Ranking Disney Princesses & Heroines From Least to Most Feminist
Disney has some awesome leading ladies, but how many of them would be considered feminists? Take a look at my ranking below from least to most feminist.
She isn't completely at fault, but she does spend most of her movie asleep. Her entire life she is controlled by other people. Her parents force her to spend her whole life secluded in the forest so she can stay safe. (Talk about overprotective.) And just as in real life, all of the overprotecting didn't work. It's great to protect your daughter, but it's important to let them make mistakes and learn Independence and strength too.
What can I say about the little mermaid? An entitled 16 year old princess decides she she wants to be with an attractive older stranger so badly that she gives up her most precious gift, her voice. She's even told by the sea witch that boys don't like a girl who talks too much, and besides, she can always use “body language,” the witch says as she moves her hips. The implications is guys want a pretty girl who stays quiet and gives them sex. Not cool little mermaid. Not cool.
It probably didn't help that her parents died at a young age and she seemingly was raised by her detached sister, but Anna is not a feminist at all. I remember after the movie Frozen came out people had the nerve to say, “finally a Disney movie where the women don't need men to save them.” I guess everyone got amnesia and forgot about Mulan, Pocahontas, Tiana etc. Anna decides to marry a man the day she meets him simply because he is cute, and he asked her. Turns out that was a terrible decision, go figure. Also even though the true love that saved Anna wasn't Kristoph, it's pretty clear Anna ends up with him in the end. So even though the movie pokes fun at the whole Disney Princesses falling in love in a day, it ends up having her fall in love in two days.
13. Snow White
Snow White doesn't do anything too anti-feminist, but she didn't do anything feminist either. She saves her own life by running away and taking action to save yourself is pretty feminist. However, she spends her time in the forest doing domestic chores in the woods for the 7 dwarfs. It appears as if these men don't know how to cook and clean, but now that a woman is there she can do it, because that is "woman's work". She is tricked into eating a poison apple and is saved by a prince. So, she does save herself at the beginning, but in the end she needs the prince to save her.
The only reason Elsa is more feminist than snow white and Anna is because she is the one to point out that you can't marry someone you just met. She does take her own destiny into her hands by leaving her home… however I think a big misconception about feminists is that they have to be cold and do everything on their own. You don't have to shut everyone out to prove you're strong and independent. She was selfish, and nearly killed all her people by freezing the kingdom. She chose her own pride over asking for help. I believe you can be a feminist and be warm and kind and not cynical and self centered. Elsa is not a good feminist role model, or a good role model of any kind.
Alice is simply a curious girl who follows a rabbit down a bunny hole. What more need I say? She's pretty neutral.
I love Rapunzel for so many reasons. She's optimistic and hopeful and even though she's spent her whole life in a tower she always finds a way to make the best of it. She reads and paints and cleans and is productive. (If I were locked in a tower I'd probably just wallow all day.) She is an amazing, brave person, but not a huge feminist. I mean, she does fall in love with the first man she ever sees. She spends one fun day with him living out her dream and then decides she loves him. Still, when a strange man came into her home she did hit him with a frying pan and tie him up, which is pretty smart. Also, she saves him from the bad guys with her frying pan and magical hair.
Cinderella always seems to get a bad rap. People clump her in with snow white and sleeping beauty, when they say old Disney princesses are always waiting for a prince, but she is so different than those girls. Cinderella saved herself before she ever met her prince. She does every single chore her family throws at her to try and keep her home. She also decides to take matters into her own hands making a dress so she could go to the ball. However, her evil stepsisters try to foil her plan and she does need a little help from her fairy godmother. But, she took the initiative in the first place. It also takes a ton of guts to go to the ball your evil stepmom forbid you from going to, dressed in an incredible dress and dance with the prince all night. But Cinderella isn't afraid of her evil stepmom or her evil stepsisters. She holds her head high and allows the prince to fall in love with the wonderful woman she is. She didn't wait for a prince, she went and got him.
Belle lives in a provincial town, but she doesn't let that stop her from learning about the world. She reads so fast the bookstore can't get books in quick enough for her. She takes care of things around her house and helps her dad with his inventions. But, most importantly, she sees right through Gaston. (The handsome man in town that every girl drools over.) She doesn't want just a pretty face with no substance. I admire her for not being vain, but then she gets major points knocked off for falling in love with her captor. Of course it's probably just Stockholm syndrome and not her fault.
