About

My bio:

Margot Magowan is a writer and commentator. Her articles on politics and culture have been in Salon, Glamour, the San Jose Mercury News, and numerous other newspapers and online sites. She has appeared on “Good Morning America,” CNN, Fox News, and other TV and radio programs. For  many years, Margot worked as talk radio producer creating top-rated programs. In 1998, Margot co-founded the Woodhull Institute an organization that trains young women to be leaders and change agents. Margot’s short story “Light Me Up” is featured in the anthology Sugar In My Bowl (Ecco 2011) and she is currently writing a Middle Grade novel about the fairyworld. Margot lives with her husband and their three daughters in San Francisco.

About Reel Girl:

Reel Girl was founded in December 2009. Reel Girl posts have also been featured on, written about, or linked to major sites around the web, TV, and radio including The Week (best opinion), Jezebel, HuffPostLive, Shakesville, Blogher (Spotlight Blogger), Forbes.com, Fox News, Wall Street Journal, CNN.com, New York Times, Adweek, Ms., Bitch (best posts of the internet), SFGate, Harvard Political Review, Common Sense Media, and many more.

Reel Girl’s mission is to imagine gender equality in the fantasy world.

Reel Girl’s banner was created by the artist Cynthia Rodgers AKA Theamat (who did the Wonder Woman pic “If I don’t get pants, nobody gets pants“) Reel Girl’s face is based on these pics of my three daughters.

Theamat used Lucy’s intense eyes,

Lucy

Alice’s speck of a smile,

alice

 

and Rose’s wild curls.

rose

 

More about Reel Girl:

A truer nomination for our species than Homo sapiens might be Homo narrans.” -Henning Mankell

We’re a storytelling species. The stories that we tell make us who we are. If you ever doubt the power of narratives to shape our lives, beliefs, and values, take a look at one of the most popular historical novels of all time, the Bible, and how it has influenced us. Fiction creates reality and reality creates fiction in an endless loop.

I have three daughters, and I started Reel Girl because, as I read to my kids and saw movies and watched TV and played with toys, I became aware of how heroic female characters are left out of so many narratives. When females are allowed in, they’re often stereotyped. The lack of visible, heroic females in the real and imaginary world sells kids short, affecting who they are and who they will become. I think it’s horrible that the so called imaginary world is so sexist and limited.

Most of the time, I don’t think there’s a conscious sexist conspiracy going on. I just think that for thousands of years women have been living in stories written by men. That’s just warped. I believe that women and girls have got to be the ones to tell our own stories. No one else can do it for us. I’d like women to be writing more, creating more art, making more movies, TV shows, games, and toys for imaginary play. I’d like more women to get much higher up in the power structure so that their stories can get out to influence many more people than they currently are.

I’d like to see these stats change radically:

Only 16% of protagonists in film are female.

Between 1937 and 2005 there were only 13 female protagonists in animated movies.

The female characters in G rated movies are just as likely to wear revealing clothing as in R rated movies.

Women make up 8% of all writers of major motion pictures.

Women are 17% of all executive producers

Women are 7% of film directors

Women are 2% of all cinematographers

Women and girls are the subject of less than 20% of news stories.

Women make up 14% of all guest appearances on the influential Sunday television talk shows; among repeat guests, only 7% are women.

Only 15% of the authors on the The New York Times best seller list for nonfiction are women.

Only about 20% of op-eds in America’s newspapers are by women.

Women hold only 15.2% of seats on the boards of Fortune 500 companies.

Only 7.5% of the major earners at those Fortune 500 companies are female.

Only 3% of advertising’s creative directors are women.

Women are just 19% of partners in law firms.

Women represent 17% of the United States Congress.

There are currently only six female governors.

Throughout our history only four women have held the office of Supreme Court Justice.

There has never been a female President of the United States.

One more reason I started Reel Girl– our movie rating system, and the values associated with that rating system, is totally messed up. So many G movies perpetuate the absolute worst kinds of gender stereotypes, yet they are supposedly “for kids.” In my opinion, this kind of repetitive imagery is way more dangerous for children than hearing the word “shit.”

So Reel Girl’s rating system is S for stereotype and H for heroine, 1- 3 possible.

Ratings key

HHH A film, book, TV show, or game with an HHH features a strong, female protagonist. (Spirited Away, Coraline, The Golden Compass)

HH Features strong female characters. (Secret of Kells, Cat in Paris, Wreck it Ralph)

H Features a strong female character but not nearly enough of her or them, and may perpetuate sexism in the plot or some other ways as well.

S Gender stereotyping

SS Mostly gender stereotyping

SSS Watching this movie is a lesson in how to gender stereotype.

