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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

"Ranked:Disney Princesses From Least To Most Feminist" Response

With the trend of so-called "feminist" Disney princesses in more recent years, many feminists are bashing the older princesses for "not being feminist enough". Is this true? If a female meets "feminist" standards more than "conventionally feminine" standards, does that make her a better female? I thought feminism claimed to be about choice and women being able to choose whichever kind of woman they wanted to be?

Many feminists like to say that feminism is the "belief that women are equal to men/deserve equal rights". If this is real feminism then how can anyone compare how feminist they are without creating specific standards to be a feminist? Once you add these standards, you are no longer talking about equal rights between men and women. These "standards" bully and pressure girls and women to conform to a certain type of "feminist" rather than being encouraged to make their own choices.

Take this article for example: Ranked: Disney Princesses From Least To Most Feminist
*Note: This article only lists franchise princesses from Snow White to Rapunzel

(Article comments in regular font, my response/comments in bold; Rankings are the article's, not my own:)

10. Aurora

"Aurora has no interesting qualities; she's pretty, demure, and generally kind, in the way princesses are (i.e., "to animals)."

So feminists can't be pretty or demure or generally kind? Why are those the only qualities listed anyway? Poetic and philosophical aren't interesting? When Aurora is out singing in the forest, she sings:

"I wonder, I wonder
I wonder why each little bird has a someone
To sing to, sweet things to
A gay little lark melody?
I wonder if my heart keeps singing, 
Will my song go winging
To someone, who'll find me
And bring back a love song to me?"

The way Aurora articulates herself is very poetic. Unlike Snow White who wishes for love and Cinderella who might dream for love, Aurora wonders about love and is talking here about the concept of soul mates and how it works.

How can someone say she has no interesting qualities? She is also strong and humble, willing to make sacrifices and put her kingdom before herself. While some people might not agree with this choice of hers, isn't feminism supposed to be about respecting a woman's choice?

"The early Disney films were all strange fables with beautiful scenery and women who made no choices for themselves."

This just isn't true at all. Even in Sleeping Beauty, the main heroines are the 3 good fairies who are all women. They get the most screen time of all of the characters. They do equal or more work than Phillip to save Aurora. Their choice to take Aurora into the forest and raise her for 16 years was completely their idea and it beat out the King's choice.

9. Snow White

"Snow White also conveniently falls asleep for much of this film"

Clearly this person has never really seen this film as Snow White is awake for the majority of the film. She only goes to sleep at the end, after she meets the prince for the first time, after she is warned by the Huntsman to run away, after she finds the Dwarfs' cottage and cleans it then falls asleep, after she meets the Dwarfs and makes them wash up for dinner, after they all have a song and dance after dinner and she tells them the story of her falling in love, after she sends them all off to work, after she bakes the pie for Grumpy and after she gets tricked by the Evil Queen. Then she eats the apple and falls asleep, the Dwarfs chase the Queen and she dies, the Prince gives Snow a kiss of true love and she wakes up. So the notion that she's asleep for much of the film is a lie.

"she doesn't demonstrate a lot of agency or courage. Still, she outranks Aurora, because when she runs sobbing to the tiny cottage and finds that it's populated with seven small men, she doesn't turn tail and flee. She puts some steel into her spine and makes do, which is pretty impressive for a woman who talks to birds."

Snow White is told that her stepmother wants her dead and that she has to leave everything she knows behind, including the new love she finally found after being treated so horribly. She has a frightening ordeal in a dark, scary forest and yes, she cries at the end like a regular human being might do after going through such a traumatizing event. However, then something happens. She chooses to be optimistic, to stop her crying and focus on finding a solution rather than focusing on the problem. She is all alone yet she has the courage as a princess to figure out how to make do with her new life. She doesn't go sobbing to the cottage, she finds the cottage because she asks the animals if they know of a safe place where she can go.

Not only does she not turn and flee when she realizes the cottage owners are the seven small men, but she basically runs that house and becomes their leader. She doesn't "put some steel into her spine", she was courageous and strong to begin with. That's why all that time being treated like a servant didn't break her.

