When news broke a couple days ago that Taylor Swift broke up with boyfriend Calvin Harris, the internet brimmed with snark: How long until she sings about this breakup? Swift’s lyrics have long been criticized and trivialized, reducing her to a boy crazy one note.
I am so fucking sick of women artists being relegated to “confessional” or “chick lit.” It starts when kids are young, babies, in the whole “just for girls” “special interest” category of children’s media. Literally, from birth, we train kids that stories about girls are not important, are less interesting, are less than. I can’t tell you how many parents have responded to me, when I tell them about this blog: “Oh, I don’t have to worry about that, I have boys.” Yes, mom and dad, you do have to worry about that. It’s up to you to seek out media for your kids– your kids— with female protagonists. It’s up to you to avoid inundating your child’s imagination with narratives and images that repeatedly teach that females belong on the sidelines. And even if you work your ass off to show your children alternatives, they’re still going to suck up gender stereotypes which are literally everywhere. So try. Try harder. Change the world, don’t be a bystander. I’m going off on a tangent. The point of this blog was an optimistic one, to congratulate People Magazine. I wrote almost the exact blog People did today on Reel Girl, years ago. The Bob Dylan song I cited wasn’t “Don’t Think Twice” but “Idiot Wind.” There are scores to choose from. Ask yourself: What can you do today to support women artists?
When my 9 year old daughter, Alice, and her best friend Jenna took Aaron Southerland’s cartooning class, he inspired them to get passionate about creating their own cartoons. Aaron teaches boys and girls, but it was these two students who pushed him take their ideas further as you’ll see when you read his post. Alice and Jenna are so proud to publish their first book and are already brainstorming the next one. With more experiences like this one, the next generation of girls may take us leaps and bounds closer to achieving equality in the comic world. At the end of the blog, there’s a link to buy Alice and Jenna’s creation, The Muji Story (only $2.99!) Here’s how it all went down. This blog is by Aaron Southerland and first appeared on Blue Aura Oasis.
There are many times in which the Winds of Fate will pull you in a direction that doesn’t quite meet your game plan. Usually, it’s by nature that we all will plan against reality since we believe it’s ALL in the palm of our hands.
Thankfully, that’s not the case!
Once my two Cartooning classes were underway in autumn of 2015, I dipped my bare cold feet into rather warm water. Both classes were composed of deeply impressionable elementary school students, all of which had either an inkling or fine reasoning as to why they wanted to learn the ways of the Cartoonist. Take it from this slim fit jazz buff; I was impressed.
While my K- 2nd grade group took a few weeks to warm up to my existence, my 4th- 6th grade group couldn’t help but peek at my book projects -especially SolForce– at least once a class for inspiration. Midway though the semester, I noticed that I was slowly but surely giving the students revised character designs, story ideas and even comic titles! Of the ten students, only a few of them produced concrete ideas to take them a step further.
Allow me to introduce you to two of my Cartooning proteges: Jenna and Alice!!
Starting out as close friends since the 1st grade -their words, not mine-, Alice and Jenna joined my first Cartooning class already in love with three things: animals, magic, and comedy. When asked on the first day of class what were their favorite comic or cartoon characters, both replied Calvin & Hobbes; I almost teared up. Oddly enough, talking with them both together made me consider how much in common they have with my 5th grade- self. In the olden days of my youth, Pokemon, Harry Potter, and SpongeBob SquarePants were my pop culture obsessions. They ended up having a huge pull on my art style and storytelling, just as much as the Looney Tunes, Pink Panther and Garfield comics had on me since I picked up the Crayola crayons in pre- K.
Working alone for the first seven weeks of class, Jenna created an assortment of animal characters for a household setting that included a trouble-making beagle, a wildly sweet cockatoo and a shy kitten. Me and her often debated on names; the cockatoo’s name being Snowy was fitting, but Spot for the beagle I thought was too… common! So, I suggested a name with more weight on it like Magnus! Jenna brings that incident up every chance she gets. Oh, the hilarity.
Alice created characters more for the forest. Her first was a rascally rabbit named Flora. The others were a wildcat, a bluejay bird and a fish that I redesigned as a mud-skipper. Look; when I meet anyone of any age with a genuine love for animals, I try to expand to expand their vocabulary even if the next sentence is ‘I DON’T WANT HER TO BE A DOG. SHE’S A PUPPY!’
