Kids want to see heroic, female protagonists

Yesterday, I posted about A Mighty Girl’s news that kids’ underwear with female superheroes on it sold out. I also posted about a dad shopping with his 5 year old daughter who complained about the lack of cool female characters on clothing.

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He bought his daughter boy underwear. A commenter expressed the same frustration: her daughter is fan of Spider-Man and she started a petition to get girl underwear designs integrated with boy underwear. I signed this and I hope you do too, but I want to recognize the deeper issue here and make sure this info isn’t misconstrued into: See, girls like boy characters, so let’s just keep making them and let girls go missing.

All kids want cool characters. They want to see exciting narratives where heroes take risks, make choices, and act.

Why is there no Spider-Girl movie and 5 movies about Spider-Man? Where is Spider-Woman? Why are there 7 Batman movies while Batgirl, like Supergirl, is practically invisible? And why, for God’s sake, are we still waiting for a major release of a Wonder Woman movie in theaters? Not to mention multiple sequels?

I read this on Pigtail Pals Facebook page, Melissa Wardy’s talk with her daughter, the Original Pigtail Pal.

“Mom? Every time I watch that Spider Man movie I can see there are no girls in it. I get really mad! I just don’t get why there can’t be more girls in it.” -7yo Original Pigtail Pal Amelia, girl and Spider Man fan
“I think it is really important that you noticed that. There should be and easily could be more girls in it. How could we change that?” -Me
“Oh. Oh ho ho. We’ll just show them what girl super heroes look like.” -OPP
“Maybe that could help them have more balance with girls.” -Me
“Yeah, they need more bad ass girls.” -OPP
“Uh no, I said ‘balance’.” -Me
“I know. I said ‘bad ass’.” -OPP

Hollywood and Target, are you listening?

 

More cool female action figures

I tore these cool women away from my kids long enough to get them photographed. My husband took the pictures.

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So here we have soccer players (they come with a ball they can kick), Catwoman with her whip and motorcycle, Batgirl, Wonder Woman with her plane, Hawkgirl, and Princess Leia.

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Next we have Coraline (who you’ve seen in an earlier post) Katniss and Merida (who were not Christmas presents but wanted to join the party) and Rue from the Hunger Games.

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Catwoman, Serafina Pekkala, Lyra Silvertongue, Black Widow, Wonder Woman (already missing her laso) and another Batgirl

All figures except for Merida and Katniss were found on A Mighty Girl or Toward the Stars. That little Wonder Woman on A Mighty Girl’s promo was the one who started me on my shopping spree.

The conundrum of Batgirl

My three year old dressed up as Batgirl for Halloween last night. She loves Batgirl. Everytime she puts on the costume, which is often, she acts out complicated stories, usually involving several stuffed animals, about how she is saving the world. Before last night, my daughter had no idea that Batgirl is far less famous or celebrated than Batman.

Here is what happened on Halloween:

Adult after adult, kind adults who wanted to be nice, who gave my daughter candy, called her Batman. At first, my daughter said nothing back to them but asked me: “Why do people keep calling me Batman?” I told her: “That is so silly. What are they thinking? You’re not Batman, you’re Batgirl.” As the man-moniker continued, my daughter quietly corrected them: “I’m Batgirl.” By the end of the night, she was shouting; “I’M BATGIRL!”

Sometimes, we’d run into a Batman, at one point an adult distributing candy. After his wife or girlfriend saw my daughter, called her Batman, and was corrected, she said to her partner: “Look! It’s your sidekick!” My daughter turned to me, confused. “Tell him he’s your sidekick,” I said.

The people who called my daughter Batman were men and women, adults and children, parents and teenagers. She was wearing a dress, by the way.

I know Batgirl doesn’t have five major motion pictures about her, all featuring famous movie stars. There aren’t Batgirl toys or Batgirl clothing or Batgirl comic books everywhere you look. (Today, I will do a Google search and try to find some). One person did say to my daughter: “Are you…Batwoman?” Then she laughed. I wondered why that term sounded so strange. Is there a Batwoman? Is “Batwoman” sexualized somehow? Or would “woman” imply too powerful a superhero, is that why we use “girl?” Or is it the opposite: “girl” and “man” are cool, but “woman” represents a loss of power that even little kids pick up on? Would you ever refer to a kid in the comparable costume as “Batboy?” That sounds diminutive to me.  And what does that say about the sexism of our cultural mythology, that “Batgirl” is empowering but “Batboy” is insulting?

It all kind of makes me understand the monotony of Halloween: If you’re a girl and dress as princess, everything is simple and everyone knows just what to say: “I love the dress. You’re so beautiful!”

(My oldest daughter wanted to dress as a Native American because she’s doing a school paper on the Miwok tribe. Instead of being a “Dream Catcher Cutie” as the package advertised, she asked if I would buy a bow to go with her costume; my middle daughter is a fairy.)

Cool collection of Halloween costumes for girls (and boys)

Tired of sexed-up, “cute,” and endless princesses and rainbow fairies marketed to your daughters on Halloween?

A Mighty Girl has put together a great collection of awesome costumes.

My three year old is super- psyched to be Batgirl. We actually own this, but I bought a new one because ours is worn, ripped,  and missing parts.

(Of course, potential Batgirl enthusiasts would be helped along if there were multiple Batgirl movies and derivative toys, games, and clothing. As is stands now, most kids haven’t heard of her, though her existence makes perfect sense to a three year old. Sadly, an eight year old, not so much.)