Sunday, July 12, 2015

Over Sexualized Dolls and Poor Logic Defenses

I recently posted on a blog on "how to explain ... hyper-sexualized dolls to young kids". It got me thinking! As a cartoon illustrator, I'm someone who "never grew up" and I like toys and things the kids do. I always have. I even purchased two Monster High dolls (cats, of course) to customize into my personal character. But as a "grown up", I understand they're not healthy role models while children just accept things like that if they're given them without explanations.

I am not one to say that you should deny your child a toy if they want it. Never. I dislike those parents, for instance, that are hyper-religious and won't let their kids have "fantasy" toys like dragons and whatnot. It sickens me. But I do think that there should be thought involved before purchasing something for your little ones. If you have to explain "over sexed" to a child that shouldn't even know what sex is yet, perhaps it's not the time for these types of dolls. It all depends on the child, some are more intelligent and ready to grasp a concept earlier than others.

The problem about the dolls is a problem that exists now in mainstream media. Girls are taught from the moment they are born that they're "lesser" than boys. Girl sexual parts are a slander word (you're weak if you're called a "girl" or "p**sy") and yet male parts mean "awesome ("balls" means tough), And this even though the one part can squeeze out a baby and the other makes a man crumple up if even lightly smacked. It doesn't make sense. TV shows all have "normal", regular Joe guys that aren't perfect and most of the time are overweight and/or older with trophy, picture-perfect wives (Modern Family, The Kind of Queens, etc). Commercials often portray men as "just the guy next door" but the ladies are all supermodels. And again, commercials make females feel bad if they're not a size 6, don't have a flawless complexion, perfect hair, etc. Female politicians are criticized not on their policies, but on how they dress and if they're "ugly" or not.

We start low on the bar, people. We're taught that we have to be perfect, be pretty, etc etc. So yes, some mothers get VERY upset when dolls come out that have the same "perfect-pretty" standard that young girls simply cannot live up to.

"Be Yourself. Be Unique. Be a Monster"
-- Monster High motto (off the website)

Folks seem to fall into this marketing trap for Monster High dolls more than anything else. If I had a penny for all the times I heard/saw "but MH is about being YOU no matter how freaky you are, and acceptance!" Also, "They're the only school where bullying is not tolerated!"


And I can prove both defenses are crap.

Let's start with the "bullying" defense, shall we?

I can knock this down simply and easily with a single Monster High character name: Jackson Jekyll.

Yes, I'm a fan! I can toss real, actual scenes from the actual show(s) and movie(s) at you that support my defense. Every girl shown on the show is the same Bratz doll "perfect" size (no fat chicks). There isn't really any "ugly" ladies, either. The zombies are even pretty and/or handsome, for goodness' sake. But Jackson, see, he's half human. He's bullied, physically threatened, and taken advantage of/used by everyone, including Frankie and the Headmistress of the school itself who, as an adult, should be more understanding.

It should be noted that in a way I actually applaud Mattel for doing this. It shows that the whole "After School Special" shit, where the nerd tries hard and overcomes everything/everyone loves them to death in the end, is not reality. I resented those specials for lying to me as a kid.

See this Blog post for more detail about the bullying on the show, etc. It's amazingly everything I always ranted to myself about this topic. On point, with examples directly from the show/movies.

So basically, I feel for Jackson. I was a nerd in my school, no friends, made fun of constantly because I was very different. And we had the same moralistic crap shows back then when I was little! They do nothing, kids rarely learn from them. So that can moral high ground people use to defend this show can get tossed in the crapper. What they do learn from Monster High, is they have to look perfect and get/have a boyfriend.

Time for that "flaw" defense...

"But - but they have quirks! They're not perfect!"

The girl with the beautifully sculpted body, hair, nails, clothing, accessories, and boyfriend is a "clutz"! Ha! Guess what? That's what folks that write about call the "Mary Sue" complex. I know, because I tread lightly along the line in my fanfiction by always using the same name and/or several physical traits in all my female characters.

*See TV Tropes (here) for a page all about Mary Sues. It's hilarious - and scary -- how many of these traits fit Monster High girls.

A character is not flawed if their flaw isn't a real flaw.  I mean, a pretty zombie is a little slower than someone else. Whoo. What a bad flaw, right? As mentioned before, there aren't any fat (or other non-perfect body shaped) ladies on the show, yet there are guys that are big (in the one movie the one guy has big ears and is quite plump). Why can't there be fatter ladies, too? I haven't seen any.* Sure, a lot of the guys in school are "perfecty perfect" as well, but they mostly have clothing that covers their bodies. Where's their shorts that show off their impossible bulges? Ugh, not that I want to see it, but, you know, 'cause the girls all have impossibly large breasts and show off their cleavage. Hmm. That's not equality.

Now I know this last one is ridiculous, but think about it. Aren't writers intelligent enough to come up with something better?

"Manster" (man) = the males of the show
"Ghoul" (girl) = the females

So the guys are MEN but the women are GIRLS.

So girls, be yourself - but if you do, I bet you'll get teased like hell for it. Don't fall for the bullshit that shows like this "teach" you. Yet if you can stand strong in the face of adversity, you'll get more awesome than you can imagine. And you don't need to look like those painted up, face-sculpted monster girls do. You're pretty no matter what you look like, no matter what TV teaches you as well.

* I realize that all the dolls clothing would not fit everyone else, etc., so in a marketing standpoint, making all the girls (marketable dolls) all the same size makes sense. But still, geez... throw us normies a bone already.