*MULAN CHALLENGES STEREOTYPES ABOUT WOMEN. DISCUSS*
Stereotypes of women can be seen extensively throughout the film Mulan. These stereotypes are then challenged by Mulan's actions, mainly her decision to join the army in place of her father. Stereotypes such as women being weak, incompetent, useless, passive and brainless are shown. This Disney film moves away from the usual storyline of 'damsel in distress' and instead is the story of the damsel who is proclaimed as the hero of a country.
In Mulan, women are portrayed as weaker than men due to their traditional roles in society. This is conveyed in the lyrics "Did they send me daughters when I asked for sons?". This portrays the stereotypical representation of men because it declares that they are the only gender who are worthy enough to fight, while women are proclaimed as weak or incompetent. Mulan challenges this stereotype by ending up as the strongest and pre-eminent soldier of the troop. This is first evident when she is the first person to retrieve the arrow which has been shot to the top of a high pole. She got up with challenging work and even though she was a woman she showed the characteristics males should show such as being 'swift as the coursing river with all the force of a great typhoon'. by showing the characteristics that traditionally males should show, Mulan overcomes the traditional women stereotypes.
In "A girl worth fighting for' the men are talking about their dream girl when Ping(Mulan) says “How ‘bout a girl who’s got a brain. Who always speaks her mind.” . With this, the men's faces show disgust and disappointment, and they reply with a solid, "NAH!". This reinforces society’s expectations that a woman should not be intelligent, but rather passive and brainless. The message that this sends is that a woman should not strive to be knowledgeable, because she only needs to know how to cook, look pretty, and stroke her husband’s ego. Once again, the film portrays the message that women mostly belong in the home as the "family nurturer" and nowhere else. This scene would encourage women to possibly “dumb” themselves down, since men do not care to have a woman who he can hold a conversation with. Thus, logic is solely a masculine trait, not to be possessed by women. Mulan challenges the stereotypes of women in a way that which makes it show that women can be smart and have a voice as well. In a broader sense, this scene takes away any empowerment women have received since being allowed to have an education. It brings us back to the days in which women stayed at home to cook while men went out to university, sending the message that education of women is useless.
Disney's Mulan was a film that helps to change the world by promoting girl-power. Instead of being believed that only men are strong, now the tough ones have competition. in fact, the Hero of Chia was a girl, so the movie challenged stereotypes and became a very feminist movie and did everything they could to tell the viewers that women have roles in the community as well. Women should feel like they are worth something. This is like when Mulan wouldn't give up trying to retrieve the arrow and ended up as the strongest in the troop, or when she was called 'useless’ and will ‘never be worth anything’. However, the biggest stereotypes that Mulan challenged is the fact the Hero of China was a woman and women ended being a role-model for everyone in the country.