What's common among Game of Thrones, Cars 3, Hidden Figures and Incredibles 2? They all have 'Bad-ass' ....
Here's the complete answer, "They all have 'Bad-ass' Women!", in other words, the protagonists are all women with epic personalities. These TV shows and movies are just a few among many others.
This movement of changing the narrative of movies and TV shows, is not a trend but is a major requisite.
What's even more awesome is that this is now a world-wide trend, the need of the hour, to communicate gender stereotypes and how exposure to such media, moulds the young minds of the world.
And we need this even more in India. It's not too late to start a movement here. Our kids need this awareness more than ever.
Gender Neutrality and Gender Equality is about treating male, female, boys, girls and even transgenders equally. Not putting one gender on a pedestal. A lot of people mistake this with being a feminist. They are very different.
Now, since we are deep into character design of our action figures, thought I'd share some perspectives here.
Around 1950s-60s the US Toy market was overflowing with G.I.Joes and He-Man & the Masters of the Universe, they felt that they should introduce a female counterpart so Mattel introduced a whole cartoon series called "She-Ra" with all the characters pretty much direct female versions (mirror-images) of the characters in 'He-Man'. Once this strategy back-fired, they again started frantically searching for a female doll, just then the President of Mattel, Ruth Handler invented a doll that became an epic sensation in the world in the coming years. She along with the help of an engineer invented Barbie. But Barbie was a reflection of 1950s American culture. The first Barbie dolls always had their eyes placed in such a way that they were always looking down or to the side and the Barbies accessories were always home appliances, make-up accessories, etc. But having said this, the Barbie Doll has evolved tremendously and moved into much brighter pastures. (Honestly, when I got to know this, I developed a ton of respect for this doll).
If one toy could change the stereotype of women from a home-maker to a leader, worldwide. Then we need more of such toys that helps our kids have the right conception about gender roles.
We should be grateful to a lot of people for propagating this movement of gender neutrality.
Daenerys's castle - DragonStone in Game of Thrones was not decorated in pink! Thank goodness.
Always hated the demarkation in stores for boys and girls. Why can't girls play with action figures? Why can't girls have castles? Why can they play with guns, cars or dinosaurs?
Illustration above is by Cynthia “Thea” Rodgers
It's too late for Marvel, DC Comics, Hasbro or Mattel to introduce Gender neutral Action Figures. Wonder Woman, Black Widow, Super Girl etc, are all made for the 'Adult Male Collector'. Marvel has finally introduced a new super hero called "Kamala Khan"with an interesting backstory of her origins from a New York based Pakistani immigrant family.
It will take time to make the change and to see the change. We will work hard to change this, one toy at a time.
We at DICE Toy Labs, have made this part of our DNA, to make sure our toys are Gender Neutral.
Look out for some Indian characters and cool gender neutral toys in our LOKA - Awakens product line. Launching in a few of months.
Note: For further reading, here's a Harvard study about Gender Conditioning