When my eldest daughter Athena Azlee was born about five years ago, I was worried about the kinds of television show and movies that she would be exposed to.
I was very upset about entertainment for children that were very sexist and gender stereotyping, especially for little girls. And one of the biggest enemies was Disney.
Most Disney movies portrayed females as very weak and needy characters. There is actually scientific research done to prove that this can influence and cause the Princess Syndrome.
Basically, these movies conditioned children to think that all a women does is to sit tight and be helpless until a strong and capable man comes to rescue her and live happily every after.
It was definitely tough sifting through positive movies for Athena to watch that would give her a more positive perspective of women and girls. But it wasn’t impossible.
Then the movie Frozen came about. I was a little bit sceptical about it but Athena really wanted to watch it. So I brought her anyway and hoped that I could reason the movie out with her after.
But it turned out amazing! Here was a story about two sisters (okay, they were princesses) who stuck it out right till the end where they proved that women were really all that!
And a happy ending didn’t have to mean being rescued by a man. Athena came out of the movie knowing that she could kick some bad guy’s butt too!
I learned something too and that it seemed that Disney was trying to make amends for all their past mistakes. Women power all the way!
And now, after a few years since that movie, and with my wife and I adding another girl, Alethea Azlee, to the brood, it seems that times are getting better for women in movies.
We recently watched Zootopia, an animated film by Disney too, and here is another protagonist character that is a female, and a strong and confident one too.
Judy Hopps is the first bunny rabbit to join the police force in the animal city of Zootopia. At the beginning, she is given a hard time by the chief. Basically, being oppressed for who she is.
But eventually, she proved everybody wrong when she uncovers one of the biggest political scandals in the city which saw the assistant mayor Dawn Bellwhether, thrown in jail.
(The scandal in the movie reminds me of the political culture close home but that’s a story for another week.)
I told Athena that this movie proves again that girls can do a lot of awesome things. She is now carrying around a notebook pretending to be a detective solving mysteries!
Many recent movies have convinced me that my two girls, Athena and Alethea will have the right movie role models to look up to.
Inside Out, another Disney movie, had a positive female character too. Joy showed that a girl can be upbeat and perky yet still learn about the tough struggles of life and come out tops.
And my favourite of all, and this is definitely because I am a Star Wars, is how J.J. Abrams decided to have Rey as the main protagonist in The Force Awakens.
Let’s hope this continues because I don’t subscribe to the belief that girls are supposed to be raised differently than boys because that would mean different opportunities too.
Here’s a video of when we watched the film: