Damsel in Distress…No More?

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Photo from Mental Floss

Amanda Mourelatos , Associate Editor-in-Chief

You know the story: the villain puts the princess in danger, the dashing prince saves her, and they fall deeply in love. For a while now, Disney has created the stereotype that women are helpless and are always saved by big, strong men. In princess movies, such as Cinderella, Snow White, and The Little Mermaid, all of the women are dependent on a man to help them solve their conflict. Even Tiana in Princess and the Frog, who seems like an independent woman, depends on the prince to help her be human again. However, are the times changing? Newer Disney movies, like Brave, Wreck It Ralph, and Frozen, don’t revolve as much around the ‘damsel in distress’ theme.

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The movies that are shown to children are partly how they are raised. When little girls are shown that they must have a man in their life and cannot do anything on their own, their potential is stripped from them. Females have the same potential as males to be intelligent, powerful, and successful.  However, with this idea that a knight in shining armor has to be there and is better than her or has to do everything for her, these little girls don’t learn who they can be and that they are equivalent to the male species. Nowadays, I’m sure young boys also watch these movies and they could also be wrongly taught of the equivalence between genders. They could think that they are superior to females, but it shouldn’t be this way. Both males and females should be treated as equals and the things kids learn should impose that thought.

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In Brave, Merida has a daring soul and is entirely independent. When her mother turns into a bear, she uses her own skills and resources to change her back before she’s stuck a bear forever. She even rejects all of the guys whom her parents want her to marry. Merida is not presented as a weak character, but even stronger than most guys. Vanellope von Schweetz in Wreck It Ralph is an adorably feisty princess, who actually preferred to be president. Her and Ralph do team up, yet their relationship is not surrounded by love but friendship instead. They work as a team, along with Felix and Sergeant Calhoun, to defeat King Candy. In Frozen, Elsa is a strong woman with incredible powers. She doesn’t have any love interests in the movie at all and works solo to help her sister in time of crisis. The big relationship with her is with Anna, her sister. This film mostly revolves around the sisterly relationship and the importance of family.

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More and more Disney movies are starting to back away from the theme of ‘damsel in distress’ and base the movie off of other sorts of relationships, such as family or friend. Women are starting to be less helpless in the films and more independent and strong willed. I hope to see a movie one day where there are strictly girls working together against men villains to prove that there is no gender dominance in the world, and girls can do whatever they want.