Influence Of Gender Identity Development In Disney Films

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rd to gender. A common critique of Erikson’s concepts is that his approach to gender identity development is male orientated and does not reflect the female experience. One of the most respected and well-known gender development theories is Social Learning Theory. Bussey & Bandura’s (1999) Social Learning Theory emphasizes the role of both modeling and direct reinforcement in shaping children’s gender identity. The theory maintains that gender roles and sex-typed behaviours are heavily influenced by social and cultural exposure. Bussey & Bandura (1999) also highlight the importance of parental influence in gender identity development. This approach to development has been more supported through research than that of Frued’s development theory …show more content…
The article named “Is the mouse sensitive? A study of Race, Gender and Social Vulnerability in Disney Animated Films” found that, out of the nineteen most recent and successful Disney move at that time (2001), 63% of the three hundred and thirty-four characters represented were male, and only 28% were female (19% unable to visually categorize into gender) (Faherty, 2001). Wiersma (1999) found similar results after conducting an analysis of Disney films using “physical appearance, personality traits, in-home labor, out of home employment, and societal and familial power” as criteria to code gender. Wiersma’s (1999) indicated high levels of patriarchal constructs of society with stereotypical gender roles. Both Faherty (2001) and Weirsma (1999) yielded similar findings to that of Towbin et al (2003), maintaining that the characters in Disney films display strong levels of stereotypical gender role behaviour.

There have been many studies that analyze the depiction of stereotypical gender roles in Disney films. However, what most studies fail to do is focus on the change in Disney princess behavior over time, instead concentrating on all films as a whole or on older films with outdated representations of modern times (Sims, 2016). The first Disney Animated Feature, Snow-White and the Seven Dwarfs, premiered in 1937 while one of their latest princess films, Moana,
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Sims (2016) argues that since 1937, there have been many changes in the way society expects women to act. History itself over the past seventy-nine years challenges stereotypical gender roles and sex-typed behaviors. Events such as two waves of feminism, women entering the workforce, and abortion and birth control rights separate modern times from that of Snow White’s (Sims, 2016). Similarly, an article by Stover (2014), called Damsels and Heroines: The Conundrum of the Post-Feminist Disney Princess, investigates the changes in stereotypical gender role representations in Disney princess films. Specifically, the first Disney princess film Snow White drew on associations of traditional femininity, indicating the widespread encouragement of these traits within 1930’s culture (Stover, 2014). The same can be said for Cinderella (1950) and Sleeping Beauty (1959), whom serve a similar purpose within their narratives. Conversely, later films such as Frozen (2013) and The Princess and the Frog (2009) come from a time of gender equality and gender roles are presented very differently in comparison previous

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