In an issue that will go on sale in August, Archie Comics will feature a kiss between two openly gay characters, Kevin and his boyfriend Devon. The gay kiss (because just like “gay marriage,” it can’t be just a “kiss,” right?) shows how much the 72-year-old Archie Comics company has evolved amid America’s cultural changes.
There are all kinds of women warriors in pop culture: The Wonder Woman Amazon, the Black Widow martial arts expert, the Lara Croft tough-as-nails adventurer. And then there's the including equestrian heroines, like Xena: Warrior Princess (1995-2001) and Mulan (1998). Numerous factors influenced the design of these characters—like how well they could be turned into merchandise—but it's interesting that both Xena and Mulan address the same issues of feminiity that female heroes have been have been dealing with since Ancient Greece.
Many young girls are horse-crazy, and advertisers have tapped into this attraction to sell everything from toys to cartoons to bedroom sets. But how do they manage to appeal to rough and tumble tomboys and girlie-girls alike? And where to these ads fit among the feminine stereotypes being sold to young girls?
Before I became a mom at the age of 41, I was many things, including a hip-hop artist. Mostly, I did hip-hop theater, a solo show about fighting sexism in music. But I also rocked many a mic in the club. Little did I know that these skills would come in handy in my new battle against sexism: children’s literature.
Based on a true story, the 1991 film Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken tells the story of an orphan girl named Sonora (played by Gabrielle Anwar) whose beloved horse is sold off by her aunt as punishment for Sonora's bad behavior. Sneaking off into the night, Sonora takes to the road in search of a traveling diving horse show. That's right, a TRAVELING DIVING HORSE SHOW!
Three Men and a Baby isn’t the first pop cultural example of a male primary caregiver, but it is arguably the most iconic and definitely one of the most successful. Released in 1987, it was the first Walt Disney Studios production to gross over $100 million domestically, taking $168 million worldwide and making men with kids a hot proposition. I loved the movie as a kid, but I dreaded re-watching it.
I imagined it to be rife with gender stereotyping, goofy gags demonstrating that men can’t cope with babies, and jokes about the how emasculating being a father can be. Turns out, I was way off. Three Men and a Baby is a lot of fun, and more progressive than you might expect.
Did you know that Disney does weddings? Of course you did, even if only intuitively. But it goes beyond a simple extravagant wedding at Disneyland, Disney World, or Epcot Center. Disney takes the whole "be a princess on your wedding day" thing all the way, having developed a comprehensive wedding industry around its fleet of princess characters. Pause and think about the far-reaching, complex implications of this.
The Cinderella Gown, designed for women who want to emulate a woman who had a really rough childhood before getting rescued by a rich guy at a party.
Though Merida is indeed a teenage princess whose parents want her to live a traditional life and get married, through knowledge, determination, and honest communication with her mother (and some magic—this is a Disney princess movie, after all), she subverts the princess paradigm. Well, sort of.