Another so-called journalist comments on Scarlett Johansson’s underwear

Isn’t The New Yorker supposed to be a serious magazine? Slate reports on the 5,000 word profile of actress Scarett Johansson by so-called journalist Anthony Lane:

 

Scarlett Johansson’s eyelashes are like a camel’s. Her lush womanliness takes vibrant, palpable form. There is a beguiling, peppery charm to this irresistiblescreen siren, no lie. She begins to speak and, oh, what a voice!

 

Here’s more:

Would it be construed as trespass, therefore, to state that Johansson looks tellingly radiant in the flesh? Mind you, she rarely looks unradiant, so it’s hard to say whether her condition [pregnancy] has made a difference.

 

Johansson was, indeed, gilded to behold. She seemed to be made from champagne.

 

Then came the laugh: dry and dirty, as if this were a drama class and her task was to play a Martini.

 

Johansson’s backside, barely veiled in peach-colored underwear …

 

 … using nothing but the honey of her voice …

 

What the fuck? This is The New Yorker. I write this whole blog about gender equality in the fantasy world, and how are we ever going to get anywhere when the “best” writers for our “best” magazines repeatedly reduce actresses to objects? This guy’s job title is film critic. As Esther Breger writes in The New Republic: “Try to imagine The New Yorker running this about Matthew McConaughey, or Michael Fassbender.”

Perhaps, it won’t surprise you that Lane, though the most prestigious, is not near the first interviewer to comment on Johansson’s underwear.

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In another earlier interview, after Robert Downey Jr comments on the sexist questions directed at Johansson, she says to him: “How come you get the really interesting existential question and I get the, like, rabbit food question?”

Yes, how come world? Why is that?

 

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During the Academy Awards, The Representation Project started the hashtag #AskHerMore to get journalists to interview actresses about subjects other than their clothing/ appearance:

Even at the Oscars, where we celebrate the highest artistic achievements in film, reporters often focus more on a woman’s appearance than what she has accomplished. This Sunday night we’re encouraging the media to #AskHerMore!

 

Part of the inspiration for the hashtag was Cate Blanchett’s irritated response at a previous awards show when the camera panned her body up and down. Blanchett asked: “Do you do that to the guys?” PolyMic reported: “Blanchett’s reaction shows yet another subtle moment of sexism that even the most successful women have to deal with.”

It’s kind of sad that these moments are considered “subtle.” Enough already. When will the media treat women like actual human beings?

Images from http://ohdeargodwhy.tumblr.com/

Cartoon Network’s history of sexism: cancelling shows for featuring too many girls

Since my post Sexed up Power Puff Girls point to Cartoon Network’s girl problem, I’ve learned more about Cartoon Network’s history of sexism.

Last year, “Tower Prep” was cancelled because it had too many females in the cast.

From Women and Hollywood:

In a fascinating discussion with director Kevin Smith, Dini relates that higher-ups at the cable network urged him to focus his storylines on his male characters and make his female characters one step behind the boys, not as smart as the boys, not as interesting as the boys.” When Dini proceeded to create fully realized girl characters anyway, the Cartoon Network axed the show.

 

Here’s the relevant excerpt (emphases added):

 

DINI: They’re all for boys. “We do not want the girls,” I mean, I’ve heard executives say this, you know, not [where I am] but at other places, saying like, “We do not want girls watching this show.” 

 

