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
The Honeycomb Bear
Tony the Tiger
Diggum the Frog
Trix the Rabbit
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?
Hi, I’m very concerned with this post due to the fact that you assumed all of these characters are male. It is 2017 they can be whatever they want. Gender fluidity needs to be accepted in our time.
Sorry, I meant ‘Snap’, not Pop. Been awhile. Maybe it was that pink kerchief…the sad, gendered ray of hope.
I was actually a bit put out about that as a kid. I remember thinking the ‘Pop’ from the Rice Krispies was a girl for a very long time. It wasn’t till I saw a commercial with him having a male voice that I learned the disappointing truth.
How about Strawberry Shortcake? A female cereal mascot.
Strawberry Shortcake cereal was a limited edition cereal in 1982. We need more than one for a limited time every thirty years.
What about Pebbles. Coco Pebbles has been around for 30 years. The Ceral is based off the flinstone Characters.
I know! I wrote this: “Why isn’t Pebbles on the Cocao pebbles?” http://reelgirl.com/2012/03/why-isnt-pebbles-on-the-cocoa-pebbles/
Commenters on FB defended Pebbles missing, saying the name had nothing to do with Pebbles but where Fred worked. WTF? Even if that is true, perfect reason to use Pebbles!
I find that there was probably more dialog on this page regarding gender and cereal characters than actual had taken place when marketing strategies came up with these characters in the first place.
and the sugar crisp bee, i think his name is Buzz!
I’m glad I’m not the only one intrigued by this Big Bang Theory topic. The ONLY exception I found was the special limited edition of Post Fruity Pebbles, Cupcake Pebbles. It has both Bambam and Pebbles from the Flintstones. HOWEVER, the current box of regular Fruity Pebbles has ONLY Bambam. Overall, it’s pretty messed up/
I’m afraid you’re falling victim of the same sexist culture you condemn here. Whereas some of the characters are clearly male, some others are gender ambiguous (e.g. the Fruit Loops bird or the Cheerios bee). You’re assuming they are male only because they are not sexualized as females and our culture has taught us to think that the default gender is male.
The Fruit Loops bird’s name is Toucan Sam (it’s on the box) and he has nephews who call him uncle. How is that gender ambiguous? The Cheerios bee is named Buzz and it’s pretty clear in the commercials (if not on the packaging) that he’s a guy.
Ah ok, didn’t know that. 🙂
And to remove all ambiguity, they always use male voice actors as well.
I get that comment a lot when I blog about toys, robots, rats mostly being male in movies. Just on this blog, someone said Boo Berry was female. Boo Berry has a bow tie. Yes, a female can wear a bowtie, but the implication here is not progressive and to say it is is silly. The most interesting point about your question– which I have thought about a lot– is how do you show female without being sexist? I’ve seen strong female characters with braids, which I like. A skirt and eyelashes are popular and I’ve seen it done in a way that isn’t annoying, those of course, males can have long eyelashes and wear skirt. They could be Scots. But again, they’re not.
In human characters or characters that are meant to look somewhat like humans you could just replicate the characters that help us generally differentiate between male and female. These don’t always work, but if you study drawing or anatomy you learn about brow shape, jaw shape, body proportions, etc. And some of these characteristics are used, notably on things like superhero cartoons where the men have very angular jaws and the women have softer, heart-shaped faces.
I think part of the problem is our gender assumptions contradict the realities of the world. For instance, many male animals are actually responsible for attracting their mates so they are the ones with the bright plumage. And many females of different species are actually the larger and stronger creatures. It reminds me of something I read in a book on the evolution of fashion or beauty for women (I was writing a paper) that questioned why women are tasked with so much of the burden of aesthetic appeal and attracting a mate when it’s the opposite in much of the animal kingdom. I still don’t have a good answer for that.
Every time women notice they’ve been excluded (video game characters to white house cabinet posts) some guy comes along and says “I just can’t imagine a woman in that role because name-your-reason, so there shouldn’t be one.” All the more justification for this blog. If you can’t imagine it, you should just start.
So true. Sad.
