“Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.”
I’ve heard this saying countless times in my 28 years of life. It is commonly paraphrased as such, and has been in use since the late 1600s when William Congreve wrote the words, “Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, nor hell a fury like a woman scorned.”
I just watched Maleficent yesterday. I was curious. Just as I was curious about Frozen when my sister kept talking about it and everyone in America seemed to be singing the songs. And it seems that Disney has been trying to dispel certain myths that they have themselves perpetuated in the past; the idea of true-love’s kiss breaking a spell, love at first sight, and princesses whose life goals seem only to be marriage. Disney’s newer image of the princess or female lead seem baby-steps in a society where these ideas have been stuffed down our gullets for decades (in the case of Disney) and longer historically. What I still have a problem with is the character of the witch. I could barely watch Oz: The Great and Powerful, and honestly, Maleficent wasn’t much better. Both movies have characters who are nice and seemingly well-adjusted individuals who rapidly become bitter, vindictive, and evil by being spurned by a male character. So, Disney is dispelling the idea that true-love’s kiss has to be between a man and a woman (true love can be between family or friends—okay), but they are still perpetuating the idea that women are scornful creatures whose future is dictated by the actions of males. It is infuriating as a woman. And it sure as shit makes me not want to let my hypothetical future children watch such movies.
The thing that pisses me off is that these women characters are still being defined by their male counterparts. There is still the underlying fear of being alone present in the subtext. Unmarried elderly women characters are homely or evil. What of the strong independent women who do not need to fall in-line with societal norms of marriage and children? Can they not be kind and attractive individuals who choose not to be with a man because they have not found a suitable partner they admire and respect? Choose being the operative word—not scorned by a man into spinsterhood and vengeance.
We’re getting placated into societal norms by the lull of the silver-screen. We’re being force-fed dreams that aren’t ours. Disney is still pedaling the same dream in a different package. But hey, it’s just our children’s ideals at stake.