SMITH: WHY? That’s 51% of the population.
DINI: They. Do. Not. Buy. Toys. The girls buy different toys. The girls may watch the show –
SMITH: So you can sell them T-shirts if they don’t — A: I disagree, I think girls buy toys as well, I mean not as many as fucking boys do, but, B: sell them something else, man! Don’t be lazy and be like, ‘well I can’t sell a girl a toy.’ Sell ‘em a T-shirt, man, sell them fucking umbrella with the fucking character on it, something like that. But if it’s not a toy, there’s something else you could sell ‘em! Like, just because you can’t figure out your job, don’t kill chances of, like, something that’s gonna reach an audi — that’s just so self-defeating, when people go, like… these are the same fuckers who go, like, “Oh, girls don’t read comics, girls aren’t into comics.” It’s all self-fulfilling prophecies. They just make it that way, by going like, “I can’t sell ‘em a toy, what’s the point?”
DINI: That’s the thing, you know I hate being Mr. Sour Grapes here, but I’ll just lay it on the line: that’s the thing that got us cancelled on Tower Prep, honest-to-God was, like, “We need boys, but we need girls right there, right one step behind the boys” — this is the network talking — “one step behind the boys, not as smart as the boys, not as interesting as the boys, but right there.” And then we began writing stories that got into the two girls’ back stories, and they were really interesting. And suddenly we had families and girls watching, and girls really became a big part of our audience, in sort of like they picked up that Harry Potter type of serialized way, which is what The Batman and [indistinct]’s really gonna kill. But, the Cartoon Network was saying, ‘Fuck, no, we want the boys’ action, it’s boys’ action, this goofy boy humor we’ve gotta get that in there. And we can’t — and I’d say, but look at the numbers, we’ve got parents watching, with the families, and then when you break it down — “Yeah, but the — so many — we’ve got too many girls. We need more boys.”
SMITH: That’s heart-breaking.
DINI: And then that’s why they cancelled us, and they put on a show called Level Up, which is, you know, goofy nerds fighting CG monsters. It’s like, “We don’t want the girls because the girls won’t buy toys.” We had a whole merchandise line for Tower Prep that they shitcanned before it ever got off the launching pad, because it’s like, “Boys, boys, boys. Boys buy the little spinny tops, they but the action figures, girls buy princesses, we’re not selling princesses.”
I heard about this story because a commenter responded on my “Powerpuff Girls” post that CN said it doesn’t want shows focused on girls because girls don’t buy toys. My response was: WTF? I thought girls were shoppers? This explanation is so typical of how actions get gendered based on power and status, for example: girls are the ones who like to cook, unless we’re talking about great chefs, then, cooking is a guy thing; girls are artsy, unless we’re talking about great artists, top selling paintings, or museum shows, then art, once again, becomes a guy thing; girls are verbal unless we’re talking about great literature in which case female writers are designated chicklit and guys are the masters. Boys buy more stuff? Wow. So I went to the link, did some research, and some of what I found I pasted above. There was also a petition based on that interview created on Change.org that has about 16,500 signatures.
Since my post about “Powerpuff Girls,” I’ve gotten lots of comments like this one:
The girls wear skin tight clothing in the show as well. They are not sexualizing them just because they wear latex. Everyone has their own style, and the artist portrayed it that way. Couldn’t the male characters being all muscular be considered sexualizing, they wear tight clothing too. you try to teach equality for all yet you claim everything needs fairly regulated so it’s 50/50, screwing over peoples free choices. People come up with their own ideas, and if theyre male heroes so be it, there is nothing wrong with that. The powerpuff girls were my favorite cartoon growing up, it didnt matter to me if they were male or female, all that mattered was that it was fun watching. Girls and guys alike loved it. And now we have this “movement” where all the ‘equal rights’ activists wanna dissect absolutely everything to feel better about themselves and bitch at the world for making women inferior, when the ONLY times I’ve heard of people refering to women as inferior are pages like this.
Pull your heads out of your asses and move on with your lives.
To which I responded:
Exaggerating muscles not the same as breasts, ass etc. Muscles signify strength, what you can do. See Kevin bolks ‘if male avengers posed like the female one’ on Reel Girl or Theamats Wonder Woman– if I don’t get pants no one gets pants. That you don’t notice is the problem. Do you think you might notice if 41 out of 47 shows had female protagonists? I wish I had my head up my ass, that would be a lot less depressing

Here is a link to my post: What if male Avengers posed like the female one? Please take a look at the art.

The same commenter wrote this:

I wouldnt care if 47 out if 47 had female protagonists, its a cartoon, a show for wasting time, not some life lesson or some forced idea. God you people are fucking annoying.

