With the rise in the feminism, animated movies acted as our very first introduction to feminism. No doubt there were times when female animated characters were presented with features like ‘Lips red as the rose’ and ‘skin white as snow’. But since then female characters have come a long way. The animated movies like Brave defied gender norms and highlighted strong women. With time there was an evolution of feminism in animated movies.
- From Snow White to Frozen the female characters have evolved.
- Movies like Aladdin and Mulan were few of the first movies to have strong female characters.
- With time we had more movies with strong female characters like Brave, Princess and the Frog, Moana and Frozen.
The out-dated fairy tales
The decade of the 30s ended with Disney’s movie Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The movie’s lead character, Snow White was presented as a female who knew every household job while the seven dwarfs went out to work. In the movie, the evil queen wants to kill Snow White just because she is fairer than her! So by the end of the 30s young girls idolised characters like Snow White –the fair and house woman. The 2012 movie, Snow White and the Huntsman give a picture of what Snow White should have been like. In the movie, the princess turns into a warrior and overthrew the evil queen herself. Now that’s a Snow White, young girls should have idolised- strong and brave.
The 2000s also had many animated movies that featured feminist female characters. Movies like Brave, The Princess and the Frog and The Incredibles (1 and 2) featured animated female characters that are strong, defied gender norms and aimed to be self-sufficient.
Then came the 40s and with that came Cinderella, another sexist movie by Disney. The movie presents the story of Cinderella who is forced to work as a house servant by her evil stepmother. And then comes a prince in Cinderella’s life and all her problems go away. Like having a man in our lives would really bring all our problems to an end. Another movie, Little Mermaid is somewhat similar to Cinderella. But this movie is one of the first movies to have a kind of feminist female character. Besides the fact that Ariel in Little Mermaid exchanged her voice with legs for a prince, Ariel is one of the first princesses to fight an evil character in the animated movie. By the end of the 80s, representation of female characters in animated movies began to change.
The era of feminism through animation
The 90s started with the movie The Beauty and the Beast. The movie’s character Belle was a presentation of modern women. In one of the scenes of the movie, Belle says “I want much more than this provincial life.” Belle read books and took care of her father by herself. Belle represented educated and self-sufficient modern women. This was followed by the movie Aladdin. Princess Jasmine in the movie wants to be the queen of her kingdom rather than let another man rule her kingdom who would not even know the people of her kingdom. Princess Jasmine is another strong female character.
One of my favourite movies from the 90s is Mulan. Mulan is a strong female character who defies gender norms. She joins the military and even performs better than all males in the military during training. She also defeats the villain of the movie and saves her kingdom. Also, Mulan is not a princess, she is a girl from a normal family without any high status which makes it easy for us to relate to her. The movies like Pocahontas also included female characters who led their people.
The 2012 movie, Snow White and the Huntsman give a picture of what Snow White should have been like. In the movie, the princess turns into a warrior and overthrew the evil queen herself. Now that’s a Snow White, young girls should have idolised- strong and brave.
The 2000s also had many animated movies that featured feminist female characters. Movies like Brave, The Princess and the Frog and The Incredibles (1 and 2) featured animated female characters that are strong, defied gender norms and aimed to be self-sufficient. In Brave, Princess proved that she was stronger than all the men who wanted to marry her. In The Princess and the Frog, Tiana dreamt to open her own restaurant one day. The Incredibles featured Elasticgirl who was a superhero. The animated movies by this time depicted feminism. In fact, more recently we saw movies like Frozen and Moana that only featured strong female characters. Anna saving Elsa in Frozen and Moana saving Te Fiti in Moana. Besides this, Anna and Moana depicted courageous characters.
So over the years, feminism evolved through animation. This is also a victory as young kids will learn strong lessons through such movies.
Mansi is an Intern at SheThePeople.TV