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Mavademics: Dirty Sexy Disney

Once again, I’ve decided to show off how fun my job is by posting some of my dissertation thoughts for comment and feedback from others. Fun, fun, fun! And like if you don’t think basically helping me with my homework is fun, you’re wrong. Because today’s topic is something that you’ve been dying to talk about all of your life and you just didn’t realize it. That’s right, today’s topic is Disney Princesses Fucking! And I’m not talking about fanfic, fanart or porn parodies. I’m not just talking about naughty lingerie fantasy knockoffs and cosplay. I’m not even talking about the pornographic easter eggs traditionally hidden in Disney feature films. I want to know what people think about the actual canon sexuality of the princesses and other Disney characters. See, I told you my job was fun.

Anyway, I’m currently reading The Myth of the American Superhero by John Lawrence and Robert Jewett. In reference to the post I made about superheroes a week or so ago, Lawrence and Jewett mean something entirely different by the term. For the purposes of this conversation, it doesn’t really matter.

The key point that I want to get at is something they conclude about the way sexuality is classically represented in Disney cartoons. Mostly, that it’s not… at least explicitly. They argue that Mickey and Minnie are essentially gender neutral (but for a couple of trivial clothing markers) in depiction and for the most part lead a sexless existence, in concordance with their G-rated nature. Compare the way Mickey and Minnie asexually interact, for instance to the way that Bugs Bunny interacts with Lola or any female rabbit he meets in a Loony Toons episode (or when he gets in drag to seduce Elmer Fudd for instance).

They go on to extend this to other Disney character, basically explaining the explicit innocence of Snow White‘s relationship with the dwarves. When she moves into THEIR house, she takes the bed, and they all get banished to sleeping on the floor in another room.

But then they say something interesting about Bambi. Notably:

“The sexual paradigm in Bambi is virtually identical to that in the Playboy magazine fantasy, where cool males in elegant dress observe far less clothed women in states of sexual desperation. The male is neither the aggressor nor the initiator of sexual relations. He waits to respond obligingly to female sexual ual needs. But in neither male nor female does there seem to be an expression of ego needs. Sexual union is the result of Felice’s sexual void being joined with Bambi’s sense of duty to help those in need. Conflict is thus inconceivable able except when a bad stag slips into the scene. Sexual fears are eliminated, jealousy is rendered obsolete, and passion is permanently out of style.” (Kindle Locations 2393-2397).

There’s more, but the point is, they’re making a case for Disney ANIMAL cartoons promoting an idea where sexual choice is specifically the domain of the female, where as the HUMAN cartoons promote a relatively chaste female existence, focusing on love rather than physicality.

As I’m thinking it through, female animal sexual aggressiveness appears to be case in Lion King as well. I remember Nala being far more sexually aware and desirous of clueless and shy Simba than the other way around.  And, of course, to look at Disney human cartoons, Snow White included, there’s the obvious problematic issue of consent. Namely, several of the films (at least Snow White and Sleeping Beauty) imply that if you find a beautiful teenage girl in a coma, the obvious thing to do is to start making out with her. And I know that in the recent films you have Anna, who specifically is sexually desirous, and Merrida who specifically wants to reject romantic entanglement to be independent.

But I don’t remember the other films well enough to be able to generalize beyond that.

So, i’m looking for both thoughts and examples. Is the the division between animal an human sexuality in Disney cartoons there? Are there examples in the human cartoons where the girls (other than Anna) seem sexually aware? Are any of the human boys ever sexually oblivious? And is it always the reverse for the animal films? Where do anthropomorphic animals fall? While I trivially buy into the idea that Mickey and Minnie have a relatively sexless relationship, as do Donald and Daisy, I feel like this falls apart in some of the other properties. Specifically, in Rescue Rangers, Chip and Dale both seem to behave explicitly lustfully towards Gadget. And I’m also curious if people think this is logical at all. Do you think that all of the Disney characters are sexual? Are none of them? Can you make specific arguments as to why or why not? For instance, I’m not 100% certain I buy into the idea of chastity and asexuality in the human female protagonists at all, so much as a substitution of G-rated romantic signifiers for sex.

So you’re thoughts? All that and I didn’t even get into Lawrence and Jewett’s argument about Disney cartoons’ massive preoccupation with anal sex (yes really)(Kindle Locations 2364-2370).

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140 comments for “Mavademics: Dirty Sexy Disney

  1. avatar
    August 7, 2017 at 12:40 pm

    I mean… don’t Rodger and Jessica shoot this right out of the air? She’s clearly sexually aware…. and I’m not sure he even knew his wife was hot

    • avatar
      August 7, 2017 at 12:41 pm

      Yeah, but I think they’re essentially “special” because they’re not “Disney characters” in the same way as everyone else. They were specifically created to be raunchy and sexual

    • avatar
      August 7, 2017 at 12:47 pm

      Ohhh snap

    • avatar
      August 7, 2017 at 12:48 pm

      I had nothing of substance to add. I just got excited because I like the No True Scotsman fallacy.

