My four year old daughter loves Cheerios, and last night, my husband brought home a new box. Excited for breakfast this morning, we got it out. Here’s what we saw on the front: Shrek, Puss In Boots, and Donkey, 3 male characters from “Shrek.”
“Shrek,” a movie starring a male and titled for the male, has two sequels. Where is Fiona, Shrek’s co-star (though I admit that moniker is stretching it) on this package? Puss In Boots got his own eponymous spin off movie. Perhaps that’s why he made it on the DVD/ package? “Puss In Boots” is a buddy movie starring Puss’s frenemy, Humpty Dumpty. Kitty Softpaws is a great Minority Feisty in that film, but where is her own movie, titled for her? Have you ever heard of her? Do your kids remember who she is?
Besides “Shrek,” there are 3 other Cheerios collectible DVDs where we can “catch up with all our favorite DreamWorks characters.”
Unlike other cereal brands that have their own mascots, a cast of no less than 100% male characters, Cheerios borrows its crew from DreamWorks. But, apparently, these favorites don’t privilege females either, to say the least. “How to Train Your Dragon” pictures a boy and his male dragon, the two stars. We do see a girl riding bitch. Then, there’s “Kung Fu Panda” starring…Kung Fu Panda! And finally, Madagascar showing 6 male characters: the zebra, lion, and 4 penguins. Where is the hippo, the Minority Feisty in that movie?
Hippo does show up in the “fame game” on the reverse side of the box.
See, there she is down on the left. There are 8 characters and she is the only female. The game your kids play is “match each character to what they are famous for.” While characters are known for “Training the Furious Five” or “Being the Dragon Warrior,” what’s the hippo known for? “Loving a Giraffe.” No joke. Incidentally, my six year old daughter told me that hippo’s feelings are not reciprocated; giraffe never wants to dance with her.
See that little box to the right with the Croods character? He’s one the males from that movie too.
I write this a lot, but if this Cheerios box were one of many images kids see, it would not be a big deal. But again and again, kids see females go missing. It’s totally normal in their world. They don’t think anything of it and neither do we. But females are half of the population, so why are they presented as a tiny minority in kidworld practically everywhere outside of the Pink Ghetto? It’s an annihilation that acclimates a whole new generation to expect and accept a world where females go missing. Hey, Cheerios, can you make at least half of the characters on your box female? There’s no reason for the imaginary world to be sexist.
The studios make what sells, especially with children’s movies, they really try to follow trends rather than set them, because children are thought to dislike change. So, in this area, we have perhaps more power than in others. Don’t buy the Cheerios in that box, and then tell the company why, and don’t spend money on the images, movies and influences you believe perpetuate the problems – and TELL the companies why you aren’t spending the capital. They will get it eventually.
I don’t think it’s just fear of change. I think its that men run these studios and they write about and finance art that reflects them and their experiences, and girls are generally, not that important to them. I like your strategy of not buying and writing the company but often, that doesn’t work for me. I love movies, for example Ratatouille was amazing, but it was sexist. I write fiction and I read fiction, and I can’t censor myself in many ways, and also, sometimes my kids too. I feel like forbidding them something can make it more attractive. I think this is a super complex issue and that’s one reason I started blogging. My main strategy right now is call it out, educate my kids, refuse to see the super sexist, really bad stuff, sign petitions, and most importantly, help my kids make their own art and for me to make my own art.
In Madagascar I was under the impression that the male giraffe was the one who loved the female hippo. I don’t remember what she thought of that. I only saw the first one because GOD that was an awful movie.
Also with HTTYD… I really feel like that movie would not have worked with a female protagonist. Hiccup is weak and cowardly so the film is kind of going against those ideals men have to live up to, just as women do in today’s dumb society. While many women feel the expectations to just sit there are rediculous, many men are reluctant to be the hero. So HTTYD did fight gender roles in a way.
I haven’t seen Madagascar, but from previous research I know that all the penguins are male and that the Minority Feisty is the hippo. My daughter told me that about the dancing and the game seems to underscore that she loves him, though maybe they love each other? I see your point about Hiccup but couldn’t the dragon have been female at least?
lol didn’t think of that. People would probably be like OMFG YOUR RIPPING OFF ERAGON just cuz the dragon in Eragon is female and named Saphira or something. Not that the argument would have any value.
Congratulations once more, Margot. I”ll be careful to not buy this thing, that is the only way I have to protest.
Good for you! Maybe I’ll try to get my kids to eat the generic kind. Of course, now you know they’ll be able to tell by the damn box.