Fast forward to week eight of the class, the duo told me that they wanted to make a comic together. I assumed that they wanted to make new characters, so I let them roam free for 30 minutes. And this is what they came up with:
Yes. Within 40 minutes, this character concept and story summary were drawn and written by them! What I managed to get out of them was this: there’s a school of monsters that all look and act similar, but out of the blue an evil sorceress casts a spell on them all which causes the monsters to mutate with differing animal body parts. Now, they embark on a quest to find that sorceress to reverse the spell!
Huh!…. The idea hooked me, especially for a comic that can have continuing stories. So, I told the girls that I’m taking home their summary and character for some editing. -they hate that word, by the way- Later that Thursday night, this ended up being the revised summary and character design.
At first, I thought I took too many liberties with the character design. “How can two 4th graders draw something like this?!” I thought in the WAY back of my cynical adult brain… But after witnessing the passion Alice and Jenna had for creating something original content and telling a story, all of those doubts were dropped that night. And I even helped give the monster species a name: the Muji. The main character I thought should have a name that youthful and connecting like its creators, so I named him Kee! His circular spiked body type and bat wing- crab arm fusion served as the basis for the Muji designs.
Next week, I presented them the revisions… and their excitement flew sky high. Within minutes, we were drawing out comic thumbnails! As a parting gift for the semester, I drew them a visual concept of the Muji comic:
This, of course, led Jenna to asking a very peculiar question when all of the other students left the room: “Can we, like, make this into a book like your stuff?!”
I looked at her mom with a big smirk and asked ‘When can we start?’
Folks, this is what led to Alice and Jenna being my “first clients” in comic creating. After a few weekend classes thanks to their mothers, Margot and Noelle, and another full ten week semester, I’m happy to present their first book, The Muji Story!
Donned with 24 black and white pages, the three- chapter book follows the band of parasite- like creatures that after exposed to a hex casted by Ali- Tabada, an evil sorceress-in-training, mutate as combinations of animals, and now must find a remedy to reverse the hex!
The Muji Story, according to the duo, was only the beginning. Over their summer break, not only do we plan to work further on “Book 2” of the Muji series, but they’re also joining me at my first book expo in the Bay Area: the Bay Area Book Festival!! We’ll be located in Teen Town, since our projects are all- ages graphic novels. I’m beyond excited to see what the future has in store for my students and I.
Or… just call us “AJA” if we’re all spotted together.
Buy a copy of Alice and Jenna’s book! To purchase The Muji Story click here.
Feeding into his undying love for cartooning and animation since pre- K, Aaron Southerland is a helpless cartoonist and writer from Brooklyn, NY. Over the past few years, Aaron has been reaching into the untapped potential of creativity he saw within elementary school children through various volunteer work as an art teacher and it even led to many of his students creating their own cartoon characters! Currently, Aaron lives in Emeryville, CA and completed a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts with a concentration in Computer Graphics from the New York Institute of Technology. After attending the Academy of Art University as a Visual Development and Screenwriting major for a brief period, he decided to finally put his passion into gear by going into book publishing between his travels. Aaron is the sole owner and artist behind his blog, Blue Aura Oasis.
Today, we had Lucky Charms for breakfast. Not the healthiest choice, I know, but that’s how it went down. My six year old daughter counted 8 different charms on the back of the box, each with a portrait and storyline. Out of those, just 2 are female. I’m not even talking about Lucky, the leprechaun, I’m talking about the charms.
My daughter read the box to me:
Hourglass is a smarty pants scientist whose inventions don’t always turn out the way he planned. He’s bringing his toolbox to the party.
In the photo above, you can see Hourglass on the left with the hat, a lock of brown hair, and a mustache.
That one she’s pointing to is Shooting Star
a seriously silly dude. He’s bringing juggling balls to the party…even though he doesn’t know how to juggle.
Guess what one of two girls (or as I call them Minority Feisty) is named? Rainbow. She is…
“the most magical charm of all. She wants to add some sparkle to the party with a disco ball.”
Good to know her interior decorating skills are strong. What’s a girl who doesn’t want to add sparkle to her shoes, her dress, her soccer ball? Is she a girl at all?
My husband jokes that cereal boxes are like morning newspapers for kids. My three daughters fight about who gets to put the box in front of their bowl. Those boxes are seriously valuable real estate in kidworld and yet, there is a not a single female mascot on a children’s cereal box. Not a single one. I’ve written about this blatant sexism on Reel Girl for years but it was only when Raj from the hit show “The Big Bang Theory” made the same observation, that the issue got some traction. Things are going to change now, I thought. Raj has taken this issue on.
