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This Is My Brain On Disney

July 13, 2010

The other week, I was watching a painful musical rendition of Peter Pan, and suddenly I had a flashback. I grew up on a lot of Disney movies. A lot. And me being the little unsuspecting sadist and dominant I was, you can probably guess which were my favorite parts. Yes, in Disney movies. So I was trying to catalogue all the scenes in Disney cartoons that my young, innocent mind immediately took to dominance, submission, and sadism (fewer examples of masochism in the cartoons). Even though I’ve been aware of a lot of this my entire life, it was kind of shocking to add it all up. It’s been a surprising antidote for my residual sexual shame, because, dude, if I was three and getting off on this stuff, I ain’t corrupted. This is not to bash anyone who came into BDSM later in life, it’s just that I sure as hell wouldn’t judge a three-year-old for their natural inclinations, so there’s hardly a reason why I should judge myself (I know this, but my self-loathing can be irrational). It is somewhat disturbing, however, that a mega-corporation had such a strong hand in shaping my sexual archetypes.

But here you are:

  • Peter Pan – One of my earliest sadistic memories is from getting off (non-orgasmically) from Hook being all roped up with a shredded shirt near the end of the movie and all the painful things that could be done to him since he was the bad guy (like being eaten by an ALLIGATOR). Having his hand cut off was a bonus.
  • Sleeping Beauty – My usual thoughts when watching Sleeping Beauty were, “Man, this would be awesome if man/woman positions were reversed.” I wanted to rescue the Dude in Distress.
  • Snow White – I can remember being interested by the whole poisoned-to-sleep idea. Definitely tugged at some d/s in me.
  • Cinderella – Only instead: Woman summoning every man in the land in order to select a mate. Throw in some d/s and some bondage, and that is the story I want to write. As soon as I get over my self-imposed stigma about the literary worth of erotica.
  • Little Mermaid – I remember being intrigued by the prince getting all mind-controlled by Ursula.
  • Rescuers Down Under – The main human character, Cody, who was at the time, my senior, got tied and/or caged up a couple of times. My general thoughts tended toward: “Why doesn’t this happen to the boys I know?” Also, I was quite titillated by the medical scene, what with rope, suction cups, vices, spurs, and a huge-ass syringe. I would rewind to that part (VHS, baby).
  • Beauty and the Beast – Beast getting ripped to shreds by wolves, sewn up (I guess I made that up, but hurt in the process of healing), and then stabbed in the side. Plus the whole symbolic healing sequence at the end. Despite the prettiness, I was pretty pissed that he got transformed into a generic pretty-boy instead of staying awesome. I would fantasize about tying up/tormenting Gaston and the stereotypically-pretty-trio. Especially the trio, now that I think about it, and making them have sex. I mean, holy shit, I was like four. And I knew what was awesome.
  • Aladdin – I liked the scenes of Aladdin being chased by guards, then thrown in prison, the idea of Genie as a slave, Jasmine being trapped in an hourglass, and Aladdin squeezed to death by giant-Jafar-snake. I think Jasmine was my first woman cartoon-crush.
  • Pocahontas – The parts where John and Kocoum fight, John gets captured, tied to a pole, then taken out to be executed was like heroin for my eight-year-old brain. I just went and rewatched the execution part during the song Savages, and I don’t know if at eight I could really appreciated John’s “Oh shit I’m gonna die” expressions. Bravo, art director.
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame – Despite the message about cruelty toward the non-average, I watched wide-eyed as Quasimodo got roped to the wheel and emotionally smacked around (and rescued by a chick). Phoebus getting shot and rescued by Esmerelda also fulfilled my Dudes in Distress kink, and then he made nice noises having alcohol poured in the wound and sewn up. But I was totally incensed by Phoebus and Esmerelda hooking up instead of Esmerelda and Quasimodo. I was like, “Oh no you did not.” Then there was the grand finale of Phoebus in a cage and Quasimodo in chains while Esmerelda is tied to a stake and about to get burned.
  • Mulan – Dude in Distress: Shang gets shot, falls unconscious, then gets to get rescued.

It’s been pretty fascinating to go back and look and be able to pinpoint the moment and source that someone tied to stake started doing it for me. It’s also been an interesting window into the feelings beneath my sexual archetypes and sexual tropes (I can’t quite articulate yet why those are different for me, but I know the distinction is there). There’s vulnerability, and empathy, fear, and relief, anticipation, pain, connection, rawness, wildness. Notice you don’t really get to see happiness or joy or fun involved in those Disney moments moments, because that’s not what our culture expects. I think it’s forgotten. Of course, found in all of these movies are some themes than can be damaging, or at the very least limiting. The biggest one I see is the theme that only bad guys hurt people, unless it’s just a horrible misunderstanding. And you have to find your One True Love to be whole and happy. Also, you have to be pretty to get the girl.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. July 14, 2010 1:04 pm

    My usual thoughts when watching Sleeping Beauty were, “Man, this would be awesome if man/woman positions were reversed.” I wanted to rescue the Dude in Distress.

    This, exactly this, is how I feel about the vast majority of porn.

  2. July 14, 2010 1:53 pm

    Oh man, I *still* sometimes base fantasies on the scene in Aladdin where Jasmine is holding an apple and Jafar yanks on her chains and takes a bite of it.

    Also, you have to check this out: and make sure to scroll to the bottom and check out the additional pages of the treatise on sketches of the prince in bondage in the plans for Snow White that never made it to the movie, and his summaries of other Disney bondage. Same with Sleeping Beauty, apparently. Sketches and artwork are on the site.

  3. ranat permalink*
    July 14, 2010 3:39 pm

    @Maymay – Seriously, right? I’m coming to see how the whole mis-conflation between masculinity-dominant and femininity-submissive might have happened. Take the picture at Male Submission Art of a man sitting in a woman’s lap. A lot of people would associate sitting on someone’s lap as the feminine position, but to me it could be read as the submissive position (because for me it evokes openness, vulnerability, being lovingly restricted/controlled). In our lovely patriarchy, the feminine is always portrayed in the ‘submissive’ position, so we have generations of people who think, subconsciously or consciously, that femininity is inherently submissive and masculinity inherently dominant. I’m not saying that sitting in someone’s lap is inherently submissive either, but the position speaks to me in that way, even though it could just as easily be dominant.

    @lovesickrobot – Dude. Whoa. Did the prince getting tied up actually happen in the theatrical release of Sleeping Beauty? Both rope bondage AND chains??? A pity the Snow White bondage/torture scene got cut. That looked pretty awesome. Also, I totally forgot about the Jasmine in chains and Aladdin getting drowned scenes. Those were also on my list of childhood titillation moments. Thanks for sharing that site! It’s kind of funny, the author seems horrified by it, while we’re like, “Aha!”


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