Things Feminists Hate: Disney Princesses – Pocahontas (Guest post)

I was flattered when I offered to write this week’s Disney Princess post and the usual blogger accepted. “But who are you?” Well, I’m a young, twenty-something, wife of an active duty military member, currently living in Okinawa, Japan, and a strong Conservative. I hope that I do this series justice. I have loved reading them up until this point and am excited to be able to write one.

imagesI hadn’t seen the Pocahontas film in a long time, and while very historically inaccurate, not exactly a fairy tale and so never high on my “watch it again” list. However, I was so wrong in being as dismissive as I was toward it. Pocahontas turned out to be a very strong, independent, free spirited character with a great message throughout her movie.

Unfortunately, not everyone sees it that way.

“Unlike Disney’s adult heroine in her oneshouldered, form-fitting, buckskin sheath dress (to show off her stacked physique of what looks to be 36-14-30 measurements on a six-foot supermodel frame), the real Pocahontas – even after puberty – would have worn only an animal skin apron.”

Picking on the character’s looks is a horrible way to discredit a movie to me, but in this case it shows how little they can criticize Pocahontas for her personality or her actions. In fact, Pocahontas proves throughout the movie that she marches to the beat of her own drum, and that she has more courage than most men.

disney-princess_59331_12When you first see Pocahontas, she’s standing atop a cliff, presumably led there by the wind – a further indication of her free spirit. The men are mostly away at war, and the chief’s daughter is off on her own, something that doesn’t seem out of the ordinary for Pocahontas. Her friend, Nakoma, searches her out to inform Pocahontas of her father’s victory and safe return home, and instead of climbing down the slow and steady way, she takes a running leap off the cliff and into the water below; the decision impulsive and extremely ballsy. The continued aversion to “slow and steady” applies elsewhere in her life as showcased when Pocahontas’ father tells her “serious Kocoum” has asked for her hand in marriage. After a lecture about how she needs to grow up, Pocahontas goes to seek council from Grandmother Willow, a wise, and matriarchal character. Already, Pocahontas seems like a strong-willed, independent young woman, if a tad impulsive, she has the courage to stand up for herself. The criticism doesn’t stop at her appearance.

“Mr. Keane’s visual transformation of a brave, adventurous girl (who would have made an incredible role model for the female children in the movie’s target audience) into a hot babe who looks like she’s ready for the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue is bad enough, but then Disney felt the need to propel their buckskin Barbie with romantic impulses. According to Uncle Walt’s boys, Pocahontas did what she did because of her death-defying love for John Smith.”

No. No, no, no! While she falls for Smith, she makes it clear she makes her own decisions for her own reasons. In this case, she was standing up for what was right, not because she loved Smith, but because she had come to know him and realized that just because the British were different, they were not inherently evil. Yes, she throws herself over Smith’s body to keep her father from murdering him – another act of bravery in itself – but she also pleads with her father to end the war between the white men before it begins and gets bloodier.

Pocahontas

“Yeah, sure, I’m not a good roll model for girls.” *eye roll*

Overall, I saw nothing that should indicate “bad role model”, or “anti-women” in Pocahontas. In fact, I saw a lot discrediting either of those things right from the start. The men and women in Pocahontas’ village were sharing the work, working side by side. Her father seemed to respect her if not as an equal, close to it, and even bestowed his acceptance on her and  calls her “wise beyond her years” in regards to the situation between them and the British. While at times a little naïve, Pocahontas proved to be a strong woman, both physically, and personality-wise; she keeps Kocoum, a hardened warrior, from wedging a hatchet into Smith’s skull. As for the argument she did it all for Smith, if that were true, she would have left with him or allowed him to stay with her instead of letting him go back to England and remaining with her village. She loved enough to let go, and proved she did not need a man to be happy. I think that in itself is a good example to girls of all ages.

– Sarah (therealkillthetraitor)

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Big huge thanks to our guest writer this week, MeredithAncret was emotionally and mentally scarred by the historical inaccuracy of this film at the age of 14…she couldn’t bring herself to write it.

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11 Comments

  1. You just picked up one article where some woman criticized Pocahontas and use it to slam all feminists. I think most feminists really like Pocahontas:
    http://www.nerve.com/entertainment/ranked/ranked-disney-princesses-from-least-to-most-feminist?page=2

    I also don’t like that you said: ” and has more courage than most men”. It sounds like you’re implying men are most often more courageous than women and it’s not true but that’s the message a lot of the old Disney movies sent but not Pocahontas and I agree that’s a good thing.

    sorry if I’m posting this twice.

    • I think you misunderstand my title. I wasn’t going to title my piece “Things Some Subsets of Feminists Hate” now was I?
      I get it, not all feminists have the same opinion. That does not invalidate the fact that a LOT of feminists have bad opinions of disney characters. I obviously wasn’t going to link to every single instance of this criticism, that would be a waste of space in an article.

  2. I get that, I was just pointing this out to those who might read this and think “eew feminists I could never be one”. So many people dislike feminists when really they have the same opinion as many of them.

  3. Wow thanks for the brilliant article! I have loved Pocahontas since it came out when I was a young girl. She has always been one of the strongest and bravest of the Disney ‘princesses’ along with belle and mulan. I think when people use the historically inaccurate argument I think people are forgetting this is Disney. I think a talking tree and a talking mouse aren’t exactly realistic! Anyway I’m rambling…anyway thanks I really enjoyed the read!

  4. Spelling errors hurt credibility in an otherwise intelligent article. “Roll model,” is supposed to be “role model,” as in the roles people portray. A clue? When you wrote “rolls eyes,” and “roll model,” in the same sentence. Should set off an alarm in your head. Spell check software can’t save you. Proper education and lots of reading will.

    • I guarantee I’ve read more than you have.

      Maybe you should join the rest of humanity, where it’s understood that writer’s are likely to make the occasional error in writing and sometimes those are even missed by proofreaders.

      If the article was filled with numerous horrific grammar and spelling mistakes you might have a point, but you found a single mistake (a common one at that) and now pretend that this one mistake ruins the entire credibility of the article.

      I count at least 3 grammar errors in your comment, so how credible is your criticism?

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