Disney Animated Movies on Gender Stereotypes

Disney animated movies have gained significant amount of popularity over the last decades especially among children. These movies are known to have classic stories and characters for moral and entertainment purposes. However, in most of these animated movies women and men are portrayed in a way that reinforce stereotypes about gender role. Gender roles are socially and culturally constructed ideas of what women and men are suppose to do. Many children get first exposure to the idea of gender roles from all the these movies. From all the characters they see, these children grow up learning that men are expected to be tough, competitive, independent, and emotionless, while women are expected to be possessive, emotional, sensitive, and weak. Basically, animated movies is partially responsible for shaping children’s opinions, beliefs, and attitudes toward gender roles.

Children are exposed to many animated movies that promote gender stereotypes from the early age. Looking at the male and female animated characters, it is not hard to figure out that the two genders are portrayed differently in terms of gender roles. Usually female characters are portrayed to be sweet, naive, conforming, and dependent, while male characters are typically presented as strong, adventurous, independent, and capable (Singh). For example in the Disney movie “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,’’ the female character, princess Snow White, is rescued from dying by the prince’s kiss. The whole movie displays how Snow White take care of the Dwarfs by cooking and cleaning in the house, while they complete their responsibilities of keeping her safe. Other movies like Cinderella, The Princess and the Frog, and The Little Mermaid also follow the same trend. Since these children are too young to distinguish what is real or fiction, they start to believe that women are responsible of taking care of their house and family, and men are responsible of providing protection and financial help to the family. At early age, many children feel pressured to conform to the gender roles because they learn that they will accepted by the society if they act in certain ways.

Disney movies impact many children’s view on gender roles because of the way they portrayed their male and female characters. The makers of these movies usually get away with displaying these ideas because gender roles are conceived to be true by the society. It is important to acknowledge that these children lack the resources that teach them that they are not always required to into one of boxes, and that it is acceptable to expresses themselves without being bounded by the stereotypical gender roles.


Singh, Manjari. “Gender Issues in Children’s Literature.” . Office of Educational Research and Improvement, n.d. Web. 6 June 2014. <http://www.kidsource.com/education/gender.issues.L.A.html&gt;.

Porter, Tony. A Call to Me.’’TED Talk.’’ December, 2010. <http://www.ted.com/&gt;.




3 thoughts on “Disney Animated Movies on Gender Stereotypes”

  1. A very good post. However, I would like to challenge the gender roles found within the Disney Productions of Snow White and Cinderella. Snow White was the first full-length animated feature ever created, and Disney more or less stuck to the original Grimm’s Fairy Tale for the story with a few minor changes: mainly fleshing out the characters of the seven dwarves. The same goes for Cinderella: the basic story in all known forms has the titular character being treated like a servant by her stepmother and stepsister(s).
    Not only that, it is important to keep in mind both the time periods in which the films take place, and when the films themselves were released. In both cases the gender roles for women were the more stereotypical housewife trope modern media has come to reject. Does this mean there isn’t a problem with the films? No, it simply means the stories need to be retold in a way that updates them with the values of the modern world.


  2. Your point on this topic is interesting. I, however, have to disagree on some level. Yes, princess movies feature princesses in dresses, doing their hair, dancing, singing, cleaning, and cooking, and that has influenced children to think of women doing those things, but there are movies that show princesses breaking away from that role. Tiana (Princess and the Frog) works hard so that she can have her own restaurant, and in “I’m Almost There,” she talks about how she doesn’t have the time to be idle or find someone to marry, because she is much more focused on herself and her dreams. Rapunzel in “Tangled” escapes her life as a maid to explore and find herself – this also happens in “Cinderella.” The older princess movies shouldn’t be exempt for their sexism, but it is important to understand why they aren’t progressive enough now.


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