Archives for : elsa

On “Strong Modern Women”

You damn well better believe we can, bitch.

You damn well better believe we can, bitch.

So there have been more than a few posts on Tumblr of Frozen fans saying that Frozen is one of the following:

-“The first Disney movie to prove that women can save men”

-“The first Disney movie about a relationship between siblings”

-“The first Disney movie with a modern message about women”

-“The first Disney movie that isn’t all about the love story”

Today, dear readers, I’m going to introduce you to Cranky Old Grandma Kyo because she has some things to say about this startling phenomenon in the Frozen fandom.

That is pure frozen bullshit.

There. I said it.

Look, I’m only 25 years old (OneRepublic says, “Old, but I’m not that old; young, but I’m not that bold…”) and I can disprove every single one of those statements up there and explain in full detail why they are false. Disney films aren’t always about Boy Meets Girl and Boy Saves Girl. Far from it. These whippersnappers need a quick history lesson, and then to understand that this “strong modern women” myth needs to be put to bed immediately.

Myth #1: “Frozen is the first Disney movie to prove that women can save men.”

Ahem. Let’s recap:

-Ariel saved Eric (The Little Mermaid, 1989)

-Belle saved the Beast (Beauty and the Beast, 1991)

-Pocahontas saved John Smith (Pocahontas, 1995)

-Esmerelda saved Quasimodo (The Hunchback of Notre Dame, 1996)

-Meg saved Hercules (Hercules, 1997)

-Mulan saved Shang and ALL OF CHINA (Mulan, 1998)

-Kida saved Milo and ALL OF ATLANTIS (Atlantis: The Lost Empire, 2001)

-Tiana saved Naveen (Princess and the Frog, 2009)

-Rapunzel saved Eugene (Tangled, 2010)

There. An entire list, and the most recent of which was not even a whole four years ago. What in the hell brought this argument to life? I’m glad that people enjoyed Frozen, I really am, but it is in no way the “first” to do jack-diddly-squat for women in the Disney franchise. Women in the Disney movies have been saving their boyfriends’ collective handsome butts since 1989, and that’s only counting women who have saved their love interests, not women who have saved someone metaphorically (ex. Sleeping Beauty gave the Prince the courage and will to defeat Maleficent). I’m not trying to discredit anything that Elsa and Anna did in Frozen. I’m simply saying they aren’t the first to do it, and no one should ever short change the beautiful kick ass ladies who came in front of them paving the way. These women were shining examples of bravery, fortitude, strength, poise, and realism.

For instance, remember Mulan? She was a shy, bumbling girl who was terrified of herself and wanted to save her father. She dug deep and she found the will to face an entire army of men who could have her killed if they found out her secret, and she did it out of love for her father. That is powerful. No one can sneeze at that kind of devotion and love. I played the Mulan soundtrack over and over again when I was a young girl because her story spoke to me, especially “Reflection” because it talks about the agony of being unsure of who you truly are beneath. Disney absolutely knocked it out of the park with that song, and with Mulan in general, if you ask me.

Myth #2: “Frozen is the first Disney movie about a relationship between siblings.”

-The Fox and the Hound, 1981 (Shut up, it counts and you know it.)

-The Lion King, 1994

-Lilo and Stitch, 2002

-Brother Bear, 2003

Was Elsa and Anna’s relationship adorable and important? Of course. Was it the first to explore tensions between two siblings that resulted in catastrophe? Hell to the no. I mean, do you remember Scar’s last words to Mufasa? That’s one of the most cold blooded death scenes in cinema history. Scar was so jealous of his brother’s strength and benevolence that he murdered him, lied about it, tried to murder his own nephew, and then led a kingdom into ruin all because of his inferiority complex trying to compensate for something. That is beyond incredible.

However, for argument’s sake, let’s focus on the girls’ side. Lilo & Stitch broke barriers (and hearts, good God, I STILL cry every time Stitch says, “Ohana means family”) with their troubled relationship. Disney is no stranger to orphans, but L & S was the first time they did a modern take on a struggling pair who were down on their luck. Nani’s devotion to her sister was just legendary, but it was also realistic. Anyone with siblings (myself included) can verify that is EXACTLY how they act around each other, and how even when things are at their worst, they still want them to be happy no matter what.  It is a bond that no one can break when it’s true familial love. I like that Anna’s act of true love wasn’t romantic because it was sweet, but it also isn’t the first time someone’s done it. Nani hated to have to give Lilo up for adoption, but she finally accepted it when she thought about Lilo having a better life without her. Or how about Kenai giving up his human life to remain a bear and help raise Koda? Those were the building blocks leading up to Frozen. Without them, would we be standing where we are now?

Myth #3: “Frozen is the first movie with a modern message about women.”

