven’t even got names. Unless they’re actually named “Charming”, I suppose. But then, the moral becomes any man will do. Even if you have no idea who he is. As long as you get one in the end.