8. Cinderella

"I've never understood why kids enjoy this movie, because it's just one disaster after another"

Actually, this movie shows the ups-and-downs of life and how we have to be able to handle both. Towards the beginning, Gus is in a mouse trap but Cinderella frees him; the mice successfully devise a plan to distract Lucifer so they can all get food; when Cinderella cannot make her own dress, the animals step in and do it for her; when the evil stepsisters destroy Cinderella's dress, the Fairy Godmother comes in and makes things even better than they were before; when Cinderella is trapped in her room, the animal friends (she had chosen to make) help her escape; when Lady Tremaine (evil stepmother) trips the royal guy and the glass slipper breaks, Cinderella pulls the other shoe she chose to keep, out of her pocket and guarantees her own freedom.

"not only is this poor girl kind of enslaved, but then pretty much everything she tries to do to make her life better blows up in her face. Anyway, Cinderella doesn't get much of a chance to be feminist"

Except that her choices don't blow up in her face, they lead to her finding her happy ending. Cinderella was never going to be invited to the ball but she chose to stand up for herself, cite the law and assert her right to go. In that moment her entire life changed because it led to meeting her Fairy Godmother and her true love in the Prince. In addition, her choice to hold onto the glass slipper as a keepsake is what solidified her happy ending at the end. 

The only "decision" Cinderella makes that blows up in her face, is when the evil step-sisters accuse Cinderella of "playing a prank" on them, and Cinderella does try to verbally stand up for herself to Lady Tremaine but she just gets punished for it - as she is in an abusive situation...

"Of course, she still needs to be rescued by outside forces, so it's hard to place her too highly."

So if a gunman held you hostage and the police had to rescue you, would that make you less of a feminist because you couldn't take out the gunman and rescue yourself? As stated before, Cinderella did her part in making the choices to stand up for herself where she could, but we don't live in this world alone and a fact of life is that at one point or another, we are going to need someone else's help. That doesn't make us a weaker person, it makes us part of a society.

7. Ariel

"But on the other hand, the thing she loves is a boy she saw playing a flute on a boat for twenty seconds."

Loving a boy should be Ariel's choice. What's so bad about wanting love or fighting for it? Are feminists not allowed to fall in love? Furthermore, it is not "a boy she saw playing a flute on a boat for twenty seconds" and I have made an entire argument defending this relationship which I will not go into again now. (Link provided.)

"Ariel disempowers herself for the patriarchy, actually trading her voice — her voice — for a chance with a cute boy."

Honestly did this person even see the movie? Ariel traded her voice to a matriarchal figure, a woman, Ursula, who knowingly took advantage of her. She traded her voice for everything she ever wanted - to be on land and the "cute boy" that she fell for was a bonus. Again, is there a rule that feminists aren't allowed to have feelings for cute boys?

"She's either mute or unable to walk until the very end, when her father has to bestow freedom upon her."

She's either mute or unable to walk because of the choice she made or because of the woman who tricked her (Ursula). When her father bestows "freedom", it was more than that: He was using his power for something that she wanted and even though he was the king and father, he was submitting to what she wanted and accepting that he had been wrong and she was right.

"Oh yeah, and the whole time, she's wearing a clamshell bikini."

Are feminists not allowed to wear 2-piece bathing suits? Does this person know Ariel is supposed to be a mermaid - which in some myths are often just topless? Doesn't feminism fight for women's choice to wear what they want? Then how is that used against her?

"her overall message isn't terribly progressive."

How is it not progressive? Ariel transcends two completely different cultures. While her father is limited to his fear and bad experiences with this other group, Ariel is the one who is progressive and open-minded and even eventually gets her father to change his mind. How is that not progressive?

6. Belle

"Her major feat might be that instead of giving up her voice, she voluntarily makes herself a prisoner, but that's not much of a step for womankind. At least she's empowered enough to resent her imprisonment, though."

While I think Belle's choice to voluntarily become a prisoner was foolish and impulsive, what does that have to do with being a step for womankind? The way this person talks, I'm sure they would not have appreciated Belle going back to the village and getting "outside forces" to rescue her father so what did they expect? Would they have preferred for Belle to be a murderer and killed the Beast to rescue her father? Or for her to have been murdered by the Beast trying to physically fight him? And why would resenting oneself for the choice they made be a sign of empowerment? She put her family before herself because she wanted to. Why is that selflessness not considered empowering?

