When young women are sexually assaulted, we question their pasts and critique their clothing choices, yet rarely ask their attackers to simply be accountable for having no self-control, and no respect for the humanity of the girls they’ve violated.
When middle school girls post half–naked photos of themselves on Instagram, we vilify and ostracize them as cheap and easy, while ignoring the dozens of young men who mindlessly vote their approval each time, who feed the insecurity, and who perpetuate each degrading act with the click of a mouse.
When high school girls get jobs at chain restaurants, which require them to expose their body parts to strangers over trays of nachos, we bemoan their lack of humility and class, yet never question the thousands of men who fill these eateries every day; many with daughters the same age as the ones they ogle.
When women embarrassingly writhe on poles for a few sweaty dollar bills, in dimly lit bars ironically called “Gentlemen’s Clubs”, we heap insults and judgement on them, yet let the many married men who pay both the dancers and the mortgage each month, come and go without blemish or critique.
Sooner or later, we need to stop letting boys be boys, and we need to challenge them to be men.
Sooner or later, we need to pull them out of their perpetual adolescence and into adulthood, and ask them to evenly carry the weight of sexual standards.
Sooner or later, we need to show our young men that the they can actually raise the moral temperature in sexual situations, not reflect them.
I am a Mohawk woman… You cannot ask me to speak as a woman because I cannot speak as just a woman. That is not the voice that I have been given. Gender does not transcend race. The voice that I have been given is the voice of a Mohawk woman and if you must talk to me about women, somewhere along the line you must talk about race.
Gaston really is the most terrifying Disney villain because he could be anyone in the world.
Later he convinces the whole town to set up his wedding with the knowledge that the would-be bride would be thrown into it. Everyone finds his creepy-ass tactics as cute and “boys will be boys” esque. So yeah, he is terrifying.
Yeah, the truly scary thing about Beauty and the Beast isn’t that Gaston exists, but that society fucking loves him. People who deride the movie by saying it’s about Stockholm Syndrome are ignoring that it’s actually about the various ways that truly decent people get othered by society. People don’t trust the Beast because of the way he looks, which only feeds his anger issues and pushes him further away. Gaston isn’t the only one who criticizes Belle for being bookish, either; the whole town says there must be something wrong with her. And her father gets carted off to a mental asylum for being just a little eccentric.
Howard Ashman, who collaborated on the film’s score and had a huge influence on the movie’s story and themes, was a gay man who died of AIDS shortly after work on the film was completed. If you watch the film with that in mind, the message of it becomes clear. Gaston demonstrates that bullies are rewarded and beloved by society as long as they possess a certain set of characteristics, while nice people who don’t are ostracized. The love story between Belle and the Beast is about them finding solace in each other after society rejects them both.
Notice how the Beast reacts when the whole town comes for him. He’s not angry, he’s sad. He’s tired. And he almost gives up because he has nothing to live for. But then he sees that Belle has come back for him, and suddenly he does. In the original fairy tale, the Beast asks Belle to marry him every night, and the spell is broken when she accepts. In the Disney movie, he waits for her to love him, because he cannot love himself. That’s how badly being ostracized from society and told that you’re a monster all your life can fuck with your head and make you stop seeing yourself as human.
Society rewards the bullies because we’ve been brought up to believe that their victims don’t belong. That if someone doesn’t fit in, then they have to be put in their place, or destroyed. And this movie demonstrates that this line of thinking is wrong. It’s so much deeper than a standard “be yourself” message, and that’s why it’s one of my favorite Disney movies.