Most and Least Favorite Disney Heroines, From a Feminist Perspective

10 Mar

I cannot remember a time that I didn’t identify as a feminist. Now, mind you, I grew up in the 1970s in Marin County, California, an epicenter of cultural revolution. I was raised on Free to Be You and Me, didn’t see any reason why I shouldn’t join the co-ed youth soccer league (which was inexplicably almost exclusively male), and fought back hard when, after moving to New England at 14, my guidance counselor told me that I shouldn’t take electric shop class (a choice which seemed to transcend both gender and class barriers).

The word “feminist” hadn’t yet been so strongly stigmatized, or at least not in the corners where I ran. We believed in equal pay for equal work. That girls could play baseball, that boys could learn to bake. Nobody told me I couldn’t play with Hot Wheels. All these things feel rather ordinary . . . but in retrospect, it was revolutionary.

So of course it’s only natural that when I look at the world, Disney and otherwise, I experience it all through feminist-colored glasses. And as it turns out, Disney heroines (including but not limited to princesses) are a rather fertile ground for discussion. In a couple recent MouseGuest weekly podcasts, my BFF Lisa, my 11-year-old son the Wachamacallit, and I discuss our most and least favorite Disney heroines, from a feminist perspective. We don’t always agree, by any means! But I think some of our comments might be surprising, and hopefully thought-provoking.

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