Things Feminists Hate: Disney Princesses – Rapunzel

Tangled_poster

Yes feminists, lets ignore how Rapunzel is placed in the front of the group in a clearly hostile situation, and pretend she’s at the mercy of the patriarchy instead.

In the interest of full disclosure: I really really really loved this movie. I was 20 years old when it came out, so I got my younger sister to go with me to see it (she really wanted to see it too, but sibling rivalry demands bribery) because otherwise I would have just been a really pathetic adult woman, walking into a movie theater alone on a Saturday afternoon to see a Disney movie.

This also could have looked sort of creepy.

So away we went to the theater and I had to shuffle around my list of top 5 favorite Disney films so Tangled could fit.

Unfortunately, not everyone felt that way.

I feel like I’m beating a dead horse (with a frying pan?) at this point, but the biggest issue that feminists have is that they read too much into every little thing! They forget that the movies target audience is, generally speaking, children. Children who generally don’t read “euphemism for loss of virginity” into the change of Rapunzel’s hair from blonde to brown at the end.

Quite frankly the idea that the writer’s of Tangled were sitting around a table, smoking cigars and drinking brandy, while they thought up clever ways to make a Tangled be euphemistically misogynistic is pitifully laughable.

When it comes right down to it, feminists have become a parody of themselves. They’re complaints have to shift constantly.

“Snow White just cleaned up for dwarves and couldn’t take care of herself” changes to “they made Rapunzel use a frying pan as a weapon and she really only was heroic because she was cleaning up the actions of a stupid man, which is the same thing as cleaning and cooking for dwarves”. They just shift the goalposts to give themselves something to whine about.

289337445_640They even manage to find misogynist concepts hidden in the concept that a woman whose never seen the outside world before (and has been emotionally manipulated into believe it’s a terrifying place…by a woman. I thought it was men that wanted women locked up at home) needs a guide to show her the world.

Yes, it would be much more feminist to just throw her to the wolves and let her figure things out all by herself. Yup, definitely.

Let’s ignore the part where she all but had to water board Flynn to force him to take her on that little journey. Rapunzel knows exactly how to get what she wants in life.

Also, apparently feminists are admitting to be virulently shallow and incapable of looking past the physical features of Rapunzel. ‘She’s too skinny, she’s too blonde, why is Mother Gothel the one with dark hair!‘* This one is my favorite:

“As a Black woman, I know all to well how complicated the issue of hair can be.  Looking at the above image [of Tangled’s Rapunzel], I found that I could not see beyond her long blond hair and blue eyes.  I believe that this will also become the focal point of many girls of colour.  The standard of long flowing blond hair as the epitome of femininity necessarily excludes and challenges the idea that WOC are feminine, desired, and some cases loved and therefore, while Disney is creating an image of Rapunzel that we are accustomed to, her rebirth in a modern day context is problematic, because her body represents the celebration of White femininity.”

Womanist Musings

I thought we were supposed to be teaching our children to judge people by their character and actions, not the color of their skin (or the color of their hair). Very progressive of you feminists.

Maybe instead of worrying that your child (children are far better at seeing content of character than you are apparently) is going to be distraught at not having every movie featuring a hero of their race (if that’s how it’s going to be, everyone of every race is going to pissed off at some movie, sometime) maybe you could focus on discussing the positive aspects of the character? Or would that just cramp your style of hunting for some negative point to twist into a sign that all the men who work at Disney are racist sexists?

“Rapunzel uses a frying pan as a weapon”: Your problem is that a frying pan is a cooking utensil and therefore sexist if a woman is holding it. Now you can look at it that way or you can realize that she was using the nearest object that she could to defend herself (Jackie Chan does that all the time in movies, it’s hilarious) and that’s something that can be a good lesson for a child of either gender: self-defense is a good thing.

“Rapunzel helps the man of the story clean up his messes”: She has more common sense and more bravery than he does, right up until the end when he tries to sacrifice his life to save her.

FYI, she still saves his life. She and Flynn sort of trade life saving there at the end (and throughout most of the movie, hello “I have magic hair that glows when I sing” scene) when Flynn gets her kidnapper out of her hair, literally, and she finds that she still has some power left (it wasn’t all in her hair guys).

