How Do You Broach Sexism with Kids?

October 28th, 2013 by Dionna | 3 Comments
Posted in Eclectic Learning

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When do you broach sexism with kids?

We’ve been learning about ancient Greece, and I thought it would be fun to watch Disney’s Hercules. I didn’t expect it would mirror the real myth, but wow – the objectification, the sexual innuendos, the violence. I had a hard time with it. We have not yet talked about some of the themes that made me uncomfortable, because I’m honestly not sure how to approach them.

I will never learn that kids’ movies are full of themes that make me cringe. (Don’t take my word for it – there are people writing much more elegantly than I can, such as Reel Girl.) But it’s not just movies, books are rife with all kinds of ‘isms that are worthy of discussions too. I just read an article on Huffington Post about the misogyny one parent encountered in the newest Captain Underpants book. (Not sure how to spot sexism? Here’s an article on 10 Quick Ways to Analyze Children’s Books for Racism and Sexism.)

Have you come across sexism and/or the objectification of women (or men!) in children’s media or books? While you are reading or watching with your child? Do you stop and address it immediately, or do you do a debriefing afterward? Did you wait until your child was a certain age or maturity level? Or do you cringe inwardly and avoid it, silently wishing you knew exactly how to handle every tough topic that is thrown at you as a parent?

3 Responses to:
"How Do You Broach Sexism with Kids?"

  1. Monica

    The hardest thing for me, especially with my 12 year old DD, is helping to point out the grey areas. Or to point out the possibility that the characters are using the mysogyny as a way to further their own goals, and then assigning a value judgement to that. Is she a strong, smart woman because she sees the behaviour in the male character and uses it against him? Or are we “supposed” to only be offended that the behaviour exists at all? And where is the line between objectifying and flirting/appreciating the female form? Is it dependent on how the person it is directed towards feels about it? We’ve not talked nearly enough about how to act when you’re feeling creeped out by someone. Another tough subject to broach, and one that is very similar to this one.

    Since she is an advanced reader and saw my interest in it when I was reading it, DD read the book Cinderella Ate My Daughter, which was an interesting book showing all the ways the Disney empire (and all the other brands) market to girls. So I guess it could be argued that I took the lazy way out and let the book explain it to her.

    It is also hard to point out the misogyny that we see without painting men as the enemy. This is a problem when my sons are around. Well, not a problem, per se, just tricky to explain to everyone. Working on that still.

  2. Joella @ Fine and Fair   fineandfair

    I’m one of those loud angry feminist types ;) so I’m always calling out sexism all over the place, all the time. I just can’t help but groan or sigh or roll my eyes at it, so it’s just a natural part of the ongoing conversation (and the media consumption) in our household. I think when my kids get a little older, I’ll be more intentional about discussing such things with them in a conversational way after watching something problematic, in addition to my snarky remarks while viewing. ;)

  3. Dionna   CodeNameMama

    Well after discussing it with readers and friends, I went ahead and had a frank talk with Kieran this morning. We also read some more Greek myths after our chat, then discussed the female and male roles/attributes in the stories. We took it one step further by then re-telling the stories, casting the female characters in more powerful roles (Andromeda rescued Perseus! Medusa was a man!). I think it helped cement the concepts for him!

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