How Disney influences gender bias and sexual orientation in the media?

Disney influences

Once upon a time, a man named Walt Disney indulged in ways through which fairy tales changed into love stories in ground-breaking ways. Over 80 years, Disney has become a part of millions of families. A firm started by a mouse and a man, Disney has become a leader in the animated movie world. Being a huge part of the entertainment industry, Disney is often surrounded by various criticisms too as the movies influence children through various avenues. As the modern culture changed, so has Disney’s movie. Today, Disney represents gender roles and influences sexual orientation in media through games, toys and clothing besides animated movies.

Sexual orientation and gender bias

Sexual orientation is more about how we refer to a person’s romantic, physical or emotional attraction towards other people. I have seen that many people often confuse sexual orientation with gender identity although they are very different from each other. Sexual orientation comprises three basic elements including sexual identity, sexual attraction and sexual behavior. We can use sexual orientation term to differentiate heterosexual people who are attracted to different-sex people or to identify homosexuals who are attracted to same-sex people. Gender bias, on the other side, is the tendency when we start preferring one gender over the others. It forms a conscious or unconscious bias that takes place when we stereotype another person or a group.

Why Disney?

We have observed that Disney has changed itself a lot and stereotypical roles of females and males have also evolved to a great extent. Throughout history, the role of male and females in Disney’s movies have pictured them differently mirroring them according to cultural perspectives or gender norms in society. Disney is one great example through which we can verify how media is influenced and represents gender bias and sexual orientation views linked with males and females. One of the issues is that the new films of Disney are mostly dominated by men. Apart from female actors, the film offers fewer examples where women are shown powerful, useful, respected or comedic.


Although the story of Cinderella was not based on the typical gender role agenda during the 1950s, pressure came from feminists who supposed that the movie pressurized culture-oriented gender role where women had to indulge in cooking and cleaning. In the movie, we have seen that Cinderella finds various ways to be joyous in the classic house setting like cleaning, baking and washing. She still dreams of a happy life ever after. I believe that Cinderella pictures more like a damsel in distress since it the prince who falls in love with her and save Cinderella. The poor damsel was indeed stuck in her servitude until she could escape it with the help of a prince. The lines of the movie and social views thus pictures that an idealized marriage and being a homemaker are the two most important elements of a happy life.

The Little Mermaid

Influenced by the women’s right movement, the Little mermaid protagonist Ariel can be considered as a great start for girls to see out of the box and create a role model for young women to follow. I think Ariel is the first Disney princess who shows her mid-drift and appears sexy wearing only a bikini made of some seashells. Unlike other Disney movies, Ariel was the first one who sang and danced and talked about her wants and desires different than the others around her. She was curious about nature, liked adventure and would never stop to get what she wanted. Although she was the first one who rebelled and strives for her desires, she too falls back on her ultimate want for a prince in her life. The story gradually centers around her hunt for love and would only be contended if Mermaid got her Prince Eric. Though, we must say that Ariel’s character was a new change in animated movies storytelling style and for women who were idealized differently in previous movies.


Tangled broke more social barriers in media and created a strong female protagonist to break the princess pattern. Like many other Disney princesses, Rapunzel wanted so much from her life than she lived. Rapunzel had a natural sense of adventure which make us love her even more. She desired to leave the tower, but could not push herself until she meets Flynn Rider. She knew that he was the only chance to get her out of the tower that makes her use the thief to explore the outside world. But then, like other classic fairy tales, she decides to leave the tower because a male helped her. Flynn Rider is a macho man, the first man ever Rapunzel ever met in her life. However, the story takes a U-turn when Rapunzel saves her macho man with heroic deeds and using her girl power. We can say that Rapunzel is also a damsel in distress but makes a turnaround with one of the characters that is more ambitious and rebellious to get what she wants.

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