If a stormtrooper had no epic, would he exist?

This morning, my three daughters had Honey Nut Cheerios for breakfast. Today, I’m not going to blog about the male Honey Nut bee or how there are no female mascots at all on children’s cereal boxes– that’s right ZERO– because I’ve done that before. I won’t get into how my husband said, as the girls fought over who got to place the brave adventures of Honey Bee in front of her bowl, that cereal boxes are a kid’s first newspaper. Today, I’m blogging about the coveted prize inside the box. What did my kids get? A stormtrooper pen.


So here’s my question for you: If there were no “Star Wars” double trilogy (is there a better word for the length of this epic?) would a kid covet a stormtrooper? If toy makers filled the shelves of Target with these white, faceless figures, would kids want them without Hollywood blockbusters providing a context?

The answer is no. To sell a toy, having a story helps a lot. It’s all about the narrative. Next question: Where are the narratives where girls get to be heroes? Where are the narratives, the epic trilogies, the Hollywood blockbusters, where girls get to star? If you think of a female character who is shown, front and center, again and again, who is she? What image comes to mind? Is she, perhaps, a princess?

The gendered toys marketed to children are a symptom. The disease is that girls have gone missing from narratives, sidelined and marginalized, in literature, religion, art, and politics, for thousands of years. In 2013, the consistent narrative where girls get to exist is, still, as the princess.

Yesterday, when I wrote about Goldie Blox selling stereotypes, people told me, if I don’t want pink and princess I should just go to the “boy” aisle. But the problem with the “boy” aisle is that there no female protagonists to be found there. Whether it’s LEGO or a coloring book, whether the product is from the Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Harry Potter, or the Justice League, female characters are in the minority if they exist at all.

My seven year old daughter wanted a LEGO set. We went to three stores, and found no LEGO where girl figures or girls’ stories were the basis of the game except for LEGO Friends, which we found in the “girl” aisle. What epic, magical adventure were these girl figures engaged in? They were at a cafe. My daughter also completed a set where they were at a bakery. I just bought her a third set where the girls are at a high school.


My older daughter, after getting frustrated with the LEGO choices, opted for The Hobbit set which includes a male Hobbit, a male wizard, and 5 male dwarfs. No females at all.


Toymakers claim when they put “alternative” toys on the shelf, they just don’t sell. This is why I ask: If a stormtrooper had no “Star Wars,” would he exist? Where are the narratives where girls are seen having epic adventures? Until we fix that problem, we’re going to keep seeing gendered aisles at Target.

Raj’s list of all male cereal box characters from ‘Big Bang Theory’

On Reel Girl’s Facebook page, Danielle Cole reports the full list of all male cereal box characters that Raj listed last night on “Big Bang Theory.” Raj said he’d done the research and there are no female cereal box characters at all.

Here’s Raj’s list:

Snap, Crackle, and Pop


The Cheerios bee


Toucan Sam




The Honeycomb Bear


Count Chocula



Tony the Tiger


Diggum the Frog


Captain Crunch


Trix the Rabbit




Boo Berry

Boo Berry

Wow. Isn’t that shocking? And shocking that it’s not shocking, if you know what I mean.

In total, Raj listed 14 characters from kids’ cereal boxes, every one a male.

Before you scoff at this blatant sexism as Raj’s friends did, remember: these characters are designed to appeal to your kids. Huge companies poured millions of dollars into creating these guys, to make them into household names. So why are female characters completely missing from this line up?

Can you imagine shopping at Safeway with your kids and seeing shelves lined with cereal box after cereal box, all featuring images of an all female a cast of heroes and villains? Do you think you’d notice? Do you think your kids would?

Why is it so normal for parents and children to see an imaginary world where girls go missing?