I was wrong. That episode aired three years ago. More stories keep coming and almost all of them are about males.
Reel Girls posts about sexism and children’s food packaging, girls get stereotyped or go missing:
This page does not post trigger warnings. If you are offended by media stories that deal with rape, sexual assault, or abuse, and expect a trigger warning, please don’t like this page. I also post about politics (I am a Democrat) and reproductive rights. The goal of my page is to imagine gender equality in the fantasy world so that we create equality in the real one. I hope you join me on this journey but if you expect to only read stories about female comic book characters here, this is not the page for you.
To recap: the gender of characters in the imaginary world is important to me because the gender of characters in the real world is important to me. Capiche?
If you believe that Bernie Sanders is a better feminist than Hillary Clinton, I respect that opinion and I understand your reasons for making that choice. I get it.
On my blog, a couple days ago, I posted this quote from Bernie Sanders from the AP:
“No one has ever heard me say, ‘Hey guys, let’s stand together, vote for a man.’ I would never do that, never have,” Sanders said. “I think in a presidential race, we look at what a candidate stands for and we vote for the candidate we think can best serve our country.”
Huh? Of course no one would say, “Hey guys, let’s stand together and vote for a man.” That’s just the assumption, a man is the default position. That Bernie would make that analogy shows me, once again, why I want a woman president.
That quote, as you can see if you go to the link, is not the headline, hasn’t been covered by any media that I know of, it’s simply embedded in the article, just like that point of view is embedded in a male candidate. To me, that quote says gender is not important and that men and women are the same and equal right now in America. That quote is just the latest one I came across as I was blogging that happened to show to me that Bernie doesn’t understand what it’s like to be a woman because he’s not one.
I want a female president. I wrote this in my blog:
Would I vote for Sarah Palin or Condoleezza Rice or Michelle Bachmann because they are women? No, of course not. I would vote for a woman who supports reproductive rights and women’s rights. Yes, I want a woman president. I don’t think women are better than men, more ethical than men, kinder, more emotional, or any of that bullshit. I still want there to be a woman who supports women’s rights to hold the highest office. I believe Hillary Clinton will make the world a better place for women and therefore men, as ultimately, we’re all connected and losing half the human race is missing out on a huge, untapped resource.
Is gender the only factor in why I’m voting for Hillary? No. Is it a strong factor? Yes.
So many people who are not supporting Hillary assure me that they’re all for a woman president, they just don’t want this woman. Elizabeth Warren, she’d be great! Jill Stein? Even better! I will tell you as I tell them: Neither of those women is in a position to be president, and that is not a coincidence. There could not be a female Bernie Sanders in Bernie Sanders’s position today– that angry, that vocal about a revolution. A woman like that would scare America right out of its pants. How do I know? Because she’s not in that position!
Here’s the good news. Since my post, I’ve actually gained fans on Reel Girl’s Facebook page. I have hope for us Democrats! Most of the comments I’m getting are much better and represent an improved and thoughtful dialogue, but I still feel like my point is being missed. Here’s one of those comments that inspired me to write this blog:
I have no problem with anyone supporting Hillary. I don’t agree with her and I find her extremely fake, but that’s my personal reaction and I understand that others react differently. I’ve never really had a problem with your stuff. I don’t agree 100% all the time, but that’s normal. I don’t know why we have to agree all the time or be huge ass enemies. What a waste of energy. The only thing I have to say about the representation of women in government is that, yes it would be amazing, but at the same time I don’t want to feel like I’m being shamed into voting for the vagina candidate. Know what I mean? But, well. The genitalia of a candidate has never really been my first concern. The issues are always more important for me. That being said, being told that WANTING a woman prez is sexist is an extreme. We want representation. That’s a normal part of being human.
Yes, we can disagree! The point I think is not to avoid conflict but to handle conflict ethically. When you write that you don’t want to vote with your vagina, that terminology feels kind of shaming to me. I respect that you don’t want to vote for a woman b/c she’s a woman, but when you write you don’t want to vote with your vagina, it makes me feel like you’re saying I’m doing something stupid or gross.
I swear if one more person tells me they’re not voting with their vagina or not to vote with my vagina….scrap that, because it’ll happen again hundreds if not thousands of times before this primary is over. I’ll take a deep breath. I’ll keep writing.
