8.22.2006

Sexist childhoods

I'm adding another regular feature to this blog--examples of the sexism inherent in our culture that my two little girls are constantly exposed to as they grow up. I am absolutely amazed at the sheer lack of female characters found in books, movies and toys. It's pathetic. Generally, the only time there are women characters is when the character plays a gender-stereotyped role, such as a mother, grandmother, or princess.

It is so damn frustrating, I can't even begin to tell you. It's an uphill battle and I'm at a loss as to how to counteract it.

Why is this important? Because little girls learn by osmosis from a very young age that they are insignificant, second class citizens. Women are an afterthought in our culture and this is evident to little girls from day one, even if they can't express this concept verbally.

On Tuesdays I'll be posting the ratio of male to female characters from the 6 books chosen by my girls at random from the library. (Either my husband or I generally take them to the library on Mondays). It's a work in progress since I've never actually kept track of the numbers. Let's see how it goes.

And, I'll occasionally be posting other examples as I encounter them on a daily basis with my girls.

Today's library books, counting only major characters with names:
  • 2:2--Cat Heaven--I was pleasantly surprised to see that the default pronoun was "she." But, the book was written by a woman, although that doesn't necessarily mean much, I've learned.
  • 2:3--Rude Giants--Again, another surprising ratio. Female author.
  • 3:0--Terrific--not a female in sight. Male author.
  • gender neutral--Quack and Count--Just a bunch of nameless ducks getting counted, but at least they're not all boys. Male author.
  • 3:3--The Fabulous Flying Fandinis--Can't complain about that ratio. Written by a woman.
  • 1:0--Truck Song--The "main" character is a truck driver.
11:8 total. Not such a bad week, all things considered. But not a wash. So far, XY is in the lead.

Today's other examples:
  • 3:1--The game Hungry, Hungry Hippos--as we played this oh-so-exciting game my older daughter informed me today that only one of hte hippos was a girl--the pink one. We then examined the names of hippos, as indicated by the stickers that I'd placed on the game when we first purchased it, without even paying attention to their content. The pink one was "Happy Hippo"--maybe a girl, but who knows? The others were "Harry Hippo", "Henry Hippo", and "Homer Hippo." Definitely boys.
  • 5:2--Lyle, Lyle the Crocodile--I read this today to my daughter at her request. Nice ratio. Not.

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