When we think of beloved disney movies we tend to think of enchanted romances that exemplify a perfect relationship. As a child I can fondly recall being dazzled by the swirling yellow dresses and the sweet, wise teapot. That being said, coming back older and more aware makes this movie and it’s normalization of many things wrong with rape culture concerning to me.With the new movie starring Emma Watson coming out, I think it is important we first all know of some instances of rape culture casually placed in the movie that are anything but casual.
The first example of rape culture in the movie lines up with how The Beast first abuses Belle upon her arrival. He forbade her to eat at all because she declined eating with him. This related to how in our society some women have so little control they are even prohibited to do things like eat food when they “fail” their partners. This could potentially lead young children having distorted values when it comes to relationships.
Another example of rape culture is the mental abuse done by tearing Belle away from her family. The Beast by giving her no other options for communication essentially forced her to communicate with him. This in turn led her to eventually look over even these abusive aspects, which later transitioned to her developing emotional attachments to The Beast which leads us to our next example of rape culture.
Belle spends the entire movie developing stockholm syndrome. In essence, their whole journey was centered around her starting to see the good things in him after he both cut her off from the rest of the world, and somewhat punished her when she did not comply with what the Beast desired. She even tried to run away, and after he saved her is when she began to shift focus from him being the enemy to him being trying to help.
The last and most obvious case of rape culture is Gaston. The vain man barges straight into her home to propose after her declining relations multiple times. He kicks how muddy shoes up on the table and covers a book with mud, then criticises Belle for even having a book, after all he believed women shouldn’t read. Then he talks about how he wants multiple young, strapping boys and a bunch of large dogs. After Belle’s rejection he denies she even said no and instead moves straight to concocting an immoral plan to force her to marry him.
Overall, I believe most of us can agree these concepts and events are scary. If taken out of the context of wonderful music and animation that enhanced the romantic nature of the film, most of them would actually be concerning to most audiences. The idea that these ideas are present in a children’s movie that most people see shows how desensitised we are as a culture to subtle sexism and even rape culture. In order to fix this problem, first everyone must acknowledge that it is there. We then must work together as a community to make it better.