In this chapter

In this chapter, the researchers listed down the studies and articles that are relevant to their research. The study of England, Descartes and Collier-Meek (2011) has examined the gender role portrayals through three hypotheses. These hypotheses helped the pair identify the gender roles portrayed by the princesses in the films. The first hypothesis predicted that the gender role of the prince and princess would differ. The second hypothesis focused on the number of times the princess was saved. Lastly, the third hypothesis highlighted the variations that occurred in the films over time. As it was seen, there was an increase in the androgynous characteristics in the results of their analysis. Collins (2011) also observed gender roles in media with three hypotheses. With the first hypothesis, the author’s observation has expected that women are underrepresented across a range of media and if represented, they are often sexualized. Lastly, women are illustrated in their stereotypical roles. The author then challenged the readers to consider the effects of how media portray women. With the hypotheses of Collins (2011), she enumerated the roles in media of women which also affected the portrayal of women in Disney princesses. This helped the researchers understand the era where the films were released. However, in relation to the study made by Maity (2014), a scholar from the Department of English of University of Burdwan, she focused her study on gender identity and gender roles of Disney movies and saw how identity is transformed through long term virtues and ideas. The stereotypical portrayals of the female in Disney films were emphasized in her study. It was noticed that the representation of women was gender biased and that the term “women” has become synonymous with the victim in the patriarchal society. An example was that women should stay at home similar to the story of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, The Sleeping Beauty, and Cinderella. Compared with these studies, another researcher of Sex Roles used a wider range of media to provide a qualitative content analysis on gender roles of media. Since the study focused on the female characters of Disney, it helped the researchers in their observations while analyzing characteristics of the protagonist especially their roles in being a victim or the Damsel in Distress. Nonetheless, Do Rozario (2004), a researcher from the Centre of Drama and Theatre Studies at Monach University, analyzed Disney princess in terms of the princess’ “position in her kingdom, in her relationships to femme fatale, fathers, and bad boys, and the performance in a genre shaped by film musical and fairytale” (p. 34). With the observation made by the author, the princesses lived in a patriarchal society. It was explained that the villains of the story are the femme fatale of the film as they illustrated that the authentic power come from bad women. As the author has successfully analyzed the function and importance of the roles of the Disney princesses, the researchers were able to understand the character design of the princesses or the female main character in the chosen films of this study. As the researchers considered the princesses’ positions in the kingdom, the pair had an opportunity to observe how the patriarchal society affected the gender roles of the princesses.
Focusing more on the content of the Disney films, researchers Lopreore and Gazda both emphasized their studies on analyzing the films depending on how they were formulated by Disney. Lopreore (2016) used qualitative methods to analyze the content of modern Disney Princess films. Like the researchers aforementioned, she tested her objectives with three hypotheses. Her first hypothesis was supported by a qualitative data on the difference of the gender role portrayals of princes and princesses. In her second hypothesis, it was, however, supported by finding of more egalitarian gender role portrayals. The result of the third hypothesis exhibited the androgynous gender role portrayals of each Disney princesses as it revealed the number of masculine characteristics did not significantly differ from the feminine features portrayed by princesses. In another article, Gazda (2015) argued that Disney has focused less on the genuine qualities and moralities of Disney princesses and has concentrated on finding true love. She observed that there was a necessary presence of a male figure or a prince for the princess to achieve her goals. Gazda also observed that there is a vast difference in the characteristics between the prince and princesses of the story. She recommended that there should be a change in the design of Disney princesses so that young viewers can be relate to them better. To sum up the similarities of the authors in terms of content, their observations explained their analysis on the content as the change and evolution of the portrayal of women occur. The changes may be minimal or distinct, each period or set of the release of films showed a difference in their content. With the content analysis done by these authors, it helped the pair in considering to observe the androgynous gender role portrayals of the Disney princesses of the films.
Disney films were released in different eras wherein the changes in the portrayal of women occurred as mentioned in the previous paragraphs. Since there were evolution and variations in the content and portrayal, some researchers created studies that shows the transition of the Disney princesses. Garabedian (2014) was detailed in explaining each transition she assigned in each era. She defined these eras as the Pre-Transition as the first wave of feminism period. The second period portrayed after effects of the second wave of feminism as mentioned by Krlokke (2014), the second wave had “documenting sexism in private as well as public life and delivering a criticism of gendered patterns of socialization” (p. 23); The Progression which is the third period did not break the princess pattern. In this period, the films Brave and Frozen made a shift where the opportunity of breaking the stereotype of the princess-needs-prince pattern has occurred. However, a researcher from Indiana State University, Barber (2015), made a study on the different shifts that happened in the Disney films, similar with Garabedian (2014). Barber named the shifts according to the characteristics portrayed by the Princesses. The first shifts are princesses that were portrayed as the stereotypical damsels in distress. The second shift was about the princesses were rebellious and ambitious. Lastly, the third shift was about the princesses who were independent and free-spirited. The separation of the films according to the transition that occurred and the changes in portrayal of women made a great impact to its audience especially to its heavy viewers. With the use of shifts and transitions, it helped the pair to observe the shift in the portrayal of the princesses, as it also goes along with the change of women in the society in different periods. The pair was able to see the shifts and transitions that Disney made and it became useful to observe the characteristics of the Disney princesses.
The researchers gathered data that claimed that the study on the gender roles portrayed in films were stereotypical whether that the audience are aware of it or not. In the articles gathered for this study mostly mentioned children and girls who can possibly be influenced by the changes made in the Disney films. There were studies and articles that showed the variations from the content of the films as it differs on the era that it was released or on the shifts that was created by some researchers. There were also studies and articles on the variation of women portrayal, again, depending on the era that it was released. At first, they were released when women were portrayed as weak and should always be saved by a man. In comparison, the recent movies nowadays, give a different story on how women can also be heroines of their own stories.