Mulan: Defying Gender Norms

Throughout the years, girls have been expected to do the domestic work around the house. From a young age, they are given dolls to learn how to take care of children or clean up after them. In the essay “Girlhood” this is discussed how girls play with their dolls at a young age and later become those dolls. This gender norm was also portrayed in Little House on the Prairie when Laura and her sister were expected to stay in their house and help their mother cook and clean.
While Mulan was taught all of these things from a young girl, she decided to defy the gender norms. Instead of fulfilling a Chinese girl’s traditional duty of becoming a traditional bride, she disguises herself as a man to fight in the army. Movies like this show young girls that they do not have to conform to gender norms but can do anything they set their minds to. If Mulan was able to fight for her country, then what stops girls from becoming the future President or a future soldier?
I believe in the future we need to step back from books like Little House in the Prairie, that portray women in only a domestic realm and push more movies like Mulan, that teaches women that there is more to do than just cook and clean.

3 thoughts on “Mulan: Defying Gender Norms”

  1. This contrast between Mulan and Little House on the Prairie shows how much progress we have come through. In Mulan, there was a song “You’ll Bring Honor to us All” saying that Mulan would bring honor to the family by marrying an eligible young man. The movie switched the narrative around and in the end Mulan did bring honor to the family, but not through marriage and through hew own endeavor in fighting for her country. I think that we should introduce these kind of text more to children, showing girls that you can be great in what you do and what you aspire to, and not just follow the orders your family gives you.

  2. Helaina-
    I really enjoyed the “Girlhood” keyword essay as well. It’s interesting to think about the idea of becoming the doll, or taking on the norms that girls usually recreate with them. I’m curious and excited to watch how play with dolls shifts, especially after critically analyzing the American Girl Doll catalog and seeing the types of toys that are now available for play. How do you anticipate norms to shift as we see innovations within the toy industry?

    I also really enjoyed your comparison to Mulan. This was always one of my favorite movies growing up as it was a completely different take on what it takes to be a girl.

    I’m curious though, do you think there is still any value in continuing to teach or read books like Little House on the Prairie? In my opinion, I think there are many lessons to be learned from these types of books. Maybe instead of removing them from curriculum, they could be a supplemental reading to understand the perspectives of white settlers, then compared to other texts where we can build a more open and unbiased perspective of what actually happened during colonization.

  3. I believe that Mulan is a special and provoking character for children’s literature. I mentioned the personality of Mulan in my girlhood blog. I think that this Disney woman provide girl courage to pursue what they want and encourage them to be brave, wise and independent girl. And for the gender issue, Mulan pretend male into wars and get success is the innovative behavior that proves the ability of girls.

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