As a child I didn’t even notice that females were absent from a lot of “mascot” roles. I never aspired to grow up to become an animated tiger, so it didn’t bother me. I aspired to be like the athletes on Wheaties. In my youth, which wasn’t too long ago, that was a role more highly saturated by males, but it’s getting better… or at least I’m perceiving it to be more evenly split
Obviously, no one aspires to grow up to be a mascot. The problem is that all of the imaginary characters in children’s media– monsters on Sesame Street, robots in “Wall-E,” cars, rats, talking toys– are gendered. The male characters are the stars, they act heroically, the movies follow their quests. The female characters, except for the pink ghetto, are stereotyped, sidelined, or not there at all. Cereal boxes are one more place where male characters exist and female characters are invisible. In early life, children see no no difference between the imaginary world and the real world. Throughout life, the imaginary world and the real world create and influence each other. Look at the most famous historical narrative of all time, the Bible, and how those narratives influence our beliefs and our actions. Stories are powerful and when females go missing from the imaginary world, they go missing from the real one. Just 16% of protagonists in film are female. In the “real” world, in most professions across America, women at the top don’t make it past 16%. I have 3 young daughters and I see how the movies they watch and the stories they see influence their imaginary play, the pictures they draw, and the stories they make up.
My first thought was that it is(in part) because we are so weird about females and sexuality. I think that the two completely opposing roles that women are allowed in society at large don’t really give much room for regular characters to be hanging around on a lot of foodstuffs unless they are completely “safe” (Aunt Jemima?) or overtly sexualized (Ms. Green M&M?).
I think that a person who has bought in to the usual story would be hard pressed to put a female on a box of cereal and then try to get you to eat it.
I’m not really the target demographic for these cereals anymore but I feel like any female character they would introduce into the advertisements would be sexualized as you’ve noted. She’d be a love object for the male character. I know it’s not a cereal but since M&M’s have come up on this comment thread, I will point to the brown M&M voiced by Vanessa Williams who is sexualized but also overly serious. Because as we all know, women only exist as one of two extremes.
Very true, Hate those M n Ms.
Agreed. We need more women in advertising, women at the top in marketing only make up 3% of decision makers.
Your comments are just as ridiculous as when Christopher Hitchens (and countless others) said that women aren’t funny. Women are human beings, just like men, with a full span of traits and characteristics. Unfortunately, in the real world and in the imaginary one, the representation of females is limited in number and in type, mostly defining females by sexuality and how they look.
Okay, how would this woman be funny. Are you saying she would have some self-denigrating qualities to her, like Snap Crackle and Pop, and Frank-n-Berry, and Count Chocula, or Tony the Tiger…or are you saying she would NOT be self-denigrating but still be funny.
I’m sorry that I’m so blisteringly offensive for merely asking the question. But — as I said — I’m having a lot of trouble seeing how this would work. Which means it’s reasonable to think the cereal companies are having similar trouble. To me, it’s entirely realistic to think, confused and bewildered, they merely decided the safest course of action was not to play.
I point out the dilemma…I’m put on notice that I’ve offended. It does get rather tiresome. It is not much of a stretch to think, that’s why you’re not seeing female characters on cereal boxes.
You wrote that I– and bloggers, women etc– would be offended by silly or goofy female characters. That is not true.
Maybe the problem here is that only 3% of top marketing positions are held by women. You are probably not the only man mystified by how to present a female imaginary character.
Then, I’m sure you can come up with some examples of goofy female characters that haven’t earned your wrath.
Look, I meant what I said, I’ve been reading your comments about female portrayals that meet with your approval. And I’m glad to see there are some. They’ve been intelligent, and strong, and capable and so forth. But not goofy.
I essentially want what you want, or at least some of it. Equality. Well we’re missing it; men can be goofy, and at the same time, heroic. Indiana Jones is goofy pretty much all the time, and so is John McClane. But in our lifetimes, we’re not likely to see a female counterpart of such things, because if a female is anything less than 100% serious, the feminists are getting all offended, and the corporations react to this.
I’m just saying — that’s why you’re not seeing female cartoon characters on cereal boxes. But what of it. We have real-life Winter Olympic stars on Wheaties, strong smart role models. That’s what you really want anyway. So I’m not sure why you want some goofy cartoon versions on the processed sugar-based crap. That’s what the lady M&M is, isn’t it? And you’re already on record what you think of her, it isn’t positive.
List of goofy female characters I admire include comedians Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Gilda Radner, Sarah Silverman, Kristen Wiig, and the huge range of characters they play.
Here is a list of female characters from movies that I love: http://reelgirl.com/2011/11/awesome-female-characters-in-kids-movies/
Pippi is probably the most famous goofy animated character.
