The Normalization of Intimate Partner Violence in Beauty and the Beast

This is a guest post by CYH Volunteer Patricia Louie

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Although it may happen behind closed doors, violence against women is a public issue that has serious psychological, social and physical consequences. This short clip from the documentary Mickey Mouse Monopoly is useful for teaching about how Disney films socialize girls to accept and overlook intimate partner violence. This clip brings to light the normalization and romanticization of spousal abuse in Beauty and the Beast. As scholars in the documentary argue, the film teaches girls that it is a woman’s duty to be patient and supportive of her abusive partner in order to help him change his behavior (i.e. transform into a prince). In reality, we should be encouraging young girls to end the relationship and seek help if their partner is violent and coercive.

Questions to ask while watching this film are: What are the types of abuse we see in this clip? The Power & Control Wheel (below) and this website on Domestic Violence may serve to frame discussions about the kinds of domestic abuse we see in Beauty and the Beast. How does Disney sugarcoat the Beast’s abusive actions as “just a short temper?” Do you think these messages are dangerous to children?

This clip is a great segue into a broader discussion about how femininity is represented in Disney films. What desirable feminine qualities are associated with Princesses? (think: beauty, helplessness, passivity etc) What kinds of undesirable qualities are associated with female villains in Disney films? (think: independent, single, agency, powerful, ugly etc.)

Clip from Mickey Mouse Monopoly: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rL1q19yrLb0

Power and Control Wheel. Image from: http://www.theduluthmodel.org/training/wheels.html

 

 

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