Home Opinion Elastigirl confronts gender norms right alongside villains in Disney Pixar’s Incredibles 2

Elastigirl confronts gender norms right alongside villains in Disney Pixar’s Incredibles 2



After 14 years of excitement and anticipation, Disney Pixar fans flocked to see the Incredibles 2.

The movie picks up right where the first left off and takes us on a journey of the Incredible family and other superheroes fighting to legally save people from evil as well as addressing social issues such as feminism and gender roles in the family.

“I think overall it was awesome for Pixar to start leading this new direction of showing that it is common now-a-days for women to…be the bread winners,” Junior English major Caleigh Sowder said, “and that that should be accepted, that should be okay, it shouldn’t have to be a taboo thing or it shouldn’t be demasculizing.”

Sowder,an English major, is an active  feminist and is interested in obtaining a minor in Women, Gender and Sexuality studies at the Island University.

Sowder agrees that Incredibles 2 shows a change in gender norms and elevates feminist thinking.

“I remember the conversation that she (the villain) was having with Elastigirl about being…a woman in the forefront in a man dominate world,” Sowder said, “and Elastigirl said that she ultimately believes the believer in her believes that you should go out there and you should do whatever the heck you want to do without any inhibition because of what society tries to tell you.”

Disney Pixar did remain realistic in its portrayal of women rising in society and how it causes discomfort for some men.

“I think it was really refreshing. I think the thing that I thought was also very well done is that there was kind of…tension around it,” Sowder said. “Mr. Incredible had a really hard time with the idea of him not being the center, him not being the bread winner, him not being the one out there doing the work and him staying at home. I thought that was very well done. How they kind of talked about that, how that can be difficult for some people.”

Dr. Stephanie Rodriguez, Assistant Professor and Interim Graduate Coordinator in the Department of Communication & Media, who teaches a Seminar in Family Communication, echoed the opinion that the social norms in today’s culture increase the difficulty of switching gender roles in a heterosexual family unit.

“Social norms in the West are still very much focused on the men being the primary bread winner,” Dr. Rodriguez said. “…that’s the person who’s responsible for bringing home the money and so nurturing goes against a lot of how we are expected to do masculinity in American culture, which is about achievement, it is about being in public and achieving and being strong and those kinds of things and we don’t tend to associate household tasks, in particular internal household tasks, with masculinity. We tend to associate nurturing as more feminine traits and so in some ways a man who stays home can be perceived as being emasculated, taking away some of those things of being male.”

Dr. Rodriguez says that standard cultural beliefs are what mainly stand in opposition of men staying at home. For men and women to state their beliefs and then follow through on those words, is the real battle, she says.

“Families can function the same way regardless of who is engaging what kind of role. I think the bigger challenge is vis-a-vis outside culture,” Dr. Rodriguez said. “We are situated in a society that while we say we want fifty-fifty percent, you know, husbands and wives sharing duties in heterosexual families, of course the social pressure is still much stronger for women to be the nurturer, to take care of the children, to handle the doctors’ appointments, to cook meals and those kinds of things. So, I think the family dynamic is most affected by having to engage in more overt discourse about why this set up is good, acceptable, functional…better, if anything, than what’s viewed as normative.”

Whether you notice or appreciate any of the issues that were addressed in Incredibles 2, critics agree the humor and action of the Disney Pixar film is fantastic and worth at least a glimpse.

“I really enjoyed (the movie),” Sowder said. “I think just overall with the story and everything like that, I think it was well worth the almost 14 year wait.”


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