GROWING UP FEMALE IN AMERICA IN 2011Sexism in Disney MoviesKacie Weatherhead

* Disney has been a staple in almost every American family’s home. Whether it was Cinderella or sleeping beauty all of us can say that we’ve seen at least one Disney movie. As a child, however, we neglect the interjections of sexism that is present in the movies. These depictions of sexism are far from subtle as well. Several scenes from various Disney movies depict and even spell out the roll that women are expected to play in society.
In the clip above we are shown a scene from the movie The Beauty and the Beast. The scene shows the villain male character in the film wishing to enter Belle’s home. From that moment on the male character, Gaston doesn’t seem to stop spitting out sexist innuendos to Belle. First Gaston tells Belle that she is in a position that many girls would love to be in with him chasing her around town for her attention. He then goes on to describe their future together, “A hunting lodge, my latest kill roasting on the fire and my little wife there to massage my feet…” Really Disney?! First off this speech Gaston is giving refers to a woman staying home while the man goes out and works. Haven’t women been fighting for decades for equality? Of all corporations Disney is turning back the clock putting the female population back in the role of ‘little housewife’. This image may not resonate with many four year olds but they will realize that the male character is stronger and aggressive and that Belle is very small and is seen as weak. They will think, subconsciously, that they too are to appear weak and small in the presence of a male. Gaston goes on with his rant in saying that he wants to have six or seven kids with her staying home and watching them full time. He doesn’t just leave it that he wants these six or seven kids, he makes sure to add that they are all to be strapping boys like himself. It’s like Disney made Gaston’s character to resemble a sexist man who views women as cooking, cleaning and baby making machines with no other purpose in life than to serve her husband.
The next scene in the clip is one from the movie the Emperor’s new Groove. The scene shows the male character trying to choose a woman for himself. First off this is degrading for women. Being lined up and judged by a man wondering if he’ll pick you to fulfill his satisfaction. We then hear him making rude remarks to the women that he doesn’t see fit for himself. He says to one woman “Let me guess you have a great personality.” This insinuates that he think she’s ugly because of the saying beauty is on the inside. This made me really angry. The clip makes it seem like Disney is pushing young boys towards women who are mute but attractive on the outside. They push them towards looks not personality.
The next scene in the clip was one from the movie Mulan. This scene showed Mulan’s father receiving orders to go and fight in a war for China. She speaks out and begs that her father be pardoned from the draft seeing that he’d already served in a previous war. Her outcry was cut off by another man on a horse who scolded her for speaking out against a male figure and told her father to keep her in line. Mulan’s father then quietly says that she is a disgrace to the family. What kind of message does this send to young girls? It sends one that says that women should be seen and not heard and that when they do speak up they will be scolded for it. Women fought for years to receive equal rights and Disney is literally shattering all the work that has been done to ensure that we all have equal rights. They are brainwashing young girls into believing that they need to fit into this perfect mold of an ideal woman. Little does Disney know that their ideal woman doesn’t exist and in my opinion no woman would want to be that model.
So Disney, what were you really thinking when writing this movie? It seems to me like someone had a grudge against the female population and decided that they were going to be personally responsible for creating a new generation of submissive housewives out of our nation’s young girls.

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* Rosie the Riveter. An iconic symbol for women during the 1940’s encouraging the female race to take over the jobs that their husbands had to give up while they fought in world war two. This woman was the figure that represented power for a gender that had previously been restricted to the confines of a kitchen. Women across the country lost their full skirts and corsets and took on the look that Rosie is seen wearing. With her hair pulled back, pants on Rosie was ready to work. She was ready to work in the assembly lines and factories, jobs previously held by men, she encouraged women to step up and out of the kitchen. This ad for Clorox cleaning supplies erases the entire image that Rosie created of a strong independent working woman who could work in the factories in jobs previously reserved for men. This ad takes women out of the factories and puts them back in the confines of the kitchen. This deliberate use of Rosie’s image as a cleaning woman who’s place is in the kitchen among other cleaning supplies. It goes against and tears down all the women’s suffrage movements to have her portrayed this way.
The next image for a popular brand of ties is not so subtle in their sexist view of the female race. While the male rests smiling on the bed, his wife is serving him breakfast in bed. She isn’t just serving him, no, she is on her knees lifting his breakfast up to him. If this isn’t sexist enough the caption of the ad reads “Show her it’s a man’s world”. How dare the makers of this ad put that as a caption! Women have fought for centuries to become equals and we still fight for equality today. To have an ad spell out that our world is and always will be a man’s world is a crushing blow to women everywhere and to all those women who fought until their death to make sure we had equality. Commercial and print ads may have a specific demographic that they are trying to reach; however, it doesn’t mean that their ad will only be seen by that demographic. Women who see that ad would feel inferior and weak compared to the male gender.Both ads have portrayed females as servantly, weak cleaning bodies that will never match up to that power held by males. Although these ads are older, it's not to say that there aren't ads out in the media that have the same conotations. Women need to fight back and let our voices be heard. We will not be put down or made to feel inferior by a cleaning company or clothing store. They need to know that their ads are wrong and that it's not just a man's world anymore.

