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Soc. Sci. 2017, 6(3), 91; doi:10.3390/socsci6030091

From Shapeshifter to Lava Monster: Gender Stereotypes in Disney’s Moana

1
Hastings College of the Law, University of California, 200 McAllister St, San Francisco, CA 94102, USA
2
Department of Sociology, McDaniel College, 2 College Hill, Westminster, MD 21157, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 6 July 2017 / Revised: 3 August 2017 / Accepted: 4 August 2017 / Published: 8 August 2017
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Abstract

Moana (2016) continues a tradition of Disney princess movies that perpetuate gender stereotypes. The movie contains the usual Electral undercurrent, with Moana seeking to prove her independence to her overprotective father. Moana’s partner in her adventures, Maui, is overtly hypermasculine, a trait epitomized by a phallic fishhook that is critical to his identity. Maui’s struggles with shapeshifting also reflect male anxieties about performing masculinity. Maui violates the Mother Island, first by entering her cave and then by using his fishhook to rob her of her fertility. The repercussions of this act are the basis of the plot: the Mother Island abandons her form as a nurturing, youthful female (Te Fiti) focused on creation to become a vengeful lava monster (Te Kā). At the end, Moana successfully urges Te Kā to get in touch with her true self, a brave but simple act that is sufficient to bring back Te Fiti, a passive, smiling green goddess. The association of youthful, fertile females with good and witch-like infertile females with evil implies that women’s worth and well-being are dependent upon their procreative function. Stereotypical gender tropes that also include female abuse of power and a narrow conception of masculinity merit analysis in order to further progress in recognizing and addressing patterns of gender hegemony in popular Disney films. View Full-Text
Keywords: hypermasculinity; phallic symbol; gender stereotypes; emasculation; male performance; shapeshifting; Electral; Maui; fishhook; princess hypermasculinity; phallic symbol; gender stereotypes; emasculation; male performance; shapeshifting; Electral; Maui; fishhook; princess
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Streiff, M.; Dundes, L. From Shapeshifter to Lava Monster: Gender Stereotypes in Disney’s Moana. Soc. Sci. 2017, 6, 91.

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