If you have recommendations for Reel Girl for books, movies, TV, or products that promote strong girls and gender equality, I want to hear about them! Please go to Reader Recs in categories and leave your comments there. I will add them to Reel Girl’s to read and watch and play with list. If you are looking for Reel Girl’s recommendations go to the following categories: Reel Girl Recommends, Most Heroines (formerly GGG) and Cool and Radical Girls.

103 thoughts on “About

  1. Margot,

    I’m not really sure the precise reason why I feel the need to write this, but I hope it is useful in some way. I’m new to your website, and have been enjoying reading your perspective on each topic.

    The purpose of writing this comment is that it is first and foremost a confession, secondly an apology, and third a perspective that I don’t often hear out there. I’m a male, and as an adult I have been fighting sexism where I see it. The key word there is “see”. This is important to keep in mind, because I want it to be understood that my transgressions have not been purposeful, but rather simply terrible failure. I speak up when I hear kids misrepresenting gender, when men habitually perceive women in degrading ways, and when women themselves refuse to see the unfairness of what we are saturated in (“It’s uncomfortable, but I don’t wear it because society told me to, I wear it because he likes me to and I love him”). But it’s not enough, because I am corrected constantly in my ignorance by wise words. And, I KNOW that it wasn’t enough when I was growing up.

    My mother, ridiculously, had to teach me the lesson that boys weren’t better than girls because it was “common knowledge” in the second grade South. Despite having a strong mother and a strong sister raising me, despite my near-obsessive need to question everything around me, despite my tendency toward non-masculine traits and being ostracized for it, and despite all my conscious efforts in my life, I have so many times failed to see my mistreatment of women.

    When I was young, I remember watching a movie and seeing the male protagonist playfully battling what you refer to as the “minority feisty”, and thinking to myself, ‘she won. She can’t do that. She can be skilled, but not as skilled as the main guy, that wouldn’t make sense’.

    I never noticed that Smurfette was the only girl in the Smurfs, and worse, that she was a moron, until I had daughters for which I demanded valuable role models, and finally became upset about the fact that they basically had no one to model themselves after on this particular show but a bimbo.

    Even as a young adult, I thought that it’s obvious that women should be equal, but we’ve come so far, and isn’t feminism just an angry hissy fit that things aren’t going women’s way?

    I used to think I was superior to other guys because I extended my idea of female beauty to non-standard appearance. It had never occurred to me that I was still placing beauty as a proportionality constant to the value of a woman.

    I have many times in my life felt guilt for being overly responsive to female sexuality, and I’m not even sure any more how much of it is physiological and how much of it is a product of my failure to discontinue objectifying women.

    Probably my biggest wake-up call was when my fabulous girlfriend took me to see a performance of the Vagina Monologues. I cried and cried afterward at all the heinous oblivion my fellow men and I have lived in for so long.

    To all women everywhere, I am sorry that I have lived in ignorance. I am so ashamed that I have been a part of this huge plop of lie that we’re fed our entire lives, and I hope to make better progress in the future to peel off the layers that I have allowed to remain for so long.

    I would also like to return this comment to its beginning, and remind any reader that all of this failure and ignorance exists in someone who is trying to fight it, and who had the benefit of guidance. Imagine how much further we have to go considering the mass of people who are without that advantage.

    Margot, thanks for your website, and thanks for helping us to see more things.

  2. Hello! I am wondering if you wouldn’t mind letting me list your website under my “Recommended Sites” list on my blog: SenseAndResponsibility.com

    I follow you on FB and always look forward to your insights!

  3. Have just blown an hour of ‘work time’ happily reading your posts and taking you on book recommendations. It seems fair to give you one back! Have you ever come across The Wall of Night series by Helen Lowe? You might like it – it goes a bit deeper than your average fantasy, and the gender balance is well, balanced! I also think it might score pretty highly in your search for a fantasy world where women and men are accepted as skilled in area because of their abilities, rather than their gender.

  4. Okay, initially I didn’t really want to post this, since I stopped reading your blog and tried explaining before but to no avail, but I really think your femmephobia is going too far (what with the whole “Polly Prostitute” thing). Sorry, this is gonna be a long argumentative essay, but please hear me out because it is really, really important.

    First off, your target of criticism is wrong. You should be pointing out the gender stereotyping (which is ludicrous enough) but not the freaking pieces of plastic. Claiming to not be slut-shaming doesn’t on the basis of well-intentioned criticism doesn’t negate the fact that your are, ostensibly, slut-shaming. You, as a white, middle-class woman, have the privilege to woefully misunderstand a sex worker’s job, or even shame women who wear revealing clothing. It really is juvenile to insult a piece of plastic. You didn’t have to resort to pejoratives to make your point. “Pernicious” is good enough to describe the effects of gender stereotyping, but Polly is just an inanimate object. Objects are just objects; all objects are neutral but the purpose by which they’re meant is the real issue.

