PBS is “educational television,” so why are its programs for kids as male dominated as animated films from Disney or Pixar?
Every morning, my two older kids go to school a couple hours before the youngest one. In those morning hours, sometime between 7:15 and 8:30, the three year old gets to watch PBS while I do morning chores.
The morning animated programs are charming, sweet, and share something else in common: they star male characters and are titled that male character. The shows are Arthur, Caillou, and Curious George.
This trifecta of male-centered shows is obviously supposed to appeal to both boys and girls. That’s fine, why not put on “WordGirl” during this popular hour? Don’t even tell me that a three old would refuse to watch females. The kid is three!
If I want girl centered shows, I can use On Demand to seek them out. Often, I have to re-order episodes every 12 minutes. Just like with Pepperidge Farm Goldfish or LEGO minifigs, I can find females, but why do parents have to put in extra work to find girl-centered shows?
Wordgirl is amazing, Reel Girl rates it ***HHH***
Another female centered show is “Chloe’s Closet.” Chloe and her best friend, Tara, dress up, and become whatever they dress up as.
As you can see, it’s a little heavy on hearts and rainbows. There are things I like this show: she dresses up as a mermaid, pilot, scuba diver, and engineer. But I am troubled that one of the few shows starring a girl gets a dress up theme. I might be less annoyed by the gendered theme if PBS at least put the shows in the morning program hour so boys and girls would see them. Most kids like to play dress up, but most parents encourage their daughters and not their sons. “Franny’s Feet,” another PBS girl-centered show also depicts adventure through outfits: Franny tries on different shoes and then travel to different place around the world. Reel Girl rates Chloe’s Closet and Franny’s Feet ***HH***
“Angelina Ballerina, ” the third girl-centered show, gets on my nerves. As you can tell from the title, Angelina is into ballet, and she whines all the time. I can’t even listen to this show in the background. Reel Girl rates Angelina Ballerina ***H***
Tell me if I’ve missed a PBS show titled for its female it stars, but I think that’s it.
Sexism on Sesame street, the predominance of male characters, has been written about and talked about for years. Most recently, they supposedly tried to address the issue by adding Abby Cadabby. Ever heard of her? Ever heard of Elmo?
Male-centered “educational TV” teaches our kids the same gender stereotyping they see everywhere else in the world: boys are more important and get to do more things than girls.