A stray cat from Canada, who was born with both male and female genitalia, is set to undergo gender reassignment surgery.
Mittens has to have the surgery to correct bowel and urinary tract issues.
“I’d like for it to be a female, but it really doesn’t matter,” owner Colleen Clarke-Murphy told Canada’s CBC News. “I think it’s got both personalities, so it really don’t matter.”
The Newfoundland resident says her daughter found Mittens as a stray and brought her home. But one trip to the veterinarian in October was all it took for Murphy to discover that there was more to her kitty than met the eye.
Murphy was shocked to find out that her new kitty was in fact a hermaphrodite. The vet explained that Mittens would have to have the surgery to allow the confused cat to go to the bathroom without any problems.
Murphy didn’t think twice about coughing up the cash to give her feline the procedure it needed.
“She was part of my family when she came home with my daughter,” she told CBC.
The vet says Mittens will be both spayed and neutered before the reconstructive surgery takes place.
Feminisney: “Pinocchio” and “Fantasia”
Some of Disney’s early works don’t leave much room for women.
New to this series? Figure out what’s going on here!
If you saw my post last week, you know that I’m embarking on a journey to carefully review and quantify, to an extent, the gender, racial, and sexual equality in Disney films, partly to try and find the one(s) with the best message of feminism/equality… and the ones with the worst. I had hoped to do this in a chronological fashion, but no matter how well I duct tape my two PS2s together, I somehow cannot make a PS4. As such, having no BluRay player, I’m limited by what films the video store (yes, they still exist) has on DVD. And somebody must really love Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Walt Disney Animation’s first feature-length theatrically-released animated film (other than the 41-minute compilation of short films, Academy Award Review of Walt Disney Cartoons), because it’s been rented for a solid month. So, following this helpful list, I went ahead and moved down the line.
Speaking of that list, I decided to count up just how many movies there were… and if I count ONLY the Walt Disney Studio-alone films on the list, exclude the previously mentioned 41-minute film, the war documentary Victory Through Air Power, and possibly Songs of the South (which, if you know ANYTHING about that movie other than the only part Disney will admit exists, you’ll know it’s incredibly difficult to find), then I’m left with… 54 movies. And if I do one a week, then I’ll be doing this for 56 weeks, because there will be at least two NEW Disney films out before I’m done (Moana, Gigantic). Possibly three, depending on when Wreck-It Ralph 2 comes out. And since some of these movies are incredibly light on their feminist punches (or are simply bizarre and strange), I’ve decided to give you guys multiple film looks every once in a while.
So, we’re going to start with Disney’s second and third outings: Pinocchio and Fantasia. Neither are “princess films,” so the discussion on gender/sexual/racial equality is probably brief… but they’re still important pieces to look at.
I’m sure you all know the story, but here’s a refresher course. Old man Gepetto makes wooden things like clocks, makes a puppet, wishes on a star that it were a real boy. Fairy shows up, gives Pinocchio life, and says he’ll be fully human if he’s good. He gets conned into being an actor, captured, sent to Pleasure Island, nearly turns into a donkey, then gets swallowed by a whale named Monstro while looking for his father. And then he becomes a real boy. Happiness ensues.
Number of named characters with speaking lines: There are 7 characters given proper names and lines, 3 given names without lines (Cleo the fish, Figaro the cat, and Honest John’s sidekick Gideon), and 5, if we include singing, given lines without proper names.
Number of named female characters with speaking lines: Well… zero, really. The only female characters with either lines or names in the film are Cleo the fish (no lines), the Blue Fairy (not really a name), and three female puppets that sing lines at Pinocchio during “I’ve Got No Strings.”
Does the film pass the Bechdel Test? That’s a definitive no.
Number of named non-white characters: One (Stromboli, labeled as a gypsy… that’s as close as we’re getting to racial diversity here)
Number of named non-white female characters: 0
Number of openly non-heterosexual characters: 0
Number of openly transsexual characters: 0 (Gonna be honest… pretty sure this one and the previous one will always be 0 with Disney’s current films.)
Is there a heterosexual romance? Well… no. But Jiminy certainly had heterosexual lusts, which I’ll talk about.
True Love’s Kiss? No.
Number of female mentors or rulers? 0, but the Blue Fairy is the only character shown with legitimate power.
Number of named female characters wearing “men’s clothes” (pants instead of dresses): 0 (With 0 men wearing “women’s clothes”.)
Main character male or female? Male
Number of named female characters saved from peril by male characters: Technically one in Cleo, I suppose. But there is definitely a male character saved by a female (more on that later).
Number of times named female characters saved from peril by male characters: Just the once. (But twice with the genders swapped!)
Number of named female characters breaking gender stereotypes with their actions (performing “masculine” feats): 0
Number of named male characters breaking gender stereotypes with their actions (performing “feminine” feats): 0
Pinocchio is definitely never going to be considered a film that does much for equality. With only one major female character given lines, and not even given a name, this story is incredibly male-centric. That, like with many of the earlier works of Disney, has a lot to do with the stories the films are based on… but Disney has always showed a willingness to tweak and change some things, so that’s not the world’s greatest excuse. Even so, despite the dearth of diverse representation, there are some positive things to talk about… and, of course, some negatives. I’ll start with the awkward things.
Jiminy Cricket is a massive horn dog. I mean, I understand that he’s painted as an imperfect conscience, but unlike Pinocchio in his quest to become a real boy, Jiminy never actually shows any improvement. There are several times when he abandons Pinocchio because he’s angry or upset… He attempts to pick a fight with the boy Lampwick at Pleasure Island when the kid riles him up, and he flirts with or gets weirdly into every female-shaped object there is in the film. In a weird twist, he doesn’t objectify women… but sexualizes objects. After initially accidentally placing his hand on a female carving’s butt, he apologizes… but then we get a lingering look from a female clock part which he attempts to follow, cutting in to dance with a female music box part, and Jiminy getting REALLY interested and leaning in when the female marionettes are doing a can-can dance. He also blushes profusely when the Blue Fairy leans in close, but at least she’s a living being, unlike the others. (There’s also this weird flirtatiousness between Cleo the female fish and Figaro, the presumed male cat… it’s a bit bizarre.)
