Captain Marvel: Diversity in the Marvel Universe

Captain Marvel: Diversity in the Marvel Universe

This weekend my family I watched the latest iteration in the Marvel universe, Captain Marvel. I was curious to see how my eleven-year-old daughter felt about this new female lead. I hadn’t let her watch Wonder Woman because I felt Wonder Woman was a character written more for the pleasure of men rather than the empowerment of women. You can read my full discussion of that film here in relation to Black Panther.

I was hoping for something more from Captain Marvel.

I have been following with interest the chatter around this film from both sides of the divide. On one side naysayers of the film and its depiction of women as powerful and independent have, like the reboot of Ghostbusters before it, tried to harpoon this film because of its female lead. Ridiculous, I know. To the point that the movie site Rotten Tomatoes has had to take action against trolling and negative reviews before the film was even released. (Link to article here.)

On the other side, the star of Captain Marvel, Brie Larson has proudly spruiked the films feminist credentials. An article on outlines Larson’s discussion around the film as a “meditation on intersectional feminism.” This one really interested me. The Cliff note version is that intersectional feminism explores the way that different combinations—or intersections—of power act upon people’s lives. In other words, an individual’s level of acceptance or discrimination, their access to education or opportunities in career and social status are shaped by a complex intersection of gender, class, sexuality, race, education, age, political affiliations and language. Therefore, examining feminism through intersectionality accounts for not just gender, but other mechanisms through which people are discriminated or oppressed.

In particular, intersectional feminism is a back-lash against white feminism, whereby educated and wealthy white feminists are unable to see themselves as more privileged than other groups of women.

So, when I read that Brie Larson had called this film a meditation on intersectional feminism, I was skeptical.

Okay, context provided.

This is a lot of baggage to take into a film, let alone a Marvel film about superheroes that—let’s face it—is escapism at its best. I tried hard to enjoy the experience of the film for its visual aspects, its humour and its role in the larger Marvel landscape. Also, as a child of the 90’s I was excited about reminiscing over the soundtrack (A Guardian’s of the Galaxy for the grunge brigade.) More than anything I wanted to see something different in terms of how a female superhero is represented on-screen.

The first third of the film was slow. Larson barely spoke. She stomped around, almost robotically, looking puzzled and lost as she followed her mission and tried to piece together her past. To my delight, however, she stomped around in flat shoes and the same suit as the men from her planet. Win number one.

The soundtrack was heavily skewed to iconic female songs of the 90’s. Win number two.

The digitally youthified (is that a word?) Samuel L. Jackson provided excellent comic relief as the sidekick to Larson’s endearing hero. Win number three. (*note: the mouthy, African-American sidekick is an insidious stereotype = intersectional fail.)

Where the film really took off is the unveiling of the backstory. Yes, there was a montage. Yes, she fell down and got back up again. But this montage showed the young Captain Marvel, not fighting against her own willpower, or her own doubts, but against a society and culture that tells little girls that they are “too emotional”, too delicate and too weak. Win number four.

At times the pro-feminist rhetoric was like a sledgehammer, but I felt my daughter physically respond to the power and positivity that this film engendered, almost as though she were seeing something novel. Perhaps we need a sledgehammer until the message becomes as natural for girls as it is for boys.

Win number five? No love story. This was a film in which the female protagonist (unlike Wonder Woman) was compassionate, caring, ethical, supportive of other women AND had agency without romance being a major plot line. She didn’t have to sacrifice herself for love. She didn’t need to fall in love to find her power. She owned it all on her own.

Was this the best movie I’ve ever seen? Not by a long way. It was pretty, it was funny, Ben Mendelsohn was awesome, it was fun. Was it intersectional? Maybe. The film addressed refugees, sexism, discrimination and social/cultural expectations. Was it a step in the right direction? Absolutely. My daughter walked out beaming and I, for once, wasn’t cringing at the subliminal messages she was being sent. This added to what Black Panther started and I’m excited to see what the women of Marvel do in the upcoming Avenger’s film.

‘You Belong, We’ve Got You’: Can advertising to women change the message?

‘You Belong, We’ve Got You’: Can advertising to women change the message?

We’ve all heard them. The positive body-image messages being shouted from the rooftops. The idea that ‘you are enough’ is slowly seeping into our collective consciousnesses. We say it but in our heart of hearts do we actually believe it?

