This week we welcomed former student Georgie Gillespie (Class of 2018) to speak to current students about ‘Disney Princesses and Gender Representation’ in ThinkSoc Plus, our extension society for Trinity A Level Religious Studies (RS) students.
Georgie left Trinity in 2018, has completed a degree in International Relations from Leeds and is currently taking a gap year before returning to Cambridge to undertake a masters in Gender Studies.
Mrs Carey, Teacher of RS who jointly runs ThinkSoc Plus, reports from the discussion, “Georgie spoke eloquently and fascinatingly about Disney princesses and gender representation. She started with the origins of Disney, and its context of American Western Culture, and took us on a journey through time. She considered the feminine ideals presented in early films such as Snow White and Cinderella and past the perceived independence of The Little Mermaid and Belle from Beauty and the Beast (with still troubling narratives). Georgie then focused on shifting narratives in Second Wave Feminism and the introduction of some multiculturalism with non-white Disney princesses such as Jasmine (Aladdin), Mulan and Pocahontas, all the time thinking critically about their stories.
“Georgie finished with an open discussion of Third Wave Feminism and Intersectionality and considered if the new era of films such as the Princess and the Frog, Tangled, Brave and Raya the Last Dragon are getting it right or wrong when it comes to messaging to young people and the link with teenage fiction such as Wattpad literature.
“The audience were gripped and what was particularly special was seeing the interaction between our recent leavers and current students and what they could learn or ‘unlearn’ from Disney culture about their identities, aspirations and relationships in the future. Thank you to Georgie for her inspiring speech, we hope to welcome her back again soon.”
Upper Sixth student Amy Clarke said, “Georgie Gillespie’s talk fascinated me, owing to its political and social relevance today; it explained the history of how and why gender roles were enforced, particularly through cinema, which enabled corporations like Disney to profit from warped senses of identity. As part of the discussion, we were asked us to reflect more deeply about seemingly feminist fairy tales, such as Beauty and the Beast, which turned out to be romanticising abusive relationships. It was interesting to note how these biases have been firmly embedded within our society and manifest themselves almost unconsciously.”
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