Horton Hears a Sexist

horton hears a who

Peter Sagal asks, What did Dr. Suess do to movie producers to make them so desperate to pervert his work? This time around, film makers created a brand-new subplot wherein the Major of Whoville has 96 daughters and one son.

Guess who gets all of his attention? Guess who saves the day?

You should read Sagal’s whole piece (it’s short), but this was my favorite part:

And there’s this — not only does the movie end with father and son embracing, while the 96 daughters are, I guess, playing in a well, somewhere, but the son earns his father’s love by saving the world. Boys get to save the world, and girls get to stand there and say, I knew you could do it. How did they know he could do it? Maybe because they watched every other movie ever made?

We got into the car outside the cinpeplex and I was quite in lather, let me tell you. How come one of the GIRLs didn’t get to save Whoville? I cried.

“Yeah!” said my daughters.

“And while we’re at it, how come a girl doesn’t get to blow up the Death Star! Or send ET home? Or defeat Captain Hook! Or Destroy the Ring of Power!”

“That’s rotten!” cried my daughters.

“How come Trinity can’t be the One who defeats the Matrix!” I yelled.

“What are you talking about?” they said.

“You’ll find out later,” I said. “But here’s one: how come a girl doesn’t get to defeat Lord Voldemort!”

“Well, wait a minute, Papa,” they said. “None of us would want to mess with him.”

I took their point. But I still wanted to grab that fictional, silly mayor of Whoville by his weirdly ruffled neck, and say, you see those 96 people over there? Those girls, those women, those daughters? You know what they’re saying to you, every minute of every day that you waste thinking about anything else?

They are shouting at you. They are shouting:

“We are here! We are here! We are here!”

Thanks to Julia for the link.

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54 comments for “Horton Hears a Sexist

  1. Hawise
    April 3, 2008 at 4:11 pm

    A person’s a person no matter how female.

  2. student_b
    April 3, 2008 at 4:35 pm

    That’s what makes it impossible now for me to watch the usual Hollywood movie.

    I used to love action flicks and especially science-fiction/fantasy movies. Nowadays I just can’t watch them. It’s always the same. If there is a women in the movie, you can be sure that she’ll either:
    – fall in love with the male hero
    – has to be rescued by the male hero
    – hinders the male hero (by stumbling, getting hurt, etc.)

    It really makes me cranky. Grrrr!

    That’s why I still love the Alien series. The aliens are awesome and Sigourny Weaver is just unconfined bad ass!

    Anyone knows any good sci-fi movies with good female roles? Because most of them just suck and the women in there are just there to fulfill some stereotypical nerd fantasy. :(

  3. wall-flower
    April 3, 2008 at 4:58 pm

    This is an awesome commentary. I’ve also wondered about why a girl/woman can’t save the day in various movies — and I especially wondered why Trinity couldn’t be The One in the Matrix! (And why she had to fall in love with The One, gag.) Oh, and Star Wars — I’ve always wondered why Princess Leia wasn’t the hero. Yoda says, “there is another [hope],” but they never followed up on that.

    I can’t think of any sci-fi movies with good female characters, student_b, but I’m sure you’re aware of the tv show Battlestar Gallactica? Not always feminist, exactly, but interesting female characters at least. And if you like horror movies, try Ginger Snaps. It’s kinda supposed to be a teenybopper movie, but it’s surprisingly smart fun, imho.

  4. Torri
    April 3, 2008 at 5:04 pm

    Sarah Connor in Terminator 2 was pretty damn awesome, as performed as well as any human could hope to against a machine.

    I also find depressing that the only time there really are female main characters in the majority are in the horror genre because a) no one could possibly sympathize with a terrified male and b) since this is a horror movie we’re talking about there’s never a guarantee that the heroine will ‘defeat’ the evil once and for all, more likely it will be slowed down/sealed away for a little while or actually kill the heroine in the end

    had to say though I DID enjoy the Golden Compass movie

  5. April 3, 2008 at 5:37 pm

    This is exactly what bugs me about Harry Potter, and it’s what I have so much trouble communicating to people when I complain that Harry Potter fits right into most of the sexist pop culture mold. People always say, but Hermoine is smart! Well, yes, and I like her, but she’s also the typical girl-as-mom who enforces the rules. And Harry Potter is just one more male hero with male role models. And the women are caretakers or support. (But that doesn’t stop me from watching it so I can lust after Alan Rickman and ‘ship Remus and Sirius).

