Before we get going I just wanna make it clear that Sebastian was awesome.
From Disney’s The Little Mermaid, young girls are indoctrinated with many preconceived notions about their traditional gender roles, which are “sets of behavioral norms assumed to accompany one’s status as male or female”. The film’s main character, Arial, falls in love with a prince and goes to major extremes to win his love. Because Arial left her close friends and family and underwent an extensive physical transformation, she ultimately is rewarded with Prince Eric’s love and affection. Arial’s actions send two discrete, yet profound, lessons. Firstly, that it is completely acceptable for a girl to abandon her family and overall lifestyle just to be with a man. Secondly, that a woman must be willing to drastically change her physical appearance in order for a man to love her. As a result of the diffusion of these messages, young women are taught that they are subordinate to men and should be willing to change themselves for someone, as if they are not already good enough.
In addition to the previously stated gender messages, the most blatantly obvious statements about expectations of the female gender are described in Ursula’s song, Poor Unfortunate Souls. In the song, the evil witch, Ursula, explains to Arial that it is fine for her to give up her voice because she is beautiful, specifically “You have your looks, your pretty face, and don’t underestimate the importance of body language.” This statement gives off a sentiment that in order to get what one wants, all a woman needs is to be beautiful. Furthermore, Ursula explains that what a woman’s intelligence and personality is irrelevant to her worth, stating, “On land it’s much preferred for ladies not to say a word” and “It’s she who holds her tongue who gets a man.” This argument for female subordination is a clear example of a patriarchal society, in which females are subordinate to males