disney 7 Ways The Little Mermaid Is Actually Quite Sexist  

Jessica DeFino
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The debate about Disney sexism has been raging for a while now: are Disney princess movies anti-feminist? Should we care? DO we care? The answer is yes, yes, and YES. Sexist Disney movies feature a special kind of anti-feminism: the kind that's buried underneath layers of feel-good music and happy endings.

The sexism in The Little Mermaid is one of the worst offenders because sexist ideals hide behind a heroine who is traditionally thought of as spunky, independent, and fiercely feminist: Ariel. We're sad to say, once you look a little closer, that's just not the case. The Little Mermaid is sexist and there's no way around it! Here are the seven biggest reasons why. Vote up the reasons that make you the angriest.
1

A Man Has Power Over Ariel at All Times


A Man Has Power Over Ariel at ... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list 7 Ways The Little Mermaid Is Actually Quite Sexist
Photo: Disney
In the movie, Ariel basically has to make a choice: live under the sea and under the rule of her ill-tempered father, King Triton, or live on land and be with her "true love," Prince Eric. The idea that Ariel could make a choice other than the two presented (like living independently or exploring the world to see what would make her most happy) is nonexistent. It's subtle, but the undertone is there: it's a man's world and women just live in it.
2

It Spews Bullsh*t About What Makes a 'Good' Woman and a 'Bad' One


It Spews Bullsh*t About What M... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list 7 Ways The Little Mermaid Is Actually Quite Sexist
Photo: Disney
Let's take a look a look at the characteristics of a "good" woman through the lens of The Little Mermaid: young, slim, beautiful, scantily clad, silent, and yearning for a man (Ariel). 

Now let's look at the characteristics of the "evil" woman in the film: old, voluptuous, loud, living outside of societal norms, and independent (Ursula).

Is it just us, or is that f*cked up?
3

'Poor Unfortunate Souls' Tells Girls to Be Quiet to Please Men


'Poor Unfortunate Souls... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list 7 Ways The Little Mermaid Is Actually Quite Sexist
Photo: Disney
Before Ariel trades in her voice for a pair of legs, Ursula sings a song to convince her to give up the goods. This gem of a verse seals the deal:

"You'll have your looks, your pretty face
And don't underestimate the importance of body language, ha!
The men up there don't like a lot of blabber
They think a girl who gossips is a bore!
Yes, on land it's much preferred for ladies not to say a word
And after all dear, what is idle prattle for?
Come on, they're not all that impressed with conversation
True gentlemen avoid it when they can
But they dote and swoon and fawn
On a lady who's withdrawn
It's she who holds her tongue who get's a man."

Um, excuse me??? How the hell did this argument convince Ariel to give up her voice? We seriously hope that none of the girls who grew up watching this movie took these words to heart.
4

"Kiss the Girl" Argues That Consent Isn't Necessary


"Kiss the Girl" Argues... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list 7 Ways The Little Mermaid Is Actually Quite Sexist
Photo: Disney
When Ariel and Eric are taking their first boat ride together, there's a lot of animated sexual tension happening. The awkwardness causes all the animals within earshot to break out into song, urging Eric to "kiss the girl." Cute. Just one problem: one of the lines in the song states, "There is one way to ask her/It don't take a word/Not a single word/Go on and kiss the girl." Seriously?! It doesn't take a SINGLE WORD? When Sebastian (a lobster) sings these words, what he's really saying is that asking for consent isn't necessary - and that's not OK.
5

Ariel Has to Give Up Her Voice to Get the Guy


Ariel Has to Give Up Her Voice... is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list 7 Ways The Little Mermaid Is Actually Quite Sexist
Photo: Disney
We learn in the beginning of The Little Mermaid that Ariel's voice is what makes her unique, and she LOVES to sing. But once she lays eyes on Prince Eric, she knows that he is her one true love (which is ridiculous, but that's another story) and she'll do anything to be with him - including give up her voice.

Ursula, a sea witch, agrees to give Ariel legs so she can walk on land and find Prince Eric, but only if Ariel gives up her voice. Absurdly, Ariel agrees... and eventually ends up silently snagging the man. One, it's insane that Ariel gives up her most unique feature in order to find love, and two, it's insane that Ariel and Eric fall in love before speaking a single word to each other! Sexism ALL up in this plot.
6

It Embodies Feminist Ideals Through Ursula - The Villian


It Embodies Feminist Ideals Th... is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list 7 Ways The Little Mermaid Is Actually Quite Sexist
Photo: Disney
Sure, Ursula has her evil moments - every story needs a bad guy - but for the most part, Ursula embodies feminist ideals. She's a strong woman who made a name and career for herself without the help of a man. She's loud and speaks her mind. She's strong, independent, and knows how to get what she wants. She's confident and doesn't conform to what society expects of a woman. Remind us why she's the villain, again? Ain't nothing wrong with those traits!
7

The Male Characters Speak Way More Than the Female Characters


The Male Characters Speak Way ... is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list 7 Ways The Little Mermaid Is Actually Quite Sexist
Photo: Disney
When The Little Mermaid was first released, it was praised for featuring a spunky, rebellious princess. Disney had (supposedly) turned a new leaf! Well, not exactly. The Little Mermaid was actually the movie giant's first princess movie to showcase more male characters speaking than female characters. In a movie where the protagonist (Ariel) and villain (Ursula) are both female, how the hell do the male characters get more speaking time? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?