allamaraine asked: I have a question concerning Cinderella. I adore that movie, but I do recognize the problems with it i.e. "all she needs is a prince and a pretty dress" kind of attitude. However, I've run into many arguments accusing her for not standing up for herself more, and that kind of strikes me as victim blaming, as she's in an abusive situation and I was just wondering what you think? Maybe I'm missing something. P.S. Love your blog and I'm so glad I found it~
(I should re-watch this movie sooner or later so I myself could have missed something, but here I go anyways)
I think this in some ways a question about how literally we can interpret these characters. Even if Disney was to take a completely feminist outlook on everything they do and actively attempt to create the least offensive storyline possible, they would still (presumably) have to work within this basic framework:
- the entire story needs to take place within about 2 hours- that is 2 hours to summarize and simplify as neatly as possible days/weeks/years and to differentiate several characters, character relationships, and conflicts.
- the plot has to be simple enough for a young child to gain a reasonable grasp of
- the conflict has to be strong enough to push the story towards a resolution, and to test characters enough to make them interesting.
These constraints alone will sometimes cause a story to run into problems of questionable treatment of their characters. In the case of Cinderella, I don’t think she necessarily needed to “stand up for herself more.” As you stated, she was in a rather abusive situation and when we remove the audience lens of knowing that there is a possibility for a very happy ending, it’s certainly understandable why she would want to stay quiet and not rebel against her oppressors (step-mother, etc) when she has little, if any, bargaining power.
Of course, as a character she is a construct, not a real person, so the creators could have made the story in such a way that allowed her to stick up for herself more/the abuse could have been framed differently/etc.
However, I think it is true that we have to be wary of putting the onus on the victim to respond in a certain way to crimes committed against them. The only responsibility a victim of any type of abuse has is the responsibility to keep themselves as safe as they can manage. To survive. Sometimes survival means following orders, sometimes it means smiling when you want to cry because you know you’ll be punished if you cry. Survival is different for every person.
We’re led by a lot of narratives of movies and tv to expect victims to be magically heroic- to suddenly stand up to their oppressors, defy everything they’ve been taught, and escape in an unlikely yet amazing way and transition easily into a completely different lifestyle.
So perhaps in this way Cinderella’s story is a little closer to real life in that she has been conditioned not to rebel and so when she does rebel, it is in small ways that she is personally comfortable with.
PS. Thanks for the love. :)
I actually really, really agree with the last sentiment. While I like the depiction of Cinderella in A Twist of Time, it was a special set of circumstances.
If you read the Wikipedia page on Cinderella, the fairytale, the intended moral Perrault had set for it was somewhat more realistic, that even with all the grace that should beget success, you still often need a blessing from someone else to make it.
In a sense, while Cinderella is viewed as the least feministic Disney Princess in many ways, she is also in some ways the most realistic. I love Tiana but I think she was a bit naive(which was, I also think, intentional, but still) to think hard work is all it took.
I find especially as a transwoman who is in a rather lowly position in society in many ways I’m expected to rise above far too much, more than is realistically possible.
I forgot about this