Probably Not Profound: The Effect of Misogyny in Pop Culture on Child Development

Probably Not Profound: The Effect of Misogyny in Pop Culture on Child Development

“Growing up, I was always what people call a tomboy.  That’s such a stupid fucking name for what it really is though.  It’s a girl who defies the definitions and associations that are traditionally associated with being female.  Who decided on the term tomboy?  Such an ignorant term.  It was really just a series of preferences and choices that, somehow, were deemed to be masculine.  Whatever.  I’d rather be out in the woods than baking a cake.  I’d rather wear jeans and tennis shoes than a dress and heels.  I’d rather be the hero than the damsel in distress.  That last bit was what put everyone off; I guess being a tomboy is ok until you start emulating male pop culture characters rather than female ones.  Most girls would pretend to be Snow White or Princess Leia.  I’d pretend that I was Indiana Jones or Batman.  I think that a lot of adults who knew me assumed I was gay, or that I would be once I was old enough to have a sexual preference.

I’m not gay.  I was never even close to gay.  In fact, I like penis A LOT.  While I can appreciate the build of a beautiful woman, it’s never more than admiration and respect… and maybe a pinch of jealousy.  But, I think that my tomboy tendencies led to a deep understanding and compassion for the LGBT community.  I know what it’s like to be judged based on how you act or who you look up to.  I’m familiar with the fear of something “too masculine” coming out of my mouth that would be judged inappropriately.  To say that I mask my true identity is a vast understatement.  Most acquaintances don’t know that I’m an avid gamer, or that I repair computers in my garage; that I like loud rock music and appreciate looking at cars more than clothes.  So what gives?

Through the years, I’ve realized that genders are bullshit.  I associated with Indiana Jones and Batman because I wanted to be the hero, the center of the story, the strong one, the smart one, the leader… not the damsel in distress, the weak one, the hero’s love interest.  I emulated characters that had qualities I looked up to.  Batman stops at nothing to thwart his enemies with little more than his bare hands and Indiana Jones uses his razor sharp wit to get out of tight spots.  All the females in these movies were just secondary characters that rarely did anything to help, and more often than not, they were actually in the way or used as comic relief.  “Hahaha, look at that stupid girl trying to hold Indy’s gun!  She’s afraid she’ll break a nail, that’s HILARIOUS!  Girls are silly!”  Who would look up to that?  Not me.

Until now, I wasn’t sure why I never wanted to be a princess.  It sure as hell isn’t because I don’t like sparkly things; I fucking love sparkly things!  It’s because princesses are worthless figureheads and sex symbols.  They mean nothing, their opinion doesn’t matter and they’re never the one solving any problems.  In short, I’ve realized that my androgyny wasn’t about wanting to BE a man.  It was about wanting to be powerful and smart.  The sad part is that somehow my developing brain translated that to mean one thing:  only men are powerful and smart.

What I’m happy about is that the state of entertainment has shifted; only slightly, but any shift is a step in the right direction.  Female characters are slowly becoming just as valuable as male characters, and there are more and more female heroes in books and movies.  Even male-centered stories are having stronger female characters (Pepper Potts and Claire Underwood, anyone?) which is refreshing to say the least.  But I don’t want anyone to think that I’m being feminist or accusatory.  There are plenty of GREAT female characters who are weak simply because that’s their personality.  It’s just that I want weak characters to be just weak characters; female characters shouldn’t just be weak characters by default.  /rant”

…thoughts?  Let’s discuss!

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2 thoughts on “Probably Not Profound: The Effect of Misogyny in Pop Culture on Child Development

  1. I get the same sort of stigma because I was never a big sports enthusiast. Growing up, I’d rather be Han Solo than Hank Aaron and that led to a lot of “concern” that I was also not quite “manly”.

    And for the record I have the same appreciation for a man being handsome but that’s as far as it goes. Hetero through and through, yet I will cry every time Andy leaves Woody and company join hands at the thought of their impending doom by way of incinerator.

    So, I have to ask, in a pop culture world with too many Black Widows and not enough Ripley’s, who are your favorite heroines in media? Did you cheer or roll your eyes at the thought of President Glitch rather than Princess Vanellope? Does the fact that they try to make Felicity Smoak (Arrow) and Velma from Mystery Inc. out to be the “sexy nerds” anger women? Can COD ever have a female character play a prominent combat role in future titles?

    • 1) I think I love you.
      2) I think Han Solo is a fantastic role model! He’s even more manly than Luke, which is who most kids wanted to be. I, also, am not a sports enthusiast… but I can see where you were likely far more criticized for it than I was, since you’re a guy.
      3) Toy Story, and Pixar films in general, just tend to make me shed far too many tears. So glad I’m not alone! How much did we ALL cry in the first 15 minutes of Up?
      4) Thanks for asking about my favorite heroines. I honestly started typing out my response here, then I realized that it’s FAR too long for a comment. I’m thinking that tonight I’ll write my next blog post on the topic instead! THANKS FOR THE IDEA, I need them! Stay tuned… :)

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