The construction on gender roles and sexual orientation in "Mulan."

Essay by suzanna_p October 2005

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Texts and film are powerful socialisation tools and as Fox (1993) points out everything that we read or watch (in this case) constructs us, makes us who we are, by presenting an image of ourselves.

Besides being an important development tool for children, children's books and films transmit a society's culture. So the way that genders and sexuality are portrayed contributes to the way that children develop their own self-image, a fundamental component in their lives, and important in discovering their role and the role of their gender in society. Disney has been producing children's movies for a long time, and as times and society's views on specific issues have changed, so has Disney's portrayal of them. Along with movies such as Cinderella and Lady and the Tramp, Mulan is one movie in which Disney emphasises the role of gender, in fact it would seem that no previous Disney feature has been so centrally concerned with gender roles and only Beauty and the Beast came close to Mulan's modern take on the subject.

Like Belle, Mulan is smart and plucky...and a complete outcast. Even more than Belle, she has to take charge of her fate. And, way more than Belle, she finds her eventual fulfilment independent of a romantic resolution.

Whilst attempting to conform to a new social idea of gender roles, this movie is still one that depicts an unrealistic view of the importance of a woman's need for a man. Mulan is based on a legend about a young woman in China who does not want to be the disciplined, submissive, feminine wife expected of her by her culture. When the Huns invade China her weak and sick father is summoned to join the army. Mulan does not want her father to go in fear that he...