My “There Should Be More Female Protagonists in Children’s Movies” Rant

I went to see the Muppets Movie yesterday (I’d recommend it, by the way), and as I watched previews before the show I couldn’t help giving my sister my usual “if only there were more female protagonists rants.” Take a moment and think about all the children’s movies that feature a little boy going on a great adventure. Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Hugo, and TinTin come to my mind. Now think of a movie that features a little girl going on an equally grand adventure. I can name…none. (And, my God, Twilight doesn’t count!). 

This is a problem.

When little girls watch movies almost exclusively about little boys going on adventures, they being to believe that little girls just simply aren’t that exciting. They begin to believe that little girls cannot go on grand adventures.


Little girls can go on great adventures, too! And women are just as interesting as men! So let’s support (financially and through word-of-mouth) movies with strong female leads. The next movie I want to see: Brave.

What movie with a strong female lead would you recommend?

7 thoughts on “My “There Should Be More Female Protagonists in Children’s Movies” Rant

      1. Nice, didn’t think of that one. Probably one of the few classics featuring a female protagonist. I did check out Nikita, though, and it looks pretty kick ass.

  1. The most obvious one coming to mind is Coraline. Also the His Dark Materials series, the Narnia stories (which I have other issues with, the foremost being that Susan can’t come back to Narnia because she likes lipstick and gets married), I Capture the Castle, the Secret Garden, A Little Princess, and arguably The Hunger Games although its more YA than Children’s. And let’s not forget Hermione in Harry Potter. She may not be the titular character but she is a truly great role model who’s into her own thing, which happens to be being a genius, over impressing boys.

    I think with children’s films and stories, a truly important thing is depicting girls and boys having an adventure together in the story. Gender is one of the earliest means a child has of defining his or herself, so I think making the other gender a possible cohort for fun is crucial in children’s stories, rather than propagate a “no boys allowed/no girls allowed/battle of the sexes” culture. The earlier we start seeing each other as equal human beings, the better for everyone.

    I also think we desperately need Hollywood to rethink it’s definition of “strong female lead.” Meryl Streep recently gave a brilliant interview where the interviewer asked why she always went after such strong, cerebral female characters, and remarked that no one would ever ask a man that question. “Strong” has become another word for “tough” or “masculine” with a lot of these characters, and again, I think the most crucial thing is having three-dimensional human women first. Lara Croft from Tomb Raider is just as much of a gender stereotype as the next weeping clingy rom-com woman. We need women who are human beings, not “women.”

    Sorry I don’t even go here, I just have a lot of feelings!

  2. Katie, I think you make a really good point. I usually push “we need more girls in movies/books” Period. But I didn’t give much thought to pairing girls and boys together, equally. Thanks for the nice thought!

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