The Gender Politics Of Zootopia
Start writing a post

The Gender Politics Of Zootopia

Disney's latest is more progressive than it seems.

The Gender Politics Of Zootopia

Disney's latest film Zootopia has been extensively advertised as a film about race. Mammals of every size, whether predator or prey, live together in mostly adequate harmony. One rabbit defies the expectations to become a cop, but still has to prove herself to her chauvinistic boss. What follows is an impressively crafted commentary on xenophobia, stereotypes, segregation, and gender. That's right, Disney made a feminist film that's not Frozen. Yet no one seems to have noticed.

Here are three facts about Zootopia. This is Disney's first film with a female lead without romance, Judy Hopps is the only woman in the police department, and women are integral to the plot.

I'll address the first two points without spoilers, and put a warning before the third. That there's no romance is somewhat a spoiler, but the developers have mentioned it offhandedly. In an interview with Buzzfeed, the film's co-writer Phil Johnston said:

“Audience expectations point towards female characters needing a love interest, and that is not the case. The more sophisticated we get as storytellers and stray from that old formula that is so tired, the more exciting films are going to get and the more interesting female characters we’ll see in movies.”

The dynamic between Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde evolves over the course of the film from antagonistic to playfully platonic. Some may construe their banter as flirting, but the film never pushes their relationship as anything more than supportive, sarcastic friends. Despite Frozen's attempt to say women don't need romance, it still ended with romance. Zootopia is far more oblique, as it never comments on Judy's singleness. Romance is irrelevant to her character.

What is relevant is her position in the police department. If you watch the trailers, you'll see all the larger, more domineering animals as her fellow cops. Beyond that, however, is the fact that they are all men. This isn't just "black man in a white man's world," this is a woman of a different race in a hostile environment. Again, the film doesn't comment on her being a woman, yet the subtext is there. She's dismissed as too cute, too weak, and too emotional. That sort of prejudice isn't levied at race, it's hurled at women.

Spoiler warning!

As the protagonist, Judy is naturally expected to move the plot and instigate inciting action. She is important and so is the villain. Assistant Mayor Bellwether is similarly discriminated against as prey, so she retaliates against her egotistical male boss with her plot. Disney has often had female protagonists and antagonists squaring off, but Bellwether's gender further accentuates the film's commentary on women being subdued by oppressive societal paradigms. Judy pushes for equality, while Bellwether wants to subvert the system and put herself on top. These two represent the competing ideologies of matriarchy and female equality.

End Spoilers!

Judy is smart, independent, persistent, and kind. She's exactly the kind of character all people could look up to, but especially girls. The closest analogue for her character is The Princess and the Frog's Tiana. Both Disney protagonists have big dreams they pursue through hard work and grueling sacrifices, and both are women of color. Well, Judy's a rabbit, but you get the point. Disney finally made a film that deftly comments on race and gender.

From Your Site Articles
Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Olivia White

"The American flag does not fly because the wind moves it. It flies from the last breath of each solider who died protecting it."

Keep Reading... Show less

Separation Anxiety in Pets

Separation anxiety in pets is a real thing and recognizing the warning signs is important.


Since March, Covid-19 required most of the world to quarantine in their homes. Majority of people ended up working from home for nearly five months. This meant pet owners were constantly with their pets giving them attention, playing with them, letting them out etc. Therefore, when the world slowly started to open up again and pet owners began returning to normal life work schedules away from the home, pet owners noticed a difference in the way their pet acted. Many pets develop separation anxiety especially during this crazy time when majority people were stuck inside barely leaving the house.

Keep Reading... Show less

The invention of photography

The history of photography is the recount of inventions, scientific discoveries and technical improvements that allowed human beings to capture an image on a photosensitive surface for the first time, using light and certain chemical elements that react with it.


The history of photography is the recount of inventions, scientific discoveries and technical improvements that allowed human beings to capture an image on a photosensitive surface for the first time, using light and certain chemical elements that react with it.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

Exposing Kids To Nature Is The Best Way To Get Their Creative Juices Flowing

Constantly introducing young children to the magical works of nature will further increase the willingness to engage in playful activities as well as broaden their interactions with their peers


Whenever you are feeling low and anxious, just simply GO OUTSIDE and embrace nature! According to a new research study published in Frontiers in Psychology, being connected to nature and physically touching animals and flowers enable children to be happier and altruistic in nature. Not only does nature exert a bountiful force on adults, but it also serves as a therapeutic antidote to children, especially during their developmental years.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments