Girls on Film


Flea wishes she was a boy. If I’m honest, I have mixed feelings about this.

It’s not that I have reservations about tomboys, or concerns that Flea isn’t a “proper” girl. But I know the reason she wants to be a boy is that she thinks they have more fun.

Flea associates characteristics like adventure, naughtiness and bravery with boys, and not girls.

As I’ve said before (not that it should need saying) I’m a feminist. I try to make a point of explaining to Flea that girls and boys can do the same things, and only idiots think there are rules about what girls and boys can do. But I’m increasingly feeling as though I’m fighting a losing battle.

Where are the examples of these strong, brave, funny girls in the media?

Take the example of the cinema. We go to the cinema a lot, and Flea loves films. But the vast majority of the films we’ve seen this year either sideline female characters completely (Fantastic Mr Fox, Toy Story 2) or buy into the notion that the boys have all the fun while the girls need rescuing (Alvin and the Chipmunks) and mostly care about being pretty and popular. Or there just aren’t any meaningful female characters at all (Planet 51).

There are a few examples – Princess and the Frog (kinda), Ponyo, and Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief (Flea couldn’t help shouting out “YES!” when the girl in this movie beheaded something with her sword) stick in my mind as having positive female role models. But they’re few and far between.

I’m curious if this is something other parents think about when choosing books and films for children, and what are your top recommendations for films and books for feisty, strong, independent girls? Is there a female equivalent to Horrid Henry or Buzz Lightyear?

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