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Rape Culture in Princess and Superhero Stories, Essay Example

Pages: 1

Words: 597

Essay

Introduction

Researchers have carried out extensive studies on the portrayal of rape culture, rape myth, and gender stereotypes on the princess and superhero stories in fairytales. Disney animated princess movies, which have perfected the simulation of these stories, have received the largest share of criticisms for promoting rape culture among its viewers. The producers of the princess and superhero stories movies tend to use these mechanisms to promote rape culture, i.e., sexuality, intimidation, femininity, and coercion. The princess and superhero stories in the animated movies are all based on the classic fairy tales which have existed since time immemorial. Fairy tales play a critical role in shaping children’s belief systems and self-image in their respective societies. These stories convey to the children ideas on courtship, romantic relationships, the ultimate goal of marriage, and romantic relationships (Paulson, 2018). This paper’s primary purpose is to highlight ways through which princess and superhero stories have promoted rape culture among its viewers.

Princess and superhero stories use sexuality and femininity to promote rape culture by conveying to the children the ideas on the male and female gendered bodies. For instance, in most animated stories, the female characters tend to have bare legs, bare stomach and portray perfect cleavages. Female characters often express sexual innuendo based on the tone of voices, movement, gestures, and sexiness to attract the masculine character’s attention. Their male counterparts exhibit muscular bodies (Paulson, 2018).  In essence, the stories aim at teaching the viewers to behave in a certain way based on their gender. The male viewers should inspire fear in others by portraying leadership skills, physical attractiveness, and bravery. They should show the desire to explore by being assertive, physically strong, athletic, independent, and unemotional.

The female viewers should show signs of physical weakness and submissive, express emotions freely, and tend to their physical appearance (Paulson, 2018). Sexuality and feminism express in these stories can easily perpetuate rape culture among the male viewers (Dorsi, 2017). The male viewers can practice the gathered characteristic of wanting to explore by sexually assaulting the females. Females might also become victims of sexual assault by expressing submissive and victim roles, as portrayed in the stories (Hains, 2016).

Most of the male characters in the princess and superhero stories use intimidation and coercion to express their dominance and superiority over their female counterparts. These stories portray males as dominant characters who have authority over their male counterparts to maintain the social order. They also associate the females with submissiveness and desire to fulfill the males’ desires. These attributes may facilitate abuse and violence in male-female relationships (Paulson, 2018). The cultural narrative of romance in the fairytales encourages the males to coerce and intimidate the females into becoming submissive to their desires. For instance, town hero Gaston sexually harassed Belle in the story Beauty and the Beast. Jafar, a male character, imprisoned and coerced Jasmine into marrying him in Alladin (Dorsi, 2017). All these stories promote rape culture among the audience.

Conclusion

The characters in the princess and the superhero stories tend to adhere to the patriarchal society expectations. The male characters representing the superheroes must show physical strength and dominance to protect the princess. Female characters representing the females must exhibit submissiveness as gratitude towards males’ protection. These stories tend to promote rape culture through feminism, sexuality, intimidation, and coercion themes.

References

Dorsi, J. (2017). Why These Disney Films May Help Perpetuate Rape Culture. Teen Vogue. Retrieved 27 October 2020, from https://www.teenvogue.com/story/disney-films-rape-culture.

Hains, R. (2016). Why Disney princesses and ‘princess culture’ are bad for girls. The Washington Post. Retrieved 27 October 2020, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2016/06/24/princess-culture-is-bad-for-girls-now-theres-proof/.

Paulson, P. (2018). Rape Culture in Disney Animated Princess Movies.

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