Disney, gender stereotypes: Avoidable?
Over on Twitter, several of the parents I follow have been talking about gender stereotypes. We were amazed to find that two of our children (Everett, who's five, and a little girl who's four) had recently made the oddly-worded identical statements: "Pretty stuff is for girls, and cool stuff is for boys, right mama?" It's not the worst gender stereotype in the world, of course, but Everett's always enjoyed "pretty stuff" (I have the box of much-loved gaudy buttons and beads to prove it) and, speaking as a girl here, I hate to have us all banned from "cool stuff." (Is an iPhone cool or pretty? But I digress...)
We darkly attributed the identical statements to Dragon Tales, which we find that both of our children watch, and several other parents chimed in about the gender stereotypes promoted by most (if not all) of the children's programming, especially Disney with its princess gestalt. Whether they come across it at home, at school, or on a trip down the grocery store aisle, it's highly difficult to protect children from Disney, and out-and-out impossible to eliminate gender stereotypes from a child's world.
Protectionism definitely isn't the answer, and thus far I've just countered Everett's many cultural influences by working on projecting a couple of good role models and pointing out where stereotypes aren't borne out. And, as I said on Twitter, I spend a lot of time digging in the dirt (lately, I get the feeling that a connection to earth heals all wounds). Where have gender stereotypes surprised you -- and what have you done to counteract them? Want to come dig in my backyard, too?