Can a girl be a hero?
Gender constitutes one of the most important learning experiences for the young child. By the time, a child reaches pre-school, he or she is able to make gender distinctions and sex-role preferences. They also learn the appropriate behaviour for both boys and girls and men and women. In addition to learning gender identification and sex-role expectations, boys and girls are exposed to accept society’s definition of the relative worth of each of the sexes and to assume the personality characteristics that are “typical” of members of each sex. In a patriarchal society like ours, children learn very quickly that boys are more highly valued than girls, and with regard to personality differences, they learn that boys are more active and achieving while girls are passive and emotional.
In the media, girls are again generally portrayed in a different way to boys. There are lots of examples of this from the images found on birthday cards to those in children’s books. In picture books such as comics, boys are mostly shown as rough and aggressive while girls are presented as ‘scaredy cats’ and ‘goody-goodies’. There are also far more male characters than females in comics, from ‘Superman’, ‘Batman’ to all the other imaginable “men” you can find, while the girls such as “Wonderwoman” and “Batgirl” are merely sidekicks to these superheroes. Although, they are considered strong females, there is always something masculine about them – the bulging muscles, the body armour they wear to protect their more fragile bodies and tight leotards to allow them to fight better, instead of frilly skirts. And if Wonderwoman used her lasso as a weapon, she almost symbolises a sex mistress who seduces men, whereas if Batman used one, it would only enhance his strength and courage. Therefore, can a girl still be a hero?
Children’s books reflect cultural values and are an important instrument for pe...