So, if ‘you are enough’ is just a platitude, a bumper sticker, a thing as elusive as weight loss chocolate and imaginary as the tooth fairy or Santa Claus, how can we shift the message to make it tangible and believable?

It isn’t enough to tell women that they are just fine the way they are. I sometimes wonder if the constant telling is part of the problem. It feels like a trick. Like your mum telling you that your five-year-old drawing is the best she has ever seen. It’s nice. It feels good and your love her for it but even then, deep-down, you know she has to say that.

It’s this fault line between good intentions and our own sense of the truth that I think we (or at least I) are detecting in some of the body-positive rhetoric that is circulating. My *bullshit* meter is twitching.

We even try to fool each other. Maybe fool isn’t the right world. No, it’s ourselves that we try to fool. I will, with complete sincerity tell a friend that she is beautiful. I don’t care what size she is, whether she wears makeup or how she dresses. I honestly DON’T CARE.  I just don’t look at those indicators. To me, the women in my life are all the things we are supposed to love about other people: funny, kind, smart, sweary, cynical, jaded, (okay, maybe some of these might just be my criteria), HONEST.

Yet, in the same instant, as I extol their virtues I will remind myself of the number on the scales that morning. Those three vicious little numbers that glow like a possessed demon-child and spew-forth all the self-loathing and inadequacies that I would never impose on other women, and that, from the best I can tell, other women don’t impose on me.

Why is the body-positive message only partially grafted onto our consciousnesses then?  Why can’t I succumb to a sense of self-approval that lets me stop whining and just get on with the business of my life? Once again, this is where story (for me) comes into play.

Storyline A:

Once there was a beautiful princess. She was meek and mild with flowing golden hair and a teeny-tiny waste. She liked men (NOT women they were all against her), but not too much. Just enough though, that the first one to come along and do something nice for her would do. Babies, babies, babies (we think, the stories don’t go that far). Blah. She dies (probably killed by a younger female rival), the end.

After a while, women decided that this story sucked, so with a ‘little’ convincing (thousands of years) they were able to shift it—somewhat.

Story-line B:

Once there was a beautiful woman. She was quite smart (just the right level, in certain areas) and always made time between her long work hours, perfect children, home and career to get her hair and nails done. She always looked amazing in active-wear and never missed a workout. She was so supportive of her partner’s amazing career—without her they’d be nothing. Babies, babies… blah. She dies, the end.

Better?  A little?

My story-line:

Once there was a girl. She liked school and was pretty good at it. She met the person that understood her and together they shared a family They like to travel and do sport together. She isn’t perfect, but that’s irrelevant because she is healthy and they are happy.

At least, that’s the gist it what I want my story to be, but damned if Story-line B doesn’t keep sneaking in there. Why? Because Story-line B is sill the one (to a greater or lesser extent) that we see out there: on TV, in the movies, books, and advertising. (I promise I’m getting to the point soon!)

Obviously, Story-line B is about as subtle as a heavy mallet smashing you over the head when spoken out loud, but it pervades (like a soft, soothing mist) through the images and stories that surround us. If telling us that we ‘are enough’ isn’t working because everything else we see suggests that we aren’t. So how do we fix it?

I had one idea.

Appeal to capitalism.

I won’t shop in certain shops because, based on their advertising, I assume that they won’t have any sizes or styles that fit me (I’m an AU12, US8). Especially sportswear (because only really slim ladies play sport, right?).

I’m going to ping Lululemon here. For years (and even in an earlier blog post) I have scoffed at their advertising and their merchandise. It’s only for tiny women. I don’t know more than three women who could, or would wear such skimpy clothes, etc… etc… moral high-ground, angry feminist, feelings of sadness and shame. 

Then I had reason to actually go into the shop. I gave the (admittedly young and tiny) shop assistant a hard time about never being able to find anything to fit. But then it did. It was attractive, supported my body-shape and was (choking on my own self-righteousness, splutter, splutter) comfortable. So, they did have clothes in their range that fit me, and women bigger than me. Their advertising, however—with the exception one set of slightly heavier-set legs on their website— had completely alienated me.

My challenge to advertisers, then, is this:

Stop telling me I’m ‘enough’ (see Dove’s campaign for real women.) It’s condescending and cynical. Don’t market ‘plus sizes.’ Don’t stop marketing to the thin, muscular, power-women that intimidate me so much (they actually do exist and also deserve nice clothes.) Just advertise ALL of your range. Show women in your small sizes AND in your larger sizes (trust me, selling me a size 12 or 14 that I have seen only a size 4 model NEVER ends well). That is, show us what you sell. I don’t need an explicitly body-positive message, a pat on the head or a special campaign. Like everything, just include me. If you make it in a fourteen, or a sixteen, or a twenty show me a woman that size wearing it. She’s not a ‘plus-size’ model by the way, she’s just a model.