Tangled-rapunzel-and-flynn-22334984-500-288

Interesting point, there are 3 full on kisses in this film…every last one of them is initiated and controlled by Rapunzel.

“She does chores!”: So do most children who live at home. She also reads, plays darts, does astronomy, and is endlessly creative. All without needing a TV to keep her entertained, talk about a good role model for kids.

Maybe look at this as a story about leaving the nest and following your dreams and learning to cope and fend for yourself (because if you were watching the same movie as me, Rapunzel was much better at taking care of herself than Flynn) and finding out that your parents may not always know best and sometimes you need to make decisions for yourself.

I have to ask, what would make you feminists happy finally? Is there any Disney Princess film that you couldn’t find a way to complain about?

Honestly I don’t think so, you would just move the goal posts further and complain even louder.

Could you please stop trying to ruin everyone else’s childhoods though?

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*Simple explanation, color is a strongly symbolic concept in fiction. Sure we could through out generations of associations we have with different colors, but why?

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17 Comments

  1. I loved this one, too! I was a bit older than you when it came out, and didn’t see it till a year or so ago, when Netflix started streaming it, but I love what they did with it. They empowered the heck out of her! She was little more than a plot device in the original fairy tale — and her “golden hair” was an integral part of it, so they actually stayed true to that. It’s interesting that the color of her hair is such a big deal, especially since there hasn’t been a Disney princess with blonde hair in decades.

    Did that “Womanist Musings” (HILARIOUS that “womanist” auto corrected to “womanizer”) have anything to say about Tiana of “The Princess and the Frog”?

  2. Great article (some of the complaints “feminists” have again Disney are quite ridiculous and severely misguided), but I would just like to say that grouping all feminists together into this mindless Disney-bashing group is rather problematic and slightly taints this article’s otherwise professional and well-balanced voice and argument. That’s like grouping all theists into the crazy gay-hating, transphobic, anti-Harry Potter (it’s selling satanism to kids!), Westboro Baptist Church sector of religion–it’s not representative of what all feminists might believe. Instead of directing it towards all feminists (or pretending like feminists are the only people that find these problems, oddly enough, I’ve seen plenty of the same complaints mentioned in this article from the overly-conservative crowd, like the type of aforementioned theists who think Rapunzel giving Flynn the crown is promoting pre-marital sex and is therefore satanic), this should address the fact that some people have misinformed opinions about gender, strength, and sexuality that they have formed through the scope of “feminism” or “theism” that they have failed to fully consider and reveal a lack of deep and true analysis of the film’s content. It’s not “feminists” that have a problem with this film, it’s a certain sector of extreme people that like to twist all media to fit their agenda, which happens on both sides of the scale (like I said, I’ve seen plenty of complaints from theists about how Tangled is a severe danger to the purity and obedience of young girls) without actually thinking about the film’s content (or the time period it was created in or the message it’s trying to convey). I’m sorry if all the encounters you’ve had with “feminists” (or misandrists masquerading as feminists) have reflected this extreme way of thinking, but even if that’s all you’ve encountered, it’s probably best to direct the complaints directly at this way of thinking instead of a group that may or may not have wide and diverse opinions on a certain work. Just a little nitpick I had with article. But, like I said, great points. I liked Tangled, though I wasn’t fond of most of its dialogue or jokes, its story is fantastic and its animation is absolutely gorgeous. It’s great to see the Walt Disney Animation Studios getting back on the horse and producing some high-quality films.

    • In my experience this brand of feminism is far more prevalent, but even then the name of these series is mostly tongue in cheek.

      The title will remain the same, even when I move on to other topic other than Disney. I’m not PC enough to write a disclaimer for every title and stereotypical comment I make.

  3. Pingback: In Defense of Disney Princesses: A Series | Damn Straight Politics

  4. Thank you for this series, there is no right or wrong way to be a girl/woman and I am sick of feminists saying that unless I’m horrified by this or that I’m a helpless damsel who’s incapable of being self sufficient. There are so many good morals to learn from these princesses. Most parents just want these movies as babysitters instead of things to talk about their kids with and teach them about all of the good qualities these princesses have and how it’s important to be kind and courageous and follow your dreams.. For all of the parents pride about, “oh my children’s different my kid doesn’t think she’s a princess”, well you obviously don’t think she’s very smart either, that she can’t figure this stuff out for herself. Kids have plenty of time to grow up, especially in today’s society, does it really hurt to let them dream? I say this as someone who never heard this growing up, and I actually think it instills kids with pride to hear their parents say, “you can be anything you wanna be” or “chase your dreams, I know you can do it!”

