So I’m reading the new Us Weekly with Eva Longoria on the cover, and on page 32 I see a promotion for Disney’s upcoming movie “Zootopia.” The ad features a super-skinny gazelle girl, staring at me submissively, blonde curls flopping in her face. She wears super high pink heels, sparkly leg warmers to match a sparky dress with a hem so high I can almost see her privates.
Right across from the sexy gazelle, page 33 shows another promotion for the movie. This one features 4 male characters. All get to be fully clothed in T-shirts and pants. They are in action poses, doing yoga. In spite of their exercise, they also get to be chubby. I guess this is how males get “red carpet ready.”
Let’s hope the 4 to 1 ratio in these ads is not reflective of the gender ratio in the actual movie, but my hopes are low given that in most movies for kids, females are reduced to the Minority Feisty role.
My three daughters and I were excited to go to “Zootropia.” We saw the preview, it looked pretty funny, but this ad has me gagging. Even if kids don’t see the movie, this sexy gazelle will be unavoidable. She will be a toy, a halloween costume, an image in a T-shirt, a band-air, a sippy cup, or a diaper. Disney, please stop exposing children to gender stereotypes where females bodies are valued for how they appear while male bodies are valued for what they can do. Portraying females as sex objects while males get to be funny and have fun is so misogynistic. The problem isn’t that you rely on this trope once, or twice, or a even a few times, but that gender stereotypes are a repeated pattern in most of your movies. Don’t you want to be more creative?
Update: I turned the page! Look what’s on page 34, surprise, surprise. Another fully clothed male character.
If Judy Hopps, a police officer, is one of the main characters, why isn’t she in an ad? Why the sexy gazelle? Because, I imagine, the sexy gazelle is a sexy gazelle and that’s how Disney wants to sell the movie. Gross.
Yesterday, I posted this video of my 4 year old daughter talking about getting bullied at preschool for wearing ‘boy’ shoes.
I’ve gotten so many comments on Reel Girl’s Facebook page about kids being bullied by their peers when they step out of these gender norms that surround them like shrink rap, I’ve started asking parents if they would video their children telling their stories. Meanwhile, I Googled ‘bullied for wearing boy shoes’ and found some stuff that is making me cringe and want to scream, so I’m going to blog about it instead.
Yesterday my 4 year old wore her waterproof slip-on shoes for boy or girl to school (they are black Timberland moccasins) and she told me this morning, “The girls would not play with me yesterdays because they said I was wearing boys shoes, can you please put sparkly shoes on me ???”
I was in shock. Are you serious? Is this something I should address with the school??? BULLYING starting THIS YOUNG??? I don’t know what to think– my daughter loves those shoes and her sparkly shoes are not comfortable or for winter weather but she wants to wear them to appease the bullies in her classroom.
What would you do?????
Here’s some advice she got from 8 different fans of hers, without irony, each confirmed with multiple likes:
Cover them in glitter. Change the shoelaces to a girlie style.
Bedazzle her moccasins
Add something to moccasins to make it more “girly”
This is so sad – I’d talk to the teacher for sure. I also like the ideas of “girling up” her boots with shoe laces, etc. Good luck CouponClipinista
put sparkles on the shoes…that should do it.
Yep. I would bedazzel the crap out of em. I can tell you from experience, the school wont do anything!!
I agree. Bedazzle them. glue on a few rhinestones or a bow.
Bedazzle her shoes :o)
Note to parents: Gender stereotyping CAUSES bullying. Bedazzling shoes? Not a solution here. What is that teaching your kid? To do whatever the bullies say to do. And what is it teaching the other kids? Keep bullying. Is that the lesson we want to be teaching here? I honestly don’t even think these 4 year olds know they are bullying, because not enough parents and teachers are telling them that. I think these kids believe that they are stating a fact.
At 4 my daughter LOVED Spiderman. There was no talking her out of getting the Spiderman tennis shoes. She wore them to school and was told they were “boy shoes” (They were.) When she came home telling me about it, I told her, “do you like them?” “yes.” I told her to tell the kids when they said that again that anyone can wear Spiderman shoes. She had the same situation about the same age about wearing the color blue (still her favorite color 6 years later.) Her PreK4 classmates told her blue was for boys. We talked again and I told her that she can wear ant color she wants. And if the other kids don’t like it, too bad for them…they are going to miss out on wearing lots of cool colors. She went to school confidently and told them you can wear whatever color if you are a boy or a girl. I liked the idea of teaching her to be confident about her ideas even if they were not always “girly”
Another mom/ teacher:
As a teacher, sad to say, yes, bullying starts this young. My son, at 4 loved his pink t-shirt. Wore it to preschool once, and will not wear it out of the house (so sad) due to peer’s comments – at 4!!!! Yes, speak to the teacher, so he/she knows what is going on in their classroom and can address it. Then talk to you daughter. Don’t let her give in to peers. Point out how to be an individual and to take pride in that. When all is said and done, I woud let her wear the shoes of her choice. Unfortunately, it will be the choice peers, unless she is strong and willing to be her own person.
