8 Kid Movies That Actually Perpetuate Toxic Masculinity

Ad failed to load

In college I minored in Film Studies, a degree many would dismiss as useless. But I've loved movies my entire life, so I genuinely enjoyed studying them. It was, however, less-than-pleasant to go to the movies with me, only because I provided unsolicited commentary on everything. For one of my last film courses, I wrote my final paper about the sexism in Disney's fairy tales, long before I was familiar with toxic masculinity. Now, as I watch movies with my kids, I cringe. Turns out, a lot of children's movies that perpetuate toxic masculinity. Bummer.

Lately, watching television shows and movies with my kids has proven to be more difficult than ever. Once I started paying attention to all of the messaging about gender roles, I now see issues and problems everywhere. I mean, how blind could I have been? The answer, unfortunately, is very. In college, I realized how problematic children's fairy tales were (and still are). Now, as an adult, I have come to understand how problematic most media messaging is in general. Sure, it may have taken me longer than others to get "woke," so to speak, but as the old adage goes: better late than never.

Truth be told, I am sometimes miss the days when I could blindly watch movies and shows without feeling nauseated by the deeply rooted sexism, toxic masculinity, and hyper-femininity. Now, I sit by my daughter when she is watching something and partake in something I've dubbed as "active viewing." I comment throughout the show or movie, explaining to her what is wrong with each stereotype and message. It's obviously annoying to her, but I believe that is my responsibility as an adult. This way, she won't grow up quite as blind as I was. So with that in mind, and because dissecting the messages we receive on a daily basis is always a good thing, here are some problematic kid movies that deserve a healthy dose of scrutiny:

Ad failed to load

'Beauty And The Beast'


Watching Luke Evans' portrayal of Gaston was an uncomfortable experience for me, as an adult. Mainly, I was miffed at how toxic his personality was (seemingly way more toxic than I remember), but also because I brought my 8-year-old daughter to the movies to watch this film. It was a Disney film, after all. What could go wrong, right? I should have known better. Instead, I erroneously and naively assumed that a 2017 version of the film would outgrow problematic stereotypes. Despite the self-proclaimed feminist, Emma Watson (whom I love by the way) taking the lead role, the film is as sexist and as full of toxic masculinity as it ever was. An emotionally abusive Beast and a repulsive "manly man" Gaston overshadowed any glowing female lead.


Shrek was supposed to be a parody of the stereotypical fairy tale. It featured a strong female character and a goofy male lead. Still, the fact that Shrek's entire mission in the movie was to capture Princess Fiona for Lord Farquaad in order to get his swamp back proved that no matter how kick-ass a princess is, toxic masculinity will prevail.

'Little Rascals'


Little Rascals has it all: “He-man womun haters club,” multiple scenes where boys and girls discuss their gender differences, blatant gender stereotypes, "romantic stalking," and, of course, "winning" the girl. The main character, Alfalfa, is constantly made fun of by his friends who disapprove of his love for a girl, Darla. The movie is full of anti-girl rhetoric, anti-gay jokes, and penis humor. And, let's not forget, the kids in the film are all elementary-aged, to really put things in perspective.

Ad failed to load


Mulan is a great movie in so many ways, but one of its songs and sentiments is incredibly toxic. Arguably, the most popular song in Mulan, "I'll Make A Man Out Of You," sang by Shang during a training montage in which he trains soldiers, is seeping with male toxicity. One of the lyrics, "You're a spineless, pale, pathetic lot/And you haven't got a clue/Somehow I'll make a man out of you" uses the psychological conditioning to incite toxic masculinity by preying on men's insecurities of not being a worthy enough man.

'The Princess Bride'

Once again, the audience is forced to view a woman is a prize to be won. In The Princess Bride, one of my favorite films, the men fight each other, start wars, kidnap women, and seek vengeance. The men of Princess Bride display some of most stereotypical aspects of toxic masculinity, which is a shame, because I remember it being so endearing and fun to watch.

'Home Alone'


"It's my house and I have to defend it," says Kevin McCallister in a blatant display of toxic masculinity. He's a little kid, so why not just call the police? Also, Kevin watches violent Westerns and uses violence to prank the robbers. Kevin displays a lot of this "manliness," like flexing in the mirror and putting on aftershave, but at the end of the day he's just a child mimicking what he believes will make him "tough" and "grown up."

Ad failed to load

'The Christmas Story'

The most beloved holiday classic focuses around a boy wanting a gun and praise for fist-fighting. If those things aren't toxic, I don't know what is. Also, Ralphie's "Old Man" fights with everything — from the furnace, to the package, to the neighbors dogs — aren't, um, healthy.



Casper was probably one of my favorite movies as a kid. I loved Devon Sawa, and even though he was in the movie for only a few minutes, I re-watched those few minutes over and over again. I recently watched Casper with my daughter and I totally did not realize how toxic some of the parts were. Casper's uncles constantly harass him for being sensitive and kind, and portray some of the most unfavorable aspects of masculinity. Not cool, uncles, Not cool.

