The film Mulan was made to combat the stereotypicalgender roles in the Chinese culture, however, the movie contains proof of thecontrary. China, in Mulan, is shown as a male dominant society in which men andwomen’s’ actions must comply with their cultural roles. Inthis setting, a man brings honor to his family by fighting in the war andbecoming a high ranked soldier. A woman fulfills her honorable role to thefamily by marrying a man with status and wealth. When Mulan first joins thearmy, it is difficult for her to keep up with the rest of the guys.
The veryfamous song “Be AMan”proposes that men should be “swiftas a coursing river”, andhave the “forceof a great typhoon (Mulan 1998.)” OnceMulan starts complying and accepting these ideas she is given the title of thebest soldier in the troop. The only way she accomplished such a title was bytaking on the role and characteristics of a described “man” inthe movie.
This reinstated the difficulty the film had in moving away fromtraditional gender roles. In addition, the enforcing of gender role for women isseen towards the end of the story. Towards the beginning of the movie, whenMulan is grooming to go see a matchmaker all the women sing to her “Honour us all”. It suggests that, “a girl can bring her family great honor in one way,by striking a good match.
Men want girls… calm, obedient, who work fast-paced. With goodbreeding and a tiny waist…(Mulan1988.)”However, Mulan seems to successfully move away from these traditional roleswhen she saves all of China and as her accomplishment is offered a seat in thecouncil. Instead of accepting this role as a woman as opposed to her previousrole as a man, she refuses and decided to go home like an obedient daughter.This portrays that as ‘a man’ inthe army she was able to work but once the roles are reversed, Mulan yearns togo home which is considered a norm for women. Also, when she returns hergrandmother says, “Great,she brought home a sword. If you ask me she should have brought home a man” (Mulan 1998).
This goes to show that despite herefforts her family’sideology on culture honor and women roles have not changed. They would stilllike to see her a bride as in the movie Mulan, a women’s role is to honour her family by becoming a brideand in this lie their true happiness. The film although tries to show Mulan asa feminist princess it fails to do as it only reinforces the gender roles ofboth male and female.