Disney World Florida is one of my favourite places, it truly is magical. Twice we have been and I fully intend to go again. I love Disney but I have struggled with the whole princess needs saving themes. They were tales of their time but on one hand I spout that I am trying to raise my girls to be strong and independant and this doesn’t sit easy with traditional Disney. For my daughters I confess to a love hate relationship with Disney
When I was teaching Sociology I would show my students a clip about Disney and how it reinforced the gendered stereotypes. It did it’s job, think Cinderella, think Ariel, think Snow White. All needed a man, all the princesses obsessed with looks, beauty and cleaning for their menfolk. The messages were subliminal, but they were there. Those messages told other females what they should strive for in marriage and it certainly was not about equality.
Frozen went some way to addressing the balance. The tale of two sisters whose love for each other over came everything.
Today I took Erin to see Disney’s Moana which is the latest offering. Even before the film started I was impressed with EDF’s new advert. The advert aims to get girls thinking about the STEM subjects and this is something I have written about before. I have complained before how I believe careers advice is failing young people. I have actually contacted EDF as a result of that advert to see what else they are doing and I hope to be able to share that in a future post.
Butt back to the film. There was no princess in sight, no girl that was saved by a man. Instead we watched a chief’s daughter take to the seas. She was brave, fearless, she took risks and she didn’t give up.
As I watched the film I was thinking about the message Disney was giving my seven year and I liked it. Again it was a subliminal message but the cultural effects model will tell us this drip drip approach can and will have an impact. Equality is something to strive for. Inspiring our girls is very much needed. This is not at the expense of boys. But boys have been getting this message for a long time and it is good to see that the media in films and in advertising are waking up to promoting strong female roles.
My daughters, like yours deserve to hear that message and deserve to see it on the screen.
Disney I have fallen for you and your magic a little bit more!