To which I wrote:

That’s great that you wouldn’t care if the shows featured female protags, would you feel the same way about the movies for adults and the male/ female ratios? As far as ‘its a cartoon, a show for wasting time, not some life lesson or some forced idea’ That’s not how kids experience it. They buy the toys, wear the clothes, act out the stories, dress up as the characters on Halloween

He responds:

And whos to say a girl cant dress like a male superhero? Or a male as a femal superhero? It’s the same thing. Yes, i would feel the same EXACT way of the adult movie industry.
You’re claiming that males should be different than females, are you not? By saying that characters are male/female for a reason? Instead if them just being characters? As part of a show to entertain kids and feed their imagination?
Now what about BET. black entertainment television? That must be some bad stuff, all those poor white kids wanting to be black because tv told them too hmm? That’s just outrageous, is it not??? I can only imagone how pissed activists would be if there was a mens television channel.
OWN, oprah winfreys channel, is pretty much about her and things she believes in and likes, so why isn’t everyone complaining about that!!
Or Christian channels that show services. That is horrendous to those whom aren’t christian! Imagine all the other kids who aren’t, those poor souls must be so deprived.
I guess it’s a blessing that my neice, whom I love dearly is raised by parents who dont shelter her and fill her mind with radical myths and dramatic stories of all this inequality. She can watch Dora, and she can watch Spongebob, and she loves sesame street. She loves playing with cars and barbies. She is gonna grow up to be a wonderful successful and proud individual. No thanks to you so called “equalists” making everything so equal and wonderful.
I am all for equality and I will stand up for anything and anyone who against my bias deserves it. But this is too much. You have taken someones art and therapy, in regards to the artists rendition of PPG, and absolutely blew it out of proportion.
THAT is the problem with this world.

Here’s me:

Cartoon Network is a channel FOR KIDS. The channels you list are for adults. Kids deserve and need a protected space where girls don’t get marginalized and sexualized.Do you get it would be messed up if there were channels with shows just for African- American kids, Christians kids etc? Yet, it’s perfectly acceptable in 2014 to segregate girls and boys and create narratives based on gender stereotypes

I reposted all of this because its typical of comments I always get. It confuses me because I thought we all understood that “separate but equal” doesn’t work. I don’t know why when it comes to gender and kids, we throw everything we’ve supposedly learned out the window. These stereotypes are ridiculous. They are not “natural” but based on power.
When kids are radically and repeatedly separated, based on gender, all kinds of stereotypes must result.
All kids to see stories where girls are powerful.

‘We are human beings first’

Great quote from Gloria Steinem (via Ms. Magazine)

We are human beings first, with minor differences from men that apply largely to the act of reproduction. We share the dreams, capabilities, and weaknesses of all human beings, but our occasional pregnancies and other visible differences have been used — even more pervasively, if less brutally, than radical differences have been — to mark us for an elaborate division of labor that may once have been practical but has since become cruel and false.

 

And Steinem wasn’t even talking about toys. Well, specifically about toys. Target, are you listening? Can we all please stop training a new generation to accept gender stereotypes as “natural?”

My daughter teased for ‘boy’ shoes on soccer field

Today, during a soccer game, a kid on the opposing team made fun of my four year old daughter’s ‘boy’ shoes. I am so sick of this shit I could scream. It is crazy to me that people actually say, actually believe it’s “natural” for girls “want” pink stuff. My God, I’m honestly surprised my daughter has stuck with her Star Wars shoes for this long. As I’ve blogged, she isn’t even a big Star Wars fan, fighting for her passion with these shoes. She just bought a pair of shoes. I really feel like she could go either way, or one of many ways, pink and sparkly or action hero or something else, but everything out there is telling her which limited “choice” to make.

So after my daughter leaves the field, crying, which, by the way, I was totally bummed about. We’d rehearsed other responses, “I like my shoes” “There is no such thing as boy shoes,” so many times, but still, of course, I comforted her. I said I would talk to the girl. Her father, a nice guy, happened to be sitting right next to me. First, he called another kid over, asking her if she’d made fun of my daughter’s shoes. Both that kid and my daughter denied she was the one. Then the guy calls over his daughter who admits it was her, and my daughter seconds that. “I’m so sorry,” he said to me, after making his kid apologize. “I don’t know where she gets it.” I told him preschool, probably. And then he looks at his daughter and tells her: “Star Wars is cool. Star Wars has Princess Leia and she’s beautiful!”

Is that a bummer of a response or what? Here is a dad trying but totally missing the point. So I said, “And Leia is smart and brave and powerful, too.”

“Yeah,” says the dad.

How many times, do you think, in one day– from people telling them how pretty their dresses are or their hair or their shoes, to TV shows and books and movies and toys— little girls are shown that what they look like is the most important thing of all? What do you think they are learning to value most, their actions or their appearance? Where do you think they are learning to focus their efforts, concerns, and ambitions?