"she's the first princess to express some skepticism about married life."

So do feminism and anti-marriage go hand-in-hand? Why would being skeptical about marriage in general be considered empowering? Furthermore, Belle didn't express skepticism about married life, she expressed skepticism about marrying someone like Gaston. She told her father that she wanted love, but she had higher standards for a marriage partner than Gaston. That's empowering.

"But ultimately, Belle falls for a domineering man, because she thinks she can change him."

Anyone who watches this film knows that she did change him. That's the whole point of the film and his physical transformation proves it. The way the Beast was before, was not deserving of love. Her positive example and willingness to meet him half way is what helped him change and become a better man. This is very representative of what happens when men (or women) fall in love - they often start worrying about this other person more than themselves and it changes their perspective and makes them less selfish. This was a tribute to how much better Belle's character was then pretty much all of the male - and other female - characters around her.

5. Jasmine

"Like Belle, she's skeptical of marriage, and demonstrates the same nerve and curiosity."

Wrong. Like Belle, she demonstrates a desire and determination to marry for love and not convenience, power or status.

"Jasmine is also pretty brave in matters of the heart, falling for a completely inadequate "street rat" and whisking him out of poverty, instead of the other way around."

Why is it considered brave when Jasmine falls in love but not the other princesses, especially when the other princesses have more reason to be skeptical of love? Snow, Cinderella and Aurora had all (presumably) grown up for quite some time without a father to show them a positive example. Jasmine did grow up with her father though and had a man who loved her before Aladdin - albeit different ways. Why was it not brave of Ariel to fall in love with someone from a different species or for Belle to fall in love with the Beast? It seems the only reason Jasmine is being considered "brave" here is because of the feminist agenda to get more women to pay for men instead of the other way around. Why should that be forced on women? Why can't some women choose the original way, especially if they find it to be more romantic and their husband still respects them for that choice?

"Unfortunately, Jasmine's only power lies in her sexuality. At the end of the movie, she's reduced to seducing Jafar to save her life. And though that's sometimes the only power women have in the real world, it's sad to think of little girls walking away with that message."

This is not Jasmine's only power but unfortunately, it's the one she keeps choosing. Jasmine is intelligent and outspoken, she just hasn't learned to harness those powers the way she did with her sexuality. I do agree that little girls should not be taught to focus on their sexuality though, as I think it is too mature and harmful for them.

Different people have different perspectives and therefore make different choices. Why do feminist articles about the Disney Princesses constantly undermine the diversity of women?

"On the other hand, major points for at least verbally refusing to be objectified. 'I am not a prize to be won'"

One of the most harmful quotes ever spoken by a Disney princess. So many people confuse it for being empowering when in reality it is not. EVERY GIRL SHOULD BE A PRIZE TO BE WON IF SHE VALUES HERSELF. When you respect yourself and you want the best for yourself, you will see yourself as a prize to be won by only the kind of person who deserves you that you choose.

And no points for being hypocritical. If you do not want to be objectified then do not objectify yourself, you are sending the wrong message that way.

How can this author complain about Ariel's "clamshell bikini" as a mermaid yet not complain about Jasmine's attire?

4. Rapunzel

"She's one of the few Disney princesses to wield a weapon"

Why would wielding a weapon be a positive thing? Most feminists are fighting for people to use less weapons, not more, so why should it ever be considered empowering just for a princess to wield a weapon?

"She also recognizes the unfairness of her plight and finds a way out of it, outwitting her "mother," who is in fact her kidnapper, to venture to the outside world."

Did this person watch any of these Disney Princess films? Actually she lies to her mother and tricks her but that gets a pass only because the "mother" is actually a kidnapper. Also, anyone who saw this film knows that it was actually Eugene and not Rapunzel, an "outside force", who outwitted Mother Gothel in the end as HE is the one who took the knife and cut Rapunzel's hair with it, which is what ultimately rescued Rapunzel from Mother Gothel.

