He is four and impressionable. We don’t have access to an outside source of media, except for our radio which isn’t on a lot and my internet that the kids aren’t allowed to use. We use DVDs and VHS as our television expirence. Disney, and movies similar, are constantly on during the winter when the kids are stuck indoors for their own safety. The shelves of the toy’s department is lined with these items as well. Who hasn’t seen a Disney’s Frozen item, whether it is the cereal or the 3 1/2 foot doll? You can’t escape these princesses.
I love that we have strong females for our girls to now model after. Elsa’s declaration of “You can’t marry a man you just met” alongside the sister-love is what makes this movie great. I love Merida in her quest to change their traditions to empower princesses, though I hope my kids never turn me into a bear or feel the need to rebel like that. Even the older ones, like Mulan going to war to save her dad and Jasmin catching Alladin in his lies, all have purposes for showing girls they can be strong.
The problem I have? My four year old is a boy who wants to be a Disney princess. He doesn’t want to be a prince, because the princes are dumb. I can’t blame him. The males in these movies are chauvinistic, lying, and most of the time not very bright. The men are either the bad guys or have a lot of problems in their character.
In Beauty and the Beast the roll models my boys can have are either Gaston, the Beast, or the dad. They don’t really see the other characters as male since they are all objects found in the castle. Gaston is the “bad guy” but also just wants his woman to be meek, pregnant, and ignorant. He cannot read and thinks his woman shouldn’t either. The Beast is turned into who he is by a witch. He turns his nose up to ugly things (which we are constantly reminded at the beginning that Bell is the prettiest thing in the country) and has major anger issues. The dad is a good guy, but he is considered insane for being brilliant. Not good models.
Alladin has a lot of issues as well. Alladin is poor and homeless. He steals, lies his way into the castle, and just generally teaches boys they have to be untrustworthy if they ever want to get their princess. They will be forgiven, though, because that is okay to do to a woman. The “king” is easily controllable and isn’t much of a man. And then we have the bad guy, Jefar, who is evil.
In Cinderella, the prince is a minor character who is needed to save the princess. The problem? He doesn’t even remember what she looks like! She puts on a pretty dress, gets washed up, and dances in glass slippers, but he didn’t look at her face? He rushes around the kingdom to put the shoe on people because he didn’t look at this girl’s face.
I’m not saying that having character flaws is what I am looking for. What I am saying is that give our boys something to strive to be. Also, please market something for them too. I can’t go into a store and grab a “Christof” outfit in the Disney section nor can I get them a 3 1/2 foot reindeer.
When being a princess is better than being one of the males in these movies, well, no wonder my four year old wants to be one!
(This is satire. Please take no offense to it. I came up with this rant as a joke while talking to my grandma about my gender fluid four year old. Disney will always just be Disney and I know TV isn’t raising my kids.)