I Was Right About Female Agency Being Most Important in Films, And Isn’t That Interesting?

I am trying to be objective and “isn’t this interesting?”, but really I’m just going “hahahahaha! I was RIGHT! I thought this thing was true and now here is a study that says it IS!”

Courtesy of People magazine, news about a new study on early childhood development related to Disney Princess culture. 300 pre-schoolers year olds were asked to fill out surveys about blah blah, and then the researchers compared between ones who did watch Disney and ones who didn’t.

https://people.com/parents/study-suggests-disney-princess-culture-doesnt-lead-to-stereotypical-gender-behavior/

Not only was watching Disney Princesses not a BAD thing, it is actually a GOOD thing!!!! For the same reasons I HAVE ALWAYS SAID. They are the protagonist of the story, the set everything in motion, it is all about their needs and desires. Does not matter if it is Cinderella where that need and desire is getting married, or Mulan where it is about going to war. All that matters is seeing a female character at the center of things.

Now, remember my epic genius blog post about Feminist Media Theory? Where I said basically THE EXACT SAME THING??? Ignore if she wears pink or not, or if her happy ending is being married. Look at agency, voice, control over the story of her life. THAT’s what matters. Same thing this study is showing.

Sleeping Beauty (1959) - Movies on Google Play
Sleeping Beauty, easy to say “wah wah, she just slept and waited for a man to rescue her”. Harder to say, “oh look, she and the man had a lengthy interaction during which they fell in love before she fell asleep, and also he only rescued her with the help of her foster mothers/coven”

From the Disney side of things, I am very happy with this FINALLY being recognized. Rich White Western Mothers have been very big for a long time on “oooo, bad Princesses! BAD!” and all about how it teaches a man coming to rescue you and blah blah blah. And my reaction has always been “what movie are you watching????” Disney princess don’t just wait to be rescued! Because that would be BORING!!! They are the hero of the story, they have to be DOING something so we have a movie to watch. It’s the princes who are the dull ones.

Remember SRK’s weird Davos interview where the woman kept trying to attack him and it was just confusing because she didn’t seem to have ever seen one of his movies? She mentioned the same kind of thing, the argument that heroines just stand there and get danced around. But, that’s not true. That’s a lie that people are taught to accept without ever ACTUALLY WATCHING A MOVIE. Most Indian film romances have extremely active heroines. “Active” meaning they do things, they make decisions, they talk back to the hero, lots of stuff happens. And yes, their plot revolves around marriage and traditional gender roles, but their BEHAVIOR does not.

Maine Pyar Kiya: Lesser known facts

If I am a little girl watching Cinderella passive aggressively fight back at the abuse from her family, and lie and run and be brave to escape, I am going to learn that it is okay to put my needs first, that it is okay to do whatever it takes to get out of a bad situation. And if I am a little girl watching DDLJ, I am going to learn that it is okay to lie to my parents when I think they are wrong, to decide what I want to do for my own life, to find a way to go my own way. And to find a partner who will listen to me and respect me for who I am.

In a bigger sense, I find this thing very irritating because it is LAZY. Either actually watch the media products and form an opinion for yourself and defend it, or don’t get into this fight. Get into another fight, like arguing with actual male chauvinists online, instead of beating up less Woke parents. Or go out on the streets, march for something, fight for something, run for office, join a political campaign. Anything besides sitting on the internet repeating other people’s opinions on media products without actually coming up with something new to say for yourself!!!!!!

(Everyone on DCIB is exempt from this. Because you are only here if you are interested in forming your own opinions and being challenged. For instance, you don’t have to fully agree with this post. And that’s GOOD!!! I want people to think for themselves on these issues, and ALL issues!)

16 thoughts on “I Was Right About Female Agency Being Most Important in Films, And Isn’t That Interesting?

  1. So . . . I’m stuck. I want to agree with your post but I don’t want to be like those people who just agree and accept blog post content.

    (WWCD — What would Cinderella do?)