And the M n Ms character is SEXUALIZED like most female characters in the imaginary world (and the real world.) The male M n Ms run around in sneakers. Male characters get to ACT, they DO things; female characters, generally, are passive. They get looked at.
I don’t understand these kind of comments. Really, I don’t. “People like you will complain”, how are you so sure? Wanting good females characters isn’t wanting PERFECT females characters. Is wanting female characters just as variated as males. Intelligents ones, goofy ones, whatever.
I hate myself for even thinking it… but you would think General Mills would’ve gone with a girl for the pink cereal. Bride of Frankenberry? Miss Frankenberry? >_< I know, I know, it's awful! [sarcasm] They missed out on a real opportunity to snag the girls in that campaign. [/sarcasm]
Yeah, if they’d just put some female characters in there, we coudl call Frankenberry progressive in his pinkness. As it stands, he’s just another guy.
“So why are female characters completely missing from this line up?”
Because women fail the job description.
The profile of the character has to be: Safe to ridicule, and by default, a bit daft, and silly & goofy. Were they to subject a fictional female to such treatment they’d get all sorts of hate mail from bloggers…exactly…like…you.
I’m very pleased to see you calling out such portrayals that meet with your approval, and to give them approving comments. Good, that shows you have it in you. Didn’t think that was the case. You still are the architect of your own annoyances, because the big companies are staying the heck away from the females — exactly like (they think) you want them to.
“Were they to subject a fictional female to such treatment they’d get all sorts of hate mail from bloggers…exactly…like…you.”
Fucking bullshit, it never happened for you to know, it’s just an empty assumption to avoid addressing her argument at all: “it’s all your fault, you’d complain either way yada yada”. If people blogging complaints about what they do bothered them so much, then there’s no reason they’d be that more bothered with one complaint (female characters aren’t supposed to be this way) than another (female characters are missing).
“exactly like (they think) you want them to.”
How do you know that? Seriously, are you a mind reader or something? You act as if you know what people behind images in cereal boxes think and how Margot would feel about a situation (female characters equally present but goofy) that has yet to happen.
Hey aninha, why the hostility?
By way of explanation — I’m just having a really, really tough time seeing it. Go through the exercise. We have a cartoon character who’s on the front of a cereal box, and is female. As such…just like the male counterparts…she’s got to be just a little bit empty-headed and comical in some ways. Like I said, it’s part of the job description. You contest this? Fine, then grow a pair and take issue with it, don’t sit on your high horse and ask me if I can read minds when I never claimed to do any such thing. There’s a pattern here, a rather durable and uninterrupted one since the 1950’s or so, and I’m merely extending it into the hypothetical. For that, I get this potty-mouth language? Uh, why? Seriously.
And then Margot reacts. Positively? Why in the world am I to think so? I don’t think so. She’d have a beef, or if she didn’t, it’s reasonable to assume the cereal companies are presuming she would.
All things done in the world that aren’t to your liking, are not necessarily a conspiracy against you. A lot of times, it’s simply human beings responding to their incentives.
Flies. Honey. Vinegar. I’ve tried to deliver the message before. That’s okay, you can keep ignoring it.
I replied in the wrong place, but I’ll add here, in case I wasn’t clear: I would like nothing more than a full cast of female characters in the imaginary world.
Oh the irony of the tired “grow a pair” retort on a feminist site.
I think my last comment was perfectly understandable, read it again if you need to clarify anything. The poutty language was barely there, and the reason for the hostility is that what I’ve pointed out are things you’ve been doing with barely any sort of change for very long. Your entire point is that Margot would complain no matter what, and therefore anything she types is automatically invalid, if you can’t see the problem with that, I don’t know what to say.
I have to question the initial premise about the job description. Not that I’m a massive fan of female analogs to male characters but I don’t see how the Cheerios bee or Tony the Tiger are really all that goofy and why a female character couldn’t deliver the same lines in the same way.
I 100% agree with Toucan Sam, however, I honestly never knew if Buzz was a boy or girl… Buzz is a pretty ambiguous name… if not for Toy Story there would be a huge question.
The voice in the commercials is unambiguously male.
Also, more importantly Buzz is clearly a male name, As in the astronaut Buzz Aldrin and the Toy Story Character Buzz Lightyear.