Yesterday my mom posted a picture on Facebook of my 5-year-old brother … wearing a pair of shoes he picked out for his first day of preschool. She explained to him in the store that they were really made for girls. [The boy] then told her that he didn’t care and that ‘ninjas can wear pink shoes too.’
However, my mom received about 20 comments on the photo from various family members saying how ‘wrong’ it is and how ‘things like this will affect him socially’ and, put most eloquently by my great aunt, ‘that sh*t will turn him gay.’
From that story come links about “gender non-conforming camp.” Seriously? We’re talking about shoes here. Shoes. Preschoolers. Bullying epidemic. The solution is not sending the kids off to some camp. The solution is to stop buying into the gender segregated marketing that is so aggressively targeted at kids and parents from multinational companies.
My daughter, fresh from day one of a much-loved and progressive preschool, announces her sporty blue Toy Story sneakers — once adored — are for boys
and no one at her school likes girls who wear boys’ shoes.
I heard from your mom that someone at school said your shoes were for boys. Maybe because they were blue or maybe because Buzz Lightyear was on them. At our house, we say, “Colors are for everyone.” Sometimes people get mixed up about that because they don’t think about it very hard. That makes me feel frustrated. All you have to do is look around the world and know that colors are for everyone.
But Bella, isn’t that silly! How could your blue Buzz Lightyear shoes be for boys if colors are for everyone and Buzz Lightyear is from a movie made for all kids and you are a girl standing in those shoes! I think people get confused about that, because they think something is only for boys because they never took the time to consider girls. I think people should consider girls.
Since you are four years old, you know a lot of stuff, and you know that girls can like or do anything boys can. And boys can like or do anything girls can. Things are kind of silly right now because grown ups keep getting in the way of kids, and some grown ups who are in charge of the companies that make stuff for kids like toys and clothes, they don’t have good imaginations like you and I do. These grown ups try to fit kids into little boxes that are labeled “Boy” or “Girl”, and then they only let certain colors or ideas into each box. They do that because it makes it easier for them to sell their stuff. Since boys and girls don’t grow in boxes, you can see how really goofy this is. But I have to be honest with you, there are a lot of grown ups who don’t question these pink and blue boxes, and then they teach that thinking to their kids, and then their kids lose their imaginations.
I couldn’t agree more. Here’s an ad I saw in a window of a Stride Rite in the neighborhood where my kids go to school. I also speak about one of the times my daughter was teased for her shoes.
Here’s me on Fox and Friends talking about the gender stereotyping in this ad and what kinds of damaging messages that’s sending to kids. I also speak about one of the times my daughter was teased.
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.
But what are we doing in America? Been to a Toys R Us lately? Or a Target? Or a Stride Rite?
If your kids have stories about being bullied for not conforming to these caricature gender stereotypes, please share them. I’d love to see the videos of your kids telling their stories if you would like to post them here.
When Pixar writers (Robert Baird, Daniel Gerson, Dan Scalon) showed the script for “Monster University” to producers, or execs at Disney, or whoever you go to up and down the chain of command to get the green light, did it occur to anyone, anyone at all, that making a movie about rival fraternities might make girls, half of the kid population, feel a tad ignored?
Here’s a pic of OK, the geek fraternity on campus, featuring our buddy-stars: Mike and Sully. “Monster University” centers on this group.
Here are the rivals of OK, the BMOC frat, ROR, led by Johnny Worthington, the one with the horns.
Rival frats. I am not kidding. That’s what this movie is about. So here on Reel Girl, I don’t have to even analyze or point out how or why this narrative is sexist. After watching it, I’ve got to conclude that in spite of the token “Brave,” Disney/ Pixar really doesn’t give a shit about including females in its narratives in a significant way.
What do you think the chances are that Dean Hardscrabble will get her own spin off movie? (Sort of like how Puss In Boots got his own movie after no less than 3 Shrek movies.) Perhaps Hardscrabble will get a prequel, like “Monster University,” where we see how she grows up, changes from a scared little kid into the fierce and powerful monster she is? Along with the help of a courageous and devoted team of females, of course. See that film coming soon to a theater near you?
I’m also a fan of the librarian, a Minority Feisty who has a brief but impressive part.
Claire isn’t fabulous, but she can be funny. She doesn’t do anything stupid or offensive.That area is totally covered with the look, name, and poses of the PNK (get it?) sorority: pink and purple, mini-skirted, furry boot wearing girls. I dread the toys and sippy cups.
“Monster University” is all about a competition but you hardly notice or care when females get eliminated, as they all do. We don’t get a chance to get attached to any of the female competitors.
There is a cooler sorority, HSS. Its role in the movie is even smaller than PNK, and it gets eliminated earlier. Again, the event is hardly noticed except that Mike and Sully’s frat advances.
