Gender Role Portrayals in Disney Animated Films
Nancy Del Rosario
Medgar Evers College
Psychology of Women
March 30, 2014
Disney is one of the largest corporations in the world, known for entertaining and having a dominant role in children’s media for over 60 years and counting (Towbin, Haddock, Zimmerman, Lund & Tanner, 2003). The purpose of this study is to analyze Disney animated films according to gender roles and gender role portrayals. Research shows that Disney animated films have highly portrayed traditionally feminine and masculine characteristics (England, Descartes and Meek, 2011). The focus of this paper is to discuss the stereotypical representation of gender role portrayal between the men and women in Disney animated films. Scholars have suggested that in Disney animated films women are portrayed as being domestic, nurturing, wanting to marry, helpless and in need of protection (Towbin, Haddock, Zimmerman, Lund & Tanner, 2003). However, men are portrayed as having a non- domestic job, use physical anger as a mean to express emotion, are naturally physically strong and are very heroic (Towbin, Haddock, Zimmerman, Lund & Tanner, 2003). My first hypothesis is whether in Disney animated films, men are playing traditional roles and women are playing traditional roles. My third second is whether stereotypical gender role portrayal in Disney animated films will become less traditionally characterized as society progressed to let go of traditional gender roles.
Women in Disney Films
Constant traditional themes seem to surface regarding women in various Disney animated films. A current study completed by Towbin et al. (2003) concerning a thematic analysis of gender roles in Disney featured animated films found similar themes. She found that four themes emerge in these films pertaining to what it means to be a woman. Women are not valued by their intelligence but by appearance. Women are more likely to marry and have a domestic role, cooking, cleaning being submissive. This study concludes that women are being underrepresented and portrayed as being domestic. Dundes (2001) conducted a study focusing on the Disney film Pocahontas, the findings shows conflicting messages about gender. In the beginning of this film Dundes explains that Pocahontas is being portrayed as a strong independent female character, however at the end of the film Pocahontas decided to stay home in her village because that is where she is needed. Dundes argued that Pocahontas portrayed a stronger message if the film ended with her staying home for other reason like being the leader of the tribe she was a part of. Pocahontas is being portrayed as sacrificing herself for the ones she loves and is being less of a leader because.
Men in Disney films
Men are also being portrayed as having masculine characteristics, such as strength heroism and domination. England, Descartes, and Collier-Meek (2011) conducted a...