A Simple Look at a Not-So-Simple Life

When the Attack on Women Gets Animated

I wasn’t going to blog tonight. I’m tired. I’ve been fighting a headache. I have a couple of more involved posts percolating in my mind – not yet ready to share. Then in a conversation with my friend Cathy, she asked if I had read some of the recent media speculating that Merida – the heroine from the new Pixar/Disney film Brave – is gay. Merida – my newfound hero that I wrote about here and again here. You have got to freaking be kidding me, right? So I hit Google. This is what I found:

But could Merida be gay? Absolutely. She bristles at the traditional gender roles that she’s expected to play: the demure daughter, the obedient fiancée. Her love of unprincess-like hobbies, including archery and rock-climbing, is sure to strike a chord with gay viewers who felt similarly “not like the other kids” growing up. And she hates the prospect of marriage — at least, to any of the three oafish clansmen that compete for her hand — enough to run away from home and put her own mother’s life at risk. She’s certainly not a swooning, boy-crazy Disney princess like The Little Mermaid’s Ariel or Snow White. In fact, Merida may be the first in that group to be completely romantically disinclined (even cross-dressing Mulan had a soft spot for Li Shang). ~ Entertainment Weekly

So let me get this straight. If you don’t live by traditional gender roles (the “demure” daughter, the “obedient” fiancée), if you are tomboyish and like physically challenging activities, if you claim your personal uniqueness (“not like all the other kids”), if you don’t want to marry a complete stranger (who for many reasons, not just physical ones, is not appealing to you), and if you’ve ever had a fight with your mother that’s made you mad enough to say and do things you later regretted, then you must be gay. Right. Folks, if that is how you determine if a person is gay, then I would qualify. But it’s not, and I’m not.

In case you haven’t noticed, women in America are under attack. Let me rephrase that. Strong, independent women in America – straight or gay, rich or poor, well-educated or not – are under attack. If a woman speaks out in protest to an all male panel on birth control, then she is an oversexed whore. And apparently, if you are an independent young woman who doesn’t swoon at the prospect of rushing into marriage – even if you are an animated character – then you are gay. (I hate to break it to you guys, but you aren’t all swoon-worthy!) This is an insult to all women, regardless of their personal persuasion – political, sexual, or other. In virtually every instance I can think of in recent months, when a woman has dared to stand strong, use her voice, and express her conviction in the public square, she has been attacked, belittled, called names, given labels, and told to go back to the kitchen (or bedroom) where she belongs.

Thank God, these attacks don’t seem to be working. Instead of intimidating all women into shutting their mouths and staying in “their places,” it is galvanizing women to stand even more strongly together. And those waging war are getting more and more desperate. I mean, come on! They’re threatened by a cartoon character?!

No. They are threatened by the Merida in us all. And to that I say: You go, Girls!

winning herself


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11 thoughts on “When the Attack on Women Gets Animated

  1. Seriously?! Her being gay never even crossed my mind while watching this movie!! All I could think was “You go, girl!” I thought she kicked butt! I thought she was a strong, independent young woman who knew what she wanted. People can be so ridiculous.

    • I’m convinced that certain circles of our society will always try to find ways to undermine the voice of strong women. Even animated Pixar characters. Crazy-making, don’t you think?

  2. Pixar/Disney know strong female characters like Merida in Brave do rock, and lots of young impressionable girls are going to take more notice of Merida’s character than the Entertainment Weekly’s pathetic comments.

  3. So irrelevant, “Is she gay?”
    Merida is the best role model yet for my granddaughters I’ve seen in a while. Beats Cinderella and Snow White!

    • Don’t you love a proactive character with strong self esteem? The fact that she is imperfect, makes a really bad choice, and then learns from it makes her even better!

  4. Jessica on said:

    I have not seen the movie yet but understand Merida is an amazing young woman. I wonder if I can borrow some children? 🙂 This is a very thoughtful and truthful posting. Jess

  5. Mandi D Jimenez on said:

    Love it and you hit it on the head. So I will stand tall and proud and say that if Merida is gay because of her behavior than so am I;-) I was just talking to the kids yesterday about similar stuff. Elizabeth told Tyler that back in the old days, woman were not allowed to speak or do freely! He says Mommy I know that you would not have made it in those times!!

    • Mandi, that is one smart boy you’ve got there! That made me laugh! Aren’t the most ridiculous “qualifications” for deciding some is gay?! You, me, Anna, Cathy – most of the people I know and love best would qualify by those standards!

      By the way, have you seen the July issue of Skirt magazine? I learned things about the women who fought for the right to vote 100 years ago that I never knew before. They never taught that when I was in school. It’s something our girls need to know, too.

  6. I’m so behind in blog reading, but glad I hopped over for this one. This is crazy. I would think gay women would be offended by EW’s classification of why Merida would be considered gay. I’m sure many gay women believe in marriage, swoon from time to time, and love their families. It’s like saying all boys who like art, dancing, and playing with baby dolls must be gay.

    Yes, you are right, there is an attack on all strong women, women with opinions and strong belief systems. It’s a shame. I have three daughters to raise. I want them strong and willing to fight for what they believe in. So far, they are. Never have I assumed this means they will be gay, not that that would matter.

    I’m sharing this. Thanks for making me think, again! (I’ve enjoyed all of your Brave-themed posts.)

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