A few months ago, I was watching Disney’s movie Sky High with my niece and nephew. In the movie, kids from super hero families go to Sky High, a high school for super heroes. When the main character’s mother came on screen, my niece exclaimed in an incredulous voice:
“What!? Girls can’t be superheroes!”
I was caught completely off-guard. “Sure they can!” I responded. “What about the Powerpuff Girls?”
She stared at me for a moment. “No, Uncle Zach, girls can’t be super heroes.”
This moment has stuck with me. It has downright bothered me. My little brother has run around the house pretending he’s Spider-Man, fighting invisible villains taking over our living room. My niece not only wouldn’t do that, she couldn’t even conceptualize the idea of a girl being a super hero in the first place.
Whenever I hear about gender-related issues in games, movies, or other media, I think of this one moment. Whenever someone says, “Come on, it’s not really a problem,” or, “I’m a female and I don’t have trouble with relating to male characters,” I can’t help but think of my niece. To the most adorable little girl I know, girls can’t be bad-ass heroes that save the world. Only boys do that.