For this assignment, I decided to explore the film Mulan. This classic Disney movie takes place during the Han Dynasty in China, where the Chinese military is holding a draft in response to the Hun invasion. Under Han’s patriarchal rule, only men were fit to serve in the military. However, the only man in Mulan’s family was her ill father. In order to protect her father from being drafted, Mulan disguises herself as a man and goes off to train in the army. Mulan risked a lot for her father, especially her life. If she was caught in war as a woman, that meant death.
Although the plot of this Disney love story doesn’t explicitly reveal a feminist stance, Mulans character highlights a heroic woman overcoming the social norms in her society. Throughout the film, the characters made obvious remarks deprecating the ability of women to help build an understanding of these gender roles during that time. Men were seen as stronger, more brave, and able individuals in terms of fighting, while women were seen as completely incapable of anything in this field.
This movie hides gender inequality by conveying underlying messages of women inaptitude. Many of the songs in this movie reinforce female gender roles. One example is in the beginning of the movie when the song Bring Honor to Us All played. The lyrics of the song describe what it means to be an ideal woman in China. It contains lyrics that reveal that a men’s value if fighting while a women’s is reproduction.
Mulan broke the gender roles in this film by not only proving that women have the same capability as the men do in the film, but by also exceeding the expectation by saving the emperor and the city from the invaders. Mulan was no longer incentivised by her father, rather for herself, to prove that she was more than just a housewife.