    The thing about the sex industry is that most people jump at saying how indecent/degrading it is for women, which, to a certain extent, is true, because some sex workers are exploited by the industry against their will (e.g. Sex slavery). And yes, rape, murder, and abuse are commonplace. But as any job, there are definitely people who do it willingly, and they have various reasons to and those who join by their free will are exercising autonomy over their sexuality. But the crucial point is, majority of sex workers are poor and women-of-color. Most of them are undereducated and may have difficulty securing a job or housing, and thus have no choice but to turn to the sex industry. In fact, the women-of-color sex workers often end up in this line of work due to poverty, and the objectification of their bodies which fuels demand for these types of sex workers. To put down sex workers is not merely slut-shaming, it is often classist and racist as well, and continues to dehumanize these women, which is only contributing to the problem.

    Another issue is that of women who dress revealingly (which is considered inappropriate by misogynistic standards). If you can, read up on the Madonna/Whore dichotomy. By shamingthese women, often with the preconceived misconceptions that
    (a) they were brainwashed by patriarchy to comply with men’s preferences and thus are doing this to please men and
    (b) they are promiscuous sluts
    (c) they are attention whores
    which is just asinine. You can’t just jump to conclusions about strangers solely based on their attire. Besides, many of these women don’t do it for the above mentioned reasons. Much of the time, they just want to express themselves in the clothing they like. Is that all that bad? Simply because they are wearing stereotypical “stripper” clothing doesn’t mean they deserve to be derided as inferior to women who dress conservatively.

    Again, by upholding one type of women over another, you are displaying internalized misogyny. This is exactly what patriarchy wants us to do, pitting us against each other. This dichotomy can only result in unhealthy contention between women, without us even noticing it because it’s so deeply ingrained into society. Our worth as human beings is not defined by how we dress, what we do or even the toys girls play with. This internalized misogyny makes women believe that traditionally feminine things are innately inferior to traditionally masculine things, just because they are associated with women, who are considered inferior.

    So you may not believe any of this so far, but let me put it in a way where the premise is that everything at first is neutral. Since the beginning of time, every single freaking object in the world is neutral, and you can’t deny that, because “worth” is a abstract, human concept. And then came along humans, who begin applying different purposes and worth to meaningless objects, because that’s just human nature. Of course, human beings probably started out as matriarchal societies just like one of our closest relatives, the bonobos (you can choose to ignore this if you don’t believe in evolution and all). In fact, women in early societies were most likely afforded the same rights as men and even given important jobs (gathering, as opposed to hunting, accounted for 60-80% of the tribe’s diet according to some anthropologists). Rape was almost non-existent, and when it does occur, the rapists are punished severely (just as in Bonobo societies). But after agriculture materialized, men were supposed to work in the fields (possibly due to them being, on average, fitter than women, not that I think this is the right mentality) and women were reduced to their only job – childbearing. Which isn’t exactly inferior though, but somehow humans of that time decided that providing sustenance was more important than procreating is to ensure the survival of the species, and thus, women were relegated to second-class status.

    Apparently, that’s when patriarchy started and men claimed everything they liked, calling the stuff “masculine” and therefore superior to anything they consider uselessly “feminine”, which are things women were associated with. That’s when meaningless objects get value attached to them. Now, we can all agree that gender stereotyping is needless and harmless, but don’t demonize anything stereotypically associated with women. Once again, I must reiterate that objects are initially neutral. And gender stereotypes do change overtime, but it’s always when men decide that traditionally “feminine” things are nice and claim it for themselves, or when they decide that “masculine” objects aren’t to their liking anymore. They simply won’t want to share objects with women and call them ungendered, because sexist men do not want to share anything with women, since they don’t want to be associated with the “inferior” sex.

    Take the example of bronies, who label themselves the male fans of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, and are supported by many feminists for breaking gendered moulds, but in reality they are intensely misogynistic. They chose the label “brony” to distinguish them from the “casual” female fans, because simply being called a My Little Pony fan is insulting to their male pride, as they will be associated with the usual female fans. Bronies have proven themselves disgusting assholes time and time again, drawing porn of ponies, ostracizing female fans of the show, harassing women who just want to enjoy the show, claiming themselves superior, loyal supporters of Faust, as opposed to the “casual” female fans…the list goes on. And Faust still backs them up, just because they feed her ego by praising her to be a genius all the time. Even after they drew porn of her.

    Another thing I must point out about gender stereotypes evolving over time: objects deemed as “good” once and become “bad” once they become “feminine”. Example: High heels were once exclusively male, and considered practical too. Egyptian butchers wore high heels to avoid waddling in the blood of the animals they killed, and high heels were used as riding boots to secure the feet of horse riders in the stirrups, in the Victorian Era, if memory serves me right. But they only started gaining notoriety in modern times as they became fashionable footwear for women and lost their practicality (which still doesn’t mean they are bad in any way by themselves. Usage decides whether an object is “good” or “bad”. Prolonged wearing of heels have detrimental effects on the bone structure of wearers, for example).