That being said, unlike this person, I don't believe that a woman choosing to fall in love with a man who chooses to support her and save her is "not" empowering nor that it takes anything away from their other good qualities.

3. Tiana

"I'm also fond of Tiana because she falls for a penniless loser (albeit one who's actually a prince), subverting the whole idea that girls need to be saved."

So this person has no concern at all that Naveen is a huge flirt who wasn't really sure if he could give up all other women and was cut off from his parents for being a loser? Is it really better if he needs to be saved? Under the idea of equality, how is that not just as bad as if the genders were reversed?

"But then Tiana pulls a by-this-point-fairly-typical Disney princess stunt, where she has to sacrifice something she really cares about for the man she loves."

What "by-this-point-fairly-typical Disney princess stunt" is this person talking about?
Snow White sacrificed nothing for the man she loved, she was freed and treated better.
Cinderella sacrificed nothing for the man she loved, she was freed and treated better.
Aurora sacrificed nothing for the man she loved, she had chosen her kingdom and duties over love but it ended up working out anyways. (What makes one sacrifice more feminist than the other, either way it is her choice?)
Ariel sacrificed her voice for legs, but then she got her voice and legs back, and ultimately sacrificed nothing but still got everything she wanted.
Belle sacrificed her freedom to save her father, but then she got herself freed anyway and also sacrificed nothing in the end yet found love and happiness and everything she wanted.
Jasmine sacrificed nothing for the man she loved, she got the laws changed in her favor because her father wanted to make her happy.
Pocahontas sacrificed nothing for the man she loved, she chose to sacrifice the man instead so she could stay and presumably become Queen of her tribe someday. (Again, what really makes one choice more feminist than the other if feminism is supposed to be about women having the right to make A choice, not forcing them to choose a specific one?)
Mulan sacrificed nothing for the man she loved, she took her father's place because she loved her father and she ended up saving China and bringing honor to her family. Then the man she loved came to her at the end, so she got to have love despite the matchmaking failure after all, as well as being a hero.

And anyways, sometimes love does come with sacrifices. Sometimes the man makes sacrificed, sometimes the woman does, and sometimes both do. That doesn't make it any less empowering as long as it is their choice.

"Still, she eventually opens that business and name it after herself. For that alone, she has to rank pretty high."

So if she called her business "New Orleans' Best" or "Creole Utopia" or "Bayou Comfort" or anything that wasn't her name, would that also make it less feminist? Aren't all of these "feminist standards and points" getting plain silly and ridiculous?

2. Pocahontas

"Pocahontas doesn't need saving by anybody."

Lucky Pocahontas, what does that have to do with equality for women? We cannot choose the life we are born into and we cannot control every situation that occurs. If something happens and we end up in a scenario where we need to be saved, why should that be held against us? Why should that be held against someone just because they are a female? If a man gets locked in an elevator and needs to be saved, does that make him less empowered? I don't think so. How can someone make a blanket notion like a woman "needing to be saved" means she's less empowered when anything like that could happen to anyone - male or female? That seems pretty sexist to me.

"she even breaks up with the guy with a whole 'it's not you, it's my path' speech."

It's interesting to me. I have never heard a woman, especially not a feminist, say that a guy breaking up with her and giving her an "it's not you, it's my path" speech was just him being empowered. It's very hypocritical that they would call it empowering when a woman does it though. Sounds like more sexism rather than "feminism" as defined by "equality for men and women".

For anyone who cares about the real Pocahontas:

Interesting how the feminists don't say her tribe was sexist, rather that they just have different cultural values. So why would it be seen as sexist today rather than a cultural preference?

1. Mulan

"She's the only one to overtly challenge the gender roles of her society"

Overall Summary:

Some women want to embrace their femininity rather than reject it (or bash it). Whichever choice they make, the empowering part is in their ability to make that choice, not picking the one that feminists tell you that you have to pick. Let women be diverse - including conventionally feminine women.

True love is empowering and so is embracing yourself and your femininity. Don't let feminists take that away from you (or the Disney Princesses). Equality does not mean not being feminine or not finding romantic love.