Here’s the video of my daughter talking about being bullied for ‘boy shoes made a couple months ago. Please share your stories so parents start to understand the epidemic that gender bullying has become, in preschool and beyond.

4 yr old girl bullied for wearing ‘boy’ shoes

Here’s my 4 year old daughter talking about how kids at preschool teased her for wearing “boy” shoes. A group of them wouldn’t let her enter the “train hole,” a play structure shaped like a train, because she was wearing her Star Wars shoes.

After my daughter told me about the teasing, which happened more than once, I spoke to her teacher who then talked with the kids about how anyone can wear any kind of shoe they like.

The bullying that happened to my daughter occurs in schools every day, and we all need to be doing more to stop it. Instead, we’re exacerbating it by buying into gender marketing sold to us by multi-national media companies and chain stores.

A couple of years ago, there was a story about a first grader who brought her Star Wars lunch box to school, and she was teased. That story got some media attention, but it seems like too many people think that incident was some kind of anomaly, have forgotten about it, or still haven’t realized how damaging and limiting it is for kids when we gender stereotype them.

Whenever I blog or speak about gender segregating kids, I get the argument that it’s just “natural,” and if your kid happens to be the rare exception, she can “choose” another toy or T shirt if she wants. (Here I am recently responding to those arguments on Fox News but they are all over this blog as well.) How many kids have the courage to be the “exception?” And why has straying from pink or princess become an exception? How long until my daughter starts “choosing” the shoes that she’s supposed to wear and like, shoes that she doesn’t get teased for wearing? I’m stating what should be obvious here: When one type of product is aggressively marketed to boys, and another type to girls kids don’t have a choice.

Due to a campaign in Europe by Let Toys Be Toys For Girls and Boys, stores in Europe including Toys R us, stopped segregating products by gender, and instead, are organizing them by type. Here’s what Toys Will Be Toys reported on Toys R Us.

The retailer today confirmed that they would draw up a set of principles for in-store signage meaning that, in the long-term, explicit references to gender will be removed and images will show boys and girls enjoying the same toys. They promised to start by looking at the way toys are represented in their upcoming Christmas catalogue.

This is great news for Europe, but go to any Target or Stride Rite in America, and you’ll see how far this country lags behind. Pinkwashed sections of stores marked for girls offer Barbies, dolls, and anything pink, princessy, or sparkly while areas marked for boys sell products in primary colors that have something to do with cars or superheroes. A U.S. organization called A Mighty Girl has started a similar petition in the U.S. to the Let Toys Be Toys petition in Europe, hoping to stop stores here from selling kids gender segregation.

Mass marketing by gender is changing how we see each other and the world around us. On the Huffington Post, Lori Day writes:

I was talking to a teacher friend recently who said that 10 or 15 years ago, if she asked her Kindergarten class what their favorite colors were, she heard many different answers. Now, she still hears the boys name many different colors, but the girls almost all say pink…

 

There are so many colors in the rainbow. Kids should get exposed to all of them. Please sign A Mighty Girl’s petition.

Fox News covers Reel Girl’s letter to Stride Rite on its sexism

I’ll post the video from my appearance on “Fox and Friends” when I figure out how, but here are a couple pics I snapped from my TV. (Obviously, I’m slightly tech-challenged.) Whatever you want to say about Fox, they covered this story. I’m happy to get the news out into the world about Stride Rite’s sexism and how gender stereotypes hurt kids. If you haven’t seen my letter to Stride Rite, you can read it here. 

“Gender stereotyping leads to bullying. It limits all kids and that’s the problem with it.”

RG

genderrules

SellingStereotypes

 

 

Dear Stride Rite, until you stop gender stereotyping, we’re through

Dear Stride Rite,

Today, I walked by your store on California Street in San Francisco, and I was saddened by how differently you market shoes to girls and boys. What’s with your gender stereotyping? I don’t get it. Aren’t girls and boys feet pretty similar? Don’t all kids need shoes where they can be active? Please tell me why Stride Rite markets shoes to little kids as if girls and boys are completely different species. As author Rebecca Hains writes, according to Stride Rite, girls are pretty and boys are active. This kind of gender stereotyping limits all kids.

Here’s the huge poster selling shoes to girls in the window of the San Francisco store.