    Don’t ever demonize anything stereotypically associated with women because that is counterproductive: it won’t achieve gender equality, but will only perpetuate the myth that traditionally “feminine” things are bad. Please stop and reconsider your ideals as a feminist. I sincerely hope this post has made you more aware of internalized misogyny and the like. I know it won’t change your views overnight, but please at least try to be more cognizant of intersectionality and subconscious oppression.

    This video adequately explains the phenomenon of femmephobia and gender stereotyping: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=zXKuF2vFeQo

    Some of your blog posts can be insightful and educative, but you still have a lot to work on. Personally, I believe your likening of gender stereotyping to systematic racism is really insensitive and ignorant. Yes, racism and sexism, along with other forms of oppression, intrinsically function in the same way, by upholding one group of people over another, then attaching negative value to the oppressed group. However, there are differences in how they function, and trying to liken them is anything but reasonable. For a person who will never fully understand or experience racism, I hope you won’t use the oppression of other races to validate your argument on sexism. Gender stereotypes undermine women’s potential, but “girly” things are not as harmful as the the cultural and physical genocide of people-of-color.

    Another thing is that the gender stereotypes you speak of are highly USA-centric and white-centric, since not all of them are universal (although American media has a global distribution and effect) or apply to women-of color. You say girls are stereotyped as weak and in need of saving, thus your dislike for the “damsel in distress” trope, but have you ever seen a black woman as a damsel in distress? Black women have a different set of stereotypes applied to them, which are far more degrading than those applied to white women. They are stereotyped as loud-mouthed, independent, violent, promiscuous, overly sexual, unfeminine, etc, which makes them undesirable for men, and thus, even black men hate them I preference for white women. Because black women are considered undesirable and worthless, nobody ever thinks about rescuing them, in real life or fiction. They are a constant target for abuse and violent crimes that you’ll never see white women experiencing on account of their race. Out of all the Disney Princesses, the women-of-color, namely Jasmine, Mulan, Tiana, and Pocahontas, are characterized as more capable than most of the white princesses and don’t need to be saved as much, but that reinforces the idea that they don’t need men and can stand up for themselves. This is turn, results in the harmful idea that they are not proper women and don’t deserve protection just like white women. This is how women-of-color experience sexism differently with the added factor of race, and this is why you shouldn’t just focus on the stereotypes of white women.

    Hope I didn’t write all this in vain again. I’d really appreciate it if you would shift the focus of your blog, which currently is “gender equality for white women”, to “gender equality for all women, regardless of race, sexuality, gender identity, social and economic status, and physical and mental disability”. Because all these are important too. If you think girls (usually white) are not represented enough, then women belonging to marginalized groups such as the above have a much, much harder time finding representation for themselves. Thank you for your patience, if you read it this far. Hope I didn’t ruin your holidays.

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  6. something I wanted to bring to your attention – the lack of shows with female protagonists on Cartoon Network (&i’m sure other networks like it) and the disappearance of shows like Powerpuff Girls and Totally Spies where the characters are predominantly female.

    For Cartoon Network specifically, they chose not to relicense Totally Spies! a couple of years ago, but the show itself still exists in its own country of production, France, and is broadcast to other countries too.

    Just a glaring example of the kind of stuff you talk about.

  7. Margot, have you seen the promo for this game?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KsB1ydR8NFk
    Apparently uses the princess theme without making the princess into a damsel in distress. She goes on her own journey and uses a sword and magic as a weapon. The graphics look adorable. I’m very excited for this game. Hopefully it’s as good as it looks like.

  8. just watch the leader of the group on Fox news. people like you are what is wrong with this country.. let make pussy out of all young boys and be gender neturel on everything. I see why you are in SAN FAN.. stay there with the rest of the queers and dumb bithes… I will now shop at stride rite for shoes for my two boys..

  9. Try watching some niche anime. Some niche animes, like Claymore and Ghost in the Shell have properly dressed female protagonists who actually stand out. Also, there is a guy by the username Roosterteeth who is currently doing a series titled RWBY, where the main protagonists are female characters.

  10. I love your blog.

    I forgot two other non-princess female protagonists, Jane from Return to Neverland and Tinkerbell in the Fairies books and four Tinkerbell movies.

    For live action Disney movies, there is one female animal protagonist I know of, Chloe the chihuahua from Beverly Hills Chihuahua.

    How would you rate these three characters on your Girlpower scale?

    Interestingly, even though the movie Dumbo has many more male than female characters (i.e. all five of the crows are male, the stork and mouse are male, the train is gendered male) and has the main character, who is male, in the title, all the elephants other than Dumbo are female, reflecting on the fact that real life elephants are matriarchal.

