Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Feminist Media for Toddlers

My family actually groaned when I told them that I wanted to find feminist movies and TV shows for my two year-old daughter.

Woman's touch.
Makes the public feel more comfortable.

Lucia’s favorite movie at the time was Chicken Run. Chicken Run is commonly cited as a good example of a strong female lead in children’s media. While it is true that the protagonist is an intelligent and resourceful hen, her ultimate success is the happy relationship with the rooster. Finding a guy isn’t bad in itself, and if the rooster were actually a worthwhile partner, I wouldn’t object. However, this particular rooster, Rocky, is not at all desirable. He lies constantly. He is selfish, egotistical, and demeaning to the hens. Ginger apparently falls for him because he’s the only man she hasn’t met who didn’t fight in World War II.

The other pitfall of this movie is the villain. Mrs. Tweedy is evil. She abuses her spouse and loves eating roasted chicken. Plus she is both ugly and vain, archetypical villainess characteristics. What makes her the bad guy? She figures out a way to make the farm more profitable and bring her family out of poverty.

At this point you might assume that I have a battle-axe tattoo. I don't. Moving on.

The movie I consider most woman positive that is also appropriate for young children is Porco Rosso. The main character is male, which isn’t usually a good start for feminist media. However, in this case, Marco would be lost without his two female cohorts—as well as a horde of industrious women who build his plane.
The party's over.
The Italian Air Force will be here soon.
Everybody get away quickly, please.
Come to my restaurant. It's on the house.

Let’s start with Gina. Gina owns a hotel and nightclub, and her calm but firm warning will hush gangs of pirates. Gina is bad.ass. Men fall at her feet even though she is middle aged. She doesn’t brush them off out of spite or disgust, but because she is too busy running her business well. She’s also politically savvy, which is neat. Gina doesn’t get a lot of screen time, but the time she does get is golden.

O.K.  But if Porco wins, you pay these bills.

Fio is arguably the protagonist in her own right. She is a college student, an aviary engineer, and very good with money. The first plane she designs professionally impresses universally. She is confident and well spoken. Unsurprisingly, she and Gina become good friends.

My daughter now points to airplanes and says, “Fio! Airplane!”

All of Hayao Miyazaki’s movies are woman positive, but Porco Rosso is near the top of the list.

What if a miracle like the Virgin Mary getting pregnant... was to happen to a homo? 
While researching, I also found the question of a good portrayal of a transgender person in media accessible to young people. An undeniable answer is Tokyo Godfathers. Miss Hana is simply a beautifully developed character. The only concern that I have with this movie is the violence—two characters are nearly beaten to death. However, unlike many kids’ media that glorify violence, Tokyo Godfathers shows it as the ugly and cruel thing violence truly is.

The next time you find your toddler watching the father dinosaur find a diamond for the mother dinosaur (who, of course, has dramatic eyelashes), remember that there is good media out there. And if you know of something wonderful, please let me know.

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