Welcome to the first ever Superweek at Goldilox and the Three Weres, an entire week devoted to superheroes, supervillains, and superpowers!
Weres Wanna Know is our new discussion feature where we share a topic that's been on our minds and invite you to share your thoughts as well.
Have you seen the new DC Superhero Girls dolls at Target? They're teenage versions of Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Batgirl, Bumblebee, Poison Ivy, and Harley Quinn, done in a style similar to the Monster High dolls. They are super cute, but I wonder if they miss the point.
The idea behind #WheresRey, and other similar movements, is not that there should be a line of Star Wars Barbies (though how cool would THAT be?) but that boys and girls should be able to play Star Wars together. And that, if they want to, boys can be Rey and girls can be Kylo Ren. The Superhero Girls actually attend Superhero High with teenage versions of Flash and Green Lantern, so why did they only make dolls for the girls? And why did Target, which just last year removed gendered signing from its toy departments, sign on to sell them?
Do girls need their own superheroes?
The toys are actually just part of the story. There's a website, a YouTube channel, an app, and a TV special which premiered recently. I watched the show and I like the "find your own superpower" message. It shows women in authority positions with Principal Amanda Waller, the female villain, and the students in leadership roles. But it seems like the school's population is at least 80% female. Beast Boy and Flash have just as much screen time as some of the girls, but they're the only boys who even speak. I guess it's taken the usual gender division in the superhero world and flipped it on its head. But what does that accomplish? We should be able to promote Girl Power without creating a No Boys Allowed world.
My four year old plays superheroes on the playground at preschool. I think it's bad enough that the world will tell her she can't be Superman, but Supergirl is pretty cool too. Are we now telling her that her best friend has to play on the other side of the playground because he's a boy? The superhero girls were already inside the clubhouse, they shouldn't need to build their own.
That said, I really do like some of the things the DC Superhero Girls are doing. These images are from the Twitter account @DCSuperHeroGirl. There are more supporting women in STEM and some with Wonder Woman supporting women as world leaders.
I also appreciate the fact that the girls aren't all blonde-haired and blue-eyed. (Though why Wonder Woman has blue hair is beyond me.) But I think the toys fumble the diversity ball as well by excluding Katana, one of the only two non-white main characters.
Superhero High would have been a perfect opportunity to create a franchise that appealed to both boys and girls. They could watch the show and play with the toys together, and each child could chose which hero they identify with regardless of gender. Wasn't that the whole point of removing the signs from the toy department, to remove traditional gender expectations and let kids define themselves?