In fact, an article published by Family Education explains that daughters tend to push both parents away during adolescence as they become more autonomous. While fathers tend to distance themselves from their daughters during this time, mothers tend to give more attention to their daughters in an attempt to keep their relationship as close as it was during childhood. These two ways of interacting with an adolescent daughter are both problematic, as teenage girls tend to feel as though their fathers don't care about them as much as they used to while feeling as though their mothers are trying to control them too much (the latter leading to numerous heated fights). However, the article also says that when teenage girls feel the need to have an emotional connection with someone, they will generally turn to their mothers for comfort instead of their fathers. These aspects of the mother-daughter relationship can definitely be seen with Elinor and Merida throughout the film, specific moments including:
- · when Elinor discusses with her husband, Fergus, how to compromise with their daughter regarding her duty to marry
- · when Elinor almost gets up the courage to talk with Merida about how she felt before her own betrothal after she has helped Merida dress for the suitors’ arrival
- · when the two argue about Merida competing in the archery tournament for her own hand (in which Merida cuts her mother’s tapestry with a sword and her mother throws her prized bow into a fire, both acts done in complete anger)
- · when Elinor hugs onto Merida when she returns from running away after the fight, relieved that her daughter is safe
- · when Merida has a dream about her childhood when her mother sang her a lullaby one night during a storm
- · when Merida hugs onto Elinor, crying and telling her mother that she loves her when she believes the curse has permanently turned Elinor into a bear
EDIT: I don't think that it's offensive for the author of the article linked above to suggest Merida is gay, but I think it's offensive to suggest that she's gay solely because she is a tomboy since any woman can be a tomboy regardless of sexual orientation (similarly, any woman can all be girly or somewhere else on the spectrum regardless of sexual orientation). I just find linking being gay with acting completely outside of one's expected gender norms is a little insensitive. Similarly, the person who made the assertions also cited Merida's unwillingness to marry as a reason she might possibly be gay, which I think is also offensive. After all, she's a 15-year-old girl, so I don't think her being unwilling to marry for duty's sake says anything about her sexual orientation. Suggesting someone is gay is not offensive, but I think the reasons he gives for her possibly being gay are a little hurtful. In the author's defense, however, he does make a note that Merida "isn't an overtly lesbian character" since there is no hint whatsoever within the film to suggest this - he is only speculating that it is possible that Merida is gay (which, honestly, any number of characters could be gay, though Disney/Pixar would never reveal such information and it's somewhat pointless to guess without any textual evidence).
"'Brave' boldly embraces girl power" by Claudia Puig for USA Today
"Early Hypable reader review: 'Brave' - a feminist triumph" by eiVega
"Brave is Not One of Pixar's Greatest Hits: Review" by Alynda Wheat for People Magazine
"A New Redhead for Us to Love - Merida!"
Women's Roles in Disney and/or Pixar Movies
"Gender Role Portrayal and the Disney Princesses" by Dawn England and Lara Descartes
"Disney Princes and Princesses Still Slaves to Some Stereotypes" by Jennifer Welsh
"Pixar's Issue with Sex/Gender" by Talia Koren