There’s a troubling trend afoot in the world of geekdom. It seems like it shouldn’t happen, certainly not in the day and age, but here I am, writing about it. That issue is gender separation with geek fandoms.
I know, I tend to write about women’s issues… and for good reason. I’m a female. I’m a female geek. I enjoy reading comics and manga. I enjoy cosplay. I enjoy watching anime and animated series.
What I find more troubling is that the issues that I had with finding great storylines that are female-oriented in superhero and sci-fi television is still a thing. It’s not 1985 anymore.
I grew up on shows like Wonder Woman (yes, with Linda Carter), Knight Rider, Twin Peaks, etc. Most of them didn’t have strong, smart female role models. There wasn’t much for a kid like me out there. I largely has to look up to the male characters because they were more prevalent. They were largely making animation and live-action programming for men (with the exception of She-Ra, but that’s a whole other conversation).
This is what makes me angry. This is why girls always feel marginalized.
When I was a kid, my favorite articles of clothing were always the superhero ones. I used to have the super-awesome Wonder Woman Underoos. I loved them so much I wore them to death. I always wanted action figures. I was never given them because at that point gender segregation was a huge thing. Don’t get me wrong, I got a lot of enjoyment playing with my Barbies (and is probably partly why I have an interest in fashion). But they weren’t the only thing I wanted to play with.
And here we are, 30 or so years later, and shows are being shit-canned because girls are interested in superheroes. Why is it shit-canned? Because girls don’t by action figures. You know why girls don’t buy them, because we are stuck in a world where we feel like we need to tell girls that they need to be girly.
You know what else? We also live in a world where merchandising should never just be about action figures that you put on those cool-blue shelves in Toys ‘R’ Us. While you think all girls want are princess play things.
This bothers me profoundly.
Gender isn’t as simple as pink and blue. Some boys actually like to play with Barbie and princess toys. Some girls like to play with action figures and Legos. Neither of those make them gay.
It seems that society is so caught up with gender being a binary concept.
What I get even less, is why alienate over half of the viewing population. Female viewers make up 51%. Why just throw that away because you don’t want to come up with other marketing plans.
When I was a little girl I wanted a She-Ra action figure. I never got one… or any action figures. It wasn’t because my family wouldn’t buy me male-oriented toys. They also bought me cars and Transformers.
But maybe that’s why they wouldn’t. The impression that’s given is that action figures are only for boys. Maybe we need to change that impression. We need to realize that marketing shouldn’t trump programming. Sometimes it’s best to have children’s programming that is about quality and not just money.
And I would like to see that there are more superhero and sci-fi based shows that show women in a positive light.
I realize that I could write about this for… well, pages. Largely because this is not a simple issue. Maybe I’ll write more about this is the future. But for now, I hope that cartoon execs will start to realize that keeping shows with a female audience would be of greater benefit to them than just focusing on action figure sales. It would also benefit them to widen their marketing net. I have yet to find a girl who wouldn’t wear a shirt or other clothing item of their favorite character or series. By focusing on such a small market, you’re missing out on the larger picture… and maybe that’s really what needs to happen.
Maybe we need executives who are willing to think outside of the box. Hopefully one of these days that will happen.