And to those shops that assume women bigger than fifty-five kgs don’t exercise—your time is coming to an end (and you are missing out on a profitable market-share.)

Check out these guys as an example of amazing advertising to women. Their mission statement at Active Truth says:

“….We believe in size inclusivity and not segregating plus size activewear and standard activewear ranges…”

While some normalising buzz words could be removed there (plus-size/standard) at least this company is making an effort to change the story they are telling. The big brands in women’s clothing could learn a lot and gain customers without actually changing much.

Actions speak louder than words and inclusion speaks louder than platitudes.

(I get the irony of this last sentence btw.)


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Beyond the Fantasy: Writing Real Women

Beyond the Fantasy: Writing Real Women

There’s been an amusing discussion thread on social media going on this week in which women vent their frustration over how women are represented by male writers. Why is it so difficult for some authors to write the opposite gender? And why do men seem to struggle more than their female counterparts. Once suggestion is that women have grown up on a plethora of male-centred narratives through which they can experience a sense of other and develop insight and empathy for some of the male experience (I’m not including those marginalised groups that make up the diversity of the sexual spectrum who have also been excluded or misrepresented within the popular canon).

It began with this post, titled “Dear Men Writers”  (originally published in Nov 2016), where the author invited people to add to a list of things that male authors get wrong about women. Simple mechanical facts like, high-heeled shoes don’t become flats if you snap the heels off. This sparked a “cascade” of comments where women bemoaned the often ridiculous ways in which they are represented in popular culture. Check out some of them here.

My favourite of these is the description of an “up-do”. Removing a single bobby-pin will not cause that matted nest of chemically fixed tangle to “cascade” seductively down your back.

I’ve talked about this before in a previous blog post: Writing Women. In this post I looked at writing ourselves from a male perspective and writing a description of a male character as though they were female to explore how shifting the gendered pronoun and point of view radically re-shapes our perception of particularly sexuality.

Have you ever had that experience of reading a book, or watching a movie where you recoil? The spell is broken because you can’t identify with the character, their motivations, their actions or the sheer logistics of what the author is putting them through?

So what do some male writers get so wrong? I’ve had a quick think and this is what I’ve come up with. I’d love to hear the things that get under your skin.

1: I don’t eat ice-cream when I’m sad. I drink tea.

2: I don’t talk about sex with my friends. I talk about politics, kids, the rubbish on T.V. I drink tea.

3: I’m not attracted to men who are mean to me. I’m attracted to men who make me tea.

4: I’m not romantic. I’ll take tea over roses any day.

5: I’m not a suppressed housewife who needs to get blitzed to unwind. As I said, I drink tea.

6: I rarely wear makeup. Side note: I don’t wake up with lip gloss pre-applied and if I go to bed with that shit on my face, it is EVERYWHERE by the morning. Facial melting pot of colour and texture.

7: I wear a loose-fitting dobok (uniform) to practice martial arts. Not leather. Not spandex. Not ever. Oh! and when I punch, my wrist is straight.

8: High heels suck. Full stop. (Except for wedges on special occasions.)

9: Lingerie is on a needs-must per dress/as required scenario. Bonds cotton all the way.

10: Shaving legs? Not Sexy.

11: Washing hair? See 10.

12: Cooking dinner? Never done it wearing my husband’s business shirt. See 10.

13: Shopping for groceries? Fruit just isn’t sexually symbolic. See 10.

14: Folding washing? See 10.

15 Chewing a pen? See 10.

16: Women don’t bite their lip when they are thinking, flirting, frightened, uncertain… whatever. See 10.

17: I also like to stand up straight. Arching my back all the time really hurts.

18: Women are capable of closing their lips too. That vacant, pouty stare you see everywhere in posters and on T.V. just isn’t a thing.