Representation of Difference- The Blind Side

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Movies tend to follow similar patterns. We are introduced to the main characters, then shown the problem then given the resolution. In the movie The Blind Side we are introduced to the Touhy family. They are a rich affluent family from the south. We then meet the family’s polar opposite in a homeless black teen named Michael Oher. The Touhy family winds up taking the boy in and adopts him as their own son. The story has a happy ending but the messages throughout it aren’t as nice.
During the movie Michael’s character returns to his home in the projects of their city. Riddled by drug use, crime and violence this neighborhood is lacking any white residents. Coincidence? I don’t think so. The same idea goes for the Touhy’s upper class neighborhood and private school. After adopting Michael the movie even points out that Michael is the only black student at the elite school. The main point of this comparison is to show that in people’s minds the black race is still inferior to the white race. This isn’t to say that everyone believes this because I surely don’t, but some do. For example in the documentary Mississippi Prom, the school still held segregated proms for black and white students. The image that The Blind Side shows us about how the world views race isn’t that far off.
In one scene it portrayed a violent fight scene that took place at the projects. The two males that were involved were both black and both from that housing project. Michael, one of the men in the fight, was up against another gang member who threatens him verbally then flashes his gun at Michael before making a sexual reference about Michael’s adoptive mother and sister. This depiction of violence was never seen between any of the white characters during the movie. The Caucasian race was very elite and had a very high-class air about them that made them seem superior to anyone less than their status.
While under the supervision of the Touhy’s Michael played football for the private school he attended. While in a game against another school Michael was tackled to the ground where an obvious racist opponent stepped on Michael’s helmet and spurt out some fresh racist remark against him. Although Michael’s coach stood up for Michael it is the fact that this sort of racism, even among teens, is still so prominent that is hard to see. This may sound cheesy but we are all created equally. No matter what our race, gender, religion or sexual orientation may be we are all created the same and no one should have to take that kind of public abuse.
The overall difference in this movie is that the African American race is portrayed in an extremely negative way where as the white American race is portrayed as the highest class there is. No one class is higher than another. There should not be a difference in who is better than whom because it really doesn’t matter in the end. All that matters is that we treat each other with all the respect and kindness that we would wish upon ourselves. Maybe once we do that we may all see a better kinder world.

Connection to another Wiki

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I found that I could really connect my entry about growing up female in America to Gena’s wiki. She describes farfetched expectations that young girls are shown and expected to live up to. These expectations are widely evident in most Disney movies. As Gena described the pressure that Disney puts on young girls to be thin I saw the parallel to my wiki that discussed how Disney portrays a woman’s place in their films. I would like to think that this was an accident on Disney’s part but it is too obvious to be one. The references and imagery that are there are too concrete to have been put there on accident.

Disney has had influence on millions of children’s lives and has also shown them where they stand in society. For the girls, they are to be super skinny, attractive, cleaning and submissive wives while the boys are taught to be strong to rule over the women and treat them as possessions. They are also taught that they shouldn’t just look to find a woman with a good personality but one that looks good.

This is the main problem with Disney’s message. They are showing young boys that women are possessions and showing the girls to sit back and let the boys control them. There needs to be a changing in the tides soon or we will wind up seeing many more generations of young girls growing up aspiring to be submissive housewives.