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According to Stride Rite, girls like pink, purple, sparkles, and princesses.

Here’s your poster selling shoes to boys.

boy

Boys are powerful. They like orange, blue, red, yellow, and black.

The shoes displayed below the girl poster are also– surprise, surprise– pink, purple and sparkly. The shoes displayed below the boy poster feature Spider-Man and Captain America shoes.

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Where are the female superheroes at Stride Rite? Not on the socks you sell. Those are my daughter’s hands in the picture. She was looking for Wonder Woman.

socks

Apparently, Wonder Woman isn’t one of the world’s greatest superheroes. Isn’t she a member of the Justice League? Where’d she go? What about Black Widow? Why has she gone missing from the Avengers Assemble? And while we’re looking for MIA powerful females, where’s Leia with her lightsaber? Why isn’t she part of the Stride Rite Star Wars shoes marketing plan?

Here are my three daughters ages 4, 7, and 10 wearing Stride Rite shoes.

kids

Unfortunately, we will no longer be shopping at Stride Rite.The way you guide girls to one side of your store and boys to the other is manipulative and destructive. My youngest child chose her orange shoes from the “boy” side, but every year, my kids get more influenced by marketing such as yours. Their choices become more limited as they repeatedly see that girls are supposed to be so radically different than boys, only wear certain colors, and behave in a certain “feminine” way. For as long as I can, I hope to protect my kids from learning that boys are valued for what they do, while girls are valued for how they appear. That means not shopping at Stride Rite.

Sincerely,

Margot Magowan

Please go to Stride Rite’s Facebook page to tell them to stop gender stereotyping.

Update: On Reel Girl’s Facebook page, Lizards and Lullabies posted this email just received from Stride Rite. Guess they’re working hard to snag back to school shoppers. Makes sense, that’s why my family went shoe shopping.

prinesswishes

I couldn’t click on the commercial link so I went to You Tube. Ugh, it’s really awful.  As one commenter Tweets:

wish like a princess? They’ve found a way to make a princess EVEN MORE passive!

Here’s the ad:

Update: This comment, posted on Pigtail Pals Facebook page, makes me so frustrated. Diana got way more than a confused look from the sales associate when her daughter dared to step beyond gender limits at Stride Rite:


“We just went into a Stride Rite store for my 4yo daughter and she was drawn to the “boys” side with the Spider Man shoes. The sales associate actually stopped her and said “Oh honey, those are for boys. Let’s get you something prettier over here.”
I told the sales associate that she was free to pick a shoe from whatever side she wanted and that pretty wasn’t defined by pink, purple and glitter, nor was it the only quality we wanted in a sneaker.
We walked out with Spider Man sneakers that light up and are awesome. I did mention to the woman that while we appreciated her friendliness, we did not appreciate her gender stereotyping and making my daughter feel like she shouldn’t be excited about black, red and blue shoes with eyes that light up.”

 

And one more thing, while I’m here. All that “pretty,” shiny stuff on girl’s shoes gets scuffed up and falls off pretty fast. When it does, parents are likely to buy kids new shoes, which is great for business and also, creating lifetime consumers. Check out this post: Are girl’s shoes designed to disintegrate?

 

Teach kids Jane Austen 10 pound note when learning sexist U.S. currency

In the California public school system during first grade, kids learn about U.S. currency. I was bummed to watch my daughters spend hours studying, sorting, organizing, and diagramming endless stacks of male profiles. I still have a four year old to go through the training. It sucks. While this is supposed to be a math lesson, it’s yet another space where children see that males are important while females go missing. Six year olds learn– often with no authority figure like a teacher even mentioning the sexism– that males are leaders and females are invisible.

How different would our world be if our children grew up in a world where they saw female faces on the bills and coins they used every day? Really, what would have to change?

Well guess what? The land of the free and the brave may be remarkably sexist, but the Bank of England made the crazy, brazen, radical step of putting a woman author on money. Do you think they were closer to being courageous because they have a queen already there?

This is the great Jane Austen. Please show this bill to your kids. It’s really important that they see it.

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CNN reports:

 

In the United States, there is no shortage of notable women, but bank notes haven’t been updated since 1929, nine years after women gained the right to vote.

All of the paper money in the United States features men — nine presidents, two former treasury secretaries and one Benjamin Franklin.

Don’t let your children go through this sexist history lesson without acknowledging the inequity. A world where females go missing shouldn’t seem normal or okay to kids.

Here are some tips I discovered when my children learned about U.S. currency in first grade that may be helpful to you.

Show your kids other currencies where females are featured on money. This can be fun. Some money is beautiful or cool to look at. It’s all fascinating. You can learn a lot about people and their countries. This new Jane Austen bill is great opportunity. Let your kids know that U.S. bank notes have not been changed since 1929, 10 years after women got the vote. Ask your children who they would put on money if they could honor someone. Help them design a bill. Play store with their currency.

I have no doubt that in good, old Capitalist USA, when women are featured on currency as much as men are, it will be a signpost, maybe more than any other, of gender equality in America.

Reel Girl rates U.S. currency ***SSS*** for major gender stereotyping

 

Look what R rated book my 4 year old is reading….

Check out what book I found my 4 year old cuddled up with this morning: R. Crumb’s Genesis! No idea how she go her hands on this, but talk about sex and violence, the Bible is at the top of the list.

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Maybe the Costco headlamp you see tucked under the cover wasn’t such a great idea after all. At least she turned it off. Though if you saw my last pic, note she fell asleep wearing yesterday’s clothes. Back to the Mama Factory for me, new model needed…

Reel Girl rates Genesis ***SSS*** for gender stereotyping

 

After massive protest, Disney pulls new Merida from site

Exciting news! Today, Rebecca Hains, blogger and media studies professor, reports:

“As of today, Disney has quietly pulled the 2D image of Merida from its website, replacing it with the original Pixar version. Perhaps we’ll be spared an onslaught of sexy Merida merchandise yet.”

YAY! Check out the link, it’s true! BRAVE Merida is back.

I guess Disney was right to be so terrified of creating a strong, BRAVE, female protagonist (along with Pixar studios which hadn’t had ANY female protags before “Brave.”) It looks like Merida could be turning Disney’s franchise on it’s head. That’s pretty damn heroic.

Another mistake Disney made with “Brave?” They hired a female director. They fired her, but it was too late. Brenda Chapman wrote “Brave” based on her daughter. She was furious with the character’s transformation and wrote publicly about Disney’s terrible mistake.

Of the debacle Hains writes:

That’s right: Although Merida was created by a woman as a role model for girls, the male-dominated consumer product division at Disney has ignored the character’s intended benefits for young girls, sexualizing her for profit. Compared with her film counterpart, this new Merida is slimmer and bustier. She wears makeup, and her hair’s characteristic wildness is gone: It has been volumized and restyled with a texture more traditionally “pretty.” Furthermore, she is missing her signature bow, arrow, and quiver; instead, she wears a fashionable sash around her sparkly, off-the-shoulder gown. (As Peggy Orenstein noted when she broke the news of the redesign, “Moms tell me all the time that their preschool daughters are pitching fits and destroying their t-shirts because ‘princesses don’t cover their shoulders.’” I’ve heard the same from parents, as well.)

Is the sexualized  image of Merida gone for good? Has Disney learned a lesson? Or will that lesson be: No more strong female characters leading a film! No more female directors writing about their daughters! Keep the females weak and quiet!

It’s up to you. This could be a turning point. Parents, please use your voice and your wallet to keep strong, heroic females showing up in narratives and images marketed to your kids. Right now, girls are missing from children’s media and when they do appear, they’re sexualized. This is normal. Not healthy, but tragically, perfectly normal.

Yesterday, Melissa Wardy posted this image on her Pigtail Pals Facebook page, reminding us Merida’s new image was not created in a vacuum.

pigtails

Objectifying and sexualizing girls is dangerous. A first step to abuse is always dehumanizing the victim. Propaganda, in the form of images and narratives, effectively dehumanizes on a mass scale.

Images/ narratives of Jews circa 1938

nazibook

Africans circa 1931

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Females circa 2013

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It’s easy to look back on history and wonder: How did people ever put up with that? I’d never buy into it, not to mention expose my child to it. But what are you participating in right now that is completely accepted, not to mention celebrated, by our culture?

Be part of the solution. Demand narratives with strong female characters for your kids.

Update: New Merida may be off Disney’s site but she’s showing up all over the place including Target. Below is Target’s web page.

meridatarget