Mary Poppins Was the Original Disney Feminist

TIME

Like all Disney movies, Mary Poppins is full of whimsy and adventure, good guys and, if not bad guys, at least shades-of-grey guys.

And as we celebrate the film today, on its fiftieth anniversary, let’s not forget it’s feminist perspective.

At the center of it all is Mary Poppins, a no-nonsense nanny who gets the nursery cleaned and the medicine down. Yes, she works in a feminine profession, but with her impeccable negotiation skills, she’s an inspiration to the modern childcare economy—the average worker made only $19,510 per year in 2012. She’s gentle with the children, but firm enough to subvert the stereotype of woman as nurturer-and-nothing-else. She’s a balanced female character, full of good manners and grace but also judgmental about others’ laughter styles, and she’s a master of reverse psychology. She seems to have a gentleman friend in Bert, the chimney sweep and street artist played by Dick…

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