Bloom, Stella, Musa, Flora, Tecna, Layla, Sabrina, Aquagirl, Abby Cadabby, Bubbles, Blossum, Buttercup, Elastigirl, Violet, Tabitha Smith, Mystique, Starfire, Raven, Kimiko.If the above mentioned characters ring a bell, then perhaps you can also figure out what they have in common besides the fact that they are all female. If you guessed magical powers, you are correct. You may pass go, collect $200 and move to the head of the class.
Having two young daughters, I am very attuned to what the preteen population is in to these days and these cartoon characters are beginning to annoy me. I didn’t take the time to research, but I am seriously wondering how many of them were actually created and developed by women. (That will be another article entirely.) I am curious, because it appears to me that we have lost the “real girl” heroines of the past. They have been replaced by wand-waving, pixie-dust sprinkling, wimpy characters dressed in pink frilly outfits with matching shoes. My objection is not in how they look but how they act. It seems that the new female role model in the cartoon world must posses some kind of make-believe gift or carry a mystical object in order to have any kind of power at all.
Take a trip to your local toy store and compare toys for boys against the toys for girls. Boys get a lot of cool gadgets like swords, telescopes, cameras and other real tools for interacting with the world. Round the corner to the “pink aisle” and you are bombarded with magic wands, fairy wings and ponies that fly. Boys are given actual tools to learn how to survive in life and girls are left with a bunch of useless, pretend junk.
Boys are taught that they can use their tools for a variety of things: building, problem solving and even destruction. Now girls are being taught to wave a magic wand to resolve an issue or to cast a spell on the bad guys. We girls aren’t stupid. We know that all of these atrocious make-believe toys aren’t real. So what are we girls supposed to use to solve real world problems? Fairy dust? I don’t think so.
I’m not opposed to fantasy tv shows because they encourage imagination and possibility, but I would like to see more shows where the characters solve real problems by using their brains instead of casting a spell or flinging a fireball from their fist. Kids need to learn to deal with reality and what better way to deliver it to them than through respectable characters that they can embrace and learn from. Yes, kids need human adult role models as well, but if kids are watching cartoons anyway, why not teach them some real life lessons while they are glued to the tube?
Remember Daphne and Velma from the Scooby Doo series? Kim Possible? Gretchen P. Grundler and Ashley Funnicelo Spinelli from Recess? Lucy and Peppermint Patty from the Peanuts Gang? How about Pepper Ann? Or Jackie and Inez from Cyberchase? All were bright women. Excellent role models. No special powers. No wands. No pixie dust. Purely brains and determination. When these ladies needed to solve a problem, they put their heads together and came up with a solution. They supported each other and complimented strengths and weaknesses. They stuck together and solved real issues with real brain power. And that, my friend, is how you change the world. No magic required.
Did you like this post?
Get awesome tips, free stuff, inspirational stories and discounts on Girls Can't WHAT? gear. It's Free!