Summary of the Article
The article entitled “Gender Role Portrayal and the Disney Princesses” written by England, Descartes and Collier-Meek presented relevant issues pertinent to alleged depictions of gender roles as examined from films produced by the Disney Princess Line. There were three main thrusts that were aimed to be addressed. Initially, there were expected gender roles that were traditionally exhibited by male and female characters (prince and princess) according to masculine and feminine characteristics. Likewise, rescues in these films would be expected to be performed more by the princes than with the princesses. Finally, the authors contended that over time, it was expected that gender roles exhibited by the princes and princesses would evolve to exemplify more egalitarian manifestations.
Through coding of the contents, the authors comprehensively examined masculine and feminine characteristics that evolved through time. The findings revealed that there were common, yet mixed masculine and feminine characteristics that were exhibited by the princes and princesses, especially in the early movies. Most evident was that characteristic of assertiveness that was stereotypical for male characters (supposedly for the princes), but were likewise manifested by the princesses through affection towards animals. Likewise, there were more rescues performed by the princes as compared to princesses. Finally, the findings validated and confirmed that more egalitarian roles were exhibited through time.
The implications of the study included asserting that gender roles portrayed in Disney Princess lines and movies continue to be an influential factor in child development. Through the perception of masculine and feminine roles in these films, children perceive gender roles as influencing behavior even in contemporary times.
Response to the Article
When I was a child, the favorite princess was Princess Belle in Beauty and the Beast. The character likewise exhibited both masculine and feminine characteristics as contended by England, Descartes and Collier-Meek. Aside from the remarkable and memorable song that was popularized from the movie, the character of Belle showed different facets of strength, compassion, sacrifice and love for her father. In the process, despite apparently being extremely afraid of the ‘beast’, Belle eventually saw beyond the external physical features of the beast. Thus, the storyline was replete with gendered messages that defied the traditional stereotypical masculine and feminine roles. From sacrificing her freedom to take the place of her beloved father in the beast’s palace, Belle clearly exhibited strength in character; that was typically a masculine attribute. She also rescued her father, another manifestation of masculinity and overcome fear. Thus, Belle significantly exhibited the unconventional assumption of masculine attributes that included assertiveness, being independent, engaging in cognitive and intellectual thoughts, courageousness, and explorative, among others. It is also in this film where Belle performed a rescue (traditionally believed to be a masculine activity) to save her father from incarceration in the beast’s castle.
England, D.E., L. Descartes and M.A. Collier-Meek. "Gender Role Portrayal and the Disney Princesses." Sex Roles (2011): Vol. 64, 555–567. http://www.wstudies.pitt.edu/wiki/images/3/36/Gender_role_portrayal_and_the_disney_princesses.pdf.