Essay on Sexuality: Sleeping Beauty and Unrealistic Relationship Expectations

Submitted By Ashley-Lauren
Words: 1560
Pages: 7

Ashley Runyan
Childrens Lit
Mon & Wed 5-6:15
May 1, 2013

Disney and Sexuality Disney is a franchise geared toward the youth of the world. They tell amazing stories of adventure, bravery and romance, but is Disney over sexual with their heroines. If you are an evil character you will be described as; ugly, mean, and scary, but if you are a prince or princess you are, beautiful, submissive, sexual, and most of the time quiet. Disney floods their young and impressionable audience with the reification of sexuality through an enchanted depiction of hegemonic masculinity, emphasized femininity and unrealistic relationship expectations.
Sleeping Beauty was made in 1959. Sexuality was just starting to become less of a taboo in the real world but not for Disney. Aurora demonstrates what a submissive princess is like unlike her prince. Prince Phillip is one word – aggressive! He is one Disney prince who struck audiences as the most sexually forward and advancing Phillip takes the cake no question. Had Sleeping Beauty not been a movie for families, there wouldn’t be a doubt that his interest in the beautiful peasant girl Briar Rose would simply based in carnal lust rather than any substantial emotion. He is a man that doesn’t take no for an answer, often grabbing at Briar Rose or blocking her path when she attempts to flee. And he’s not just aggressive with the princess but with everyone around him. He treats his father with mocking disregard, knowing full well that his desire to marry the pretty peasant girl would cause enormous strife between his father and Aurora’s. But, in fact, it is this very same eager aggression that makes him so potent a hero. He faces Maleficent without a second thought because he is so confident and self-assured. His overt behavior coupled with his confidence really does ooze sexual potency. He is masculine to his very core, assertive and clearly a man’s-man.
Aurora, on the other hand, is rather interesting in her mixed signals. She flees initially, embraces him, flees again, and yet invites him into her cottage. It should also be noted the stark contrast between her reaction to the arranged marriage problem in comparison to Phillip’s. Phillip is domineering masculinity with a “Like I care what you think” attitude towards his supposed authority figure. Aurora, on the other hand, immediately melts into a weepy pile of tears of despair but never goes against the three fairies, which are her authority figures. Aurora is submissive. She shows no domineering tendencies making it easy for Phillip to take the young princess for his own prize. Phillip obviously views Aurora as his possession and thus his responsibility. After all he is a man’s man and a woman once claimed needs to be taken care of! Aurora is interesting in that she immediately forms an intense emotional attachment to the man she met in the forest. So much so that she collapses into a weeping pile upon learning of her arranged marriage. And her tears were for her inability to be with the man she “loved” rather than the fact that her ability to choose was being taken away. She is thus in essence much more willing to submit to Phillip’s aggressive behavior as she has created the idea of needing him. Sleeping Beauty shows that in order to get a prince, a prospect needs to be beautiful, and submissive to her prince.
The Little Mermaid, being made in 1989, shows that women are now more assertive with what they want than that of Aurora. Not to say Ariel is about to club Eric over the head and drag him into her sea-cave, but that the female party is the far more sexually advancing one. Ariel is sixteen and of a very romantic mind so initial infatuation blooms in to full-blown limerence or in her mind, love. It should also be noted that her decision to pursue this is perhaps not entirely noble romantic. There is a strong feeling of spite towards her father, the common teenage “I’ll show you!” sort of attitude. Once up on land Ariel is thrown into