Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Sexist TV for children

Listening to:

Beethoven, piano concerto no. 3 in C minor. Played by Ashley Wass and the BBC Philharmonic, conducted by Vassily Sinaisky.

Shows for girls

Having had my daughter recently become a fan of Octonauts, I’m a bit depressed at the terrible low profile the female characters get. In the episode we just watched earlier, a female briefly gets to start everything off, only to be swallowed by a whale shark and then need rescuing by the active male characters. Another of the female characters seems to have responsibility for the engineering, but is very much a bit part.

My daughter is also keen on the program Busytown Mysteries, with two male principals (Huckle and Lowly Worm) and one relegated female (sister Sally). Gack.

There’s an obvious contender show, that being Dora the Explorer, but this hasn’t been as successful, and really rubs the parents the wrong way too. The whole program seems to consist of the voice for Dora yelling in an extremely unappealing way. The character is not yelling, but her voicing is, and this is really grating.

Given how gender-identity seems to be a big part of being a three-almost-four year old, I don’t want her diet to so relentlessly treat females as marginal. While I can definitely recommend Olivia and Charlie and Lola, these are also totally domestic shows. If she is to see drama and adventure, the options seem to be yelling Dora, or shows where the girls are after-thoughts.


There's Miffy, and Maisy, but perhaps too young. Then there's Dirt Girl World, and Jane and the Dragon, but perhaps too old. The Fairies, and Angelina Ballerina are probably in the right age range but are fairly stereotypical. Maybe Peppa Pig? You can try-before-you-buy with most of these online on youtube or iview.

Posted by: Mark at April 19, 2012 08:23 AM

Yes, she does quite like Miffy. She hasn’t seen much of Maisy. Miffy is decidedly domestic, and as you say, they’re both perhaps a little on the young side for her. Angelina Ballerina may be a goer though. (Fairies and princesses I can do without.)

Posted by: Michael at April 19, 2012 11:20 AM

Maisy gets out-and-about (variously as a farmer, train driver, pilot, etc), unless it's a rainy stay-at-home day.

Jane fought sexism to become a Knight-in-Training, though having a dragon as a friend helped.

There are some good movies too. Kikki's Delivery Service is great. Mary Poppins is still great.

We have these on DVD if you want to borrow!

Posted by: Mark at April 19, 2012 03:23 PM

We’ve got MP; it’s definitely very good. We’ll have to look out for Jane and the Dragon; thanks for that recommendation!

Posted by: Michael at April 20, 2012 11:11 AM

Both Pegga Pig and Angelina has been popular at our house.

But you must not forget Pippi Longstocking!

By some called the ultimate feminist role model. I'm not sure I'd go that far, but I really like the stories and the movies, especially the old Swedish which seems to have been dubbed to English. Kamille and Naja still likes to watch the movies now and then.

Posted by: Ken at April 26, 2012 01:05 AM

Thanks for the Pippi Longstocking recommendation! I read some of the books when I was a kid. It'd be interesting to see if there are any videos available here.

In the meantime, we have also managed to get a DVD of "Jane and the Dragon". Lots of it is definitely over her head, but she is watching it compulsively at the moment. Lots of novelty value if nothing else.

Posted by: Michael at May 2, 2012 10:18 PM