25 October 2009


After my last blog, I've been obsessing over finding female superhero toys.  Really, obsession might be an understatement.  I know nothing about superheroes- I was much more of a barbie and princess girl as a child.  Well, aside from the pink power ranger... I didn't really get into kickass female leads until I was an almost teen (tween?) and discovered Buffy. 

What I've found, so far, has been less than exciting.  Wonderwoman is still around- and perhaps the strongest character.  I found out about Power Girl, and her breasts that, in most animations, tend to scream breast reduction and pain.  Although this action figure version of her isn't half bad.  I've also learned that, despite the name, x-men have the most varied and unique cast of women leads.  Although, honestly?  I haven't read much on their backstory.  Maybe I'll have to invest in comic books- purely for educational purposes, of course.

I've also learned that people tend to pose the characters in submissive and disempowering poses .  This illustration, for example, portrays two super heroes on their knees, with hands behind them, smiling.  Really- could you imagine Batman or Superman being posed like this?  What is so threatening about a superheroine that we must strip away as much of her power as possible? 

Hopefully, this generation of girls, growing up with the likes of Word Girl and Dora the Explorer will more readily embrace superheroines as reflections of their own selves, rather than leaving it to the guys.

24 October 2009

Imaginext Toys, or how my vagina disqualifies me from having a complex imagination

Fisher price makes a lovely set of toys under the brand Imaginext.  It covers virtually all the subjects which fascinate children- superheroes, firemen, astronauts, aliens, and more.  The toys are high quality, affordable, and interchangeable.  Kids love them, and from a distance they look surprising gender neutral.

On closer examination, the Imaginext line contains exactly zero female characters.  No firewoman, no batgirl, not even a stray paramedic with long hair.  Because, apparently, girls do not play with the toys and boys would not buy them if they had girl characters.  Or at least that is what Fisher Price Corporate would lead you to believe.

Apparently they have a separate line for girls, called “Precious Places”.  The Precious Places sets are pink, with lots of ball gowns and princesses.  Oh, and they have male characters!  Princes!  No reason to have a female firefighter when you can use magic to save the swan and still make it to the ball in time!

All sarcasim aside, children- both boys and girls, need to see male and female characters in their toys.  They not only need to see themselves in their toys, but also see their brothers and sisters to help them construct a healthy understanding of gender and gender roles in our society.  Fisher price does a reasonably decent job doing this with it's Little People brand, so why not carry this tradition on to Imaginext?  What is so wrong about making a Batgirl, or a firewoman?

If you agree this is an unacceptable practice on the part of Fisher Price, and it's parent company Mattel, please join me in e-mailing Fisher Price Corporate at fpconaff@fisher-price.com .