A couple of days ago I wrote that the reason people react more strongly to criticisms of sexism in kids’ shows and movies than adult shows and movies is that they’re terrified of what will happen if young girls learn they don’t have to buy into their assigned gender roles.
Three of my readers took it a step further and made a really great point: S.A. Bonasi said:
So I don’t think Hollywood is afraid that little girls will learn that they don’t have to conform to gender roles.
No, I think Hollywood is afraid that little boys will learn that girls shouldn’t have to conform to gender roles. What a revolution that would be!
And Mickle said:
Personally, I think what scares Hollywood – and everyone else – the most is the fear that anyone might learn that little boys don’t have to conform to gender roles. Once you decide that, everything is blown to bits. I mean, there’s a certain logic to women wanting to be like their betters, as much as we can’t have that. But boys identifying with female characters. My god, the horror! Next thing you know people won’t just be saying that women can do men’s jobs, but that men should value women(’s jobs)! And not in a condescending “as only a mother can” kind of way.
And finally, Lizriz added:
And the thought that men might someday not be trained to find female characters and stories to be irrelevant and of no interest – well, it is my fervent dream that all human stories are valued the same. Can you imagine an Oscar ceremony where all the films have primarily female characters instead of the other way around??? And more ideally, where the gender (and race for that matter) is actually balanced???
I don’t really have anything to add. I think they’re exactly right. Part of the equation involves conditioning boys not to wonder when they see a lack of women in government, in filmmaking, in cultural myths, in fairy tales, in maths and sciences, etc. If you don’t get the boys thinking this is natural and that’s just how it is and the girls should be perfectly content with it, you risk a serious social upheaval in which young men and women challenge the old dudes running the show.
The anarchist in me drools at the thought.
Thanks, S.A., Mickle and Lizriz!