Jun. 29th, 2012

jadedmusings: (BtVS - Buffy does not approve)
[livejournal.com profile] _ocelott_ has an excellent post about the movie Brave and the questions that have cropped up surrounding Merida's sexuality.

As [livejournal.com profile] _ocelott_ says:

The first headdesk comes from the argument that because Merida is disinterested in traditional female pastimes, it must be Pixar trying to subtly convey that she's a lesbian. Look, not all tomboys are gay and not all gays are tomboys. No, really! It's true! It's certainly not possible that Pixar didn't specifically mention her sexual or romantic preferences in the movie because it was, y'know, irrelevant to the story they were telling.

Now just for a second, mentally swap all the genders of the characters in the movie. If Merida had been a prince instead of a princess, nobody would be questioning his sexuality. It wouldn't even come up. But because she's a she, her adventure story isn't enough on its own. She's expected to show an interest in marriage or romance, and the theories come out if she doesn't. The message? Girls can't have adventures. And if they do, it's supposed to end with a romance, after which they settle down in their proper place, tending to babies. In the immortal words of Charlie Brown, "Good grief!"

Is Merida straight or gay? I don't know, and I doubt watching the movie is going to answer that question from what I've read. But why does that matter? The story isn't about who Merida loves or doesn't love, it's about this magical adventure she goes on to change her fate, and that's fine. Merida is still a child in the grand scheme of things, and while I know women were married young in ye olden days, this isn't a historical movie. It's fantasy, a fairy tale. Cultural norms of the past don't really have to apply here. We don't have to be historically accurate when it comes to gender roles and the expectations of young girls.

Female leads don't have to be paired off with anyone to tell a story.

Now, if individuals want to draw their own conclusions and see Merida as one way or another, that's fine. My trouble are the "experts" (most of whom seem to be either male and/or straight) who can't seem to wrap their brains around why people shouldn't care who Merida might want to someday take down the aisle, if she ever even wants to be married. The point is, Merida could be anything she wants to be and love whoever she wants, and that is precisely the sort of message we ought to be sending girls: "No matter what you like, you can still have an adventure all on your own." This sort of character is so rare and it ought to be treasured for that alone.

And I'm going to repost my comment I made in [livejournal.com profile] genrereviews:

One of the reasons I'm taking my son to see Brave is precisely because I want him to see a lead female who does NOT end up with a romantic interest and still has an adventure. (Even Korra fails on this part.) I was so worried Disney was going to push the whole princess thing and that she'd meet a suitor during her adventure and marry and settle down, and when I heard that's not the case, I wanted to shout with joy.

I find it troubling that because Merida doesn't want to pick a husband now while she's still a child and would rather live a life first, suddenly she must be gay! Or asexual! Why does that even matter when there's a whole story to tell about her?

Maybe she's just, you know, a girl like many other girls?

And a small disclaimer here: Not every girl out there will be able to easily put herself in Merida's shoes. I want to point out that this post was about Merida's sexuality. Like many stories, Brave is not perfect. Many children of color out there are sorely lacking in any media representation, but as I am a white woman, I feel uncomfortable speaking for PoC on this matter.


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Wrathful and Unrepentant Jade

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