Gender Socialization in Disney Movies

6 June 2017

Gender socialization is defined as the process in which societal factors such as school, family, and the media, teach children their gender roles at an early age and those roles are continually reinforced throughout their lives. Boys are raised to adjust their behaviors and actions to the male gender role, while girls are raised to adapt to the female gender role. Schools reinforce such roles by enforcing uniform policies; for example, in some schools, girls are required to wear skirts while boys are required to don pants.

Children are also segregated through lines by their gender. Family members have a big impact on gender socialization, since gender roles are imposed as early as the infancy period. Also, girls in the family are taught nurturing behaviors, things such as cleaning and cooking; while boys in the family do not exercise nurturing behaviors, but are rather encouraged to go out and be adventurous.

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Many forms of media such as advertisements and television shows often portray men as the bread-winner and show women in more of a domestic role.

In commercials, men typically advertise things like tools; while on the other hand, omen would be advertising household cleaning devices. I will be explaining how another form of the media”specifically Disney movies, also influences the construction of gender roles in society. I chose to explore Disney movies, because a lot of people have watched Disney films while they were young. Many girls, such as l, wanted to be a princess living in a beautiful castle, while many boys wanted to grow up to be strong and muscular, and to be a leader.

While many see no harm in Disney films, they actually perpetuate negative effects on growing children. t’s important to realize the impacts such filmshave on gender roles, because many people don’t realize we automatically conform to what’s ideal in our society;we don’t think twice about it because it has been ingrained in us since childhood. There lies a strong burden on both genders to shape ourselves to fit these notions, or else we would be met with disapproval and criticism.

It induces unrealistic expectations, and they carry those views with them throughout their life. There’s no room for individuality if we have other people deciding what the correct way to express ourselves is. IVe watched four Disney films: Mulan, Cinderella, The Little Mermaid, and Beauty and the Beast. Since I was limited to observation, I examined the physical attributes of both genders, and how they behaved. I then looked into the dynamics of the relationship between the hero, who was usually male, and their romantic interest, which is typically a damsel in distress.

IVe also noticed quite a number of stereotypes that these films perpetuate. First, I took down the names of all of the main characters and a few of the support characters from the listed Disney films. Next, I wrote down heir attributes: what gender they were, physical traits, personality, their role in the film, and whether they were protagonists or antagonists. In addition to that, I took down some notes about their background, and how they contributed to the storyline.

I then compared the characteristics the males shared with each other, and also examined what the all of the females had in common. not surprising in the slightest. All of the main female protagonists shared the same characteristics: they were light-skinned, skinny, passive, and had beautiful singing voices. The male protagonists obviously had masculine traits: they were muscular, trong, handsome, and they were all princes, with the exception of Shang from Mulan. First, I am going to start with Cinderella, a beautiful girl who is soft-spoken, submissive, and loves animals.

She goes from a mistreated housekeeper with a terrible step-family, but is “saved” once she is engaged to Prince Charming. She does not appear to have the ability to defend herself against the verbal abuse by her step- sisters. Why doesn’t Cinderella try to fix her situation herself? Why is it that everything is solved once a prince comes into the picture, or when marriage is brought up? This movie basically says, in order to get a man to fall in love with you, you have to be beautiful, and if you are not beautiful, men won’t pay attention to you.

The relationship between Cinderella and Prince Charming is very one-dimensional, as it seems the prince fell in love with Cinderella’s beauty, not herself. The next film I watched was The Little Mermaid. In the beginning of the movie, Ariel comes off as curious, adventurous, and brave. She saves the prince from drowning, and immediately falls in love with him. Wanting to trade her fins for a pair of human legs, he is quick to wanting to abandon her friends, family, and lifestyle for a man she hardly knows. She trades her strongest gift”her voice, for a pair of legs.

This endorses the idea that heterosexual romantic love is the ultimate purpose for all women; that we’re willing to sacrifice anything for love. In Beauty and The Beast, Belle shares the same physical traits as Ariel and Cinderella, and she appears to be strong- willed. It’s interesting to note that while Belle is walking around in her village, the villagers comment about how odd she is because she is always reading a book and ot seeking a man to marry. Disney is basically saying, if girls read, they won’t be able to get a husband unless theyre beautiful.

On the other hand, Beast, who was initially a handsome prince but was transformed due to a curse, is now a monstrous figure who appears to be verbally abusive towards Belle. Beast appears to exercise the stereotype of being manly and dominate, while Belle remains submissive. Things are a big different in Mulan, but the outcome is a bit similar. In the film, China is going to war and one man from each household is to go and serve in the military, while women were to stay home. Mulan disguises herself as a male and goes in place of her father because he is injured.

Initially, Mulan struggles with the physical tasks imposed on her while in the army, but she is able to overcome those challenges. Eventually, she gains the respect of her fellow soldiers, but once her gender was revealed, she lost that respect. Despite her saving their lives, the male soldiers do not trust a woman on the battle field. Men will never see women as equals on the field, because men see women as inferior and weak. I found that in these Disney films, the physical traits shared by the heroines, are ery similar, and the same could be said for the male characters.

These movies portray the heroines as weak, submissive, and compliant. The males were portrayed as individuals with an affluent background, handsome features, and muscular. Disney is enforcing the idea that for girls to obtain true happiness, we must be beautiful on the outside, and we need to seek out a handsome and wealthy woman, he deserves her. The messages portrayed in these films remain the same: women will always be second-class to men. It seems that the existences of these girls need to be validated by a man.

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Gender Socialization in Disney Movies. (2017, Jun 03). Retrieved July 11, 2019, from https://newyorkessays.com/essay-gender-socialization-in-disney-movies/
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