A high school lesson plan is under fire for explicitly stating that Beauty and the Beast promotes domestic violence and for portraying other Disney princesses as manipulative damsels.
Several generations of youngsters have grown to love Disney’s fairy tales. They have known Beauty and the Beast as a tale where Belle’s love managed to break a powerful evil spell. However, in the said lesson plan, Belle is portrayed as a woman whose sole asset is her sexuality.
“The Beast does not attack Belle but the threat of physical violence is present. The movie says if a woman is pretty and sweet natured she can change an abusive man into a kind and gentle man. In other words, it is the woman’s fault if her man abuses her. And of course, the beast turns into a handsome prince because ugly people cannot be happy.”
The harsh words are not only aimed at Belle. Other Disney favorites such as Cinderella, Ariel, Jasmin, Snow White, and Aurora are deemed “slaves” because they will do anything just to end up with a man who could take care of them. Snow White, in particular, is someone who does not mind doing the hard work for she knows that her efforts will be repaid in the form of a handsome prince.
“She doesn’t mind house work because she is sure a rich young man will soon come and take her away. This is typical of Disney’s movies. Young women are naturally happy home-makers. They wait – like Snow White in her coma until a man comes along to give them life.”
As for the Little Mermaid, her only difference from the other heroines is that “she is somewhat sexy and wears a bikini made from shells.” According to the lesson plan, at the end of the day, “the answer to all her dreams is to get her man. Ariel will do anything to make the prince fall in love with her. She even gives up her voice so that she can have legs.”
The lesson plan is entitled “Racism/Sexism in Disney” and is meant to be used for students aged 11 to 16. It was uploaded to the Times Educational Supplement site by a teacher in England who opted to be anonymous. With nearly 12,000 views, the lesson plan might have been used many times in the classroom setting.
As reported by the Mirror, Campaign for Real Education chairman Chris McGovern branded the lessons as a “deliberate strategy” to spark rows that will affect children.
“These lesson plans represent an ignorant, insidious and covert attack on family values and on the ancient wisdom of fairy tales. They are part of a deliberate strategy to pull apart the ties that bind our society together.”
He went on to highlight the values of fairytales in a child’s life. He believes that it isn’t fair for children to be “brainwashed by the promotion of politically correct fanaticism in the classroom.”
“Fairytales, including the Disney versions, allow children to make sense of the world whilst alerting them to its dangers. Like much literature and art, they use stereotypical characters to demonstrate the battle between love and hatred, goodness and evil, honesty and deceit. By undermining and subverting that support and tradition these model lessons are cruel to children and they are, also, dangerous to their well-being and to their mental health.”
Disney similarly released a statement saying that Disney’s timeless stories are loved by many, regardless of their gender, because of the characters’ inner qualities. The Department of Education did not label the lesson plan as rude but merely reminded schools to teach lessons that are age-appropriate.
[Featured Image by Disney]