Feminism and Gender Inequality in Mulan

“What I wanted was to prove I could do things right, so when I looked in the mirror, I’d see someone worthwhile.” Mulan constantly tries to prove her importance through strength in femininity, relatability, self-discovery, and selfishness. She is an inspirational, courageous and brave person. 'a girl worth fighting for.' Mulan decided to prove that she is worth something, even though she isn't a princess, also that women could do whatever men can do. Mulan struggled plenty of times throughout the movie, but she never gives up, even when times get tough. On top of that, she stands up for what’s right no matter what. Mulan from “Mulan” (1998) should be included on this list because she's showing that being beautiful is not of the most important, but the way you look at yourself. “Mulan” exhibits many of society’s views on gender. Mulan is filled with gender inequality, gender identity, gender stereotypes, and also shows how hard it can be to escape these society ridden expectations, of what it means to be a man or woman. With further analysis of the text, you will see that Mulan is not quite the feminist movie it is first perceived to be.

At first blush, 'Mulan' looks exactly like the kind of movie that traffics in the regressive ideology of the badass paradigm. The elevator pitch for the film is, 'Young woman fills in for her ailing father to fight in the Emperor's army by pretending to be a man, outshines her male counterparts and then saves China.' The movie goes to lengths to have us believe Mulan is an archetypal badass by continues to lure us into the comforts of a well-worn badass trope when she rebels against these expectations and leaves regiment in the army in her father’s stead. They told Mulan that if you look pretty you would find a husband easily, but Mulan didn't believe that was true. Mulan believed in something else that women are beautiful just the way they are and being yourself, loving yourself and just being you is the right way to find a husband and by hiding behind people's expectations. Mulan sees that being a harems wife isn't for her when her father was selected to go fight, she stepped up and wanted to fight for him, but there's a rule that women cannot fight in the army but did that stop her no. In the movie, we see how Mulan found herself and believe in herself to be better and to succeed and accomplish anything she puts her mind to and that is exactly what she did.

Also, 'Mulan' begins by establishing a gendered social hierarchy and the consequences of overstepping one’s gender role. Both males and females have a specific role in Chinese society that one must follow. Indeed, in the first song of 'Mulan,' “Honor to Us All,” other women bathe, clothe and prepare her like a doll to meet the matchmaker. She is told that her manners and appearance will win her a husband, and in doing so, she will bring honor to her family. Mulan had to follow the Chinese tradition and become a harem wife, that was something that she didn't want to do. Mulan made a brave choice, pretending to be a man and going to war against the Huns in place of her father, risking serious consequences if she were to get caught. She broke the socialization of gender roles and could have been faced with very serious consequences of her actions. The Chinese society in Mulan exemplifies the typical gender roles of males and females, the consequences of displaying the opposite gender role, and showed what society expected in males and females in characteristics and attitudes. Mulan is a young girl in China, who is trying to honor her family and ancestors by finding a husband. She was expected to be delicate, quiet, obedient, graceful, polite, and poised, none of which Mulan displayed. Mulan could not pour the tea right for the woman either. She missed the cup, spilling the tea on the table. Mulan did not display the characteristics that the Chinese society expected a woman to have and has looked at as dishonorable to outsiders. After saving the Emperor, Mulan is offered a powerful job in his kingdom, representing a stereotypically male position. Instead of breaking through the glass ceiling and discouraging gender roles, she instead returns home to be an obedient daughter. Mulan saved all of China, but what remains important to her family is solely bringing honor to the family by becoming a bride. As a woman, her heroic efforts were not appreciated; but as a bride, she brings honor to the family. This highlights that even if women can be successful in masculine terms, what matters overall is conforming to their feminine gender roles.

In conclusion,”Mulan” teaches us to be ourselves and not be defined as what people think we should be. Mulan goes out and shows that it doesn't matter what gender,colour or age everyone can accomplish what they want to accomplish. Anyone can be a hero at whatever it is, as long as you believe in yourself. No one should hide who they are as a person, everyone should be themselves and not worry about what others think. Everyone should just tell themselves to be confident in all they do in life and never give up on anything. Overall, Mulan should be included on this list because her message shows people to be brave, determined in all that they do and to be herself and have a strong will in what they believe is right.


  1. http://25.media.tumblr.com/8f3e2a07a6fee611b553969430a8a65e/tumblr_n2gxlfK2nv1soh7y6o4_500.gif
  2. https://prezi.com/lpmrautcq_tj/stereotypes-in-mulan/
  3. https://prezi.com/um4ijaa0i962/female-stereotypes-in-disney-movies-mulan/
  4. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10304312.2013.843636?scroll=top&needAccess=true
  5. https://exploringyourmind.com/mulan-great-example-women/
  6. https://www.theodysseyonline.com/mulan-is-the-greatest
  7. https://www.shondaland.com/live/a21073414/disney-mulan-20th-anniversary/   
07 April 2022
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