    • avatar
      August 7, 2017 at 12:51 pm

      Ed:you think? See, I don’t think so… They’re talking about Disney children’s cartoons. Roger Rabbit isn’t that. It’s an adult focused parody that Disney happened to co-produce.

      So it’s as much a part of Looney Toons as it is Disney. I also wouldn’t count Enchanted, even though Disney did produce it… or… I dunno… Kids (which is very sexual, and was produced by Mirimax under Disney)

    • avatar
      August 8, 2017 at 6:07 pm

      It’s not an accident that it was released as a Touchstone movie rather than a Disney movie and wasn’t marketed to kids.

    • avatar
      August 8, 2017 at 6:07 pm

      It’s not an accident that it was released as a Touchstone movie rather than a Disney movie and wasn’t marketed to kids.

    • avatar
      August 8, 2017 at 6:17 pm

      Exactly, that’s what I was getting at. It’s a movie technically MADE by disney.. (Like the Marvel movies or the recent Star Wars) but I wouldn’t call it a “Disney movie”

    • avatar
      August 8, 2017 at 6:17 pm

      Exactly, that’s what I was getting at. It’s a movie technically MADE by disney.. (Like the Marvel movies or the recent Star Wars) but I wouldn’t call it a “Disney movie”

    • avatar
      August 8, 2017 at 6:20 pm

      What was it rated? Because I remember watching it as a kid.

      And the characters have been a part of Disneyworld. But I guess they are only pleasure island so…

    • avatar
      August 8, 2017 at 6:20 pm

      What was it rated? Because I remember watching it as a kid.

      And the characters have been a part of Disneyworld. But I guess they are only pleasure island so…

    • avatar
      August 8, 2017 at 6:27 pm

      PG. But it was 1988. PG-13 was still new and no one really knew what to do with it, so it was inconsistently used (it only started in 1984). It would almost certainly be PG-13 if released today. Especially since the Ratings board has sort of recalibrated.

      The characters were created for the film and it was produced with a special multi company licensing deal that only really happened because everyone loves Steven Spielberg (same way Ready Player One is going to happen). Thats’ how Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse end up on screen at the same time. IIRC, there were rules in the agreement that were like both companies demanded that their stars have equal screen time to the second.

      It also had parent groups complaining about it because “oh my god, this is so horrible, think of the children” because they didn’t realize it wasn’t supposed to be for children. Your parents probably didn’t care because they weren’t insane, 🙂

  2. avatar
    August 7, 2017 at 1:03 pm

    Jasmine’s interactions with Aladdin (masquerading as Ali) on the balcony seem to indicate a pretty clear awareness of her sexuality (and how to use it). And even if that doesn’t count, she clearly uses her sexuality to distract Jaffa later during the final encounter.

    • avatar
      August 7, 2017 at 1:06 pm

      Hmmm… yes, I’d definitely say both she and Aladdin are sexually aware.

      He clearly has a sexual interest in her based on her beauty and you’re right, she’s certainly aware of the power of her sexuality as a manipulative tool.

  3. avatar
    August 7, 2017 at 1:07 pm

    What is Ariel? Human or animal?

    • avatar
      August 7, 2017 at 1:10 pm

      For the purposes of this discussion, I’d say she’s human. I’m not sure where to place her in terms of sexual awareness though.

      She clearly is “romantically” aware and intentionally pursues love. But I can’t think of any place where she (or Eric) specifically imply any physical desires beyond the notion of the kiss… Unless of course, as I said, you accept the kiss as a signifier of an overall sexual relationship.

      Your thoughts?

    • avatar
      August 8, 2017 at 6:23 pm

      I think ariel certainly knows Eric is sexually attracted to human Ursula. I mean yeah it’s “shell magic” but it’s also that she was able to express she was available while Ariel can’t. Cuz she’s pure

    • avatar
      August 8, 2017 at 6:29 pm

      Hmm… That certainly speaks to awareness.. But then she’s too pure to act on it. Which is textbook (well this textbook) sexual renunciation.

    • avatar
      August 8, 2017 at 6:36 pm

      Yeah, I think that’s a pretty good example for the theory. You can see that Ariel is upset a girl moved in on her man. And yeah… her soul is at stake so there’s that. But girl, all you have to do is kiss him. She knows that. There’s a whole damn song about it. But she won’t

    • avatar
      August 8, 2017 at 6:37 pm

      Good Girls don’t make the first move, Sarah… you don’t want to be a slut, do you?

    • avatar
      August 8, 2017 at 6:39 pm

      Hey, I got a man with my degree from sluts go first university so….

    • avatar
      August 9, 2017 at 7:33 am

      Okay… So I’m all the years since this movie came out, and all the flaws like “why didn’t she write him a note?” I don’t think I ever considered that it might still count if she kissed him instead of the other way around ? Super embarrassed.

    • avatar
      August 9, 2017 at 7:39 am

      i mean…. it’s even simpler. Sebastian can clearly speak English because Eric can hear him when he’s trying to say her name.

      So really instead of wasting time with a musical number why not just be like “yo doofus, she’s under a magical spell that will be broken if you kiss her. Yeah that’s right I’m a talking crab. Let’s get past that. If talking crabs exist then why not give it a shot and just trust me on this whole magical kiss thing”

    • avatar
      August 9, 2017 at 7:42 am

      Or… in typical Disney princess fashion, she could have just faked a coma and then waited for him to molest her.

  4. avatar
    August 7, 2017 at 1:09 pm

    Another obvious one is Peter Pan. While the child-like Peter doesn’t entirely understand, Wendy clearly wants something romantic when she asks for a kiss. And that is basically confirmed by the fact that Tinkerbell immediately gets jealous.

    • avatar
      August 7, 2017 at 1:11 pm

      So you’re implying that Peter, Wendy and Tinkerbell behave like the animal protagonists in Bambi where the females are more sexually aware than the males?

    • avatar
      August 7, 2017 at 1:11 pm

      Heh. Now that you put it that way. Yes.

    • avatar
      August 7, 2017 at 1:14 pm

      So that would imply that the line is not hard between humans and animals.

      Because, yes… I would say Peter is much more akin to someone like Snow White in his sexual development where Wendy is closer to Prince Charming(s).

  5. avatar
    August 7, 2017 at 1:12 pm

    Here is where my memory gets fuzzy. But, I think there were actual prostitutes on the “Island of Sin” (or whatever it was called) in Pinocchio.

    • avatar
      August 7, 2017 at 1:20 pm

      Doing a little research, I can’t find any. The imagery is disturbing and the connotations are VERY disturbing (“They won’t come back as BOYS”), but I don’t see anything directly sexual.

    • avatar
      August 7, 2017 at 1:23 pm

      Hmm…. I hadn’t considered incidental characters at all. I was thinking only in terms of protagonists, antagonists and major supporting characters.

      So I wonder if this places Pinnochio as an asexual character in a sexual world. Or rather a character who has not yet developed sexuality in a sexual world.

      The best mainstream recent comparison I can think of is something I’ve discussed with Laura Valentine on more than one occasion. Harry Potter… specifically around the time of Goblet of Fire (i think). In that book it’s quite clear that many Hogwarts teens are sexually active but not all. Harry and Ron walk by wiggling bushes just after a girl and boy jump behind them presumedly to fuck and the main teens remain blissfully unaware. I also frequently argue that Ginny loses her virginity before Harry or Ron and that Hermoine is clearly sexually interested in Ron long before he knows what’s going on.

      Of course the Harry Potter world is fluid… and they develop as time goes on. Ron almost certainly fucks Lavender during Half-blood Prince… and I personally like to believe that Harry and Hermoine banged at least once while Ron was gone in Deathly Hallows.

    • avatar
      August 7, 2017 at 2:08 pm

      Oh yeah. Also in goblet of fire I know Harry finds two other students (in my memory one is Percy, ron’s older brother but that might be wrong) having sex in the bathroom.

    • avatar
      August 7, 2017 at 2:08 pm

      Oh yeah. Also in goblet of fire I know Harry finds two other students (in my memory one is Percy, ron’s older brother but that might be wrong) having sex in the bathroom.

    • avatar
      August 7, 2017 at 4:44 pm

      There is, however, some definite flirting by all of the girl puppets in Pinocchio’s “I got no strings” song. The one that always sticks with me is “Entrez nous (? between us), I’d _cut_ my strings for you”. Again, though, they’re not exactly real characters.

    • avatar
      August 7, 2017 at 4:46 pm

      Still, that’s definite sexuality that I think they’re not considering. Which again… points to maybe sexual world, asexual hero.

    • avatar
      August 8, 2017 at 7:50 am

      Chris Maverick I think Harry Potter is rather outside the scope here, in that the books are specifically constructed to increase the emotional & mental complexity of the characters as they age. All the prominent child-characters become noticeably more mature, and in many cases that includes advancing sexual maturity and awareness. 12-year-old Harry is aware of Ginny’s crush on him and has no idea how to handle it (and I think many of us can agree that an 11-year-old girl might well be farther through puberty than a boy a year older), 14-year-old Harry is romantically and sexually interested in Cho Chang (and maintains that interest for some time, until their disastrous date when he is 15). The whole setup for the date involves a lot of discussion of student romantic conventions (a particular shop usually used for dates, for example) that Harry was completely unaware of when he was younger. Ron probably would have known, from older siblings. I think the relatively limited POV of the books might contribute to the impression that there’s a certain…I don’t know, asexuality about them, but we’re tied into Harry’s point-of-view most of the time, and Harry’s focus is often on Voldemort rather than on ordinary teenage-boy matters. (He doesn’t understand the focus of Snape’s Worst Memory, for example, at age 15. He doesn’t recognize it as romantic/sexual or even as really involving his mother at all except incidentally.)

