Study Finds Disney Princess Movies Are Dominated By Male Dialogue

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The Beast, Prince Eric, and Prince Charming have always taken a backseat to Belle, Ariel, and Cinderella, but it turns out that they’re doing a lot of talking despite their supporting roles.

According to a report from The Washington Post, Carmen Fought from Pitzer College and Karen Eisenhauer from North Carolina State University are analyzing dialogue from Disney princess movies, and making some disturbing discoveries. These leading ladies and other female characters in the films are actually talking less than the males.

The duo of Fought and Eisenhauer presented their preliminary research comparing how much men and women in these Disney films spoke at the Linguistic Society of America’s annual meeting earlier this month, which you can take a look at for yourself below.

In Disney’s early days, the gender balance wasn’t bad. In Snow White, men and women have an equal number of lines. In Cinderella, the dialogue is 60 percent female, and despite her nap, Sleeping Beauty boasts 71 percent of lines from female characters.

Things change drastically in the 1990s with the Disney movies you probably grew up watching. Males dominate the conversation.

Men talk 68 percent of the time in The Little Mermaid, 71 percent in Beauty and the Beast, 76 percent in Pocahontas, 77 percent in Mulan (Mulan’s lines count as female even when she’s pretending to be Ling), and 90 percent in Aladdin.

More recent films haven’t been doing much better. Even Frozen, a story primarily about two sisters, has less than half female dialogue. The one film that goes against the mansplaining is Brave, where 74 percent of lines came from women.

The researchers guess this disparity is because these Disney films have much bigger casts and those ensembles are usually heavily male.

“My best guess is that it’s carelessness, because we’re so trained to think that male is the norm,” Eisenhauer told the Washington Post. “So when you want to add a shopkeeper, that shopkeeper is a man. Or you add a guard, that guard is a man. I think that’s just really ingrained in our culture.”

Let’s hope the Disney princesses learn to speak up soon.

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