Traditional Paradigms Under the Sea : A Feminist Criticism of the Little Mermaid
Jackson, Christine E.
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Walt Disney's movie, The Little Mermaid and Hans Christian Andersen's story of the same name both enforce traditional, negative gender paradigms (witch, good girl) which, if internalized by the children viewing or reading them, will be perpetuated ad infinitum. The stereotype of the sensual, aggressive woman who reaches out independently for what she needs and desires as witch, and the beautiful, voiceless female as "good girl" teach children that there is no median ground in the female world, only extremes. Girls will remain afraid to express overtly their Ursula-like sides for fear of being labeled "witch". The traditionally white western ideal of the "good girl" will be maintained along with the patriarchal establishment. Traditional paradigms must therefore be abolished everywhere, even in fairy tales under the sea. In contrast, the author also discusses Joanna Russ' contemporary fairy tale, Russalka.