    • avatar
      August 8, 2017 at 8:11 am

      Oh…. I totally agree that HP Is different because of the fluid world…. they learn and mature in a way that Disney characters are designed to stay targeted at the younger demographic…

      I was just trying to pick a common enough story that everyone would know as a baseline that WASN’T Disney.

  6. avatar
    August 7, 2017 at 1:16 pm

    I don’t really have any Disney commentary to make, but tangentially, Pepe Le Pew was introduced in 1945 and is certainly and only looking to hook up. For the time that must have been quite radical.

    • avatar
      August 7, 2017 at 1:25 pm

      Definitely… though again that moves over to Looney Toons… Also, it’s probably not as radical as we think it is today… we just sanitized history. There would have been plenty of sexually aware cartoons back in the day from other studios… Most notably Tex Avery’s Red Hot Riding Hood.

  7. avatar
    August 7, 2017 at 1:20 pm

    Then again Georgette clearly knows she’s hot stuff. She’s a poodle

    • avatar
      August 7, 2017 at 1:21 pm

      Dodger’s too cool for that. 😉

    • avatar
      August 7, 2017 at 1:25 pm

      Which cartoon is this?

    • avatar
      August 7, 2017 at 1:26 pm

      Oliver and Company. It was the Disney take on Oliver Twist with a cat as Oliver and Billy Joel voicing Dodger (a dog).

    • avatar
      August 7, 2017 at 1:26 pm

      Ok… I think I’ve only seen it once… a million years ago. So I don’t remember it well.

    • avatar
      August 7, 2017 at 4:45 pm

      If you need a copy, I’m pretty sure I still have one… on VHS, maybe, though 😛

    • avatar
      August 7, 2017 at 4:47 pm

      I am capable of watching VHS (or Laser for that matter). But I might just as easily be able to find a digital download.

      except it’s disney, so maybe not. (fucking vault)

    • avatar
      August 7, 2017 at 4:52 pm

      Oliver and Co. was my FAVORITE as a child. It was released in theaters and I saw it and then it LITERALLY NEVER CAME OUT ON VIDEO UNTIL 2002

    • avatar
      August 7, 2017 at 5:00 pm

      Tito is definitely sexually aware. “If this is torture, chain me to the wall!”

    • avatar
      August 7, 2017 at 5:05 pm

      There’s definitely some of that in Lady and the Tramp as well… I forget the character names, but when Lady is learning about Tramp from the other strays, the female one is obviously interested in him. And the general story gives him the sense of being a “love ’em and leave ’em” type. So maybe that one is more like the human stories… Lady is nonsexual, but the other characters are.

    • avatar
      August 7, 2017 at 5:07 pm

      Yeah, I think Tramp is definitely positioned as a ladies’ man… errrr… bitches’ dog

    • avatar
      August 7, 2017 at 5:24 pm

      Found the context… Haven’t seen it in forever. But, yeah, definitely sexually charged: https://youtu.be/BKLEL_EjoXs

    • avatar
      August 7, 2017 at 5:39 pm

  8. avatar
    August 7, 2017 at 1:25 pm

    Donald and Daisy have far from a sexless relationship. They kiss all the time in the old movies. In fact, the two ducks pretty much woo each other equally.

    • avatar
      August 7, 2017 at 1:32 pm

      so that’s one of the things I was wondering and waiting for someone to bring up. I didn’t want to say it because I didn’t want to influence answers.

      They’re implying that the Mickey and Minnie relationship is mostly chaste, though they do kiss, probably as much as Donald and Daisy. I don’t know that I buy it in either case. I think it’s more that that was Walt’s idea of child-appropriate sexuality. Kissing means relationship and that’s good enough. You can extend it to a physical relationship, but it doesn’t matter to the narrative. But to me, Donald and Daisy SEEM much more sexual as well. Maybe just because they’re far more aggressive and passionate in demeanor than Mickey and Minnie in general. But the actions between both couples ON SCREEN are probably essentially identical.

      But I feel like you can read their scenes as more than that. If we assume that they live in a world where they do mate on occasion (characters have been known to have children… Goofy for instance), you can assume sex occurs. And if we extrapolate their personalities, we might guess what that looks like. You certainly don’t NEED to see Daisy pegging Donald in order to understand that they’re a couple. It’s their private lives (but come on…. you know it was happening!!!)

    • avatar
      August 8, 2017 at 5:40 am

      Goofy has a kid? How out of it am I? Just googled. I do not remember this character.

    • avatar
      August 8, 2017 at 6:10 pm

      It just means you never watched Goof Troop https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goof_Troop or the movies which came afterwards. I did, but then Goody was always my favorite Disney character.