Check out Romper's new video series, Romper's Doula Diaries:

Watch full episodes of Romper's Doula Diaries on Facebook Watch.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

5 Parenting Habits That Increase Your Chances Of Successfully Potty-Training Your Child

From starting solids to learning to walk, every childhood milestone presents its own unique set of challenges — but this is especially true of potty training. Indeed, the very thought strikes fear into the heart of many a toddler parent, particularly…
By Jacqueline Burt Cote

Getting Pregnant Might Mean Losing The Plus-Size Body I Love

For the last two years, I haven’t been my body’s biggest champion. I’ve gained 50 pounds. The stress of helping a parent get sober, a house purchase, and a new job got the best of me. But now, at 36, with talks between my husband and I about having a…
By Loren Kleinman

7 Hilarious Differences Between Having A Baby In Your 20s Vs Your 30s

I was 24 when I had my daughter. And even though that pregnancy was neither expected nor pleasant, I was optimistic. Sure, I guess your 20s are "supposed" to be about finding yourself, finishing college, starting your career, and navigating less-than…
By Candace Ganger

Babies "R" Us Was The First Place I Went When I Found Out I Would Be A Mom

For years I struggled to have a baby, and the sight of toys and layettes made my heart hurt. For me, Toys "R" Us and Babies "R" Us were a complete no-go zone, a reminder of everything I was missing out on. My mom would walk the long way around Target…
By Becky Bracken

New Moms Have Two Options: Be "Sad & Fat" Or "Desperate & Thin"

As the line goes, the worst thing you could say about me, I've already thought about myself. In the early postpartum period with my son, it was: "I am overweight, lonely, and heartbroken." It was four days after I brought my son into the world, and I…
By Danielle Campoamor

6 Fascinating Facts About Spring Babies: You Could Have A Leader On Your Hands

Does the season in which you are born affect you or are all seasons pretty equal? It turns out that there are many ways in which the your child's birth season could give you an insight into things to come. Whether you are expecting a baby in the next…
By Shari Maurer

Kids Will Love These TV Shows & Movies Coming To Netflix In April

It's that time of the month again: as March draws to a close, Netflix gets ready for a little bit of spring cleaning. Though some TV shows and movies will have to find homes elsewhere, their departure makes room for all kinds of exciting new media. A…
By Megan Walsh

I'm A Stay-At-Home Mom &, Face It, These 11 Stereotypes Are Totally True

Hello, friends! It's me, your resident stay-at-home mom. You know, there's a lot that's said about me and my kind, and the vast majority of it is not even remotely true. For example, this whole "we're lazy, vapid, unambitious, anti-feminist, backstab…
By Jamie Kenney

The Pressure To Worry About The Gap Between Kids Is So Bad For Moms

"Two under two is absolutely crazy," a friend recently told me upon hearing the news that I was expecting a second child. "Why would you do this to yourself? Seriously, why?" However harsh her words, she was only echoing the same feelings I'd been ba…
By Marie Southard Ospina

To Be Honest, I Couldn't Survive Motherhood Without My Job

The decision to work outside the home once you've become a parent can be a complicated one. Some people don't really have a choice, and go back to work because they're either a single parent or can't sustain their family on one income. Some choose to…
By Priscilla Blossom

I Feel Guilty That My Kid’s Dad Is A Better Parent Than Me, & That’s BS

I was scared, and he was sure. I was clueless, and he was well-researched. I was making mistakes, and he was picking up the pieces. From the moment I found out I was pregnant until just last night, when I threw my hands up in the air and left the alw…
By Danielle Campoamor

These Millennial Parents Are Taking Gender-Neutral Parenting To An Entirely New Level

A woman on the subway looks at my bulbous shape and asks, “What are you having?” I take a deep breath and throw a glance to my 5-year-old. “I’m having a baby,” I say to the woman. “No, no” the woman says laughing as she pushes further. “Are you havin…
By Madison Young

My Daughter Is Obsessed With Being "Pretty" & I'm Way Past Terrified

Last week, when I picked up my daughter after school, she immediately wanted to know if I liked her hair. "Is it pretty?" she asked. Her hair was pulled up into two ponytails that were intertwined into thick, long braids. A shimmering pink and purple…
By Dina Leygerman

7 Things No One Tells You About Having A Baby In Your 20s, But I Will

I was 24 when I found out I was pregnant with my daughter. The pregnancy was a surprise, since I was on birth control (side note: antibiotics and birth control don't mix), but my partner and I decided to continue with the pregnancy and committed to m…
By Candace Ganger

7 Things I Wish My Partner Had Said To Me In The First Hour After Giving Birth

I don't know if it was the buzz of the surrounding machines, the non-existent cry of our son as the doctors tried to resuscitate him, or the fact that I'd already been through labor and delivery once before, but I knew something was missing after I h…
By Candace Ganger

Moms’ Groups Weren’t For Me, Sorry

I go to my moms’ club everyday of the week, but not usually on weekends. My moms' group is a place I can always count on finding fellow mothers who understand the daily struggles and triumphs of parenthood and of juggling life’s responsibilities. Dep…
By Samantha Taylor

I've Had 3 Miscarriages But *Please* Keep Telling Me About Your Pregnancy

I can feel the tension the moment my friend announces her pregnancy. I can hear the forced nonchalant attitude she's willing herself to exude as she fishes for the ultrasound. I know why I was the last to learn that she was expecting; why she keeps l…
By Danielle Campoamor

7 Early Signs You're Going To Need An Epidural, According To Experts

Even if you've constructed an elaborate birth plan, it's impossible to control every aspect of labor and delivery. Complications can occur, proactive measures might be necessary, and your mind is subject to change when those damn contractions really …
By Candace Ganger

11 Essential Products To Pack In Your Hospital Bag, According To OB-GYNs

The minute you go into labor (or think you're going into labor), chaos ensues. You and your partner are likely to get a little frantic, just like in the movies, so you most definitely want to have a hospital bag packed before the day comes. This prec…
By Abi Berwager Schreier

7 Photos You *Must* Take In The First 6 Months Of Motherhood

In my experience, becoming a mom is like becoming an amateur photographer. There's just something about the need to capture every single coo and sorta-smile that leaves you obsessed with all things photography. I know I couldn't stop taking selfies w…
By Candace Ganger