  5. I also think that the deal with the frying pan is a little bit exaggerated (if you haven’t take that out of the context, i’ve not read the criticism) but overall Feminists are right. Sorry but you’re not understanding deeply what they mean.

    They have way tried hard to find sexist features in this film because i’ve seen it and overall it seems to me rather inoffensive. But the fact is that Disney industry continues to launch stories with female heroins that can just get her happy-ending when finding a man. I know what you will say: but if she just wanted to find love? Well, Rapunzel’s main goal was suppossed to be finding her parents but of course for the scriptwriters/screenwriters this was not strong enough for a happy ending. My point is arguable, but the thing is that feminists consider that the realization of a woman should not be link anymore to find love in cultural industries which constantly create and renovate the social imagery.

    An example: DIsney male heros:
    MILO in ATLANTIS: Yes, he finds love with the native girl, but his character-realization centers in obviously, the discovery of Atlantis.
    JIM in TREASURE PLANET: No, he doesn’t find a girl. His character realization depends on being a military cadet, which he achieves at the end of the movie. That’s his happy ending.

    SO, Disney animated films with male characters as the main roles, project their realization in adventures, and trips and combat of strange forces. etc.
    YES, current Disney animated films with female characters as main roles project their realization also with adventures and trips, BUT THE FILM AND THE SCREENPLAY IS NOT COMPLETE UNTIL THEY FIND LOVE.
    Why is that? Why is it only acceptable and secure-to-proffit when they find a man?
    I think Disney industry should exhaust this model of “strong and self-sufficient heroin that gets what he wants but the story is not complete until she gets a man”. It’s a complete OXYMORON.
    AND PLEASE DO NOT TALK ABOUT DISNEY PRINCESSES AS IF THEY WERE REAL PEOPLE: “Oh yes, but I’m sure that if Finn would’nt have there, Rapunzel would still be happy and entirely complete with the love of his parents” No, people. Think, strive. We’re talking about of the plot system of Disney and the hegemonic models that their screenwriters still use.

    • I can easily name a number of Disney films where the happiness of the female character was not dependent upon finding love with a male, but let’s just talk about your issues with my discussion of Tangled.
      Rapunzel’s main goal was NEVER to find her real parents. It wasn’t until the last 5 minutes of the film that she even realized her mother was not her real mother. Rapunzel’s goal (her dream) was to leave her tower (she accomplishes this) and see the floating lanterns (also accomplished). As she says in the movie however, she talks about her fear of what she will do once her dream is accomplished and Eugene tells her that she can find a new dream. It isn’t until she has accomplished her main goals and dreams that she realized her next goal was to fall in love. No different from the version of events you lay out in Atlantis. Her self-realization comes from experiencing the world and finding it was different from the world her mother had told her about and, therefore, realizing that her mother was not always right. Which gives her the maturity and knowledge to realize she’s the lost princess.
      As for your comments that all Disney current animated films require love to complete a story (love with a male specifically) I reject your premise, especially when discussing many of the current films. Frozen is almost entirely female driven and love between sisters is the main plot device. Anna falls in love…sort of, but it’s practically a footnote to the story. I’ll list a few others that fall into this area where romantic love is either a barely used footnote in the story or completely not used at all.
      Brave
      Mulan
      Lilo & Stitch
      Alice in Wonderland
      And I’m sure a few others I’m not thinking of at the moment.

      • I would say Wreck-it Ralph. The love story exists between the side characters while the main relationship of the story is a platonic one between Vanellope and Ralph. Vanellope’s goals aren’t romantic love in the slightest, just acceptance for who she truly IS. Not to mention she literally, not figuratively casts off the “princess” label in the end, choosing instead to be herself.

  6. I love your work and how you analyze movies such as theses ones you truly are my inspiration. People believe theses movies are bad without analyzing the true message of the movie and what they teach kids. I am a feminist but I don’t over think theses movies. At the end of the day theses movies will stay innocent in the minds of little kids who watch.

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