Wednesday, October 16, 2013

anthropomorphizing indeed.

Through the magic of the Internet I came across this fantastic piece today. The part that will explode a tiny piece of your brain (one which I hope you didn't need after all) is this list:

Reel Girl commenter, Nebbie, keeps a list of male characters in animation who, in the “real” world, would be female: 
1) Barnyard movie and video game, Back and the Barnyard: male cattle with udders
2) The Madagascar movies and specials, The Penguins of Madagascar: Joey the male kangaroo with a pouch, male hornets with stings, King Julien the dominant male ring tailed lemur (Only female kangaroos have a pouch, ring tailed lemurs are matriarchal.)
3)Bee Movie: male worker bees, male bees with stings, Mooseblood the male bloodsucking mosquito (Only female bees, wasps, including hornets, and some ants have a sting because the sting is a modified oviposito)
4)Turbo: male snails, Burn the one female snail (Garden snails are hermaphrodites)
5) A Bugs Life, The Ant Bully, and Antz: male worker ants (Worker ants, bees, and wasps are all sterile females, the males are drones and they die soon after they mate with the queen– fertile female– ant, bee, or wasp.)
6) The Jungle Book: male elephant herd and leader (elephants are matriarchal)
7) Fantasia: female ostriches with male black and white plumage
8) Puss in Boots: The Three Diablos: Gonzalo the male tortoiseshell kitten (Most tortoiseshell cats are female. A male cat can only be tortoiseshell if it has Klinefelter’s Syndrome– XXY, usually sterile– has chimerism, or has mosaicism.)
9) Finding Nemo: Marlin the clownfish stays male after his wife died (Clownfish are protoandrous hermaphrodites; they are born male and the the most dominant male turns female when the dominant female is removed from the group.) 
What’s so creepy about this is how often what is “natural” is used to justify sexism. 
I knew about the Nemo thing; but the rest are new to me. I think my favorite is (1). Male cows with udders. If that were intentional, I'd love it. I mean, if we were intentionally teaching our kids the differences between biological embodiments and gender, and calling into question gender stereotypes instead upholding them by reverse-engineering the representations of other animals' bodies to fit within our rigid gender stereotypes, then this would be BRILLIANT! Alas, I doubt the intention was to represent biologically female cows who identify as male.

When Clare was about 3, we had a conversation in which I utterly failed to convince her that boys have eyelashes. I've never forgotten it. Brent has lovely eyelashes and at one point I said, "Brent, take your glasses off. Clare, go look at your daddy's eyes. See his eyelashes." She did. And it still failed to convince her. Why? You know why. Because every single boy character in every type of media she'd been inundated with her entire little life had no eyelashes, and every single girl character did. Eyelashes=girl was a constant feature of her world, and empirical evidence of Daddy's eyelashes was simply not enough to counter that constant given.

The good news is, Clare (now 7) is embroiled in a long-standing dispute with a friend at school (a boy) who claimed that girls don't have biceps. Scornfully she replied, "My mom has great big biceps! And just look at my arm! I'm just as strong as YOU! Look at that muscle!"

No comments: