Young children are impressionable and that's why sexism in Disney princess movies can be troubling. An obvious example is how the physical size of the male heroes diminishes the small size of Disney princesses in some of the movies.
It seems that the most problematic sexism in these movies may not be how the characters look, but rather the words that they say.
Data linguists Carmen Fought and Karen Eisenhauer recently analyzed the dialogue in Disney princess movies. They discovered the incredible gender imbalance in many classic and current Disney princess films. Fought and Eisenhauer published their findings in a Washington Post article.
Here are their examples of dialogue gender imbalance during the Classic era of the 1930s-1950s, the Renaissance era from 1989-1998, and the current New Age of Disney princesses.
The good news is that women fared very well in many original Disney princess movies. In Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the women spoke as often as the men. In Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, the women spoke more often than the men. However, the number of male speaking roles in these movies eclipsed the female parts. Cinderella is the only Disney princess movie to ever have the same number of male and female roles. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs had 10 male speaking roles and less than five female speaking roles. And during the Classic era, 55 percent of the compliments to women were on their appearance, while only 11 percent of compliments were for their skills.
Men dominated the Disney princess movies from 1989 to 1998. They had 68 percent of the dialogue in The Little Mermaid, 71 percent in Beauty and the Beast, 76 percent in Pocahontas, 77 percent in Mulan, and 90 percent in Aladdin. Part of the reason behind the lack of female dialogue is because of the lack of female characters. For example, Aladdin had 20 male speaking roles and less than five for women. Most of the sidekicks in the Renaissance movies were also men. As for the compliments directed to women, 38 percent were on their appearance and 23 percent for their skills.
Disney appeared to fix some of its gender discrepancies during its recent movies. Women had more than 50 percent of the dialogue in Tangled and 75 percent in Brave. Frozen, by contrast, had less than 50 percent of its dialogue from women. The problem is that there are nearly three times as many male characters as female characters in today's Disney princess movies. The good news with the New Age movies is with the compliments: 22 percent of the compliments to the female characters were on their appearance and 44 percent were for their skills.