As I tend to do, I was clicking around on YouTube when this video essay titled “Cinderella: Stop Blaming the Victim” caught my eye.
It’s been a while since I’ve seen Disney’s animated version of Cinderella, but it was one of my favorites as a kid. Something I failed to recall was right there in the opening narration it says in clear text “Cinderella was abused”.
I’ll admit it’s fun to watch folks poke fun at and criticize Disney films because, let’s be honest, we’re bored; But most people don’t sit down and do a serious texual analysis because we hated English class for a reason.
So, to recap. The Disney version of Cinderella is about a physical and emotional abuse victim trapped in a bad situation she cannot get out and despite ALL that she remains optimistic, hopeful, and kind. Like you see her abuse ON SCREEN. Wtf.
So, if one were to assume that Cinderella is bad for feminism one would be actually quite mistaken. It’s not actually a victim’s responsibility to fight back against her abusers. In fact fighting back is a very masculine trait. Cinderella is a very feminine character and she stays true to herself the whole movie.
The biggest criticism I’ve heard is the “waiting for your prince to come” trope. But that’s an over simplification and missing the point entirely. It’s not the love-at-first-sight gooey stuff that “saves” Cinderella, it’s the fact that the prince is literally the first person to treat Cinderella with kindness in years and he’s giving her a way out of her abusive situation in a setting without women’s shelters and abuse hotlines.
The truth of the text is Cinderella DID do something about her situation; she got help and she got out. For an abuse victim that is a HUGE accomplishment.
So kudos to Cinderella for not losing hope in a hopeless situation, for staying true to her morals of kindness despite the negative actions of others, and protecting those weaker than herself when she didn’t have to. She totally deserved that happy ending.
And I have no intention of ever watching the live action remake.