  11. I love your blog, so I apologize for writing just to point out an error:

    “Between 1937 and 2005 there were only 13 female protagonists in animated movies.”

    Just looking from 1992-2004 there were 16 movies with a female (or multiple female) protagonists.

    Ferngully, Happily Ever After, Thumbelina, The Swan Princess, Pocahontas, Anastasia, Quest for Camelot, Mulan, The King and I, Final Fantasy:The Spirits Within, Return to Neverland, Lilo and Stitch, The Powerpuff Girls, The Wild ThornBerrys Movie, and Home on the Range,

    … of course the number of female protagonists is still far less then male and only 16 in 12 years isn’t great or anything.

  12. Hey,

    I’ve been seeing your blog linked by Pigtail Pals a lot, and I want to thank you for what you write. The subtle ways in which girls are taught to be smaller, weaker, and less capable than boys are shocking, it’s not rare for the most resilient of children to fall prey to those messages. I know I spent many, many years hating being a girl, until I realised there was nothing to hate, that the limitations imposed upon me were LIES.

    Anyway, I wanted to draw your attention to this little book from my childhood. http://www.alisonlester.net/monsters%20are%20knocking.html

    I remember to this very day looking through it and going ‘Huh! Why is the woman a carpenter, and the man a house cleaner?’ It just didn’t seem right to me, when I was young. Even though my parents and family had never ever suggested anything of the sort, I had absorbed this message from society.

    The book is made for very young kids, it’s a very short read, but besides being charming, it challenges traditional gender roles in a very subtle, very non-preaching way. The kids open the door- there’s a woman outside, coming to ‘work with her saws’. That’s it.

    I wish it wasn’t such a big deal to see stuff like that in a children’s book.

  13. Hi Margot,

    I’m loving your blog. Thanks for the work you do.

    I just started following your blog recently, so I’m not sure how you pick what books you read/review/recommend, but I have a series you might be interested in (maybe you’ve heard of it, but I searched your blog and you’ve never posted on it).

    It’s the Kiki Strike series – Inside the Shadow City, The Empress’s Tomb, and the third book is slated to come out next year, The Darkness Dwellers.

    I was turned on to the books by a review (which, sadly, I can no longer find online) written by a librarian who said she loves the books because she can (and does) recommend them for boys and girls, which stands out in this situation since all the protagonists are girls.

    I have no relationship with the author or publishing company, I just think they are great books. I’m a 35year old mother of 2 kids under 4, so they aren’t reading this stuff yet. I read them about two years ago, and I can’t wait for the third one.

    Hope you read them and enjoy. I’d love to hear what you think of them.
    Renee

  14. I really, really enjoyed you blog. I read several articles before I made a decision to subscribe, and I’d have to say that I am thoroughly happy that I did. I think that you are filling a very important, and very neglected niché in the fight against sexism. I’d have to say that I have a greater appreciation of your work after reading because you really take time to dissect the cultural concept of gender, and sexism, and show how they are limiting to us as people. That is the part that I appreciate the most. I will keep myself updated on your writings, and thoughts looking at our culture.

    I’d have to share, that I was once quite in the dark about sexism until I started really paying attention. I’d have to say, I was appalled at out pervasive the issue is, and I see sexism everywhere now. I hope and believe that one day it will be a bygone fact of an era in our history, rather than a painful fact of our present reality. Keep doing what you are doing.

    Rene

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  17. Hi-
    Great blog! I really enjoy your thoughtful, fact-based responses. As an academic, writer, blogger and mom of three girls, I can relate to your concerns and insightful responses. My older two (twins) are 12, so I am now navigating the tricky waters of teen girl adolescence. I thought you might enjoy this amazing documentary from CBC’s DocZone called SextUp Kids. (http://www.cbc.ca/doczone/episode/sext-up-kids.html)
    After watching it, I was chatting with a group of other moms of tween girls, and we were trying to imagine what alternative narratives of healthy teen girl sexuality might exist. What can we show our daughters that isn’t just about the current pop culture options of being hot or being invisible? We racked our brains and couldn’t come up with anything. But i haven’t given up. Thought you might have some ideas.

    • Hi Alissa,

      I will check out this link and your blog. I do not know any narratives about healthy sexuality for teens, but I am not there yet and have not looked. Sad to know you haven’t found anything. Please let me know if you do.

      MM

      • Hi Margot,

        I’ve done a bit of poking around and haven’t found too much, aside from an amazing website/ movement called Spark. There is some great stuff coming out of the LGBT movement, which is wonderful, but it won’t reach most straight tweens, teens. Communities that try to subvert the dominant paradigm (like Goths or the Purity Movement) really just end up reinforcing the same old stereotypes. I’ve written a bit more about this in today’s blog post, with links to Spark: http://www.risk-within-reason.com/2012/03/22/healthy-positive-teen-sexuality-imagine/
        Always on the look out for more, in case you come across them.
        Thanks – love your site btw.

