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Girls are heroes too


children playing, Blatant sexism touted as gendered clothing for boys and girls.

New Avengers comic book series T-shirts tell girls that they ‘need’ a hero, while boys are told to ‘be’ a hero.

And the USA’s Space Camp programme, whose stated goal is ‘to promote the study of math, science, and technology,’ is selling T-shirts telling girls to ‘dream’ and boys to ‘achieve.’

Given the continued dearth of women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math jobs worldwide, the Space Camp’s choice of wording is particularly unfortunate.

Such explicit promotion of assumed gender differences, particularly that of active boys and passive girls, greatly damages the work being done to achieve equality in society.

Girls are no less active than boys, nor are boys any less likely to dream than girls.

Yet without widespread alternative messages and role models, young children face even more difficulty in navigating a route to adulthood that celebrates who they are as individuals and that does not penalise them for not fitting into constrained categories of behaviours and expectations.

Each generation is growing up with new ways to access mass media, making the need for a counterweight of diverse, positive messages increasingly desperate.

What can be done to stop this insidious growth of sexism that is now affecting even the earliest ages of childhood?

The UK’s Pink Stinks campaign is working to stop ‘the ‘pinkification’ of girlhood,’ saying that ‘by recognising and celebrating the fact that there’s more than one way to be a girl, the benefits for all children and wider society will be boundless.’

The Let Toys Be Toys campaign group is petitioning children’s retailer the Entertainer to remove its gendered pink and blue labelling and division of toys.

One of the campaigners, Tricia Lowther, speaking to Women’s Views on News, said: “What’s wrong with a ‘Science and Construction’ heading instead?”

In the world of comics and superheroes, Team Girl Comics, the Prismatic Art Collection, the Hawkeye Initiative and GeekGirlCon are some of the projects and organisations working to present powerful alternatives to the prevailing sexist stereotypes.

With products that promote damaging stereotypes still regularly making it to market, continued vigilance is needed to try to stop the spread of such harm.

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