A badass Gypsy who already lives her life in a way that is contrary to societal expectations is pursued by the evil minister of Justice. He tries to arrest Esmeralda, but she escapes. As the the city searches for her, a kind soldier is hurt and Esmeralda saves his life. Yep she saves him. Then a bunch of complicated things happen, but the point is she saves the man-sel in distress.
“The law is wrong! If I do marry, I want it to be for love!” Jasmine says this to her father, the sultan. She is referring to the law that says by the age of 16 the princess must be married to a prince. She fights the patriarchy, which just happens to be ruled by her father. She also escapes the patriarchy by running away to live her life how she would like. She doesn't need Aladdin to tell her how to get around, she can keep up with him as they flee the palace guards. She is also unintimidated by Jaffar and tells him exactly what she thinks of him. Although she does need Aladdin to save her, she is the one who pushed her father to see what's wrong and in the end she succeeds in changing the terrible oppressive law.
Merida is another girl who refused to be told who she'll marry. Very similar to Jasmine, she stands up to her father. The thing that puts her ahead of Jasmine is that she takes action. Instead if begging her father to change the law, she makes her point in front of the whole town. She bravely steps forward, reveals herself and says, “I'm Merida, and I'll be fighting for my own hand!” now that's powerful. Then she backs up her words by beating all if the men in the competition. In the end she convinces her mother and father to change the rules about marriage.
Moana doesn't have to fight for equal rights as a woman because she lives on an island that seems to respect women and men equally. In one of the songs her father says, “the people will need a chief and, there you are!” She is going to lead her people and nobody seems surprised or worried about the fact that the next chief is a girl. She takes her role as a leader seriously, but she also knows that she has to save her people and is brave enough to journey out alone to save them. At one critical moment in the movie when she's all alone she realizes that she doesn't need Maui to save the day because she is strong and she turns to face almost certain death. Talk about one powerful, brave woman. In the end she doesn't destroy her enemy, but rather saves her. She shows compassion and understanding that is rarely shown to a villain in movies like this.
Tiana isn't even thinking about boys in this movie. She's thinking about a goal she set for herself and she's working super hard to achieve it. She sacrifices her personal life to focus in her goals because she has her priorities in order. She also doesn't need prince Naveen to save her. As a frog, she leads the way. While Naveen is busy wishing for his life if luxury, Tiana just wants to get back, so she can get to work again. In the end, Naveen doesn't save Tiana, Tiana saves Naveen from himself.
Pocahontas goes where the wind takes her. She loves the earth and her people. When she meets a stranger who had come to take her land she tries to understand him, rather than attack him. She also tries to help him understand. She ends up being faced with a terrible situation. The man she met is to be executed for something he didn't do and her people plan to go to war. Knowing that war is not a good solution and will only cause more of her people to die she tries to reason with the Chief. When he doesn't listen she literally lies her neck over the neck of the man who is to be executed. She risks her life to try and convince two armies of men to stop their fighting. She says, “Look around you. This is where the path of hatred has brought us.” One woman believed that love could win over hate and ended a war before it began. Also, at the end of the movie John Smith asks Pocahontas to come with him and she chooses to stay with her people. So this Disney Princess doesn't even end up with a man in the end.
You can't get more feminist than Mulan. She was a young woman living in a society that doesn't respect women. She disguises herself as a man and risks her life to fight in the war in place of her frail father. Not only does she join the army, she also refuses to be sent home. Instead of taking an easy out, she works harder and masters all of her training. She goes on to use her quick wit to save all of her men. When she is revealed to be a woman, she is left behind, but she still does not give up. She goes to warn the people that the Huns are coming. She is then reminded that women are not respected, not even enough to be heard. Regardless, she goes on and when the Huns arrive she and her fellow soldiers save the day. In a world where women have no say, one woman fought, not for herself, but to save all of China. Talk about breaking that glass ceiling!
What do you think of the list? Leave a comment on Facebook or Twitter to let us know. If you liked this article, please share!