        Alissa

  18. I’m all for gender equality, but don’t you think you’re going a bit too far?

    I don’t think girls should be forced to play with barbies and other “girl oriented” toys, BUT if they want to, what’s wrong with that? And what’s so “fucked up” about a toy that teaches/allows children to style hair? Have you ever gone to a salon? Would you chastise your hair dresser for allowing his/her child to play with a toy that emulates what they do at work? Would you have as much of a problem with a boy playing with one as you obviously have if the child is female?

  19. If you have not seen this:

    http://news.yahoo.com/pole-dancing-robots-wow-worlds-biggest-high-tech-113038782.html

    I am a Mechanical Engineer. At some trade shows, companies use scantily-clad women doing weird things to attract people to their booth. Apparently the customers (i.e. Engineers) they are looking for are heterosexual men and homosexual women. It’s absolutely disgusting! It has gotten better over the years (the last show I went to was 100% professional), so I was shocked to see this article.

    I love reading your blog. Some of it I don’t “get”, but I whole-heartedly agree with a lot of it. As children, my sister and I wanted to emulate our 2 older brothers, and fortunately, our parents did not encourage/discourage that. I did NOT know what to do with the hair-styling dummy head that one of Mom’s friends gave me. Instead, I was playing with toy soldiers, killing off the “enemy” (Ha! Ha! Probably not a good thing either)

    • Hi M. Ying,

      I had the hair styling dummy head! What a fucked up toy. I hope they don’t make that one anymore. I’ll check out the link. Thanks. It’s bad enough that they use half naked women to market to adults, but kids? I guess all the toys come from the same place. We need more women in power and to liberate imagination.

      MM

  20. Hi, I’ve nominated you for the Kreativ Blogger Award because I love your posts. You can see the details about the award on my blog. Keep up the good work!

  21. I just wanted to thank you for being here and for sharing your thoughts. It’s such a relief to see that my thoughts/concerns that I struggle to give words to are being voiced here. I look forward to perusing your blog more. Rock on.

  22. I really love this blog, it points out things which I don’t always notice in the media and entertainment.
    From curiosity I’ve searched for posts concerning ponies, and I see you’ve described previous, stereotypying generations.
    Are you going to write an article about new ponies and the whole brony phenomenon? In G4 the toys are still pinkish and shallow but the animation produced by Lauren Faust is just awesome.

  23. I love reading your posts. They are so insightful. I put this blog down on a blog award list because I like it so much. Thanks for all the work you’ve done and continue to do!

  24. Change.org
    Tell the AIBA: Don’t force female Olympic boxers to compete in miniskirts
    Sign the Petition
    Here is the link:
    http://www.change.org/petitions/tell-aiba-play-fair-dont-ask-female-boxers-to-wear-skirts

    Women’s boxing will make its debut at this year’s Olympic Games in London — a huge victory for female boxers who have fought for years to be taken seriously. But now it seems their participation will come with an outrageous catch: female boxers might be required to wear miniskirts in the ring.

    The Amateur International Boxing Association (AIBA) is reportedly considering the new dress code because it thinks skirts will make the female athletes look “elegant” and help “distinguish” them from their male counterparts.

    Elizabeth Plank, an amateur boxer based in London, is petitioning the AIBA to abandon the miniskirt regulation. Click here to sign Elizabeth’s petition right now.

    Elizabeth says, “The idea that female boxers should be made to wear skirts reduces these skilled athletes to sex objects. It undermines the respect they have long fought for.” Worse, competing in unfamiliar clothing could even negatively impact the boxers’ performances.

    And Elizabeth isn’t the only boxer speaking out against the proposed dress code. When asked about the policy, three-time world champion Katie Taylor says, “I don’t even wear miniskirts on a night out, so I definitely won’t be wearing miniskirts in the ring.”

    Fortunately, the AIBA will be considering public opinion and feedback from the boxing world before making its final decision next week. That means if enough people sign Elizabeth’s petition, you can force the AIBA to abandon the proposed dress code for good.

    Again, here is the link: http://www.change.org/petitions/tell-aiba-play-fair-dont-ask-female-boxers-to-wear-skirts

    Thank you so much for your blog!
    Eric

  25. Hi Margot,

    I left a message on Facebook on you. If you might be interested in being part of a panel of MA writers during our Literary Festival in February let me know. Check your messages on FB for more details. Nice to see you and your family!

  26. Love this idea! I watch a wide range of movies with my daughter (she is 6 now) without regard to a lot of ratings because they are so out of touch with my priorities for her and her interests. It is tough to raise empowered girls without running into walls and bumps – thank you for putting this out there!