    • avatar
      August 8, 2017 at 6:10 pm

      It just means you never watched Goof Troop https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goof_Troop or the movies which came afterwards. I did, but then Goody was always my favorite Disney character.

    • avatar
      August 8, 2017 at 6:18 pm

      Heh…. I don’t think he missed much by not watching Goof Troop…. to be fair, I don’t remember much about it… but that might speak to its quality.

    • avatar
      August 8, 2017 at 6:18 pm

      Heh…. I don’t think he missed much by not watching Goof Troop…. to be fair, I don’t remember much about it… but that might speak to its quality.

  9. avatar
    August 7, 2017 at 1:58 pm

    I had forgotten L&J’s anal argument. Thanks for bringing that up.

    So to speak.

    • avatar
      August 7, 2017 at 1:59 pm

      It is pretty fascinating. I mean I didn’t go into details here because it’s pretty hard to refute… like everything I can think about it, I’m like “yep… that checks out. “

    • avatar
      August 7, 2017 at 1:59 pm

      It is pretty fascinating. I mean I didn’t go into details here because it’s pretty hard to refute… like everything I can think about it, I’m like “yep… that checks out. “

  10. avatar
    August 7, 2017 at 2:10 pm

    Does the arrival of children (or puppies or horses or…) mean there was boot- (or paw- or hoof-) -knocking and make the characters sexual?

  11. avatar
    August 7, 2017 at 2:10 pm

    Does the arrival of children (or puppies or horses or…) mean there was boot- (or paw- or hoof-) -knocking and make the characters sexual?

  12. avatar
    August 7, 2017 at 2:12 pm

    And… What about Robin Hood? Maid Marion and Robin Hood are both sexual I would think. The fact that they are humans depicted as foxes as opposed to anthropomorphized animals… Where do they count?

    • avatar
      August 7, 2017 at 2:16 pm

      Not sure. That was what made me ask where anthropomorphic animals fit. I thought of that one specifically but I can’t remember it well enough to remember how they behaved with each other.

    • avatar
      August 7, 2017 at 2:19 pm

      see…. Lion king I see as anthropomorphized. They look/ move like animals with human voices and eye expression. Robin Hood I see as human depicted as animals — use of clothing and weaponry and architecture and such.

    • avatar
      August 7, 2017 at 2:23 pm

      Hmmm. I see where you’re going but I see it the other way. Lion king characters walk on four legs, and while visually expressive in human ways, they don’t have human powers beyond animal ones other than speech.

      Robin Hood on the other hand are human animal hybrids which is what I generally mean by anthropomorphic. Goofy is an anthropomorph. Pluto is not.

    • avatar
      August 7, 2017 at 2:27 pm

      cool. Once I know how you categorize, I can better formulate answers to your questions regarding animal vs human vs hybrid vs…

    • avatar
      August 8, 2017 at 12:26 pm

      The Robin Hood example is interesting because there are nosy romantic kids in it, and also Marian’s lady-in-waiting is like Shakespeare’s Nurse from R&J.

    • avatar
      August 8, 2017 at 12:46 pm

      Lady Cluck

    • avatar
      August 8, 2017 at 1:04 pm

      Reuven Goren yeah, her. Who spends half the movie like GET IT, MARIAN

  13. avatar
    August 7, 2017 at 2:15 pm

    Maybe. I mean it actually doesn’t happen often within the depicted narratives. At least to my memory. Or rather not the body of them. Usually it’s either at the beginning or just prior to the story starting (tangled, sleeping beauty, lion king) to establish the family and royalty or implied after the story is over and often between it and the sequel to imply domestic bliss (lady and the tramp, little mermaid 2). So like, it might as well be a stork.

    The only counter example I can think of off the top of my head is 101 dalmatians.

  14. avatar
    August 7, 2017 at 2:29 pm

    The centaurs in Fantasia are definitely sexual.

  15. avatar
    August 7, 2017 at 3:18 pm

    Are you sticking to animated? I may have missed it in your meandering words.
    Everyone knows Mary Poppins and Burt had a history.

    • avatar
      August 7, 2017 at 3:22 pm

      I was thinking about animated but I’m open to all ideas.

      That said. While I get the subtext that Mary and Burt were involved, I don’t recall any hint of actual physical or implied intimate relations between them.

    • avatar
      August 7, 2017 at 3:24 pm

      They do, incidentally have a section on Mary poppins. I was just thinking about the cartoons.

  16. avatar
    August 7, 2017 at 3:42 pm

    Esmeralda and Megara. I mean, both were sorta hookers

    • avatar
      August 7, 2017 at 3:43 pm

      I was just going to mention Esmeralda too

    • avatar
      August 7, 2017 at 3:44 pm

      But do they take any explicit sexual actions on screen I mean? Even subtle ones.

