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What does the next generation think of today’s issues? The Big Smoke’s Next Gen program publishes Australian students mentored by TBS writers. Today, Giselle Atlas (11) takes umbrage with the media’s push for education against Disney. Let kids be kids.
Student: Giselle Atlas
Mentor: Valerie Buhajiar
Topic: Gender stereotyping kills storytelling for kids (whether boys or girls).
Lately in the “news” there has been word that people have been “offended” by storybooks/fairytales. Now the reason I am writing this article is because nowadays (after I was in kindergarten) people are educating young children against Disney and many other fairytales because of “gender stereotypes”.
I do not feel stereotyped by stories like The Little Mermaid. In a play once I performed the character of Undine (Ariel) in the original story. In this version, she was not saved by a prince, in fact she was saved by her own courage and self-belief; in the end she did not do as she was told and kill the prince. Undine sacrificed herself because she believed that even as a spirit she would always be there with her family, not filled with guilt.
Now I know you are thinking, why is this a good example? Well it’s showing that not every princess was saved by a prince. The fact that children are now taught to find the gender stereotypes in pre-school is absurd. Children should be children!
Can we please stop playing the blame game and cherry picking examples to suit these ridiculous notions? There are many wonderful princesses these alleged experts and childhood-spoilers are forgetting: Mulan, who fought in the war to save her elderly father’s life; and Belle, who tried to teach a young girl to read and was then told she was “mad”.
As well as that, does there have to be a “meaning” behind everything? Let amazing, wonderful and hilarious Disney films be Disney films! It is arguable that children learn gender stereotyping from movies anyway. There are many influences on young kids. I’m not saying that all Disney films don’t have gender stereotyping, but there are not many movies that have princesses who get saved by the prince that come to mind.
Also on The Big Smoke
- TBS Next Gen: Boy or girl – Can You tell?
- TBS Next Gen: Revival of the Great Australian Dream
- TBS Next Gen: Are zoos just prisons?
- TBS Next Gen: Is Trump the perfect example of democracy
The way people act every day impacts what a child thinks is right and what is wrong. Even saying, “It’s alright honey, you stay home with the kids and I’ll work” to a woman, in front of a young child, could make that child think that women don’t work. But the thing is, have you ever heard a character in a Disney film say something like that? I know I haven’t!
Also, Disney has been releasing great films with strong female characters for many years. There’s Fa Mulan, Marie from The Aristocats, Mia Thermopolis from The Princess Diaries, Megara from Hercules, Lottie (and Tiana) from Princess and the Frog and most recently Anna and Elsa from Frozen to name just a small few.
Sometimes we can be entertained and transported back to a simpler time. A time when life had rules and people knew their own place and maybe just for a moment it might seem like a good place, or maybe a scary place, maybe an unequal or dare I say a discriminatory place. But in the end surely it is just fantasy, and like my Dad used to say, “Just because the coyote survives a 2-tonne anvil falling on his head doesn’t mean you will” – to which I will always say, “Well duh, Daddy. As if!!!??” I guess what I’m trying to say is, for heaven’s sake give kids some credit.
Please, just because you want to blame someone for every little problem does not mean that you can abuse your “media power” and blame it on silly things like fictional fairytales. Let children be children and let them enjoy the stories that you, your parents and even I grew up on.
Hopefully in the end, in this crazy world, we will all live happily, ever, after.
This article is part of a series for The Big Smoke Next Gen.
The Big Smoke Next Gen is a program which matches professional and experienced writers, academics and journalists with students who wish to write non-fiction articles and voice their opinions on what is shaping the nation.
For more information about our program at The Big Smoke, or to become a mentor, please contact us.