Kate Bornstein has posted quite an imaginative take on the genders of the two robots in the animated movie WALL•E. She considers it from the point of view of being: ‘[…] a feature length cartoon about a pair of lesbian robots who fall madly in love with each other’.
The gist of her argument is that, if we consider the characters as Butch and Femme instead of male and female, then they can be assigned any gender. So they could be a lesbian couple, or a gay couple: as Kate says: "You’re the audience. You get to decide.".
Pixar and Disney made a great many anatomical choices when they designed EVE and WALL•E to be as close to human as they can possibly be and still be robots. They didn’t give us one single anatomical clue to the gender of these cute li’l robots, but they knew we’d see WALL•E as boy and EVE as girl.
Kate thinks that this isn’t the first time that Disney has used gender variant characters.
Mu-Lan is a film about a female to male cross-dresser. And what about Pinocchio? An animated block of wood spends an entire movie trying to become a "real" boy – aided by a blue fairy and an asexual cricket. And what gender exactly was Ariel (a non-gender specific name, by the way) when that little mermaid had a fishy tail? Did she go through a gender change when she grew legs which (presumably) had something between them so she could be a "real" girl? And getting down to basics, can anyone prove that Mickey and Minnie Mouse are male and female?
Behind the humorous tone of the piece, there’s quite a thought-provoking deconstruction going on. Okay, so there’s an implied acceptance of Disney’s anthropomorphism of technology – but I’m keeping Coleridge’s phrase suspension of disbelief firmly in mind…