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).