I read something disturbing recently. A blog post on truth-out.org reported that in 2014, only 12% of the top grossing US movies included female protagonists. It also made me realise how few superheroes in film are women – something I don’t think about too often! – but as I raise a little girl, it’s a wider issue that bothers me. Particularly when it sometimes feels that her choice of role models is limited to ridiculous juveniles from Disney or simpering princesses at the toy shop. Thankfully she’s not crazy about either, but it got me thinking, who are our new girl heroes? The best girl crushes? Who do our little girls aspire to be?
I feel like the situation has changed markedly in real life. In the UK, since the 2012 Olympics, there are now tons of female (Para)Olympians of all shapes and sizes that are much more visible. And there certainly seems to be more women in jobs, and everyday life, doing great stuff which feels very different to the Enid Blyton books that we still read avidly together (they haven’t aged well in terms of sexism!).
Moreover, for every sex tape (as a career move) or Kardashian selfie that I ignore, there are also a ton of actresses speaking out about ageism and double standards against women in Hollywood (of which Cate Blanchett and Patricia Arquette are recent examples, as well as the brilliant last three years of Amy Poelher and Tina Fey hosting the Golden Globes). And I hope she seeks out inspirational space scientists and Bletchley girls and notices how companies like Bic are being lampooned for running ridiculously sexist ads (if you haven’t seen it, you can watch Ellen’s great skit about it here).
So, if you’re looking for books with strong girls in them, I found A Mighty Girl which gives you tons of options, as does commonsensemedia.org which also rates the books by age. Very useful. And if you’re looking for something a little more fun, The Guardian ran an article last year providing great dress up options for girls and their favourite fictional characters on World Book Day, which made me feel very old. Can you believe Pippi Longstocking is still around?
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