More than any other pattern of sexist imagery in the fantasy worlds created for children, I hate the girl on the back of the bike, dragon, or hippogriff. Recently, I posted:
This image of male driving and the girl along for the ride is ubiquitous in the imaginary world. You almost never see a girl in front and a boy behind, or even a girl alone, and also, it’s extremely rare to see a girl on a female magical creature.
After my post, Orlando wrote in this comment:
Shall I share with you the moment when I learned to loathe Kerouac? This is it (from “On the Road”):
“In the empty Houston streets of four o’clock in the morning a motorcycle kid suddenly roared through, all bespangled and bedecked with glittering buttons, visor, slick black jacket, a Texas poet of the night, girl gripped on his back like a papoose, hair flying, onward-going, singing.”
Familiar image? What happened was two people went past; what they saw was one person plus accessories.
The Kerouac quote pretty much epitomizes the poetic subjugation of women in that repetitive image (coupled with the the adventurous title of the book, of course.) Kerouac is such a good writer and he does this image so well. And again, the image/ narrative would not be a problem if it were one of many; it is its dominance over our imaginations, the way other narratives have become restricted and repressed, even in fantasy, that is the tragedy.
I’m going to keep a running tally on Reel Girl of images normalizing what I learned is called “riding bitch.” Please let me know if you see any and PLEASE let me know if you see the reverse gender positions.
Two recent disappointments:
I was very bummed to see the usually feminist Studio Ghibli put out this image to promote “From Up on Poppy Hill”