The Changes in Gender Roles Portrayed in Disney Princess Films Over Time

The Changes in Gender Roles Portrayed in Disney Princess Films Over Time

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According to the Kaiser Family Foundation Report (1999), children spend an average of 2.5 to 3 hours on watching television per day. As van der Voort and Walma van der Molen (2000) noted, children learn most readily from visually presented materials, such as videos and films. As a result, mass media has a great influence on children’s development. As noted by Swindler (1986), the contribution of media exposure to the cultivation of children’s values, beliefs, dreams, and expectations cannot be overstated. Additionally, Thompson and Zerbinos (1995) found that children who watched cartoons with more gender stereotyping had similarly gendered expectations for themselves and others. This suggests that media portrayals of stereotypes based on gender may influence children’s gender role acquisition and expression.119
Theoretical Perspectives of Gender Role Portrayal
The constructivist approach and cultivation theory both suggest an effect of viewing gendered stereotypes upon children (Graves, 1999). The constructivist approach posits that children develop beliefs based on their own interpretations of experiences and observations about the world (Martin, Ruble, & Szkrybalo, 2002). Therefore, viewing stereotyped illustration of gender roles will influence children’s ideas and beliefs about gender (Graves, 1999). On the other hand, cultivation theory proposes that exposure to television content exerts an influence on concepts regarding social behaviour and norms (Gerbner, Gross, Morgan, & Signorelli, 1980). Thus, children’s media exposure influences their socialization processes and the gendered materials children view may have an impact on their cognitive understanding of gender and their behaviours (Graves, 1999). Additionally, cultivati...


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...war. In The Princess and the Frog, the princess is career-oriented and strong-willed when she works at different diners in order to raise money to turn an old sugar mill into a restaurant.101
On the other hand, as noted by Towbin et al. (2003), marriage remained highly important for women in Disney Princess films over time. This illustrates the continuous depiction of women’s likelihood of getting married and settling down. In each Princess movie, the princess is romantically linked to a prince and they reach a marriage arrangement (at least implied) with their respective hero in the end except for the princess in Pocahontas. Pocahontas opts to let her lover, John Smith, go back to England while she stays with her tribe to achieve her fulfilment through her dedication to her people. This was argued by Dundes (2001) that Pocahontas follows a stereotypic female script

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