4 Reasons Why Contemporary Feminists Have To Watch ‘Once Upon A Time’

The fourth season of ABC’s television series, ‘Once Upon A Time’, is upon us. If you love modern adaptations of classic fairy tales, this is the cherry on the top of the cake. As you run through each episode, try to identify all of the children’s stories the producers integrated throughout the storyline: it makes a viewer’s experience more interesting. What is also appealing in the series is the contemporary, but somehow still ideal, approach towards gender and socio-cultural issues.

once upon a time frozen season 4

  1. Equal rights in a romantic relationship

Ever dreamt of living in a world where women are the ones to ask men for a date without the fear of being considered as ‘weird’ or of humiliating the male ego? Well, Emma Swan makes the first move to make this a reality by – finally – asking Killian (a.k.a. Captain Hook) out officially in the fourth season. An equal compromise was maintained when the latter offered to choose the restaurant. Moreover, they are business associates, looking after each other’s backs. Besides, the fact that Emma is the town sheriff, therefore the one with higher social power, does not seem to disturb the Captain, or anyone else in Storybrooke for that matter, which leads us to the next point…

  1. Female empowerment

This concept is probably the most obvious one that is constantly present in ‘Once Upon A Time’ since season one. The main characters have mostly been women, both protagonists and antagonists, such as Emma the Savior, Regina the Evil Queen, Snow White, the Witch of the West, and so on… to the point that Frozen’s have been included as well, and guess what, Elsa and Anna are girls! Of course, an additional Snow Queen had to be added too. Kings never really had a significant part in the series. Even Prince Charming’s reign in the Enchanted Forest was short and although he is also the sheriff of Storybrooke, his character is overshadowed by Emma. That said, it is not merely the number of women in the show that matters, but also, most importantly, the incredible power these women are given. ‘Power’ does not only mean magical abilities such as giving life to a snowman, but it also refers to social status and respect. In the Enchanted Forest (and now, Arendelle), Queens are the ones to rule, while in Storybrooke, the mayor has formerly been Regina and recently Mary Margaret. In addition, women are seen as being independent of others, even of their ‘true love’, and do not hesitate to take the initiative to achieve their goals by themselves. Who found it amusing that Anna would travel from Arendelle to the Enchanted Forest alone while asking her fiancé to stay safely at home?

  1. Dehumanization is over!

Feminists would say that women are dehumanized by being treated as objects, as the inferior ‘other’ compared to men. Other theorists would add that the process of dehumanization does not only apply to women, but also to social outcasts, such as the old, disabled, criminals and more. In classic fairy tales, the ones to be dehumanized are the evil witches, monsters and other antagonists. In ‘Once Upon A Time’, however, there is no such category. Every character is shown to have their own original stories, their own humanity. The Evil Queen, Rumpelstiltskin, the Witch of the West and even the Snow Queen are granted their perspectives of the story in the show and their reasons for doing what they do. It proves how one is not born evil. Circumstances can simply bring out the best or the worst in us.

  1. Same sex relationships

This is an interesting issue that has been raised in OUAT-related discussions. No characters in the series have been depicted as homosexual so far, but an indirect pro-LGBT approach came to be noticed: Henry was brought up by two mothers, Regina and Emma. And he is perfectly normal and everyone finds it suitable that he has two mothers, whom he loves very much and vice versa. The ideal portrayal of the acceptance of same sex couples in society!

Above all, in Storybrooke, the values promoted are love and unity. It is a town where evil and good characters mingle together and strive to keep the world safe and fair. If fairy tales became reality by a curse in ‘Once Upon A Time’, what curse would we need to cast to bring this sense of solidarity and equality in our real world?

An Evil Nymph.


Note: I know that this is not really my blogging style but I had initially wrote this kind of article a few days ago just for fun… and today decided to share it with you! 

Anyway, have a nice week!

6 thoughts on “4 Reasons Why Contemporary Feminists Have To Watch ‘Once Upon A Time’

  1. If I remember correctly, when Mulan was on the show it was somewhat hinted that she may have had a relationship with another woman. I remember the actress who played her even saying that she thought the character was a lesbian.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s