The Issue of Consent in Disney’s Snow White

By: Sarah Stone

scene from Snow White University is one of the best places to learn. A student can discuss new ideas in an open and safe environment, meet some of the brightest people, and receive new insight and understanding of different views. Disney is also a cultural educator and “teaching machine”. Through their popular movies and television shows, the Disney brand circulates meanings to children about gender, race, ethnicity, class, and social identities. It also teaches about consent.

Disney’s Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs

The image above is from the iconic scene in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. This scene shows the prince kissing the sleeping princess to break the spell casted upon the jealous stepmom, Queen Grimhilde.

Cute, right?

Although the movie was released in the late 1930s, it depicts how society thought about consent. The controversy here is that Snow White is one of Disney’s most popular iconic princess movies and the narrative about consent is not addressed. When examined, this is a scene of sexual assault and Disney is not talking about it.

This Disney scene encourages and normalizes to young boys and girls that it is romantic to kiss someone without their consent, especially if they are sleeping. Just because prince charming saves Snow White from her inevitable death, it doesn’t mean that it was ever okay.

So, What Is Consent?

Consent is an ongoing agreement between two people. If one of those people have decided to verbally break the agreement, had too much drink, is sleeping, or were cursed with the sleeping spell by Queen Grimhilde, you may not proceed with kissing, touching, or any sexual activity.

How would you feel, and what would you do, if you woke up in your dorm one night and a stranger, friend, or pixelated prince charming was on top of you trying to kiss you as you were asleep? Not only is it creepy, it’s illegal.

Although Disney can sell a romantic storyline, it is a fantasy and not always a reality of today’s values and morals. If you’re unsure about consent, always ask!

More Information

If you are ever unsure or wish to have more information and resources about consent, visit Carleton’s Sexual Assault Support Services and the CU Don’t Know Sexual Assault and Drinking page.