Cinderella: More Feminist Than You Think
Disney’s new Cinderella is constantly labeled “unfeminist.”
I’m not so sure.
I haven’t seen the film, but based on reviews, it doesn’t sound terribly unfeminist to me.
There is a message in this film — one that may disappoint anyone looking for a new feminist heroine to emerge from the cinders. It’s about kindness and forgiveness and sticking to your values no matter what confronts you.
That’s not feminist?
Cultural feminists value traits that are traditionally associated with women. Why only value traits associated with men, after all?
Kindness is a trait that’s more associated with women. (Surveys show that both men and women think of women as kinder and nicer.) And it’s a humane value at base. I recommend it to everyone.
And sticking to your values is feminist.
Meanwhile, forgiveness is good for general mental health. (Nothing unfeminist about that.) Because if we don’t forgive we end up feeling miserable all the time. Forgiveness helps us more than it helps our so-called “enemies” — who would probably be glad that we are miserable.
Cinderella also wears some glamorous gowns. Cultural feminists say, “Bring on the frills.” Why only value things that are associated with men and masculinity – like boring clothes?
But what about all that lovey-dovey, “love is the main thing” message?
Bell Hooks is a feminist who says that love can redeem us all. She means love of all sorts, including romantic love. The love story can work, symbolically, to represent any kind of love. And for everyone, regardless of gender.
Love is certainly part of the feminist repertoire.
There may be unfeminist aspects to the movie — Cinderella’s waist looks unnaturally thin and she is rescued from her dreary life by a man. But some of the things that are pointed to as unfeminist just aren’t.
If getting married and falling in love were the only option women were offered, that would be unfeminist. And if men were always rescuing women and women never rescued men, that would be unfeminist. But nowadays we do have a variety of messages covering a number of angles on women’s lives. (Although we could use even more!)
A lot of people have one-dimensional, stereotypical views of feminism.
Really, there is so much more.
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