-Snow White is about finding hope in hopeless situations and overcoming adversity with kindness and humility

-Cinderella is about being patient and virtuous

-Alice in Wonderland is about learning to appreciate your situation in comparison to what could be worse

-The Little Mermaid is about dealing with adolescence and wanting to grow as a person

-The Beauty and the Beast is about seeing beyond the skin and finding virtue within

-Aladdin is about realizing the grass is always greener and to instead appreciate what you have instead of what you don’t

-Pocahontas is about maturity of spirit and accepting the differences of others’

-The Hunchback of Notre Dame is about overcoming persecution and racial hatred with love and courage

-Mulan is about fighting gender roles and equalizing the common ground for both men and women

-Tangled is about self-discovery and expanding one’s scope of the world

-Princess and the Frog is about remembering that there is more to life than dreams and that one can miss out accidentally

All of these stories, and those are just the ones with female-centric storylines, have taught us something as children and even more as adults. Any one of those ladies up there has proven their worth by overcoming outrageous obstacles, both physically and metaphorically. However, this is my central argument–the myth of the “modern woman.” I see post after post whining about misogyny and sexism around the world, and yet they all say the same thing, “Men aren’t any better than us! We should just do it to them and see how they feel!” or any other variation talking down to all men as if every one of them is the same as the bastards who keep spouting ignorance about women. Fire and fire don’t put out the fire. I argue that there is no “modern woman” because women have always been beautiful, strong, smart, fierce, independent, layered creatures. Yes, there are previous time periods where women weren’t portrayed as we wished to see them in cinema and television, but Frozen is just a tiny droplet in an ocean of wonderful films about female perseverance. Again, I’m not trying to diminish it, but people need to understand that the early Disney films are not as archaic as they think.

For instance, I am a black female. We didn’t get a black princess until 2009, but guess what? I wasn’t up in arms about it. Why? Because there have been Disney women of color portrayed in a flattering light for years. I’ve mentioned before that my all time favorite Disney gal isn’t even a Disney princess–it’s Esmeralda. I adore her. I remember being a kid and seeing this dark skinned goddess not only bewitching the handsome captain of the guard and helping him realize he was working for the scum of the earth, but she also showed infinite kindness to a poor lost man, and she kicked the crap out of a bunch of stupid guards, and she sang beautifully asking for the deliverance of her people, and she inspired a revolution to end racial hatred in a city run by a corrupt, lustful bastard. That is the legacy Disney has built, and that is what I want to bring attention to.

Women have always been what some people are only seeing them now as. If you think Frozen is the first time you’ve seen that woman, you need to watch more movies, mate. I’m not saying all women have been fully represented by Disney because that’s not true, but they have introduced us to that great lady several times. Elsa and Anna will be inducted into an already bursting club of awesome girls who sing and dance and read and fight and love and hate. Frozen is a good movie, and we will love Elsa and Anna as much as we’ve loved the women who have come before them, and that’s how it should be. We shouldn’t be putting any of them on pedestals. It’s the wave, not the water droplets, that move mountains.

Myth #4: “Frozen is the first Disney movie that isn’t all about the love story.”

-Cinderella (Seriously, the Prince had like two lines, we all know it’s not about him.)

-Alice in Wonderland



-Treasure Planet

-The Lion King

-The Emperor’s New Groove

-Atlantis: The Lost Empire

-Lilo and Stitch

-Brother Bear


-Wreck It Ralph

Disney stories are famous for adorable and majestic love stories, but that’s not all they are about. It’s not just because some boys find love stories icky. It’s because life isn’t all about love and dating. Neither are women. This is also why I think the “strong modern woman” term needs to be ditched. Every woman is different. Some women need to have  a boyfriend/girlfriend at all times. Some women need a man/woman like the Hulk needs Loki. Some women are in between, fine with one and fine without one. Some women are outspoken and bold. Some women are meek and quiet. All of them are awesome. All of them are strong, just in different ways, and they have been that way in Disney movies for ages. Maybe they didn’t do it with the flair that Elsa did it in “Let It Go” (although I am awfully partial to Ursula’s “Poor Unfortunate Souls” for a bad girl getting down like nobody’s business), but they did it nonetheless. These fictional women have proven over and over again that women are multifaceted and to be feared, loved, and respected as characters. If we want stupid men to see us as equals, we need to draw from all parts of the argument, not just the shiny new one that people favor. I’m not saying I’m perfectly well adjusted as a human being (I mean, for Odin’s sake, I’m a novelist, we’re all nuts), but Disney gave me one of the best childhoods ever because of this fantastic spectrum of women who were all different, and yet inspiring. I never felt alone when I watched their films because I saw all the pieces that make up our fair gender. I think those pieces shouldn’t be pushed aside or swept under the rug. And I think I’m not the only one, so that’s why I wrote this post.

Frozen is great. No bones about it. But please, don’t forget the hundreds of hardworking ladies in the decades before them who made it possible for us to enjoy it. We owe them that.