What do we want for our children?
I want my daughters to believe that they can do anything that they want to do..within reason. I want my daughters to learn everything they need to know to go out into the world and make a difference. I want them to learn, 1st & foremost, what will make them happy. Especially as an Executive Producer in Children’s TV, I am uber aware of the influence that media has on all of us, including my daughters.
“Kids spend nearly 55 hrs a week watching television, texting or playing video games.” -The Daily Green
What they see & hear truly affects their view of the world. I give careful thought to even the smallest details in my shows – what the characters eat, how they feel, what they do, which character traits go with which character, and whether or not they should be boys or girls. It’s important to me that we don’t show our characters eating sugary snacks and cakes for a “special occasion” because, truth be told, it’s always a special occasion on a television show. In addition, one study found that 98% of food ads seen by children on top-rated shows were for junk food –Health & US News
We know that boys are more reluctant readers, so we intentionally chose our main character, Super Why, to be a boy. We know that there are much fewer girls on television so we made our main character, Blue, a girl. And we made sure that she didn’t have long eyelashes nor a cute little bow. She is blue. And she is a girl.
But when I look at media as a whole, for my own daughters, I worry. As much as I can talk with them and model for them the type of women I would like them to grow up to be, I find that in media, women are still typecast in traditional roles, while men are portrayed as the more dominant figures. Women are stereotypically represented as dependent and emotional. Women are the mothers, and men are the bread winners. Women are under represented in television about 3:1.
“The fact that a majority of voice-overs on television are male, that there are more male news readers on TV & that many of the major film directors are men indicates that it is the male who has the authority & the control of the world of TV.” –Elena Beasley
This presents a male view of the world. When women are featured, their voices in commercials are often used to sell products such as laundry detergent, diapers & jewelry. And it should also comes as no surprise that advertisers typically use women as sex objects to sell a wide array of products.
We know there are no limits to what our children can do. So why are we feeding our children the idea of limits in the form of media?
And what can we do about it?
Model behavior in your own lives that needn’t be so defined by gender
Talk with your kids about such issues when opportunities present themselves in your day to day
Limit the amount of questionable media our kids ingest..the same way in which we limit the amount of sugar they eat.
Keep their dreams and expectations for themselves free and unrestrained
And I’ll do my part by continuing to write strong, smart female characters that create their own destinies!