Prince or Princess?


Annaleisa Wile

Children grow up to believe that Disney is a happy and fair place, but is it really fair? (Photo courtesy of Annaleisa Wile)

In the world of Disney Animations, many people associate Disney with princesses. But, do we really have many Disney movies that are women-empowering or woman-centered? Other than a small percentage, most princess movies have a higher amount of male characters. 

“I feel like the percentage of female characters is greater because of the more female dominated movies,” said sophomore Aubrey Anderson. Disney is a very princess and female faced company, so as a viewer, many may assume that it is a female-centered company. Though this may seem true, males have dominated the number of females in many ways throughout the movies. 

Other than in the 2013 hit Frozen, not many other Disney films are female-oriented. Mulan focused on the relationship between her and Li Shang before the safety or happiness of herself. In the beginning of the movie, Mulan wanted to go into the war because her father was older and disabled, and she had no other male siblings to take his place. In the movie, she pretends to be  a male to go to war, making 77% of the Mulan characters male. In addition to Li Shang and Mulan’s father, the film used Mushu, the dragon, the cricket, and the male horse. While she was a strong independent woman, she also played a male character playing onto the fact that a lot of the characters within this movie were male. 

“The movies empower women but, often times they are given a small task or chore that drive them to become more strong and independent,” said freshman Delaney Smith.

The movie also proves the point that in a majority of Disney movies, the females are given more chore-like or feminine roles of work. In Mulan, she is given tasks such as housework and making sure she looks presentable to find a future spouse. In the film, it also shows that her mother and her grandmother are the ones to push her into the societal standards that she was born into. 

“I really think that in The Little Mermaid the movie directly belittles her because she has no voice throughout it. So, males are able to speak and have more opinions than she could,” added Anderson.

While the film The Little Mermaid focuses on Ariel literally losing her voice, she and other females in the movie have only 32% of the lines in the whole movie. The males have a much larger 68% with more male characters including Sebastian, Flounder, King Triton, Prince Eric, and Scuttle. The only main female characters throughout The Little Mermaid are Ursula and Ariel. Ariel has most of the lines and Ursula only comes in the movie for roughly half with one song and minimal lines. 

In all these Disney character movies, they  have a common theme of male dominance as well. They focus on the male main character saving the damsel in distress, which can cause conflict between males throughout the movies. Another reason that there may be more males than females is the fact that none of the princesses had to fight with another girl to get the prince. 

“I feel like overall movies are trying to move away from the idea that the strong guy is supposed to rescue the beautiful girl,” said senior Donovan Springle.

In some Disney movies, the roles show clear bias, so the company needs to alter the casting and writing within their movies to be more equal for males and females in terms of how much a character speaks. As our society advocates for equal representation, it is important for Disney to realign their focus and begin to have equivalent speaking times for female and male characters alike.