      I’m not sure if I ever watched Hercules. I don’t remember Esmeralda doing it in Hunchback. Though maybe she did. It’s been a long time since I watched it too

    • avatar
      August 7, 2017 at 3:51 pm

      I have a feeling Meg does, although I haven’t seen it in ages either

    • avatar
      August 7, 2017 at 3:51 pm

      you don’t draw hips like that without subtext, though

    • avatar
      September 1, 2017 at 7:28 pm

      Totally random thought about this today (also applies to Jasmine)… None of these curvaceous and possibly sexual women are in _their own_ stories. Those movies are all named for the guy. It’s not her story, so maybe that means she doesn’t have to be as pristine and unsullied.

      Heck, it even applies to the female puppets in Pinocchio 😛

    • avatar
      September 1, 2017 at 7:41 pm

      Yes. That’s a thing. We’ll sort of.

      So Laura Mulvey’s male gaze theory states that in the standard narrative the camera takes on the role of a male viewer (straight male that is… the theory assumes heteronormativity). The female characters then are designed with an aspect of to-be-looked-atness. So in a film specifically targeted towards a male protagonist and viewer this is very pronounced as you’re noticing.

      That said, she also argues that this tends to infect the female focused narrative as well. And as an example, to keep with Disney, I’d offer both little mermaid and frozen. Ariel and Elsa are both explicitly sexual. Elsa gets a little more of a pass because by the time she’s hip swinging and sashaying she’s in full on villain mode (Anna is the actual protagonist) but Ariel is a mermaid after all, which is an intrinsically erotic character.

      That said you’re right in cases like Jasmine, since the narrative is focused on Aladdin it’s definitely easier to define her as specifically sexual and not much else. After all, her primary role in the story is prize to be won.

    • avatar
      September 1, 2017 at 7:41 pm

      Yes. That’s a thing. We’ll sort of.

      So Laura Mulvey’s male gaze theory states that in the standard narrative the camera takes on the role of a male viewer (straight male that is… the theory assumes heteronormativity). The female characters then are designed with an aspect of to-be-looked-atness. So in a film specifically targeted towards a male protagonist and viewer this is very pronounced as you’re noticing.

      That said, she also argues that this tends to infect the female focused narrative as well. And as an example, to keep with Disney, I’d offer both little mermaid and frozen. Ariel and Elsa are both explicitly sexual. Elsa gets a little more of a pass because by the time she’s hip swinging and sashaying she’s in full on villain mode (Anna is the actual protagonist) but Ariel is a mermaid after all, which is an intrinsically erotic character.

      That said you’re right in cases like Jasmine, since the narrative is focused on Aladdin it’s definitely easier to define her as specifically sexual and not much else. After all, her primary role in the story is prize to be won.

  17. avatar
    August 7, 2017 at 3:48 pm

    In Little Mermaid, Ursula emphasizes the importance of body language.

    • avatar
      August 7, 2017 at 4:41 pm

      Hmmm… definitely. I wonder if this returns to my comment about protagonists vs. others in regard to Michael Strauss above… That is, Ursula is certainly sexually aware, but maybe Ariel isn’t and that purity is part of her heroism.

      L&J make a big point about their view of the American Superhero monomyth requiring sexual renunciation… something they often call the Heidi complex. This is a view I don’t share… particularly in the masculine superhero (in the more common reckoning of superhero — you know buff guys in tights punching shit — not the way they are using it), I’d argue that the hero is generally innately sexual. That said, if we assume they’re right, then Ursula’s sexuality vs. Ariel’s lack thereof sort of points to this.

      Of course that presupposes the disney heroine as a prototypical superhero (even if you are assuming this only holds for female superheroes) and I don’t know that I buy that. Maybe in the Silver Age where chastity as a virtue is emblematic of what I tend to call the “kid sister” archetype (Supergirl, Mary Marvel) but not so much in the bronze and modern ages of characters where you get what I call sexpot superheroines (anyone from Starfire to Witchblade to Harlequin). Here I’ll page Nicole Freim who does similar research and has read the book, so she might have thoughts.

    • avatar
      August 7, 2017 at 5:55 pm

      Then I wonder where Flynn Rider falls. He is a hero of the story (roughly equal billing with Rapunzel) and he clearly uses his “smoulder” to charm the women.

    • avatar
      August 7, 2017 at 6:04 pm

      Yeah, I think maybe the more recent films are less “sanctified”. I mean, Anna from Frozen is pretty much horny as hell the whole movie.

    • avatar
      August 8, 2017 at 5:46 am

      Having watched and listened to Frozen too many times this last year, her ‘lust’ is for relationships much more than sex/sexuality… She’s starved for any companionship, though she does hit the typical Disney “need the perfect man”. But that’s done specifically to break stereotype

    • avatar
      August 8, 2017 at 6:52 am

      Well, it’s still a children’s cartoon… she certainly not going to sing “love is an open door…. so are my legs!!!!”

