Gender Stereotypes Are Meaningless

So A Wrinkle In Time hits theaters this weekend. The book is a big deal to a lot of people, but I’ve never read it (blind spot!) and my 7-year-old hasn’t gotten to it yet, and as such the movie isn’t really on my radar.

Well, it wasn’t on my radar, until I came across a little bit of controversy over the poster. It prominently features the female lead and the mostly female cast (does Oprah even have a gender? I feel like she’s singular), all bathed in pastel colors, and it ignited another discussion about gender stereotypes.

Apparently, someone thinks the poster doesn’t appeal to boys. To which I say: who cares? It’s a poster!

wrinkle in time, movies, gender, parenting, marketing, advertising, parenthood, dad and buried, mike julianelle, gender stereotypes, kids, pop culture, role models, stereotypes, equalityWho cares about advertising and marketing in general, and who cares specifically about the fact that the poster doesn’t have any boys on it and/or is purple?

It’s 2018. Are there really still parents out there who don’t want their kids to see/play with certain things because they aren’t properly aligned to gender stereotypes? (Yes, I know there are.)

Kids gravitate to what they gravitate to for a variety of reasons, some of which are biologically-ingrained, some of which are personality-based, some of which are culturally and socially influenced, some of which are unintentionally modeled by their parents and role models, some of which are intentionally taught by those same people. There’s a mélange of influences over our children’s viewpoints and behavior that can be hard to parse, but allowing additional influences in the name of consumerism is one area we can do our best to limit.

I say let the kids figure it out on their own, and teach them the right big things – acceptance, community, empathy, diversity, individuality – and let them do what they’re gonna do. What they want to do. Whether that means boys playing with dolls and watching “My Little Pony” painting their nails or girls watching Star Wars and superheroes and playing hockey. Gender stereotypes are always silly, but they are never more silly than when it comes to little kids. They just want to have fun!

Then there’s the fact that we’re letting a poster manipulate us. It’s 2018. Are there really kids out there who are deciding they don’t want to see something because the marketing “says” they shouldn’t?

Probably some, but probably not as many as there used to be! Thanks to streaming, my kids barely even see most ads. But even when they do, they already know: advertising is bullshit. Because I’ve told them. “They are trying to trick you. Ignore that noise!”

Kids are as susceptible to advertising as anyone else, surely even more so – kids are more susceptible to everything – but that just means we need to push back harder, to educate and arm them with the knowledge and confidence they need to resist that junk and think independently.

The kind of nonsense promulgated in this tweet is exactly what we should be pushing back against:

What exactly is the problem with this poster? The fact that there are no boys (save for Chris Pine’s tiny head) in it? The fact that the colors are “traditionally” more feminine, if that’s even a thing? It’s not like the image is of flowers and skirts and Barbie dolls, and even if it was, who GAF?

For one thing, boys can like flowers and skirts and Barbie dolls – I played with Barbie dolls when I was a little kid and I still managed to enjoy sports and marry a woman and spread my seed, as God intended! (I do hate guns though, uh-oh!)

For another, it’s a poster announcing a movie (the totally gender-neutral title is underneath the “girl-centric” imagery), the substance of which – the plot, for example – is what anyone curious about the movie should be worried about.wrinkle in time, dad blogger, mommy blogger, movies, gender, gender stereotypes, parenting, marketing, advertising, parenthood, dad and buried, mike julianelle, kids, pop culture, role models, stereotypes, equality

By the way, that plot? PURE SCIENCE-FICTION. Which – let me consult my copy of Outdated Stereotypes for Neanderthals, Vol. 2 – is “traditionally” considered male-centric. So maybe the poster – if you consider it to be feminine – is fighting against that lame stereotype to draw in young girls who’ve already been told by “society” that sci-fi isn’t for them? In which case, score one for marketing!

Girls can like science-fiction and boys can like fashion. Boys can like posters that don’t have boys on them and movies that don’t have boys in them just as white people can like movies that don’t have white people in them and cis people can like movies that don’t have cis people in them. If all you want is a world in which people stay in their bubbles and ignore (at best) everything outside of it, more power to you, enjoy voting for Trump in 2020.

Otherwise, stop worrying about what’s on a stupid poster, teach your kids to look past advertising and ignore gender stereotypes – all stereotypes – and encourage them to think for themselves and enjoy what they like. Which may or may not include A Wrinkle In Time, but the reason kids don’t enjoy it shouldn’t have anything to do with the genetic make-up of the cast.

Besides, I just checked IMDB and apparently Michael Pena is in it. Everybody likes Michael Pena!

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