snow white lithograph
A official Disney lithograph of Snow White Getty

At least two researches in the United States have accused Disney princess films of creating gender inequality. Researchers say that women in the Disney films speak less than their male counterparts.

Linguists Carmen Fought and Karen Eisenhauer began their study on how the male and female characters in these films talk by counting the lines of dialogue. They were surprised to find that women have fewer lines than men in those films, The Washington Post reported.

Researchers said that Little Mermaid (1989) started this new trend of gender inequality. It was the first Disney princess film in which women are outspoken by men, who deliver 88% of the dialogue, they said. That was not so in the three classic Disney princess films – Snow White (1937), Cinderella (1950) and Sleeping Beauty (1959). These films have women characters who speak as much as, or more than male characters. Dialogue delivery by men and women in Snow White is almost equal while 71% of lines spoken in Sleeping Beauty are of female, the report said.

The five Disney princess films that followed Little Mermaid between 1989 and 1999 saw a decline in number of lines for female characters. According to researchers' finding, the films made in this 10-year period, often called Disney's Renaissance era, are predominantly male-oriented.

Men speak 71% percent of the time in Beauty and the Beast (1991), and 90% of the lines in Aladdin (1992) are by them, data suggests. About 76% of the dialogues in Pocahontas (1995) are that of male characters and 77% of deliveries in Mulan (1998) happen by men, the researchers noted.

Researchers stressed on the impact these films have had or will continue to have on gender roles. "There's one isolated princess trying to get someone to marry her, but there are no women doing any other things," Fought, a linguistic professor at Pitzer College was quoted as saying.

"There are no women leading the townspeople to go against the Beast, no women bonding in the tavern together singing drinking songs, women giving each other directions, or women inventing things. Everybody who's doing anything else, other than finding a husband in the movie, pretty much, is a male."

However, researchers noted that the Disney princess films released more than decade later are better at dialogue division. In Tangled (2010), a film based on the fairy tale of Rapunzel, women have 52% of the lines. In Brave (2012), 74% of the dialogues are by female characters, they said.