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Media Influencing Youth. The effects of Disney Productions shaping adolescent girls ideas of gender Media text analyzed: Mulan Ashley Edokpayi GWST 322. Major Themes of Paper.

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Media influencing youth

Media Influencing Youth

The effects of Disney Productions shaping adolescent girls ideas of gender

Media text analyzed: Mulan

Ashley Edokpayi

GWST 322

Major themes of paper
Major Themes of Paper

PURPOSE: To introduce and analyze aspects of a film(Mulan) that speculate real-world issues within topics of femininity, ideologies, and masculinities in culture; how these speculations influence audiences(young girls).

Focal Points:

  • The presence of hegemonic femininity in Disney produced animations that are geared towards young audiences, and how this form of media is greatly overlooked as an influence on children's early ideas of gender role.

  • Mulan-one of the first major Disney movies that offered a counter-hegemonic representation of a young girl.

  • Breakdown of the main character Mulan; comparing how she is feminized and how she is masculinized in throughout the plot.

  • Real-life role of women in traditional Chinese societies and how Mulan accurately portrays these roles.


  • Produced in 1998 by Disney. First prevalent presence of an Asian culture in a Disney animation.

  • Gained popularity for the overall message it sent to young girls-to follow your heart for your own self fulfillment.

  • Showed young girls that you can overcome structuralized societal feminine roles and become an equal with your male counterparts.

Feminization of mulan
Feminization of Mulan

  • Initially introduced as sweet, submissive, vulnerable, and helps take care of her father; all ladylike characteristics

  • Family heavily emphasizes importance of Mulan being a perfect candidate for a wife and home-maker; gives her a makeover with hopes of greater possibilities to be chosen by a man; “Bring great honor to us all; tall, work fast paced, obedient”(characteristics of a good wife)

  • “If I were to truly be myself, I would break my family’s heart; when will my reflection show who I am inside?” (Feelings of selflessness and vulnerability)

  • Never said in the movie what life goals Mulan has, or what she wants to do in her future.

  • “I know my place, it is time you learned yours” (Father says to Mulan during discussion of the war )

  • “You said you trust Ping, why is Mulan any different?”-Mulan says this to Shang(captain) when she is finally revealed as a woman after she saved her army. Change of tone from that of praise to disappointment and anger.

Bring Great Honor to Us All:

Counter hegemonic masculine mulan
Counter-hegemonic(Masculine) Mulan

  • Mulan leaves home and joins the Chinese army for physical development in preparation for war with the Huns; takes her fathers place.

  • Overcomes a variety of physical trials and tribulations with her fellow soldiers and even completes tasks the strongest men are unable to do

  • Ping (Mulan’s male persona) is the ideal soldier; saves her comrades from the Huns with her skills.

  • By the end of the movie:

  • -independently overcomes the leader of the Huns

  • -gains respect of the Chinese army and the entire nation

  • -emperor of the nation offers Mulan to be a member of the Chinese council for her devotion to her country

  • -emperor of China offers Mulan to be a member of the Chinese council for her devotion to her country

  • “The greatest gift and honor is having you for a daughter”(Father to Mulan)

I’ll Make a Man Out of You:

Traditional female role in chinese society
Traditional Female Role In Chinese Society

Traditional role of women in China is centered around the home, as they are expected to serve their families

“Yin Yang”-used to represent the union of a man and woman; woman being the “Yin”, defined as soft, passive, receptive, and reflective.

Woman’s duty to care for her father in her childhood, her husbands during marriage, and her son in their sons in their widowhood

20th century until present: Chinese women treated with greater respect from their male counterparts; entitled to educational and employment opportunities that didn’t exist in the past.

In Mulan,audiences are given a fair display of an Chinese culture, which adds to the authenticity of the film.

Problematic aspect of movie disney
Problematic Aspect of Movie/Disney

Mulan was one of the first Disney animations that portrayed an alternate, liberated view of the female main character, but at the same time had equal reminders of expected feminine roles in a society.

Disney princesses: extremely feminized, dependent on male

Early childhood is where ideas of gender are unconsciously instilled in children's minds without them being able to determine if these ideas are right or wrong. Disney films (more particularly their animated productions) geared towards young audiences; the ideas of gender portrayed in the movies play a role in shaping children’s mindsets and outlooks.

Not problematic for Disney, because with their admired characters they reel in major profits and are able to attain the cherished status they have held for so long.

Who is there to remind gullible children that everything they see in the movies isn’t always true? (referring to gender roles)

Concluding statements
Concluding Statements

Mulan firmly exhibits concepts of feminine competency within traditional Chinese culture.

Producers of influential productions should offer further diverse representations of young women in their pieces, especially Disney, who created the idealized princess characters that all little girls cherish and desire to be like.

If more noticeable actions were potentially taken to show young girls a better variety of female roles, as done in Mulan, they could become more willing to participate in counter-hegemonic activities and lifestyles that could eliminate constant circulations of dominant femininity.