Monday, October 15, 2012
As a caveat, I'm far from being an expert on women's issues and am not a wiz in the social sciences. With that caveat in mind, I have nevertheless tried, together with my wife, to make certain the girls have good female role models. I want them to be able to enjoy stories where a girl or woman protagonist is the hero - where she is not waiting for her prince to rescue her, nor just a "dude with boobs", nor some ultra-sexed object.
Another desire is the stories actually be entertaining. Preferably without sparkly vampires.
Both girls started off with Dora the Explorer. I can still recite the theme song to Dora with ease. I suspect when I am old and have forgotten my name. "I'm the map, I'm the map, I'm the map, I'm the map, I'm the map!" The television show had Dora going on all sorts of minor adventures but the kids really enjoyed the longer Dora movies where she would have adventures in fairytale land and deal with the Pirate Piggies. I'd view these as primarily "cute" with a goal of providing some education to the viewer/
It is a simple enough story but one my daughters both greatly enjoyed. It had some nice fantasy tropes such as the magical land, fairies, magic, etc. Sequels deal with other parts of Fairytopia such as the undersea kingdom of Mermaidia. And Elina is not one who uses violence to solve her problems (not to say that a "male" story must have violence either). She often doubts her own abilities but nevertheless does not give up.
These novels really reach my daughter as she recently got to meet the author of the books, Kathleen Ernst, at a book-signing and tea party at the nearby (for us) U.S.S. Constitution Museum - any author of a work with nautical action in it in the War of 1812 would find the museum an excellent resource.
To be honest, I never thought I'd find myself being a connoisseur of works targeted for girls. But I'm really hoping to get one of them to join the gaming group at a certain point - I really need new blood. And if you can't recruit them then best to create them. Also, in all seriousness, I want them to be able to imagine their own fantastic worlds where they are not the princess in need of rescue but rather their own strong characters in their own rights.