My daughter has been searching and searching for Wonder Woman. She’s always on the lookout. We comb bookstores and toy stores. We couldn’t find her on socks at Stride Rite or at T-shirts at Target or on a birthday cakes at Safeway. It’s possible to find her on the internet, but you’ve got to seek her out. Her image doesn’t appear here and there as my daughter and I go about our day, unlike the ubiquitous Spider-Man, Batman, Superman, male Avengers, and other male superheroes. So my daughter was thrilled when today, we were at my sister’s house and she saw a Superfriends lunchbox sitting on a shelf in my nephew’s room. It’s from 1976. Check out Wonder Woman, front and center!
On the back? Batgirl, front and center.
On the side? Catwoman!
Other side? Supergirl!
That makes 4 female superheroes. So I wondered, in 1976 was this awesome lunchbox made “for girls”? It does have a purple border. Was purple strictly a “girl” color in ’76 the way it is today? But even if this Superfriends lunch box was meant only for girls, today in 2013, it’s not likely you’ll find a lunchbox with 4 female superheroes on it. Maybe, if you internet search, you’ll find someone selling it somewhere, but it’s not something your daughters and sons will see as they go about their day. In 2013, female superheroes have gone missing from kidworld.
Last week, it was announced that Ben Affleck will play the new Batman. Plastic heroines reacts:
It’s not just that I think Ben Affleck is all wrong for Batman (I do), it’s that Batman and Superman have already had so many feature films that it’s ridiculous.
- Batman (movies, live action): 1966, 1989, 1992, 1995, 1997, 2005, 2008, 2012
- Superman (movies, live action): 1951, 1978, 1980, 1983, 1987, 2006, 2013
Sixteen in all, if you count the movie Affleck has been tapped for. And we can’t get a single Wonder Woman movie???
I remember there was a Supergirl movie when I was a kid. I LOVED seeing her on the screen. Where has Supergirl gone in 2013? My kids don’t even know who she is. My 4 year old keeps asking about Spider-Girl. Instead of telling her she doesn’t exist, I help her draw her and write down the stories she tells me about her. I wish some major movie company and toy maker would help me out spreading narratives of Spider-Girl to kids, not to mention Spider-Woman.
Melissa Silverstein spotted a book on Wonder Woman when she was out with a kid. She posts about the sighting on her blog Women and Hollywood:
I was with my four year old nephew who is obsessed with The Avengers. He only wears Avengers t-shirts and knows all the characters even though he has never seen any of the movies. But that’s the culture. These male superheroes are everywhere and kids pick up on it. We were in a book store and had lots of time. We made our way to picture books with superheroes on the cover. He immediately pointed at the Batman and Superman books. Right next to those books was a book on Wonder Woman. I said do you know about Wonder Woman? And he said no. He had never heard of her. We sat down and read the story and he was really into it. He thought it was cool that she had a magic lasso and also the book ended with Wonder Woman and Superman rescuing someone together so he got to see that she was a real superhero and could keep up with Superman.I am relaying this story because I am sure there are boys all over the country and the world being exposed to only male superheroes because that is what our mass consumer culture allows us to see. While it would be great for us to have a Wonder Woman film and that would be a great start it will not be enough. That’s the problem with the lack of critical mass we have in our female stories.
Disney execs tell us that they make movie after movie with male protagonists because that’s what kids want to see. Their line is that girls will go see movies about boys but boys won’t go see movies about girls. That’s bullshit. Girls don’t come out of the womb any more open minded or generous than boys. All kids are self-centered, and they all want to see themselves reflected out there. But kids get trained from birth to pay attention to stories about boys, they learn that stories about boys are important and for everyone while stories about girls are just for girls. I wish parents wouldn’t perpetuate this sexism. Read your kids stories and show them movies with strong female protagonists. Get excited about the bravery of the female characters. Don’t ask your kid what movie she wants to see, you choose. Turn on a Miyazaki film. Here’s a list of great movies with female protags. Your kids will get into them when they watch. Let’s all bring back female superheroes and celebrate them much more than before, because even in the seventies, they weren’t around nearly enough.