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“Girls Shouldn’t Play Soccer”: Why the Narratives Boys Tell Need to Change

“Girls Shouldn’t Play Soccer”: Why the Narratives Boys Tell Need to Change

We’ve all seen the leaf twirlers or cloud-gazers at kid’s sports. Their parent’s despair on the sidelines, hands clenched in hair, faces contorted in disbelief as the ball sails past their whimsical child who, lost in their own little world, is enjoying the outdoors and the sunshine (half their luck). Just this weekend, the coach of my son’s under 9s team had to remind one of his players to “stop looking at the puddle and pay attention to the game,” and don’t get me started on “the floss” as an on-pitch move. That’s not my daughter though. She’s been playing soccer since she was five and has always been one of those kids who takes sport seriously. She gets in the centre of the action. What she sometimes lacks in technical skill she makes up in sheer tenacity and that’s a valuable attribute in a team member. Skills can be taught, bravery is harder to come by.

Sadly, however, she’s never been able to find a team in which she truly fits. For three seasons she had been the only girl in her team, and while I wouldn’t say she was bullied in an overt way, she was certainly excluded from the camaraderie, fun, and friendship which should come with being part of a team. The sense of belonging and inclusion inherent in the shared experience of training, winning, and losing together just wasn’t there.

Come Sunday mornings she’d work hard to get herself into a good field position. She’d read the play, see her team mate making a run up the outside and she’d run forward, ready for the cross in front of an open goal. She’d call for the pass but nine out of ten times (that’s a generous statistic) her team mates would prefer to take on three or four defenders and be dispossessed rather than take a chance on her. As the seasons progressed she became increasingly demoralised. Stomping off the pitch at the end of each game, barely containing her tears.

This year we decided things needed to change. We were going to find an all-girls team for her to join, one that preferably played in an all-girls league. Early in the New Year our club contacted us. It was happening. They were putting a junior female team together and invited our daughter to come down and join. Even though it was an under 13s team (very different from under 9s) we were confident that as a tall, moderately experienced player, she would be fine. Even better, there was going to be a female coach.

She was delighted. She came away from the first training session buzzing. The other players knew her name and even complimented her for being a fast runner.

They actually talked to me.

By the time the season was ready to start the team didn’t have enough players and the club made the decision to open it up as a mixed team and therefore play in the mixed league. Fine we thought. The team is still more than half girls and it’s about friendship after all.

This team had some amazing female players. Girls that were tough and fearless, that threw their bodies into the game and took on male players twice their size. We didn’t have a great season in terms of results but we were happy that our daughter was making friends, improving her skills, and refusing to be daunted by playing against boys three years older than her. It was impressive.

Until that is, the last two matches of the season.

Before I launch into what happened with our players let me add a side-note here. We lost our female coach at about the half-way mark because of, you guessed it, bullying by some of the parents. Sigh. I firmly believe it is our job, as parents of junior players, to support that elusive person who has volunteered their time, mental energy, and Sunday sleep-ins to help our kids enjoy their sport—the coach. This coach copped it from every direction and I’m not surprised she moved on. So, the bullying came from the top-down.

Back to the kids.

In the second-last match of the season, our star defender, a girl in a specialist soccer programme at high school broke down crying at half-time. She didn’t want to go back out there. Her mum mentioned that she’d been having a tough time at school because she was being bullied by the boys in the soccer programme. As a result, her confidence had been slowly eroded over the course of season. Compounding the discrimination and harassment she was receiving at school it turned out that one of the boys in her own team, a boy she had spent the last five months training and playing with, had also been bullying her, telling her that: girls are useless. They shouldn’t play soccer.

(Between you and me, this boy is not much chop on the pitch. I’d take the girl over three of him.)

For the final game of the season the team faced a rival club who delighted in sledging and ridiculing their opponents. Some of our kids gave up entirely, many ended the game in tears. As the coach debriefed the group and thanked them for their hard work all season, he encouraged them to put the other team out of their thoughts. Let it go. It’s done. Walk away.

Then one of the girls said this:

These boys bully me at school. Now they are bullying me at soccer.

How can she walk away? Come Monday morning it would all be back again.

So, the season ended on a devastating low. From the hope at the beginning of the year that these girls would enjoy their sport, make friends, and fit in at last they had to keep fighting against discrimination. They experienced and witnessed it at all levels. From the other teams (all boys), from a parent group that bullied the female coach out of her role and, worst of all, from the members of their own team.

So, what am I getting at?

So much focus is put on trying to boost girls’ confidence within sport. We all talk about how important sport is for girls’ physical and mental health. The Australian Government’s “Girls, Make Your Move” campaign is just one example. We continuously send girls the message that they need to try, they need to join in, they need to stop being intimidated by boys. The message is that they need to take responsibility for stopping the bullying and the discrimination. But when do we tell the boys some honest truths?