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    • Kaitlyn Jenner did an inspirational speech at my husband’s high school when she was Bruce Jenner, and ever since he and his friends always ask themselves “What would Bruce Jenner do?”.

      But my memory of the Disney Cinderella is that she doesn’t do very much except be nice to mice. I could watch it again.

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  2. Yeah! It doesn’t need a “study” to tell me that Disney movies (and also Barbie movies) have the potential to tell girls to be very active in shaping their life, but it is nice they did one πŸ˜‰ the 11-year-old girl in the family grew up with those stories, books and movies and I can assure that she has a high-developped sense for girl-power πŸ˜€

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  3. My memory of Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty doesn’t include them doing much. They are nice, and follow the instructions of others looking out for them. I could watch it again and look for the agency, but I don’t remember any. But I do remember lots of agency in every other Disney princess movie.

    Passive Agressively Fight Back – may be true but is that really agency? Oh if only I had a little girl to watch it with.

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    • Some very sincere rich white woman on a parenting group my sister is a part of had a whole tyrad (spelling?) about how Tangled is bad for girls. TANGLED!!!!! Creative intelligent brave heroine dealing with relatable mother-daughter issues!

      I would say Passive Aggressively Fight Back is agency, because you have your own opinions and needs and expressing them where you can. A great lesson for little girls living in a patriarchy.

      On Sat, Aug 28, 2021 at 3:26 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • I’m coming up with ideas for how I can bribe my kids to watch the movies with me. Also I would LOVE their opinions. Maybe ice cream, and we can see it on our no screen night…Give me a definition of female agency that a 6 year old can understand. What do I tell him to look for.

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        • “Who do you think is the winner of the plot?” That’s the best I can come up with. “Protagonist” is too complicated, but “winner” kind of gets at “not necessarily your favorite person but the one who does and gets the most”.

          When I was growing up, our Mom did an evil EVIL thing of saying “let’s just watch the first ten minutes and then we can stop if you don’t like it”. And after ten minutes we would be all drawn in and had to know how it ended. EVIL! But maybe your boys are made of sterner stuff and would just tell you to stop it anyway.

          On Sun, Aug 29, 2021 at 6:03 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • Our deal is that they have to watch Cinderella with me and then later this week I’ll take the 6 year old to see the Paw Patrol movie in the theater and the other brothers will watch a new Marvel flick. So I get to see Cinderella, but then I have to see Paw Patrol.

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          • But Paw Patrol is making so much money! It can’t be THAT bad.

            Which Cinderella? Classic animated?

            On Mon, Aug 30, 2021 at 3:15 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  4. Why Tangled would be bad for girls? Maybe those mothers saw themselfs in Mother Gothel?

    Anyway I was thinking a lot about this study but I didn’t comment because I couldn’t find the right english words. I will try my best.
    1. I find this study silly. It’s not like kids live in a void and watch only princesses.
    2. Those movies, even if the protagonist is literally a sleeping Beauty have a plot and kids watch it because it’s interesting. I personally think instagram models culture is much more dangerous for girls now because it sells them just some photoshoped pictures without any story behind.

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    • The study was comparing non-princess kids with princess kids. But maybe it is also the kind of parent who just lets their little girl enjoy what they enjoy instead of policing their taste, means the little girls who are allowed to watch princesses are more confident. If you see what a mean.

      Oh, and here’s a “no duh” bit of the study for you! Little boys who watch movies with female protagonists, princesses or anything else, are more able to relate to little girls. NO DUH!!! Oh, and of course, little boys can enjoy stuff that is “supposed” to be for little girls because it is about girls.

      On Sun, Aug 29, 2021 at 9:34 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • Yes, exactly! And how the people who made this study sure the “no princesses” group really don’t watch those movies? And who banned it? The parents or the women who were doing the study? If the parents I really can imagine what kind of people they are.

        LOL My son loved The Swan Princess when he was 5 or 6. Now he is a little ashamed of it.

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          • And mildly on topic, the six year old used to love unicorns and had a beloved shirt that we let him wear to Mexico and caused a surprising amount of confusion there.

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