Gender stereotypes, rape myths, and rape culture are perpetuated in U.S. media, including media aimed at young people. Previous research in the areas of gender, gender stereotypes, portrayals of gender in movies, Disney movies, rape myths, and rape culture are all examined. Prior to this research, no study had been conducted to determine if the characteristics of rape culture are portrayed in Disney animated princess movies. For this research, an ethnographic content analysis is conducted on all thirteen of the Disney animated princess movies to determine if the characteristics associated with rape culture are portrayed in these movies. The findings are organized in three board categories: a) how the characteristics of rape culture are portrayed, b) who uses the characteristics of rape culture, and c) if the portrayal of rape culture in the Disney animated princess movies changes over time. This study finds that the portrayal of rape culture in Disney movies 1) relies on intimidation, coercion/threats, 2) that isolation is used as a characteristic of rape culture but also as a way to resist patriarchal power and control, 3) the severity of rape culture in these movies is not dependent on the total number of characteristics of rape culture present, but rather on the frequency with which various aspects of rape culture are shown, and 4) that movies depict the characteristics of rape culture by focusing on femininity and sexuality. While this research examines the portrayal of characteristics associated with rape culture in Disney animated princess movies it also discovers that some positive and empowering traits of the princesses are also observed.
Date of Degree
Master of Science (MS)
Sociology and Corrections
Social and Behavioral Sciences
Paulson, P. (2018). Rape Culture in Disney Animated Princess Movies [Master’s thesis, Minnesota State University, Mankato]. Cornerstone: A Collection of Scholarly and Creative Works for Minnesota State University, Mankato. https://cornerstone.lib.mnsu.edu/etds/805/
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