They aren’t always the best or most talented members of the team.

They aren’t the ones who get to decide who is included and who isn’t.

They need to change their attitude to include and encourage girls into sport.

They need to accept that the girls have just as much right to be there as they do.

Many girls are trying. I’m so proud that my little ten-year-old refuses to be intimidated by thirteen-year-old boys. I’m proud of the talented girls at my Taekwon-Do club that compete hard and love and care for each other. But how many times can someone be excluded, belittled, and discriminated against before it’s too hard to keep going? This started when my daughter was five, at ten I’m exhausted on her behalf.





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The Case of the Dinner-Time Feaux Pas: Boys, Mess and Feminism

The Case of the Dinner-Time Feaux Pas: Boys, Mess and Feminism

I’m sitting around the dinner table with my husband, daughter (10) and son (8), the way we do most evenings. I interject the usual excited recap of the day’s events with the the usual “finish what’s in your mouth before you speak”, “focus on your dinner” comments. The kids trip over the top of each other to fill us in on the minutiae of their day. It’s pretty standard family evening meal fare, and I have to admit that I’m not really paying attention. There is only so much schoolyard gossip and “Mrs such-and-such says” that I can absorb in a single sitting. I smirk at my husband whose threshold for inane chatter is higher than mine, but even he is at his limit.

“Anyway,” my son shrugs, “girl’s do the cleaning.”

We all stop. Dead. We are the contents of a vacuum seal compression bag and someone has just hit the on switch. My daughter is frozen, mid-chew. It’s hard to know whether she’s angry, frightened of my reaction or a little of both, but she seems to have lost voluntary muscle control of her entire body—except for her eyes which dart between me and her brother. My husband has also stalled. And the 8-year-old boy? He looks at us all as though we have all gone mad.

“What?” he says. “They do.” He follows up his casual observation with another mouthful of dinner as though all is normal in the world.

Someone hits the restart button on the three of us, the three connected to reality, and we all speak at once.

“No, they don’t!”

“Where did you hear that?”

“Excuse me?”

My son shrugs again, “I don’t know. They just do.”

There’s long pause as we all try and piece together where this attitude came from. He isn’t trying to be rude, or inconsiderate. To him it’s just a fact in the same way that (to him) farts are funny or the dog will steal any food the second it is left unattended.

Eventually I say to him, “You cleaned the toilet this morning.”

“Yeah, but that’s only because you made me. I didn’t want to.” As if this solves it. Oh… now I understand. Girl’s do all the cleaning because that WANT to.

My daughter laughs.

“And why did I make you?”

He smirks, “Because I wee’d all over it.”

“Gross,” my daughter mutters and rolls her eyes.

I take a bite of food and look around our large, messy kitchen, dining and living room. The benchtops are covered in jumpers, paperwork, dishes and the kitchen-waste that needs put out in the compost bin. The couch has two dressing gowns, a blanket plus the dog draped across it. I can count no less than four and a half pairs of shoes strewn across the floor and I swear the pile of clothes on the laundry bench is attempting to seep through the door and devour us all, Blob-style.

It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to suggest that you could set a murder scene in my living room:

Two detectives stand surveying the crime-scene. The older, more experienced detective, a woman in her mid-fifties, shakes her head sadly as she takes in the clothes strewn across the room and the food decomposing on the counter-top. [This links to a backstory about a childhood endured in a messy house, courtesy of an alcoholic mother.]

“Poor bloody woman. There are clear signs of a struggle here.” She crouches down and lifts a bloodied blanket off the floor. Something unsavoury lies beneath it.

The other detective sucks in her breath. “An old bowl of cereal,” she says, retching and turning away in disgust.

“There’s more, I don’t think that laundry has been touched in, what, two maybe three weeks. There must be at least twenty pairs of underpants just sitting there on the top of the pile. God knows what we’d find in there if we went digging.” [Socks. So many socks.]


What, I wonder, in the eight years that this small boy has walked the Earth and lived in this house under my regime, makes him think that women do the cleaning? Then, as I look with distaste at the shamble of my living area, that this house and its untidiness is actually a feminist act. Not one that has worked to convince my son that it’s not mine, his sister’s or any other woman’s job to clean up after him, but a statement nonetheless. With that I console myself that he’ll learn, even if he has to scrub that damn toilet every day until he moves out of home.


