Gender Roles in Mrs. Doubtfire
As far back as Americans can remember gender roles have had their place in society. The most argued place of gender roles is within the household. The conservative side viewed men as the main or only “breadwinners” in household, while women were the considered “caretakers” or “homemakers”. Whereas the liberal side viewed the mother and fathers as equal sharing the responsibility of work and home. Mrs. Doubtfire challenges these stereotypes by portraying a man showing care and affection to his children which was typically only done by the mother. Although gender roles have a major effect on society, people and families should not let that define who they are and how they live.
Similar to the character of Daniel, the men have a friendly and caring tone about them. For example, the judge acknowledges that the children have caring mother and also a loving father even though he ends up ruling in favor of the mother. He shows empathy when he grants Daniel the chance to change the verdict if he finds a way to get back on his feet. The bus driver is also so kind and speaks sweetly checking to see if Mrs. Doubtfire has a place to stay the night. There is also a difference in the male gender roles between Stu and Daniel. Stu shows himself off and is pompous with a great amount of arrogance and self-entitlement. He likes to show off his wealth to the family so he can seem like a better father figure to the children. He takes them and Miranda to a fancy restaurant and even books a stay in an expensive hotel. This shows that Stu is the type of man that has to show his wealth to feel like a man or to feel the most powerful in the room. However, Daniel is the complete opposite. He struggles to maintain his job and does not even respond when Stu tries to make him feel inferior. Daniel also exemplifies good moral character by setting a good example for his children by quitting a job that promotes smoking.
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In the film, role of the modern woman is cold, cooperate, and independent. The women take the role of the male and have a sort of power about them that would typically be defined as masculinity. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it contradicts the prior boundaries that society has placed women in. All the adult female characters treat Daniel, the father, with a disgusted attitude as if he is a deadbeat or lesser than them. When Daniel transforms into Mrs. Doubtfire, he is receives a little bit of a negative glare from Daniel’s eldest daughter Lydia but she eventually warms up to her. This movie displays how quickly women were leaving the home and going out into the world to make something for themselves. Furthermore, this film contrast the stereotypical view of the woman in the sense that they are seen as being loving and compassionate. None of the women show Daniel any love or compassion at the law firm regarding the status of his case. The lawyer even gave Daniel a sarcastic smile when he lost full custody of his children in court. The only female that was sympathetic Daniel was towards the end when she realized that her and her children’s lives were better with Mrs. Doubtfire in it.
Homosexuality is also a topic that is covered within the film. Uncle Frank and Aunt Jack are two homosexual males that help create the character Mrs. Doubtfire. The filmmakers make homosexuality so casual and accepted. Uncle Frank and Aunt Jack have feminine mannerisms such as putting their hands on their hips and repetitively pointing their fingers. They both speak with warm and friendly tones despite the deep rasp that is noticeably present in their voices. The film does have a negative connotation with transgenders. While Daniel is dresses as Mrs. Doubtfire, there are multiple instances where Mr. Lundy, Daniel’s manager, gave Mrs. Doubtfire a negative reaction due to the fact that she is a male. While the movie exhibits an acceptance for the role in society that homosexuals have, the response shown to transgenders shows to be the opposite.
Finally, Mrs. Doubtfire points out the importance of having both a father and mother in a child’s life. The entire premise of the film revolved around a father doing whatever he could just to be with his children. It is plain to see , but after Daniel lost custody of his kids, the children were heartbroken. Until Mrs. Doubtfire showed up, the children had no hope and they felt as if they had lost the father. During their time without their father, Mrs. Doubtfire became part of the child’s constant. However, despite their love for Mrs. Doubtfire, the children still needed a father figure. Daniel knew that his children needed him, and he needed them. He understood the utter importance for children to grow up with both a father and a mother. Even though Miranda divorced Daniel because she did not want the children to grow up with a mother who became nasty and mean whenever she was with her husband, in the end, she realized that, despite Daniel’s and her differences, the children’s well-being was more important. Finally, through Mrs. Doubtfire, the audience hears the message of focus for children and family. At the end of the film, Mrs. Doubtfire tells children of divorced parents never to blame themselves and that their parents love them even if they don’t love each other.
All in all Mrs. Doubtfire has many great examples of gender roles in society. The roles are constantly changing and people can be who they want to be. Families come in all shapes and sizes and there is not one true mold of how a family should work. This movie
- Columbus, C. (Director), Williams, M. G., Williams, R., & Radcliffe, M. (Producers), & Singer, R. M. (Writer). (n.d.). Mrs. Doubtfire[Video file].