I post about gender and power on my Facebook page, and every time I put up a post about Hillary and gender, I lose fans. I’ve always supported open discussion on my site and on my blog. I get why people are voting for Bernie, but I’m blogging now about the shaming and vitriol aimed at me when I express my support for Hillary. This happens, by the way, not just on the internet but in the real world. Most people I know are voting for Bernie. I’m told, in multiple ways, that I’m not hip, I’m not cool, I’m too privileged to see the light.
Pfft. Not when she represents things that I’m completely against. I’m not just a woman, I’m a cis, queer, Latina born and raised from low SES. The women I’ve heard that support Hillary just because she’s a women are white women who have not faced an iota that trans women, woc, poor women, queer women, or disabled women have faced. At least vote because she’s going to make our life better. Privilage baiting Reel Girl
Reel Girl: I read this post, as I wrote in comments above, not about Bernie supporters but about not shaming Hillary supporters
When Bernie was asked about Killer Mike’s comment that a uterus doesn’t qualify someone to be president, he told the AP:
“No one has ever heard me say, ‘Hey guys, let’s stand together, vote for a man.’ I would never do that, never have,” Sanders said. “I think in a presidential race, we look at what a candidate stands for and we vote for the candidate we think can best serve our country.”
Huh? Of course no one would say, “Hey guys, let’s stand together and vote for a man.” That’s just the assumption, a man is the default position. That Bernie would make that analogy shows me, once again, why I want a woman president. Would I vote for Sarah Palin or Condoleezza Rice or Michelle Bachmann because they are women? No, of course not. I would vote for a woman who supports reproductive rights and women’s rights. Yes, I want a woman president. I don’t think women are better than men, more ethical than men, kinder, more emotional, or any of that bullshit. I still want there to be a woman who supports women’s rights to hold the highest office. I believe Hillary Clinton will make the world a better place for women and therefore men, as ultimately, we’re all connected and losing half the human race is missing out on a huge, untapped resource.
Rebecca Traister wrote a great post about Hillary and Bernie, saying that no one likes to hear a woman yelling about revolution. No one likes an angry woman either. Or disheveled. Women are supposed to be the hard workers in the background, not the ones upfront.
As I wrote on Reel Girl’s Facebook page, I will continue to post about Hillary and gender. I’ve never posted or written based on how many fans I’ll attract, and I’m not starting now. I post about what I believe in and what makes me, and hopefully you, think. I believe people can passionately disagree on issues, but though I have a blog and write about controversial topics, I’m not someone who argues for the sake of arguing. I don’t have the time or energy to debate for entertainment. I’m busy, like we all are so I’m kind of shocked and amazed by how people I know personally and people I don’t try to pick fights and shame me for voting for Hillary. If you’re a Bernie supporter or a Hillary supporter, I’d love you to stay, but If you prefer not to see posts about Hillary and gender, this is probably not the blog or the Facebook page for you.
Isn’t this great, girls? Even if you aren’t skinny, you can pout doggy style in the surf! Yes, apparently, it’s true that even if you’re not a size zero, men will still want to fuck you. No worries, sweeties, you still have value in the world.
Maybe we can get a woman over 50 to pose in a bikini. Helen Mirren? Never mind that she’s a great actress, it’s her body we want to show off. What about a plus size woman of color? Now that would be a real leap towards equality.
Despite females’ increased participation in sport since the enactment of Title IX and calls for greater media coverage of female athletes, women appeared on just 4.9 percent of covers. The percentage of covers did not change significantly over the span and were comparable to levels reported for the 1980s by other researchers. Indeed, women were depicted on a higher percentage of covers from 1954–1965 than from 2000–2011.
Do you see we’re going backwards here? Putting a plus size woman on the cover of the SI swimsuit issue isn’t any kind of progress.
When Serena Williams made the cover of SI in 2015 as sportsperson of the year, she was pictured in stilettos and a black body suit, one bare leg slung over a chair.
Some defended Serena’s cover claiming it’s important to show that a woman can be powerful and sexy. But for men, it is their skill that makes them attractive. For women athletes, if they happen to be “attractive” it is in spite of their talent, not because of it. Men’s bodies are valued for what they can do while women’s bodies are valued for how they appear.
If you’re going to tell me this sexism is just innate, tritely quoting: “Women use sex to get power, men use power to get sex,” listen to me carefully: People who are not in power learn to survive and be successful by pleasing those who are in power. That need is the only thing innate about reducing talented, skilled, brilliant women to body parts. Men, as a group, not individually, are able to stay running the world as long as women, as a group, stay weak.