A Minority Feisty I hated? Ms. Squibbles, Squishy’s mom. Throughout the movie, she is shown in curlers and a housecoat, cooking, doing laundry, or driving a minivan.Think the “Ms.” is feminist? Nope, the moniker is to elucidate her single status. I didn’t think Pixar could get any more gender cliched, but at the end of the movie, Ms. Squibbles actually gets engaged (to her son’s frat brother, no less.)
Before the movie even starts, Ms. Squibbles shows up in an ad for Swiffer. That’s right– a cleaning product. All the males are sitting on the couch watching football when a hot dog with ketchup gets dropped on the floor and Squishy says: “You guys, my mom just cleaned this place!” The ad could be worse, I suppose. Squishy cleans up the ketchup himself, and Ms. Squibbles dirties the floor up again cheering the team. It’s got that tiny speck of feminism within a sexist framework that we’re supposed to be grateful for. Here’s the ad.
I’m bottom feeding for images to be grateful for in “Monster University,” but I found a few. There are pink and purple male monsters in this movie. There are also male monsters with eyelashes. Sometimes, I couldn’t tell if a monster was male or female until she spoke, a highly unusual situation for an animated movie, even one about cars or robots or planes or fish or monsters, of course. Thanks a lot, Pixar/ Disney. My three daughters and I are super grateful.
Reel Girl rates “Monster University” ***SS*** for gender stereotyping
“How to Train Your Dragon” is a great movie; I was riveted from start to finish. The story is compelling and the animation is wonderful. A misfit boy, Hiccup, refuses to kill the dragons who relentlessly attack his Viking village, even as everyone around him, who he loves and respects, viciously slaughters them. Hiccup, instead, befriends and trains the creatures, ultimately bringing peace to his people.
But why couldn’t Hiccup have been a girl? Why couldn’t the dragon in the title have been female?
This movie, like most modern day animation blockbusters, does throw girls a few bones. There are two main characters that are girls; Astrid and Ruffnut are both good fighters, but they are clearly in supporting roles. Their job in the movie, as for most girls in most movies, is to help propel the guy, in this case, Hiccup, to greatness. Astrid and Ruffnut preform their archetypal tasks as helpmeets very well. Rah rah.
There are a few minor, minor roles for adult female Vikings, drawn as fat rather than strong, shown mostly in crowd scenes, never getting more than one line at a time. Hiccup’s father is a main character; he’s the leader of the tribe. His mother– surprise, surprise– is dead, so unusual for the mom to be killed off in a kids’ movie. She’s mentioned just once, when Hiccup’s dad hands his son a helmet which he tells his son used to be half of his mother’s breast plate. Ha ha.
The repetitive gender dynamic of boy-leader/ girl-follower is troubling because, like it or not, Hollywood provides our kids with some of their earliest leadership training. The star of the movie is the leader of the movie. Hiccup demonstrates all the skills of a truly visionary and effective leader: he’s smart, compassionate, creative, listens to his own truth, advocates for causes he believes in, builds constituencies, and trains his team. The girls’ critical choice in the movie is whether or not to follow him.
What gets me about “How to Train your Dragon” is here was a prefect opportunity to put a girl in the star role, even without messing too much with Hollywood’s beloved gender stereotypes.
In “How to Train Your Dragon” Hiccup was already stretching the bounds of accepted masculinity by being so skinny and sweet compared with the muscley, hairy, slow-thinking, Popeye-on-steroids Vikings. Hiccup redefined bravery by refusing to kill. Why not go just a little further and make the character a girl? Apparently, DreamWorks is still too afraid, or too unimaginative, to come out with a movie starring a female, so I guess a skinny, weak boy is the next best thing.
How is Astrid finally convinced to put her trust in Hiccup instead of in his father, the tribe’s real leader? Hiccup takes her for a ride on his trained dragon, Toothless. As she dares to climb behind him on the saddle, grinning and clinging to his back, she reminded me of watching “Superman” as a kid, seeing Lois Lane dazzled by handsome Christopher Reeve as he flew her through the starry night or myself, cruising down a freeway in Austin, on the back of my boyfriend’s motorcycle, in awe at the sunset in the giant Texas sky. Yeah, it’s seductive and all, but why can’t Hollywood give girls the chance to be the hotties in the driver’s seat?
There’s one more female in this movie, blink and you’ll miss they call her a she. Spoiler alert: it turns out all the dragons are stealing food to feed a secret, hidden, giant, boss dragon, “like worker bees to a queen,” Hiccup discovers. I’m going to look at this paradoxically minor/ major female role as subversively feminist, and awarding the movie an extra G for it, though I don’t know how many people who see the movie will get that part is a female one.
“How to Train Your Dragon” gets a GG/S rating: some girlpower, some stereotyping.
For those of you who are going to comment boys will see movies about girls, girls will not see movies about boys, please see this post.