October 11th was the International Day of the Girl. I can’t say I had ever heard of this holiday before. I can’t say we celebrated it (because, in our house, it seems that EVERYDAY is Day of the Girl (and Boys)). And that was my next question–is there an International Day of the Boy?
But then, I started thinking some more, and it reminded me of the ardent feminist that my daughter is. In fact, are there any preschool/kindergarten-aged girls that AREN’T flaming feminists?
To clarify (because plenty of people claim they aren’t feminists, when deep, down they really are): my working definition of feminist is one who believes that a woman working the same job as a man (same position, same company, same level of experience) should make the same salary as that man. I promise, that’s all feminism is. Some people take feminism to other extremes, of course. But anyone who believes in justice and equality, that person is a feminist.
Given that definition, lots and lots of men are also feminists, and that’s fantastic.
But, back to my point, just about every female kindergartner that I’ve ever met is a raging feminist. My daughter was no exception. Starting at the age of four or five, if she would ever notice something that the boys got to do, but the girls didn’t, she’d take offense. If she noticed different expectations for boys and girls, she was vocal in pointing out those discrepancies.
My daughter also loves Paw Patrol. It has always dismayed her that there is only one girl dog in the Paw Patrol pack (unless Everest makes a rare appearance, of course).
This desire for equality and justice took a noticeable turn when we were shopping for school supplies this summer. At some point, I saw these book labels at the grocery store, and picked them up for my son, knowing that The Girl would protest because Skye didn’t appear on them.
Why is that? Why doesn’t Skye have a label? Why can’t she share a label with Rocky or Zuma? Nope–she’s nowhere to be seen.
Then, we went looking for backpacks and pencil boxes. There were all kinds of backpacks for boys. There was even one that lit up. That one had Chase on it, all by himself. The Girl noticed that there were lots of backpacks with the boy dogs on them. But she had to look really hard to find one with Skye.
It turns out the Skye and Everest are always banished to the girls’ section.
Always by themselves.
Apparently, there is a strict “no fraternization policy” between the boy dogs and girl dogs when it comes to marketing!
The Girl’s righteous anger flared up, announcing that Chase was too busy self-promoting to bother being on the backpacks with the other pups. And the indignation that the girls couldn’t be on the same backpack as the boys–it just couldn’t be expressed in words. She was almost to the point of boycotting Paw Patrol.
But all the pups get along pretty well on TV. So we’ll bypass the marketing for awhile, and just enjoy Paw Patrol they way they’re meant to be enjoyed–frolicking all together, while working together to save the disasters of Adventure Bay.
It’s just a shame that when we try to sell things to the kids, they have to be divided. The kids like it when they all play together.
And they sure notice when they aren’t together.
So What’s My Point?
I’ve got two points: the first is, why is this discrepancy between how we market this enormously popular show and how it’s actually presented? Or, why is there only one girl with five boy dogs? Really, couldn’t there be a two to four ratio? (Because, I guess I’m talking crazy talk to think that even numbers would be possible!)
But, more importantly, isn’t it fantastic that little girls are noticing? I mean, sure–it’s too bad that there is something to notice. But the fact that they’re indignant, standing up for their sisters, and making what they perceive as injustice known–that’s wonderful!
We raising little girls (and boys) who are looking out for equality.
At least, for those of us whose kids are making a stink.
If your kids don’t make a stink about the Paw Patrol gender gap, ask them an innocent question to see what they think about it, or if they have even noticed it. They’re probably more aware than we realize.
Parting shot: Is it just me, or is Zuma the “token black kid” on Paw Patrol? Maybe I’m just looking for trouble where there isn’t any. But Skye is the token girl, Rubble is the “token fat kid”, and Zuma . . . all me crazy, but he seems to be the token black kid.
He also doesn’t get as much screen time as the other pups.
Hmmm . . .
Let me just stir the pot some more here!