Here is what I blogged in 2014:
Memo to the world: objectifying fat women is objectifying women
Plus-size swimwear company Swimsuits for All set out to prove that “sexy curves go beyond a size four” by shooting its own swimwear calendar, including a picture reenacting this year’s Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.
Are you kidding me? Do you think I’d be any happier if my 3 daughters saw that picture in the Safeway checkout line instead of this one?
All right, maybe I’d be a smidgen happier that my kids wouldn’t have to see more starving women defined as beautiful, but my goals and expectations are so much higher than what this image from Swimsuits for All represents. I want to see images of women where they are not defined by their sexuality, by whether whomever is looking at them finds them sexy or not, where what they look like in bathing suits is not the be-all end-all, where who thinks they are attractive only matters in a very particular context, like when they are with someone who they love or want to have sex with.
Swimsuits for All is in the business of selling swimsuits. The company has got to sell its product, so posing women in the merchandise that it’s marketing makes sense. I’m not indicting the company, but pretending as if seeing this image all over the internet is liberating is ridiculous. Also, it might be nice to see the women swimming in their suits. What about playing volleyball on the beach? Building awesome sandcastles? Doing something? There could be a shot of a woman or two sunbathing, as long as the “aren’t I sexy” poses were not the dominant, ubiquitous ones.
I’ve written this for a long time, but “fat” women beauty contests don’t represent progress. Women no longer paraded as meat is progress.
Still confused or want to see more images to make this point? Please take a look atReel Girl’s recent post: Why do men in America feel entitled to women? A gallery of reasons. You’ll see this famous painting by Manet (look she’s got fat rolls and she’s naked, isn’t that cool?) along with contemporary images of dressed men paired with naked women.
The following headline came up on my Google feed from The Verge: “The latest Zootopia trailer takes on workplace sexism against bunnies.”
I don’t know if it’s the idea of “workplace bunnies” that made me nervous, or simply my lack of confidence in the idea of Disney taking on sexism, but my heart sunk as I proceeded to read the Verge post:
At this point, the Walt Disney Animation Studios deserves praise for producing work that can arguably sit comfortably next to some of Pixar’s own efforts. Zootopia, at first blush, takes that all-too-familiar anthropomorphic animals idea and builds a whole world around it. But, at least with this new trailer, it looks like the studio is trying to tackle gender and race in a cute but really effective way.
Once Upon a Time‘s Ginnifer Goodwin stars as Officer Judy Hopps, a rabbit who joins the Zootopia police force. She quickly has to contend with stereotypes that women in the real world have long had to deal with — like being called emotional or unprepared for what’s out there — when the truth is she’s incredibly capable. And her skills will probably come in handy when she and Nick Wilde the fox (Jason Bateman) are forced to solve a crime together. Zootopia hits theaters on March 4th.
So can anyone tell me what the problem is here?
In a nutshell, “Zootopia” is a movie about talking bunnies. Lots of talking animals actually. There’s a fox, a buffalo, a lion, badger, elephant, moose, shrew, I could go on. Knowing Disney, all these animals probably sing and dance and hang out together even though in the real world, they’d eat each other. So why, why WHY if we can all stretch our imaginations to believe in loquacious animals, must we suddenly revert to reality when it comes to sexism? Instead of showing a lone female battle a majority of males, why not show a majority of females being heroic? Do you see what I’m going for here? In a fantasy world where anything is possible, why not create gender equality? Why not let kids experience females and males treated equally? If you can’t even imagine it (which apparently, we can’t) you cannot create it. Oh, is that the point, Disney?
You might say, there’s an important place for the narrative of a female struggling against sexism a la “Mulan” or “Brave.” While I agree this story has value, it can also become an excuse to continue to replicate sexism in the fantasy world, to always show a minority of females and majority of males because “that’s just the way it is in the real world.” After I saw “The Lion King” I asked: why did the lionesses have to wait around for Simba to come around and save them? Why did they have to get bossed around by weak, old Scar? Well, I’m such an idiot! Males lead a pride, of course. That’s just how it is in the real world. OK, so I’m just supposed to overlook that Simba is BFFs with a warthog and a Meerkat but when it comes to sexism, we’re all sticklers for reality?
In “Ratatouille” there is one female chef in the movie, Colette, who works in a kitchen with four male chefs. As far as I could tell, all the rats are male. Certainly, every rat who spoke is male. Colette delivers a speech about sexism, but wouldn’t it be so much more powerful to show kids a female running a kitchen of great female chefs, helped along by a female rat who can cook?
