Skip to content

Category: Gender Politics

What the world can learn from Disney princesses

Written by Robyn Muir.

The world of Disney and education combined last week when a lesson plan teaching children about sexism and racism within Disney films – specifically those of the Disney Princesses – emerged on a teaching website. The lesson plan mainly focuses on the gender issues that the Disney Princesses present, but also discusses racism within the films as well. And according to Tory MP Phil Davies, teaching children about sexism and racism represented in the media is “politically correct claptrap” rather than a valuable life lesson.

If we were to take the Online Cambridge Dictionary’s definition of ‘politically correct’, then it would be a person who “believes that language and actions that could be offensive to others, especially those relating to sex and race, should be avoided”. This seems like a reasonable belief, which should be passed on to children. Therefore, teaching children about gender issues in Disney Princess films is not ‘claptrap’, its teaching children the way gender is represented through a popular media outlet, and how that can affect the way women and men are represented in society. Lessons like these can teach children respect for others and how to value and promote a diverse society.

The impact of Suffragette

Written by Steven Fielding.

Publicity for the movie Suffragette has not been exactly shy of linking the campaign for women to gain the vote before 1914, which it depicts, with the contemporary campaign for women’s equality more generally. Certainly many of those who have seen the film and have made their opinions known via the social media have described how inspiring they found its representation of a working-class women’s conversion to the cause of women’s suffrage. For some at least the past as dramatised on the screen has resonances for the real present.

But does watching Suffragette change how audiences think about gender equality today?

The impact of the media on attitudes has long been a matter of debate. There have been numerous American studies about how watching TV shows or films with political themes can shape how audiences think. The broad consensus of such work is that if a text’s message echoes opinions already held by viewers it can at least reinforce those opinions: but it can rarely transform an individual’s strongly-held view of the world if it conflicts with it.