  27. If you are looking for real media ratings for your children, go to commonsense.org I’m not finding any value here; only spotlighting the fact that some cartoon characters have penises.

  28. From the picture at the top of the page it looks like you follow gender stereotypes as well. That of mother and being female. It’s scientifically proven that women are nurturers, and therefore they fill the “mother” role better than men because they are programed to do so. Some gender stereotyping is bad, but there is a great deal of it that comes from scientific reasoning and from nature. Don’t mess with nature, it bites back…hard.

  29. just discovered your site today and am loving it. have signed up for your posts. I have no kids, but an almost 9-year old niece and 5 year old nephew whom i am close to. love seeing how kids develop, but want them all to have a good range of role models. Am trying to launch a women’s role models project website and will be keeping in touch with your site!

  30. I read a book series with my sons, called Maximum Ride. It’s not a movie–yet, but it’s supposed to be a movie by 2013, with a male producer and female director: http://www.squidoo.com/maximum-ride-movie
    The books involve a group of young kids who have been genetically experimented on, and who have bird wings. Their leader is a female, even though two of the other kids in the group are her age and male. The blind boy her age is the cook, (and one of the explosive experts) and the girl who’s a bit younger than her is the computer hacker.
    Sadly, we went to buy it at our local progressive-minded bookstore, because my son wanted to get it for a friend’s birthday because he thought she’d like it… and the store clerk questioned whether a girl would like it because it was “kind of a boy’s book” because it was an action/adventure story. (sigh)
    I’m sure they’re getting a lot of input from the many fans of the book, wouldn’t it be nice if we could nudge them (no pun intended for those who know what I mean) into a GGG rating?

  31. I actually think some of this is over the top! I am a pediatrician and mother of two daughters. They are very independent, free spirits. But I don’t care for them to grow up to be on an equal basis with men in a man’s world; who wants to live in a man’s world, showing how great and tough you are. I want them to grow up being happy, compassionate people, who know how to love and be loved, have a family, and follow passions. My 7-year old seems to go about tackling her interests without me or anyone having to go on rampages on what is out there in the world! Be happy for what is there! Rampages against the world do not lead to a happy place!

    • Hi Lori,

      Sorry, don’t understand your point? I’m all for independent, free spirits who are happy, compassionate, and know how to love and be loved, have a family, and follow passions– boys and girls alike. Asking Hollywood to stop resticting boys and girls to limited gender roles.

      Thanks for visiting ReelGrl.

      MM

  32. I didn’t know where to put this, but I wanted to suggest a film to you. MirrorMask is not particularly well known, but it is probably my favorite movie for many reasons, not least of which is the existence of a very strong, brave young female protagonist. It may be a little too creepy for young children (it is reminiscent of Coraline) but I feel it would be a great movie for you to review for your readers.

  33. Just found you via the crosspost on MsMag…EXC! Looks like we share plenty of mutual friends, focus, and femme forward analysis. Ping me if you ever want to guest post or crosspost on Shaping Youth…we’re in the process of expanding and I could use some back up!

  34. Hi, I just started checking out your website & I think its really cool! I have a 3 month old baby girl, she is my first child. What do you think about the baby einstein dvds? My neice always liked them a lot & I think they are pretty good but just was wondering your opinion. Also I was laughing about the comments about baby girls who dont have hair & parents who out bows etc on their head. My daughter doesnt have any hair yet & I love her cute soft head, lol.

  35. really interesting article about Disney movies and the pulling by execs! Just read about you in the Chronicle. I’d love to share with you information about my dvd series Adina’s Deck, for you to review. It looks like it would be up your ally!

  36. Hi Margot,
    What a great mind and authentic voice. I really appreciated many of your recent posts and would love to interview you about your interest in your reel girls blog and rating media for kids. As the mother of four myself, the challenge is increasingly daunting. I write and teach about love, relationships, healthy intimacy and have a radio show on LA talk radio every weds. Let me know if you could pick out a noon hour to share your ideas.
    best,
    Wendy

    • Wendy,

      Mother of four, wow!

      Sorry for the delayed reply, I am just back from traveling.

      I would love to be a guest on your radio show. Thank you for the invite. I could do 10/25.