      That said, she has clear overtones of pretty overt heteronormative lust. Even if the root cause is her poor self esteem caused by years of rejection from Elsa, there’s still very much an air to her of “I want to be grown up” and “I can do this through a physical connection with the opposite sex”. Not just the idea that she wants to be married but that it has to happen so fast. She can’t wait. She might as well be singing Paradise by the Dashboard light. BOTH PARTS!!!

      This isn’t just in her relationship with Hans either. She had very direct sexual tension with Kristoff throughout… in fact far earlier than their romantic tension develops.

    • avatar
      August 8, 2017 at 7:18 am

      Thinking of their interactions outside the context of the Disney movie my two < 4 year daughters are watching, I can interpret the Kristoff stuff in that light, sure. Speaking of Frozen, the way that Elsa sashays at the end of Let It Go was brought up as both overtly sexual and over the top for a kids' movie in the last few days

    • avatar
      August 8, 2017 at 8:59 am

      Do you have a link to the article/post where it was brought up? Are do you mean in just a random personal conversation?

    • avatar
      August 8, 2017 at 11:57 am

      Personal conversation with my spouse.

    • avatar
      August 8, 2017 at 11:59 am

      ah… well damn… that’s hard to cite! 🙂

    • avatar
      August 8, 2017 at 12:15 pm

      Michael, write it down quickly, then it’s citeable.

    • avatar
      August 8, 2017 at 12:36 pm

      Michael Podlipsky do you mean her walk here: https://youtu.be/moSFlvxnbgk?t=197

      Because if so [here insert my rant about the extremely strange way a lot of Disney heroines walk almost like the animators have never met a woman]

    • avatar
      August 8, 2017 at 12:43 pm

      I totally agree, Laura!! And the way she runs at the beginning of that song… Ugh.

      For that matter, I’m not sure they’ve met any kids either. Just saw Moana; between her, Anna, and Rapunzel I swear that they’ve decided the best way to convey “young” is “clumsy and socially awkward”. Blech.

    • avatar
      August 8, 2017 at 1:05 pm

      Erin Childs “we need to draw some lions…let’s hire lions to come to the studio and pose”

      “we need to draw a kid…that’s ok, we’ve all seen kids, they’re the short fat clumsy ones”

      (This reminds me, Nani from Lilo & Stitch is one of the very few Disney women who actually walks like she was animated by someone who had seen a human woman before)

    • avatar
      August 8, 2017 at 1:26 pm

      Laura, specifically in the last sentence or 2 as she approaches the dawn on the balcony. As for movement and awkwardness /clumsiness, that’s actually fairly common. I agree it’s not accurate well before kids get to school age.

    • avatar
      August 8, 2017 at 1:31 pm

      So, Michael, the whole song is a transformation of Elsa from being scared to being confident, and they do an okay job of that with the animation. However, I would argue that the male animators couldn’t figure out how to make Elsa look confident without making her look sexy. Which is part of the flaw in how they draw female characters.

    • avatar
      August 8, 2017 at 1:43 pm

      I agree Erin, and I brought that up with R as the song arc when she commented but it didn’t really feel like an explanation… More an excuse

  18. avatar
    August 8, 2017 at 3:21 am

    Thinking about Belle… I’d almost argue that she is asexual but aware. She wants something other than the “provincial”, which includes Gaston who is the epitome of manly sexiness (for some definition there of).

    • avatar
      August 8, 2017 at 5:44 am

      He was really quite good at expectorating.

    • avatar
      August 8, 2017 at 6:38 am

      So why do you say that specifically. I mean, I see no evidence ever way. She’s certainly not sexually attracted to Gaston…. but she might just not like him….

      The reason I haven’t been distinguishing between asexual and sexual ignorance is because I can’t think of a case where we can specifically tell…. and we know that she is romantically interested in Beast by the end, but is there any reason to think that she has specifically sexual awareness even if only to renounce it?

    • avatar
      August 8, 2017 at 6:59 am

      Honestly, I’m probably reading into it, because I’m having trouble finding a concrete explanation.

      Part of it is that she is an active heroine… she’s searching for something more. And that implies to me more self-awareness. I had hopes for Ariel in the same way, until her interest in land-folk turned into pining over a guy.

      Also, I feel like her courtship with the beast has more physical aspects than many of the more traditional ones. There’s more of an acknowledgement of chemistry, “New and a bit alarming” isn’t how a traditional princess would describe falling in romantic love.

    • avatar
      August 8, 2017 at 7:03 am

      Yeah…. I was just reading through the Something There lyrics.

      It’s hard to say…. she’s certainly less naive than say Snow White. But who isn’t. She’s also smart and in a much more modern world having been produced decades later. But I still don’t exactly see the level of awareness that Anna has. I’m trying to think if theres anything I’m missing though.

    • avatar
      August 8, 2017 at 7:24 am

      Maybe there was something in the books she’s always reading. 🙂

    • avatar
      August 8, 2017 at 7:27 am

      I was also a 15 year old girl when I saw it… there may have been some bias in my perspective as a viewer =P

    • avatar
      August 8, 2017 at 7:28 am

      Belle strikes me as kind of asexual. Not oblivious of sexuality just… not very interested.