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Are your kids’ books made of sugar or fibre?

Are your kids’ books made of sugar or fibre?

My kids find me to be a fairly difficult parent. The problem with having a know-it-all mum with strong views is that she often imposes her will upon you (or so I’m lead to believe). But it’s hard when you are always right—perhaps not. One thing I am strict about, however, is the books I encourage my kids to read.

I’m sure many of you have seen the book order forms than come home from school, the ones where your child has carefully circled the books they are hoping to convince you to buy. My kids slide their order forms forward in trepidation, a pleading look on their faces while clinging to the glimmering hope that I will be too tired, distracted or—God-forbid—in a good enough mood to blindly say yes to their choices. I want to. I really do. Saying no is so much harder than saying yes, and it’s books right?

Wrong. My children have TERRIBLE taste in books. They are as capable of discerning good literature as they are of choosing healthy food over sweets. Rather, they buy into the glittery fairies on the cover, or the junky free necklace (worth… 10c!). The thing is, many people appear to consider children’s literature as a transitory and superficial transaction. Have you ever said, at least they’re reading? I have. But that is doing them a disservice. Children aren’t stupid, they’re just inexperienced. They are equally intelligent to us. They are capable of complex emotions and nuanced thought, yet, much of the world of children’s literature doesn’t celebrate this. According to fairy-tale scholar, Jack Zipes: “it has been demonstrated by psychologists and educators time and again that stories and fairy tale do influence the manner in which children conceive the world and their places in it even before they begin to read”.* If this is true then surely we need to be choosing books that help children develop a world view beyond the limiting stereotypes many children’s books have on offer.

To my view, quality literature is even more important for children than for adults because we have the opportunity to shape their worldview before it’s become rigidly and contextually bound within the prevailing social norms of class, race and gender. While much of what worries me about children’s fiction is focused upon the portrayal of young girls, children’s stories can be just as limiting for boys, particularly if you are seeking a less adventure-bound, more emotionally-driven narrative.

Books for children should contain stories that empower their main characaters, “regardless of gender”.** That is, gender should not be the limiting factor in the character’s development and should put paid to such sayings as “because she’s a girl”, and “that’s just what boys do”.

So next time your kid’s book club slip comes home look for the insidious and serialised pulp fiction that is Mills and Boon for children. Things like the Puppy Clubs, Kitten Clubs, Fairy Clubs, (choke, splutter) Barbie (with free nail polish!) and look instead for stories that explore its characters’ inner world, relationships with family or self-development.

The Children’s Book Council of Australia is an excellent resource when looking for intelligent fiction for children.

Book’s like The Worst Princess by Anna Kemp and Sara Ogilvie, or Julia Donaldson’s Zog for young readers give creative twists on fairy tale tropes. 

For middle-age readers books like Cressida Cowell’s How to Train Your Dragon series depict characters that break out of cultural stereotypes and moulds to create positive changes. I haven’t yet had the pleasure of reading Jessica Townsend’s Nevermoor  but this a book that promises a female protagonist that bucks conventions and embarks upon her own adventure. And who can overlook the wonderful Matilda by Roald Dahl or Coraline by Neil Gaiman?

For older readers I just can’t go past the amazing work of Patrick Ness. You may know his heartbreaking book A Monster Calls that gives voice the complex and difficult experience of losing a parents from a child’s perspective. Patrick Ness’s incredible Chaos Walking series uses conventions of science fiction and fantasy to explores themes of gender, power, class and race in a compelling trilogy.  The science-fiction and fantasy genres create alternative worlds where children can explore complex reworkings of issues such as sexuality, identity, gender norms and race that are so often a taken-for-granted norm in their daily lives.

I include Patrick Ness, and Cressida Cowell’s work to make the point that texts with male protagonists can still be feminist. It is not enough to create new depictions of how girls can be in the world, it is also imperative to change the stories we tell about boys as well.

We have an incredible opportunity to gives our kids intelligent, enriching and eye-opening fiction that will help them understand the world from other people’s point of view, or in the very least give them access to a world where their way of being is celebrated.


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*Zipes, Jack. 1987. Don’t Bet on the Prince: Contemporary Feminist Fairy Tales in North America and England. New York and London: Routledge. p. xii.

**Trites. Roberta S. Walking Sleeping Beauty: Feminist Voices in Children’s Novels.  Iowa City: University of Iowa Press. p. 4.