Role models

A recent conversation with my husband got me thinking…girls have a really lousy choice of role models that are provided by the mainstream media. The vast majority fall into one of three categories:

  • Bookworm: The shy, sensitive wallflower.  She usually only shows up if there’s another female character around.
  • Cheerleader: Popular and obsessed with boys, clothes, makeup.  Probably also wears mainly pink. Often, though not always, female protagonists will have this one as a rival, even when they fit into it themselves.
  • Rebel: The most common one, and pretty much the defacto girl you’ll see if there’s only one female character among the main cast. She’s usually loud, tends to butt heads with others, does not let herself be pushed around, and frequently plays the role of group feminist. She is also prone to having a chip on her shoulder about having to prove herself as being as good as any man (the implications of which I will not address here)

These three females are what young girls have to look up to. My aspirations tended to fall somewhere between bookworm and rebel; the former because I naturally tend towards that personality type, the latter because, honestly, I thought it was what was expected of me. Neither is a particularly good role to take if you want a social life (and most people do).  The bookworm is passive, quiet, and basically easy to overlook.  The rebel is too combative–it puts people off. The cheerleader is by definition good at being social, but has a lot of other baggage to deal with (Daria’s sister, Quinn, is a particularly good example of this).

All this is on top of being in a world that is dominated by depictions of men doing, well, everything. Worse, this is far from confined to just women–other oppressed groups have to deal with the same lack of role models.  Women probably have it fairly good by comparison.


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