When Explaining to people who don't understand why we need 4th wave feminism, I often take it back to birth. I describe how from the moment we give a little girl baby a t-shirt that says "I'm a Princess" and a little boy baby a t-shirt that says "I'm a Superhero" society begins influencing their self perception. Boys are encouraged to be brave and outgoing leaders whilst girls are told stories of handsome Prince's rescuing passive women from various plights.
Ingraining The Stereotype
A Common Sense Media report on gender in children’s media stated that female representation comes in the form of characters that are primarily concerned with their looks, agreeable, virtuous and much more likely to cry, whereas male characters are depicted as emotionally restrained, funny and strong “television and videos targeting infants and toddlers are replete with gender stereotypes.”
Ingraining gender stereotypes in children's media is harmful because not only does it put into little girl's subconsciouses that their worth lies in their looks alone and to leave the important stuff to the guys, it begin's to develop sexist attitudes in little boy's too which the report warns is associated with greater acceptance and perpetration of sexual violence in later life. While no parent would like to think they are raising a child who will cause harm to a loved one in the future the statistics prove that it is the case and can link frequent TV viewing with holding more traditional attitudes about gender roles. In layman's terms, sexism is a gateway to sexual violence. It's also crap that little girls don't have decent representation (let alone equal representation!)
The New Way
Empowering stories for little girl's with stories of bad ass girls and women are a really positive step towards the newest generation's role model, representation, priorities and self-esteem re-think. Goodnight Stories For Rebel Girls broke crowdfunding records in 2016 with its short stories of 100 real life female role models such as Malala Yousafzai and J. K. Rowling proving we are SICK of being the passive, pretty, bystander. Little People Big Dreams also focus on wonderful and varied women in history. I hope that the next stage of anti-sexism in children's entertainment can be books that are PRO masculine emotion and that both of these filter into TV and film.