The other awkward part, and one we don’t tend to think of much as a society when we hear “feminism,” is the unfortunate gender role foisted on the young boys. As I mentioned last week, feminism is all about smashing the gender roles for everyone and destroying a system that presumes personality and action based on gender. But in the second half of the film, we see the Coachman taking young boys to Pleasure Island to turn them into jackasses (a clever double entendre of the times where they make asses out of themselves… and turn into donkeys). On Pleasure Island, the specific attractions shown to the boys are beating one another up, smoking cigars, and destroying a house, which they take to with fervor. This reinforces the idea that “boys will be boys,” or that men/boys are expected to act and behave in certain ways. Specifically, that men are simply supposed to be violent and destructive, particularly compared to women (note: no girls taken to Pleasure Island, Lampwick tells Pinocchio, “You smoke like me grandmother.”). This sort of thinking leads to dangerous results later in life, with male victims of rape or domestic violence being largely ignored/laughed at, or the idea that being physically aggressive is the right thing for men. Not great. (Also not great: The depiction of Stromboli, the one non-white character. Making foreigners, particularly gypsies, evil and greedy is a long overused stereotype.)
But, as I mentioned before, there’s good here, too. The fact that the Blue Fairy is the only female character, but is not overly sexualized (except Jiminy reacting strongly to her being attractive), does not require assistance from men, holds all the power in the film, AND ends up saving Pinocchio from danger once via Stromboli, Gepetto from danger indirectly by telling Pinocchio where he is, and brings Pinocchio back to life (death counts as danger, right?), gives what limited female presence this film has a fairly solid ground to stand on. She is the deity of the movie, the one with the power to do whatever she wants… so there can be some feminist aspects drawn from this. (The one female saved by a male is technically Cleo the fish, saved by Pinocchio’s efforts to free them all from Monstro, but that’s such a stretch.)
Fun notes: A whole lot of hating on actors going on here. “What does an actor want with a conscience, anyway?” “I’d rather be smart than be an actor.” Plus acting being proposed as the easy road to success? Just saying, rude, y’all. And how is Honest John totally okay with murdering someone but balks at sending kids to Pleasure Island, even saying, “But, the law!” Is there no law against murder? The hell?
Okay. This one, no criteria included. And I’ll tell you why. If you’ve never had the pleasure of watching Fantasia, then you need to know it isn’t a standard Disney film. It is a series of 7 classical musical segments and one odd bit with the “soundtrack” given animation. Some have story, like Beethoven’s “Pastoral Symphony” or “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” (easily the most well-known bit from the film), and others, like the introductory “Toccata and Fugue in D minor” are simply animated shapes and colors drawn in visceral reaction to the music.
But the only spoken lines are spoken by the real life narrator, plus one odd bit between the conductor and Mickey Mouse. As such, there’s nothing much to talk about here, as there’s no central story or central characters… but nothing much isn’t nothing!
The Pastoral Symphony scene sees are most well-defined story, taking place in a Greek mythological setting. You have satyrs, centaurs, and gods, revelry and dickishness… and a lot of heteromantic moments between the centaurs… we should all be glad Disney didn’t stick to the actual mythology of centaurs and let them cuddle up together all nicely. There are also standard female markers of makeup and eyelashes, a pervasive trope to differentiate gender… but you also get to see some women being active. When Zeus, giant douche he is (so, keeping to mythology there), starts throwing bolts directly at the partiers FOR FUN, causing floods and torrents of rain and fear, we see one female centaur wade into a rushing river to save a stranded baby pegasus, and a mother pegasus protecting her children. We also see a male centaur pulling a female centaur to safety, but at least that’s not the only version we see.
In the “Dance of the Hours” segment, we again see the makeup/eyelashes trope, but I have a feeling we won’t be rid of that trope until well into the ’80s Disney movies, if ever. We also have hippos and elephants being offered up as beings of grace and beauty, alongside the skinny ostriches… A nice body-positivity message hidden in there. If there’s one complaint, it’s that the only men are crocodiles, predators, while the women are all prey (though hippos and elephants are super dangerous). I’m probably thinking too much into it, but the way the crocs stalk and at one point drag out the females forcefully is a little… unnerving. If it were humans, there’d be red flags all over the place. Hopefully, this was simply a statement on how nature works (though I don’t know that hippos and crocs share many romantic entanglements in real life).
Fun notes: For the “Rite of Spring,” the story is all about evolution and dinosaurs! In 1940, a mere 15 years after the tumultuous Scopes Trial. I find this to be pretty ballsy. Also ballsy, putting SATAN in the movie. As the FINAL PIECE. Sure, he’d defeated by some “Ave Maria” and good will and stuff, but Chernabog (as his name is given in Kingdom Hearts, something I will definitely reference again in this series) is the scene that always stuck with me as a kid and frightened the mess out of me. Like, seriously scary thing. And that’s where you end? Weird decision.
Oh, and Dionysus is totally riding one of the kids-turned-donkeys from Pinocchio. Think of the implications of THAT.
Please, let me know what you think of this, the first installment, and whether you’d like to see specific things discussed more in depth! I’ve also considered making this a video series… but let’s get more than 2 films in before I start going whole hog on that idea. Your opinions matter to me, so feedback is appreciated. This is certainly going to be an adventure.