Disney's princess movies don't have the best rep when it comes to their portrayal of women. From the design of their tiny, frail bodies to the repeated offense of damsel in distress, it's almost impossible to argue against outright sexism.
Recent installments like Brave and Frozen have brought forth a more feminist-leaning attitude, and even The Little Mermaid was considered a step forward—The New York Times labeled Ariel as “a spunky daredevil" in its review—in comparison to the original three princess films. However, The Washington Post published the findings of a recent study by linguists Carmen Fought and Karen Eisenhauer examining the distribution of dialogue between men and women in each of the princess films, and, unsurprisingly, it's the men who do most of the talking.Oddly enough, Snow White, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty are either split or contain more dialogue for women, coming in at 50 percent, 60 percent, and 71 percent, respectively. The "renaissance" era does not fair nearly as well, ranging from 10 percent (Aladdin) to 32 percent (The Little Mermaid) in terms of female speaking time. Even Frozen falls short with 59 percent of the lines going to males. Fought and Eisenhauer argue that this trend is partly due to the lack of female characters present in these films outside of the leading heroine.
“There's one isolated princess trying to get someone to marry her, but there are no women doing any other things,” Fought says. “There are no women leading the townspeople to go against the Beast, no women bonding in the tavern together singing drinking songs, women giving each other directions, or women inventing things. Everybody who’s doing anything else, other than finding a husband in the movie, pretty much, is a male.”
To read more, head over to The Washington Post.
Feature image via Flickr