Art teacher for kids says ‘almost without fail, girls create male characters’

Lori comments on Reel Gir’s post Speaking of art as derivative:

I teach clay classes for kids, and we often do character sculptures. I encourage the kids to create characters and make up stories about them, and almost without fail, the girls will create male characters. If they do make female characters, they always have long hair, a dress, and big eyelashes, and are defined by how pretty they are, or some romantic plot point. Any monsters or animals were male by default. I actually ended up running a couple of workshops specifically aimed at girls to encourage them to create stories about female protagonists, and to talk about gender stereotypes in storytelling because of this. It’s so pervasive, they don’t even realize they’re doing it, or that they are free to create anything different.


This makes me so sad about the limits gender bias in our culture is putting on children’s imaginations. Lino DiSalvo and co, do you see the problem now? What are you going to do about it?

5 thoughts on “Art teacher for kids says ‘almost without fail, girls create male characters’

  1. This is just sad, but it’s one of the reasons I only write about female characters 🙂 most of the side characters are women and girls (with very, very few male characters). These days, I just roll my eyes at most movies and other media with male protagonists. I just can’t stand them anymore.

  2. The othering of female animal, alien, and monster characters with stereotypically feminine traits is so pervasive that female animals, aliens, an monsters that don’t have them tend to be mistaken for male. Here are some female animal characters in fiction who lack tertiary sexual traits or are easily mistaken for male.

    1) Terk the gorilla and Sabor he leopard from Tarzan
    2) Marahute the eagle and Joanna the goanna lizard from The Rescuers Down Under
    3) Blue, Magenta, and Green Puppy from Blue’s Clues
    4) Linny Guinea Pig from Wonder Pets
    5) Butter from PB&J Otter

  3. If we’re going to be dealing in anecdotes, I’ll thrown in my own experience. When I pursued art, I always drew female characters. As a writer, I deal mainly in female protagonists and when I populate my stories with side characters, they are usually female. I don’t always do it consciously. It’s just what comes naturally to me. No one had to teach me to gravitate towards female characters and stories.

    • That’s great, Cat. I look forward to seeing you art and stories out in the world. Please keep us posted on where to find them.


  4. I agree with what you said, animal, monster, fictional creature, and alien characters are made male by default and that female ones have stereotypically female traits more than male ones have stereotypically male traits.

    Stereotypically Male Traits:
    1) Moustache
    2) Beard
    3) Bald or balding appearance
    4) Bowtie
    5) Baseball cap
    6) Blue or darker color scheme
    7) Larger eyebrows
    8) Muscular body shape

    Stereotypically Female Traits:
    1) Eyelashes or longer eyelashes
    2) Feminine styled head hair
    3) Humanlike breasts or body shape that mimics that
    4) Smooth fur or feathers
    5) Dress or skirt
    6) Bow on the head
    7) More humanoid body shape than male
    8) Pink or pastel color scheme
    9) Lighter fur/feather/scale/skin color than male

    Most aliens in fiction are male, but there are a few exceptions. One such exception is an alien character in The Simpsons who speaks with a male voice and lacks stereotypically female traits of any sort. Her name is Kodos and she is Kang, the male alien’s sister.

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