Summary: Although it may happen behind closed doors, domestic violence is a public issue that has serious psychological, social, and physical consequences. This short clip (start 0:00; end 3:41) from the documentary Mickey Mouse Monopoly (2002) is useful for illustrating how pop cultural messages in children's media socialize girls (and boys) to accept and overlook intimate partner violence. This clip brings to light the normalization and romanticization of partner abuse in Beauty and the Beast. As scholars in the documentary argue, the film teaches girls that a woman should be patient and supportive of her abusive partner in order to help him change his behavior (i.e., transform into a prince). Such messages are harmful when, in reality, women and girls should be encouraged to leave abusive relationships and seek help if their partner is mean, violent, and coercive. After screening the clip, instructors might ask some of the following questions: What are the types of partner abuse we see in this clip? How does Disney sugarcoat the Beast’s abuse as “just a short temper?” How might these messages about the normalization and romanticization of partner abuse be dangerous to children? The clip is a great segue into a broader discussion of how femininity is represented in Disney films. What desirable feminine qualities are associated with princesses (e.g., beauty, helplessness, passivity, etc)? What kinds of undesirable qualities are associated with female villains in Disney films (e.g., independent, single, agentic, powerful, ugly, etc.)? For additional teaching resources, check out this study guide for Mickey Mouse Monopoly, complete with assignment ideas and additional discussion questions.
Submitted By: Patricia Louie