Life

If The Lion King had been factually correct, it would have been a feminist story

Posted by
Megan Murray
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The Lion King

Well, The Lion Queen does have a certain ring to it, doesn’t it? And would actually be more realistic. 

The Lion King has such a deep-rooted place in our hearts, that even as proud feminists, we admit we failed to see just how male-centred the story of Simba’s rise and fall in the pride always was. 

It turns out that although the Disney classic (which of course will be hitting cinemas very soon after being remade) would have us believe that Mufasa was the leader of Pride Rock and - as the name suggests - the king of the lions, a more factually accurate name for the film would be The Lion QUEEN. 

That’s right, science journalist Erin Biba has opened our eyes to the patriarchal truth after tweeting about an interview she did with one of the world’s leading lion researchers. She explains that actually lion prides are almost entirely comprised of females, who are responsible for hunting, raising cubs and defending their territory with little need for male lions at all. In other words, it’s a woman’s world and they know how to get shit done. 

Biba tweeted, explaining that after working on the piece for National Geographic she has learned that lions communities are matrilineal and that “if The Lion King were real, Nala would be the star, Sarabi would be holding her up saying everything the light touches is our kingdom, Simba would have left and never come back, and when Nala got old enough Sarabi would have carved out a territory for her to rule.”

In her interview with Craig Packer, director of the Lion Research Center at the University of Minnesota, he reveals that “females are the core. The heart and soul of the pride. The males come and go.” 

In fact, most male lions only stay in the same pride for around two to three years before moving on. So if this was the real world, when Simba ran away he would have gone off to explore a new pride and have never returned. This is because prides are mostly made up of family, so there’s no one for a male lion to mate with apart from his sisters and cousins, meaning that to secure genetic diversity he has to leave. 

Although, don’t be fooled, as previously mentioned it’s all about the woman so you’d be wrong to envision the male lion as a jaunty bachelor with his pick of the ladies. In reality the female lions in each pride decide which males they let into their group, and which ones they mate with. Essentially they’re lucky to get a look in.  

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This all means that if The Lion King was to be made following the actual rules of the animal kingdom, Nala would be the one jumping around with Zazu, singing about the day she can’t wait to be queen, her mum Sarafina would be the ruler and Scar would have been told to do one. 

Is it too late to start campaigning for Beyoncé to take the starring role in new release?

Images: Disney 

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Megan Murray

Megan Murray is a digital journalist for stylist.co.uk, who enjoys writing about London happenings, beautiful places, delicious morsels and generally spreading sparkle wherever she can.

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