This strong, lone female is a pattern in contemporary children’s movies. While appearing on the surface to fight sexism, her role actually ensures that sexism will continue for another generation by keeping sexist stereotypes alive. While she appears to be battling sexism, she’s illustrating it. Her character repeats so often in children’s media, I’ve given her a name: Minority Feisty. She differs from the Smurfette Principle in that she is often a “strong female character” and sometimes there are a few strong females in the narrative but they always exist in the minority. Not much for a patriarchy to be threatened by, but we can still call her a feminist. Isn’t that convenient?
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.
Linguists Carmen Fought and Karen Eisenhauer released statistics showing that even when females star, males get more speaking time in Disney Princess movies. Quartz reports:
Even Frozen, the 2013 mega blockbuster starring two princess sisters, gives women only 41% of the dialogue. The only exceptions to the female-minority rule are Tangled and Brave, whose female characters speak 52% and 74% of the lines.
Olaf was also the major character in the previews my kids and I saw.
Now Fought and Eisenhauer have published a study to show that even when females star in movies, males get more lines. This particular kind of sly sexism found in contemporary kids’s media is a version of what I call the Minority Feisty.
What is the Minority Feisty? If you see an animated film today, it will usually include a strong female character. Or two. Or maybe even three. But however many females there are, there will always be more males. Females, half of the human population, will be depicted as a minority. Females will get less lines and less screen time. The token strong female character (or two or three, you get the point) who shows up in the film, reviewers will call “feisty.” (In “How to Train Your Dragon,” Astrid; in “Toy Story,” Jessie; in “Ratatouille,” Colette.) She’s supposed to make us feel like the movie is contemporary and feminist, unlike those sexist films of yesteryear.
The problem is that because Pixar or Disney has so magnanimously thrown in this “feisty” female (who may even have some commentary about sexism or male domination) we’re no longer supposed to care that almost all of the other characters in the film are male.
“Feisty” isn’t a word that describes someone with real power, but someone who plays at being powerful. Would you ever call Superman “feisty?” How would he feel if you did? (The Quartz article I link to in this post refers to these characters as “sassy” and “plucky.” Same idea– strong for a girl.)
In this century, Katha Pollitt’s Smurfette Principle has evolved into the Minority Feisty. There are a few more females than there used to be, but imagine if the gender ratio presented in kids’s movies was reflected in the real world. Is that a world that you want your kids to live in? Parents, be on the look out for the Minority Feisty. Teach your kids how to identify her. Don’t let the sexism fool you or them. Don’t let a new generation of kids experience sexism as normal and grow up to expect and accept a world where girls go missing. And don’t forget to ask your kids this: Why does the imaginary world have to be sexist at all? If rats can cook, unicorns prance around, and lions befriend warthogs, can’t we picture gender equality?
Groups advocating for boy empowerment and claiming sexism have been asking Hollywood to make more movies with strong male protagonists, but after the financial failure of “Pan,” it’s obvious that movies starring boys aren’t profitable.
A Warner Sisters spokesperson tells Reel Girl, “Unfortunately, while both boys and girls want to see movies starring girls, only boys are interested in stories about boys.”
Perhaps “Pan” went too far trying to please special interest groups who want more male characters in movies. Female characters are left out of “Pan” almost completely. In one scene, Blackbeard, the male villain, who commands a boat of all male pirates, addresses thousands of all male orphan-slaves, saying his audience belongs to “every race, creed, and color, every age and era.” He never mentions females aren’t represented in the crowd at all.
While the movie does feature Tiger Lily, a white woman playing a Native American inspired role, one major female speaking part apparently isn’t enough to bring girls in to see the movie. Warner Sisters will be sticking to mostly female casts in the future: “It comes down to dollars.”
Reel Girl rates Pan ***SS*** for Gender Stereotyping.
Please don’t comment to me about how Tiger Lily or Peter’s mother (who has about two lines) are feminist characters. They represent typical Minority Feisty, a trope seen in almost every children’s movie made today where there will one, two, or three (a minority of) “strong female characters” so we’re somehow not supposed to notice that all others in the movie, including the protagonist of his eponymous movie, are male.
In case you didn’t get it, the point of this post is that movies starring males and directed by males fail all the time, but unlike with female stars or directors, the inability to bring in money is never attributed to gender.