Does Mulan Overthrow Oppressive Gender Norms?

1308 WordsOct 25, 20126 Pages
Philosophy Final Paper Does Mulan overthrow oppressive gender norms? In 1990, a novel was written by philosopher Judith Butler titled Gender Trouble. The importance of this novel was evident as it was a very controversial yet interesting analysis of the way we humans look at the topic of gender and sex. She explains throughout the book that our "gender norms" have been created by our ancestors and society. To many, crossing this boundary set by society is very deviant. Eight years after Gender Trouble was written, Disney released a very feminist cartoon movie called Mulan. During this story, the main character, a girl, joins the Chinese army to fight because she doesn't want her dad to get hurt. Girls were not allowed in the Chinese…show more content…
First, she cuts off her hair. Men having short hair while women having long hair are age-old gender norms. By cutting off her hair, she is attempting to be a man. Also, Mulan wears all of the gear. The gear and sword are symbols of masculinity and war. The law at this time was that women can't fight in wars and if so they would be executed. Mother: You must go after her, she could be killed. Father: If I reveal her, she will be. (Bancroft 1998). Mulan made a very brave decision to join the army and much of what she later has to do is completely opposite of gender norms. The most prominent example seen throughout Mulan that relates to Butler's theory for overthrowing oppressive gender norms is the time Mulan spends in the army. There are numerous examples of both gender parody and bodily performance of possible alternatives to established gender norms. When Mulan enters the army on the first day you can see her trying to act like a man in front of everybody else. When she is talking to the captain of the army, in a manly voice, she says You know how it is when you get those manly urges. You just gotta kill something, fix things, cook outdoors.... (Bancroft 1998). While she is telling that to the captain, she has a very manly posture. She hits her chest and her open palm as she is talking to try to seem more masculine. This whole scene has gender parody. Throughout this scene, Mulan pretends to be a man by spitting and fighting as well.

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