Aristotle claims that, “the female is a female by virtue of a certain lack of qualities. […] [W]e should regard the female nature as afflicted with a natural defectiveness” (The Second Sex).
I’m sure if I took this to the local pub in my hometown, there would be a majority in favour Aristotle’s ridiculous statement. Although this is completely problematic, Aristotle’s definition of a woman as lacking a penis, or simply by having a vagina, has me thinking about the ways women represent vaginas in popular culture. More specifically, popular culture that is dominated by Victorian views, such as Disney. Some serious pondering has brought me to believe that Disney Princesses, such as Cinderella, Ariel, and Pocahontas, are personifications of vaginas. These characters represent the ways in which vaginas should operate in the eyes of Victorians.
Both Cinderella and the vagina are neglected and harmed when a man is not there to protect them.
When her father dies, Cinderella is left under the so-called care of her evil stepmother. Cinderella’s relationship with her stepmother is one full of violence, hate, and jealousy on her stepmother’s part. Without the protection of her father, Cinderella becomes nothing but a victim. She is kept locked away for no one to enjoy her, and forced to endure the unpleasant chores of the household. Similarly, when a vagina no longer has a male protector, it is vulnerable to this violence and loneliness.
As for companionship, Cinderella can only become friends with mice, birds, and a fairy godmother, who comes and goes as she pleases.
The rodents are friends, yet Cinderella can’t possibly have anything in common with them; thus, they have little meaning aside from showcasing Cinderella’s hopelessness because she doesn’t have a man. The fairy godmother’s short, yet constant visits, are similar to a woman’s menstrual cycle. Surrounded by animals, the fairy godmother’s visits are reminders to Cinderella that she is a hopeless woman. Cinderella and the vagina are represented as lonely and helpless without a man or a penis to protect and pleasure her.
A pussy hanging out with mice and birds? What an unlikely pairing.
Much like Cinderella, Ariel’s only friends are fish and bottom feeders who she can’t completely relate with, and they show her how hopeless she is.
Her father is over protective, under affectionate, and doesn’t let Ariel explore the world. In attempts to find love and fill the void in her imagination, Ariel collects objects. This teaches that, whether it is a sex toy, or another body part, when a vagina is physically neglected by a penis, it desires arousal from something that mimics a penis. This both neglects the bond a woman has with herself when she masturbates, as well as the entire population of lesbians and other non-hetero women on the planet!! Is it SO obscure that maybe a woman simply wants to be alone or with another woman? It is to Disney!
Ariel was a hoarder because her father didn’t give her the love she needed, nor did her let her fly the coup. Textbook case.
Instead of collecting cats and rabbits, Ariel collects “thing-a-ma-bobs” and “whos-its”, and surprise surprise, she still isn’t satisfied. It isn’t until Ariel finds the love of her life, Eric, that she is satisfied. And we must not forget that she obtained his love, only because she gave up the trait about herself that she loved the most, her voice. Once again, Disney shows that one can only find love if they sacrifice their passions for another’s. Bringing this back to vaginas, as Ariel’s fins were abnormal and prohibited her from finding love, if a woman’s vagina carries traits that don’t measure up to today’s vaginal beauty standards, finding love becomes both a battle between the self and the other. Vaginas have it rough! They can’t buy the latest foundation from Sephora and manipulate their imperfections; their flaws are raw and obvious.
You can’t have a discussion about neglected vaginas without mention of the Indigenous vagina.
Pocahontas, the personification of the vaginal conquest, is arguably the most problematic princess of all. Like her Princess counterparts, Pocahontas doesn’t have a mother figure, has rodents for friends because she can’t connect with other women, and she leaves the constraints of her family, only to find a man. This story romanticizes Indigenous women’s vaginal history, when in reality, women’s vaginal history in general (Indigenous, White, Asian, African, Hispanic, etc), is a history of rape, neglect, and secrets.
Pocahontas represents the vaginas of colonization.
The story teaches that Indigenous vaginas must seek non-Indigenous (preferably White), men to conquer it, and then create non-Indigenous offspring (the basic concept of assimilation). The Indigenous vagina must be a hunter (because that’s what “indians” do), but it must be passive (because that’s what women do).
All of the Disney princesses are represented by neglect and desire for a man or a penis.
When the Disney princesses are compared to vaginas and the daunting, overhanging, phantom of Victorian sexuality, the fog clears, the sun rises, and it becomes apparent that these stories are teaching children heteronormative practices (ie. Man+woman=love, women need men for protection, a woman’s place in within the home), and that a bird in the hand beats two in the bush, which are both unacceptable. Essentially, all of these Disney stories are the same stories over and over again. They are stories of neglect, finding kinship in rodents, and an adventure that is fueled by finding a man. The vagina is rendered to a lonely, static, dependant entity, when in reality, it is actually dynamic and self-sustainable.