Cinderella dominants, the individual is defined by dominants

Cinderella has been a cherished and favourite movie to many children around the world, as well as those who are children no longer. It tells the story of a poor girl who’s evil stepmother has made her a servant in the house to her and her step-sisters. There is an announcement that there will be a ball at the palace for the prince to find a wife, but Cinderella’s stepmother won’t allow it, and ruins her dress. That night her fairy godmother makes her a beautiful dress, carriage, and glass slippers, to meet the prince at the ball which her mother would not allow her to go to. She falls in love with the prince but must leave the ball before the magic leaves losing one slipper which in the end, the prince finds and puts on her foot finding true love. Although an old and memorable tale of true love, some underlying problems seem to be overlooked upon a first watch. Beneath the lovely fairytale presented is messages of subordinism and sexism that have major potential to influence children’s ideas of identity and how the world should be. Firstly, there is the problem of the clear subordinate and dominant relationship existing between Cinderella and the world she is in. Cinderella begins as a poor girl in rags who is a total servant to her household, and is only friends with the animals in the home. She is presented as weak, poor, and submissive. She was not noticed or thought of as worthy for a prince in the beginning of the movie because she has subordinate traits. As Tatum says in The Complexity of Identity (1999), “When a subordinate demonstrates positive qualities believed to be more characteristic of dominants, the individual is defined by dominants as an anomaly”(p.25). It isn’t until her fairy godmother gives her an elegant dress, carriage, horses, and glass slippers that she becomes noticed and draws positive attention. She was not noticed or seen as someone worthy for the prince until she wasn’t displayed as poor anymore, but as breathtakingly beautiful, which pleases the dominant and displays her as an “anomaly”. This is challenging because it sends a complicated message to young females watching. The message given by these events really is that being upper class is what will lead you to happiness, which is absolutely not the case. She had to be made unrecognisably beautiful to fit the male gaze that seemingly controlled worth. This could leave girls thinking that in order to be loved you have to be perfectly beautiful and that love does not necessarily depend on the person you are. This could leave developing children insecure and under a wrong impression about physical beauty and wealth being the key factors that lead to a happy ending in their life.Secondly, there was the problem of underlying sexism. Cinderella was made to always be cleaning, which may have been excusable in a house of all females if it weren’t for a line that came from one of the female mice while making her dress. As the male mouse said he will help sew she said: “Leave the sewing to the women, you go get some trimming”. That solidified the idea of keeping the women doing stereotypical jobs like sewing and cleaning and left it a conscious decision. Cinderella is also portrayed as weak and submissive to her stepmother, which never really changes throughout the entirety of the film. She continues to live a miserable life until the prince comes to take her away and bring her to a better life where she will be a mother and live well. This presents the idea that women are weak, and unable to truly help themselves. That they must be reliant on a man to save them from bad situations. It is engraved into the film that this is the dream girls should aspire to. Children can be lead to believe that they are weak if female and that men will always be there to come and save them, they will not be able to save themselves.This film is a very problematic piece with some not-so subliminal messages being sent to youth. Not only does it present the idea that beauty and wealth are the key to love, but also that women are weak and need to be saved by a man. This idea that women need a man and should aspire to be married in order to find happiness is absurd and can manipulate youth into insecurity and false thinking about themselves. Cinderella is not at all progressive, and these ideas of the dominant and subordinate relationship still exist today, and will continue to unless children’s films like such are thought upon critically and a conversation happens with children so they don’t fall victim to the ideologies presented.


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