      All best,
      Margot

  37. Just read your blog on SFGate for the first time and just signed up on your site. Great Work!!!! I always get the chills when I go to Toys R Us/Babies R Us and other stores catering to kids. Even toy stores — they are so based on sexual stereotypes. Stuff for boys here, stuff for girls there – it’s nauseating! Most folks know the sex of their babies these days before the baby is born. I stay away from the blues/pinks and go for yellows/greens even if I know what gender the baby is going to be. My REAL PET PEEVE is when girls are young and don’t have much hair and the parents put a bow in her hair or some other such thing to make sure everyone knows she’s a girl. That for some reason makes me crazy!
    Glad to hear you were able to give birth vaginally after your C-section. My sister-in-law’s first baby was a C-section and then she delivered the next 3 vaginally — it can be done.
    I disagree a bit with you regarding rap music. I was in the Virgin Mega Store in SF years ago and had to leave because I was so tired and irritated by the word “bitch” being used continuously in the rap songs being played over the speakers in the store. I just couldn’t relax enough to think about what music I wanted to buy.
    It’s so nice to see an out-there feminist blog. When I taught an Intro to Women’s Studies class in the ’80s, so many women were for equal pay, pro-choice, etc but weren’t the F-word, feminist. Sorry — I got a little carried away — didn’t mean to write so much.

    • Eileen,

      Thanks so much for joining ReelGirl. The bald baby hair-dos drive me crazy too! I agree that the lyrics in rap music (and a lot of music) can be horrfying. I just think it’s hypocritical when critics only focus on hip-hop and generalize about it.

      Margot

  38. Hi Margot,

    I had a wonderful experience at the Woodhull Institute for Ethical Leadership a few years back. I’m not sure if we’ve met but I’ve been working for years in different capacities with GirlSource (rt now as Interim Executive Director). I’ve also worked with Feminist.com and write for the blog loveisntenough.com (aka anti-racist parent).

    I’m also the co-founder and editor of Adiosbarbie.com. I am creating a youth section and would love to discuss cross-pollinating in some way. Would you be available to chat offline about ways we may collaborate?

  39. Hi – I too found you on SFGate. Love the feminist reviews of media — sounds like we think along similar lines! (In our house, Goodnight Gorilla is female – no silverback, she.)

    A few kids’ shows you might take a look at: Martha Speaks — sure, she’s a dog, but there are a number of female roles and it seems to be pretty evenhanded. Ditto Word Girl. We also like SuperWhy — yes, the lead is male, but the two girls have strong roles. One is a princess (sigh), but at least she’s not the standard-issue useless type of princess.

    W/r/t Rainbow Magic, they are a hit in our house (nearly 5yo girl + 3yo boy, who love to play “Rachel and Kirsty”), so there are boys who like them – but I agree, the fairies and girls are so passive and fearful of the goblins! (BTW, there are definitely several fairies of color – check out the Jewel and Pet Fairies.) And the lookism is also a minus; when I read them aloud, I edit out most of the appearance comments, but as the kids get older, there will be a lot of editorializing about how looks and character don’t automatically match. One positive is that the goblins always fail because they are selfish and don’t work together as a team. (D’oh – foiled again!)

    Anyway, enjoyed the posts so thought I’d let you know.

  40. Hey Margot,

    I absolutely love your ReelGirl blog and your blog on SF Gate. I am so glad they picked you up because that’s how I discovered your writing. I am always looking to live my life away from gender stereotypes. So I am always looking for support and encouragement to ignore and critically interpret the cultural barrage of women subordination and you help provide that.

    Anyway, what do you think of Emily the Strange? And Hello Kitty? Emily the Strange purports to be an example of female empowerment, she was created by a man. She usually does not care about what others think, can be antisocial, and sometimes tends (annoyingly) to the cute side of femaleness – seems like the guy’s fantasy in those cases. …Hello Kitty – I don’t really get – except for some insight from Asian Pop columnist Jeff Yang’s explanation about post-war cutesy Japan as marketing to change it’s evil WWII image. Still, Hello Kitty is popular even now with adult women – huh?

    Thanks and please keep writing!

    • Stacy,

      Thanks for your comment.

      I love Emily the Strange! My husband thinks she looks like me– maybe that gives some weight to the guys’ fantsay theory, ha. But I don’t think she’s for kids– she’s too strange.

      Hello Kitty is, at least, often action oriented. She does do stuff in her many pictures– rides bikes, skis, climbs trees– as opposed to gazing at herself in the mirror brushing her hair as Barbie and the princesses are often shown. But even so, its always like her photo is being snapped while she’s frozen there, just smiling withth her enormous head. My six year old loves her.

      Thanks so much for reading the blogs.

      Margot

  41. Melissa/Margot: Look at the top right of the blog. You’ll see “RSS Posts,” which is precisely what you are looking for. It allows you to “subscribe” to every entry as they come in. Most people use this process. You’ll need a “reader” — like Google Reader” — or something that will collect all the subscription (and any other blogs you want to follow that way), but that’s pretty easy. Then you just open up your “reader” and there are the latest entries…and generally the ones you’ve not yet read are ‘bold’ (whereas those you have read no longer are). Hope this helps.

  42. Looks like I great site… look forward to your thoughts on more children’s shows. I always look for this type of resource with the kids. Esp. with new movies. Can’t wait to read more.

    Thanks for reaching out to me. Have another bookmark! ;-)

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