Mulan(1998 film) was made by Disney and was based on the Chinese legend of Hua Mulan. The movie takes place in Han dynasty where the viewer follows Fa Mulan, a daughter of an army veteran. The movie has a masculine hegemony where gender and power inequities are account for multiple masculinities and how other hegemonic structures are oppress and reinforce this idea in the movie to only use Mulan as a model for breaking the masculine hegemony in it. Using the radical feminist perspective will help break down the movie and the ideas around it.
The movie starts with Shan Yu, the leader of the Huns, breaching the Great Wall. The emperor orders for an army and that one man from each family must join. Mulan’s father an army veteran who can barely walk without the help of a cane must join because there is no other male in the family. Mulan decides to steal her father’s armor and disguise as a male to take her father place. Mulan goes through military training where she learns how to be a warrior and later save all of China.
Radical Feminist Perspective
The radical feminist perspective assumes that inequities and oppression stem from how the system creates men and women differently and the value associated with them. Looking at this and the masculine hegemony in the movie. We can already tell in the first song of the movie, “Bring Honor to us All” where it tells the viewer what a woman should be for their man. The lines are “Men want girls with good taste, calm, obedient, who work fast-paced, with good breeding, and a tiny waist” Later in the Movie the song, “Girl Worth Fighting For” Mulan ask, “how ‘bout a girl who’s got brain. Who always speaks her mind?” all the soldiers say no and go back to how they want one who can cook, clean, and adore them not one on the same level as them. The movie reinforces with the songs, but also every time Mulan is not pretending to be a guy no one will listen to her.
Mulan acts as a model for breaking masculine hegemony of the movie and what a woman should be. She is cunning, resourceful, and caring. The only reason she joins the army was so her father who is now weak doesn’t need too. In the movie, she shows her cunning side. When are the other soldiers are trying to climb the pole with the weights they brute force it, but never make it anywhere. Mulan instead used the weights as a climbing tool to make it up there. The viewers agree with Mulan because of her reason.
Li Shang is the anti-model for the movie. He fits the masculine hegemony and also the opposite of Mulan. His plan for everything is brute force and he is single minded to complete his goal. When the Huns ambushed them on the mountain instead of thinking away to escape or defend he wants his men to try and take out Shan Yu instead. Mulan used the last cannon they have to cause an avalanche which happens to take out all of the Huns in one fell swoop. The viewers disagree with LI Shang for how hot head he is and how his plans boiled down to brute force which makes Mulan more desirable
Mulan shows the Masculine hegemony back in china back then, but also challenges it by creating a model through Mulan that shows strength alone and being a male doesn’t always makes the best hero, but one of cunning, resourceful, and caring does and it can be a female.