Dear Girls: You don’t have to be like Mulan

Mulan Movie Review

Mulan was a childhood hero of mine. Growing up with feisty women anime characters (Dragonball Z, One Piece, Yuyu Hakusho, Naruto, Princess Mononoke, Kaleido Star), it was so easy to love her. So imagine how excited I was when Disney announced that they’d be making a live-action of this female warrior’s story.

Mulan Plot Summary

Mulan 1998

As most of us who grew up with Disney tales know, Mulan retells the story of a young Chinese maiden who took the place of her father in the army. She disguises as a man and fought with the Imperial Army against the Huns who were invading China.

Disney’s MULAN..Mulan (Yifei Liu)..Photo: Film Frame..© 2019 Disney Enterprises, Inc.

However, instead of simply retelling the animated version of Mulan (just like what Aladdin and Lion King did), Disney added depth to the story by gradually developing Mulan’s character and eliminating and adding substantial side characters.

Despite these slight changes, Mulan was still able to deliver the most important lesson it was long advocating: women empowerment and gender equality. But twenty-two years passed since its debut, was Mulan successful with this advocacy?

If you watch news and documentaries, unfortunately, you will learn that there are still women around the globe who are deprived of their basic rights. And even here in the Philippines, many women are still forced by society to submit to their archetypal roles. How do we actually transform our norms so that we can build a more sustainable and progressive society?

You don’t have to be like Mulan

After taking courses on Women Empowerment and Leadership Formation, solo traveling around different places, and meeting people from all walks of life, here’s what I learned: you don’t have to be like Mulan.

You don’t need to be strong. You don’t need to leave home. You don’t need to defeat men. You don’t need to impose physical force. You don’t need to disguise who you are not. You don’t have to become a legend.

But you have to be you. You have to learn to voice out your concerns and opinions – no matter how many times they try to shut you up. You have to learn to say “no” and be courageous enough to rebut. You need to “take a place” somewhere in this patriarchal society and not just “know your place”. And you don’t have to throw your femininity to do all these.

Because if we don’t speak up, we become enablers of people who will keep on thinking that they are doing the right thing. And this is not only limited to girls. How many stories of harassment have we heard of? Of young girls toyed by men (and women)? Of the LGBT community? Of soft men?

Yes, it’d be scary. But as Mulan’s father said: there is no courage without fear. So don’t silence your voice. There is boundless energy within you – waiting for you to unveil. Who knows what other things you are capable of doing and how far you’ll go.

Have you seen Mulan as well? How was it? Freely share your thoughts here now!

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