Unexpectedly feminist kid’s movies

I quite like children’s movies. I’ve been thinking about them, and which ones we should show our baby when she gets older; and I’ve been watching quite a few, as I sit feeding her on the couch for endless hours.

And just as Lego ads have gotten more sexist, and “girl’s” culture in general has gotten more “pink” over the years, children’s movies have done the same. So I’ll be careful to make sure bub sees at least some movies that don’t teach her sexist bullshit.

Specifically, she definitely needs to see two old movies that are surprisingly feminist: The Wizard of Oz, and Mary Poppins.

I’ve been pondering these two films for a while. The Wizard of Oz shows women in positions of power and leadership (in fact, it only shows women that way; the only male leader — the actual wizard — is, of course, a humbug); so much so that I wasn’t at all surprised to see it mentioned in this TED talk I found just the other day, about how movies teach children about gender.

Now, while you could completely overlook the positive gender messages in the Wizard of Oz, Mary Poppins is a lot more overt — Mrs Banks is a suffragette who gets a magnificent song and dance number about her cause — but it’s a lot more covert as well — not only does Mary Poppins speak to Mr Banks like an equal, but the message she specifically has to teach the family is that his treatment of his children needs to change, and that he needs to spend some quality time with them.

I imagine in the 60s this would have been a rarity and even now, I think the message that “fathering is important” is a rare one.

Both these films also do two other very rare things that should be encouraged: they show men and women being friends; and they pass the Bechdel Test.

And they both are, of course, full of jokes, catchy tunes and nice costumes. So I hope she likes them.

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