Gender Role Portrayals in Disney Animated Films

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Gender Role Portrayals in Disney Animated Films


Disney is one of the largest corporations in the world, known for entertaining and having a dominant role in children’s media for over 60 years and counting (Towbin, Haddock, Zimmerman, Lund & Tanner, 2003). The purpose of this study is to analyze Disney animated films according to gender roles and gender role portrayals. Research shows that Disney animated films have highly portrayed traditionally feminine and masculine characteristics (England, Descartes and Meek, 2011). The focus of this paper is to discuss the stereotypical representation of gender role portrayal between the men and women in Disney animated films. Scholars have suggested that in Disney animated films women are portrayed as being domestic, nurturing, wanting to marry, helpless and in need of protection (Towbin, Haddock, Zimmerman, Lund & Tanner, 2003). However, men are portrayed as having a non- domestic job, use physical anger as a mean to express emotion, are naturally physically strong and are very heroic (Towbin, Haddock, Zimmerman, Lund & Tanner, 2003). My first hypothesis is whether in Disney animated films, men are playing traditional roles and women are playing traditional roles. My third second is whether stereotypical gender role portrayal in Disney animated films will become less traditionally characterized as society progressed to let go of traditional gender roles.

Literature Review

Women in Disney Films

Constant traditional themes seem to surface regarding women in various Disney animated films. A current study completed by Towbin et al. (2003) concerning a thematic analysis of gender roles in Disney featured animated films found similar themes. She found that four themes emer...

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...Descartes, L., & Collier-Meek, M. (2011). Gender Role Portrayal and the Disney

Princesses. Sex Roles, 64(7/8), 555-567. doi:10.1007/s11199-011-9930-7

Smith, S. (2010). Assessing Gender-Related Portrayals in Top-Grossing G-Rated Films. Sex

Roles, 62(11/12), 774. doi:10.1007/s11199-009-9736-z

David, D. (2006). Good Girls and Wicked Witches: Women in Disney’s Feature Animation Eastleigh, United Kingdon

Dundes, L. (2001). Disney’s modern heroine Pocahontas: Revealing age-old gender stereotypes and role discontinuity under a façade of liberation.

Towbin, M. A., Haddock, S. A., Zimmerman, T. S., Lund, L. K., & Tanner, L. R. (2003) Images

of gender, race, age, and sexual orientation in Disney feature-length animated films.

Wiserma, B. A., (2001). The gendered world of Disney: A content analysis of gendered themes in full length animated Disney featured films.
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