The female characters of the Disney universe allow us to analyse the role of women from various points of view, so we decided to put the pieces together and ask: “Are the Disney princesses feminists?”
Snow White and her prince are light years away from feminism
Born in 1937, Snow White isn’t a feminist for 3 main reasons:
- she dreams of a prince who will one day appear on a horse. Unless this very particular scenario happens, happiness seems to be difficult for her to achieve.
- in the end she is saved by a prince: a one-dimensional man, without whom, it seems, she would be completely lost.
- as though she has no choice, when she arrives at the 7 dwarves’ home the first thing she is is to tidy up and clean the house.
It should be noted that in 1937 the image of women as “queens of the home” was particularly comforting, and Disney wouldn’t have wanted to buck this trend.
Nothing changes when it comes to Cinderella
13 years after Snow White, the situation has barely changed. In fact, in 1950, Cinderella lives in inescapably sad and “semi-enslaved” conditions and the only thing that can save her is the intervention of a saviour prince.
Change is in the air with The Little Mermaid
In 1989, Ariel changed the game. Although not completely embracing feminism, The Little Mermaid has the strength to oppose her father and follow her own path, showing a strong desire for independence and great courage, totally in line with the “Girl Power” philosophy of the late 80s and early 90s. On the other hand, it’s also true that this isn’t done out of pride or even a desire for self-affirmation – even here, there’s a man driving Ariel’s brave decisions, and his name is Eric.
Beauty and the Beast finally revolutionises the image of women
With Belle, feminism officially enters the Disney castle. Unlike Ariel (who is only 16 years old), the protagonist of Beauty and the Beast is much more mature, educates herself and, above all, doesn’t necessarily need a man by her side. Of course, in the end she falls in love, but that’s not the point – by nature she “wants adventures” without having to compromise, even if that means she ends up imprisoned.
Pocahontas and freedom
What immediately emerges when analysing the character of Pocahontas is her freedom: anyone who thinks they can influence her is wrong. She falls in love with John Smith, a “foreigner” whose life she saves, and when she is faced with an important decision, she decides to stay with the people who need her. Thanks to this character, in 1995 audiences found themselves facing the idea that falling in love doesn’t mean staying together forever and, above all, that a woman can chose to be alone. In this sense, Pocahontas’ independence signifies a sharp break with the other female Disney characters who preceded her.
Rapunzel and independence
In Tangled, Rapunzel prioritises her dreams over a relationship, and feels a sense of achievement independent of who she has around her.
Moana takes the image of women to a new, vocational, level
Watching Moana, you don’t feel as though you’re missing out on a love story, but instead feel the desire to see whether Moana will be able to fulfil her mission. The protagonist, who in this case follows her vocation with determination, offers an important message that transcends gender differences and makes us appreciate the character as a determined and courageous person, not just a woman.
Elsa and Tribe
Elsa from Frozen closes the circle of Disney’s decades-long “feminist” path, by being a princess with a fully-developed story that completely eschews a male figure. She has an individual journey of growth that involves family relationships – and above all the choice to follow one’s true nature and express it to the highest degree.
Tribe celebrates this wonderful character with 8 GB and 16GB USB sticks.