    • avatar
      August 8, 2017 at 8:49 am

      Hmmm. So I think here what we’re maybe seeing is “asexuality, sexual ignorance, and lack of interest” are indistinguishable without specific actions for context” maybe?

    • avatar
      August 8, 2017 at 12:37 pm

      Belle is definitely contrasted with the specifically and obviously sexual triplets.

    • avatar
      August 8, 2017 at 6:31 pm

      Oh yeah, the triplets would have had their legs over their heads in a second if he asked

    • avatar
      August 8, 2017 at 6:32 pm

      Hmmm…. So I think I’m definitely coming down on the side of even if the hero(ine)s are sexually pure and chaste, the world certainly isn’t. I mean, Gaston all but outright states that his main goal is to fuck Belle… and pretty much because she’s the only girl in town he hasn’t yet.

    • avatar
      August 8, 2017 at 6:37 pm

      That’s absolutely why he’s obsessed with her. Poor belle could have just slept with him and he’d go away

  19. avatar
    August 8, 2017 at 7:43 am

    Look into Goofy and his relationship with Clarabelle Cow. I remember there being certainly some flirting and maybe a “relationship” of sorts on the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse when my kids were little.

    • avatar
      August 8, 2017 at 8:52 am

      That’s one of my problems with their argument. They. Ever define where the specific line is between the sexual and romantic aspect of the relationship. Like I said before… they’re certainly not going to do a scene where the characters are in bed going to town on each other. But I don’t know that the lack of that in the presence of childlike “acceptable” flirtation and courtship necessarily implies chastity or (as they put it) “sexual renunciation”. Except for the presence of specifically hypersexual characters it might just imply stuff we don’t see…

  20. avatar
    August 8, 2017 at 8:18 am

    How about Thomas O’Malley and Duchess from the Aristocats? O’Malley seems like a Jack Kerouac for kids character – he flirts with Duchess, he wanders through the countryside and lives with a bunch of other beat nic, jazzy cats. He agrees to help Duchess after flirting with her only to hesitate when he finds out she has kids.

    • avatar
      August 8, 2017 at 8:54 am

      Haven’t seen that one in ages either. That seems very directly sexual though. And speaks to the presumed unattractiveness of the non-virgin female and/or single mother.

    • avatar
      August 8, 2017 at 9:33 am

      Chris Maverick My read of the situation was that it was more about O’Malley’s fear of commitment than it was about Duchess’s unattractiveness. The idea being that O’Malley was looking for a NSA romp, but the prospect of kids around suddenly made everything less casual — or is that what you mean by unattractiveness?

  21. avatar
    August 8, 2017 at 8:28 am

    Merida is 15 she is acting like a typically 15 year old. Snow White is 14….Elsa i did find out once was the oldest disney princess at 22 I believe. But the disney animals seem to be way more ageless and hooking up more or more crass in nature.

    • avatar
      August 8, 2017 at 8:56 am

      True… but 14/15yo girls have a wide array of sexual awareness depending on the individual. Disney would have you believe that they’re very specifically always on the naive side.

    • avatar
      August 8, 2017 at 9:11 am

      True. Except for maybe Arial. Who so wanted to get it on with the human Prince.

    • avatar
      August 8, 2017 at 9:15 am

      Well did she? That one came up before. She’s attracted but she’s rather passive. And she can’t talk most of the movie. It’s not specifically clear what she wants.

      I’d actually probably argue that you’re right. I thinks she’s sexually aware and desirous but passive rather than aggressive. And since Eric is also kind of passive it creates a problem since he won’t even try to kiss her.

      I expect the alternative argument though is that she’s desirous of the pure emotional connection and marriage and doesn’t care about the physical nature at all. Since she can’t talk for most of their relationship I guess it’s hard to say for sure.

  22. avatar
    August 8, 2017 at 8:37 am

    There’s a reason you don’t get into other properties… like Star Wars, and Captain America, and have you seen the way Ms. Piggy and Kermit interact?!?

    • avatar
      August 8, 2017 at 8:57 am

      I mean I do. My dissertation is more about superheroes. And this book has gone into everything from superheroes to Wild West figures to domestic terrorists to American presidents. I just happened to post about the Disney chapter.

    • avatar
      August 8, 2017 at 9:05 am

      ” I feel like this falls apart in some of the other properties.” So I thought in this particular part of the discussion we weren’t going into properties per se.

    • avatar
      August 8, 2017 at 9:07 am

      Oh. I meant for this post…. not in general. Like I was specifically trying to gather people’s thoughts on Disney.

    • avatar
      August 8, 2017 at 9:59 am

      Exactly

  23. avatar
    August 9, 2017 at 4:31 am

    Supposedly that’s Wally Wood art.

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