Thursday, April 02, 2009

Wiggly gender sterotyping.

I must say I'm a little disappointed with my first encounter with the Wiggles.

The music is fabulous (very easy for parents to listen to over and over and over and...) and they are very enthusiastic and positive and there is none of the silly sexualisation of children you see everywhere, and the dances are fun, and they have a Chinese man on the show and an Aboriginal man and a Greek man on this particular episode...

But WHERE ARE THE WOMEN?

Answer: dancing in the background. they don't play guitar, they don't sing, they don't have names; they just dance. Pretty little dances, Anglo girls dressed up as fairies or in ballgowns. Dorothy the Dinosaur is a female, so on she comes dressed in a tutu and sings a song about fairies. The (male) octopus (whose name escapes me), on the other hand, goes on a trip to the Torres Strait Island.

The boys play guitar and piano-accordian. They get introduced! They have two guest artists, both male (Leo Sayer & Troy Cassar-Daley). A boy baby drives the bus and I think it's the same boy baby piloting the ship.

I've only seen one video - 'You make me feel like dancing' - so maybe I need to do more of a trawl through their back issues for girls actually doing something other than being go-go dancers.

I'd buy them again because the music is good, but I can see that it begins now: I'm going to have to actively search for videos with representations of women I want them to see, to counterbalance the pretty inactivity of the girls and women in the mainstream ones.

Any suggestions?

9 comments:

owlie said...

totally agree. although we have filtered the wiggles in our house...i listened to it at work for 6 yrs before having kids, couldn't stomach it at home too!

justine clarke is a good female kids music person, not very gendered. lovely whimsical videos too. she is australian from playschool.

for good music (cds) for kids elizabeth mitchell is lovely and renee and jeremy are wonderful. There is a few geat complilation albums for kids called 'for the kids' they are on amazon.

there you go...more than you asked for but anyways.

ThirdCat said...

DON'T GET ME STARTED ON THE WIGGLES

thetwinkle said...

miss piggy was a feminist in her own way. we have been watching her karate chop Link Hobgthrob (in pigs in space) for suggesting that she do the ironing. (watching the muppets on repeat... a whole other story)

i've never watched the wiggles except i did accidentally turn them on the other day (oops, was trying to press play on the muppets vid) and saw the leo sayer clip and he made me feel like dancing and i was so dazzled by his hair that i forgot to notice the gender imbalance.

i have no helpful suggestions. sorry.

Mikhela said...

I was stunned by the sight of Leo Sayer too, I must say. He looks...older.

I'll chase up Justine Clarke - I loved her in Look Both Ways, so I'm sure that's a great recommendation for a children's video!

And how I would love to hear TC holding forth on the Wiggles...

Katya said...

Paul Jamieson is another singer who puts out really great CD's. And if you move back to Melbourne you'll evben be able to take the kids to see him - he's a bit of a fixture at kids events, kinder discos etc. Luckily neither of my boys were reomotely intereste in the Wiggles, Hi-5, TV in general. It was all Thomas, Thomas Thomas - talk aoubt gender imbalance, blimey! But I used to put aside my rage (all the fat controller's wife does is make toast and cocoa and doesn't even have a name) and think that if they have positive real life female role models who do all sorts of things and if I keep sublty getting that message across that this would be stronger than the stuff they absorb otherwise. So far they are well balanced boys who are very comfortable with words such as woman, Ms, female truck driver etc, but they ARE only 5 and 7. Who knows what will happen as they get older..?

Anonymous said...

Playschool is great and you can get DVDs with people like Justine, Noni etc

And, on the wiggles. They recently released a song with Kylie as the "pink wiggle" - which is great until you look at her feet and she's in 6 inch heels.

But, my four year old daughter spent the best part of a year being "Jeff" (mainly because her favourite colour is purple) so I'm not sure that they are all men is actually a problem

Mikhela said...

Paul Jamieson? I'm going to have to google him...I kissed a Paul Jamieson one Easter holiday on the Murray River when I was about fifteen...he didn't seem the type who would grow up to sing songs to small children though!

Mikhela said...

Nope definitely not him!

Spilt Milk said...

I've only watched one video too - the Wiggly World one. They had female pirates dressed the same as the males so I suppose that was better than no women at all.

Our favourite kids' CD is 'Alphabutt' by Kimya Dawson. She even sings about not shaving her legs, co-sleeping, breastfeeding etc. My toddler adores it and it's easy for adults to listen to. It's on high rotation in the car!