The Misogyny of Older Disney Princess Movies

The Misogyny of Older Disney Princess Movies

Megan T., Staff Writer

A couple months ago, I watched Sleeping Beauty for the first time since I was little. Although this film is considered a classic and enjoyed by many, I could not help but be annoyed during my entire viewing experience because of the blatant misogyny in the film. 

First of all, the movie is supposed to be about Aurora, the Sleeping Beauty, yet she hardly speaks in her own film. Secondly, the only conventionally attractive women in Sleeping Beauty are either evil, like Maleficent, or don’t speak, like Aurora and her mother (who, by the way, doesn’t have a name; Sleeping Beauty’s parents are referred to as King Stephen and his queen). The only women who aren’t evil are the stout and plain looking fairy godmothers, who are mother figures, not women who seem like they could possibly take over the kingdom or overpower the king in any way. 

I’ve also realized that a lot of Disney princesses don’t use their voices in their own films. In fact, that’s the whole plot of The Little Mermaid. But even when a princess does speak in her film, what she says usually isn’t what makes her prince fall in love with her; it’s her beauty that does. According to a lot of these films, princesses are just supposed to be quiet and pretty, and their princes will “fall in love” with them because of their beauty alone. 

This is obviously a problematic and potentially very harmful message to send young girls, the primary audience of these films. Thankfully, in recent years, Disney princess movies have become a lot more feminist and deliver empowering messages to young girls; they hardly even focus on princes anymore. The most recent Disney princess film that I’ve seen, Moana, focuses on community, heritage and identity, rather than being saved by a man, which is refreshing and a positive change in themes from the older films.