    It’s also why I absolutely hated Stardust, despite a great cast and beautiful sets.
    By the end of that movie I was so furious I wanted to demand my money back, and I’d only paid $4 for an online rental.

    I actually like the first two Resident Evil movies and Tomb Raider, but naturally there is a lot of fanservice for the fanboys.

  6. FashionablyEvil
    April 3, 2008 at 5:37 pm

    The Jezebel threadon this topic was massive (400+ comments).

    And I now love Peter Sagal.

  7. April 3, 2008 at 6:04 pm

    I feel like a total dork, but after reading that column, I listened to it. And when I listened to it, I teared up at the end.

    Why *don’t* Hollywood producers and writers see women as people? Worst thing, it totally effects how people advance in the industry, too.

  8. Rika
    April 3, 2008 at 6:19 pm

    On a positive note…

    I was looking through a stack of DVDs that my mom borrowed from the library, and in the stack there was a Dora the Explorer DVD (my little sister likes Dora), entitled, “Dora Saves the Prince.” I was impressed. I can’t say I actually saw the episode, but it at least sounds like it’d be feminist.

  9. Kyra
    April 3, 2008 at 6:30 pm

    Well, technically a girl did defeat Lord Voldemort (Lily), but in approved female fahsion: by:

    a) sacrificing herself
    b) for her child
    c) without intending to have it be an offensive move—she doesn’t actively attempt to defeat Lord Voldemort; in fact it’s made utterly obvious that she’s helpless, despite being a trained and successful Auror, and
    d) after failing to protecting her child—begging for her son’s life and offering to die in his place is all the protection she can give, and the power she had was only activated when Voldemort made it clear that she had failed, by attacking Harry.

    And then Harry defeats Voldemort by actively fighting, defeats him permanantly (with years of help from two other male wizards), and actually succeeds at filling the protector role for the entire magical community.

  10. April 3, 2008 at 7:16 pm


    I watched the movie and it bugged me the whole damn time and was starting to wonder whether or not my feminism was just going to permanently and inevitably destroy every form of entertainment for the rest of my life. Which may still be true . . . but at least I’m not alone!

    I liked the movie a lot otherwise, which is what made it so very disappointed.

  11. Trixie23
    April 3, 2008 at 8:00 pm

    student_b, I can’t watch action flicks anymore either. And I ADORE the “Alien”, and “Terminator” series!!!

    Rika, Dora is really great for kids. When purchasing for my step-granddaughter, I encourage the Dora toys/DVD’s because otherwise that slot may be filled with Bratz
    (AKA slutty dolls) or the like.

  12. SarahMC
    April 3, 2008 at 8:12 pm

    Oh god, half the comments on that Jezebel thread were from me. Got very little work done today, natch.

  13. Marissa
    April 3, 2008 at 8:24 pm

    Have you seen Babylon Five? It’s not a movie, but a sci-fi TV show from the ’90s, and it’s pretty much chock-full of awesome strong female leads. There are some sexist male characters and scenarios in a few episodes, but these really only exist to show how gross the chauvinistic characters are.

    And as for the topic, I noticed this while watching the movie and it made me really uncomfortable with the film. The only predominant female character was a freaking Sour Kangaroo.

  14. Lisa
    April 3, 2008 at 8:42 pm

    Well, what if it had been 96 sons and the one daughter that saved them all. Still unfair? Well, what characteristic should been used to distinguish one child about 96 siblings? Maybe it could be the youngest, or the only red head, or something.

  15. Elizabeth
    April 3, 2008 at 8:58 pm

    The only predominant female character was a freaking Sour Kangaroo.

    Not only that, she’s a powerhungry bitch who gets her comeuppance from the guys! Awwright!

    I saw the movie with my daughters (age 10 and 6). The opening scene in Whoville was even more Hollywood-ridiculous than usual — the 90-odd daughters are seated at a Lazy Susan of a table so that each one can rotate past the Mayor for their one second of his time. Then the Mayor skips off to commune Deep Emotional Bonding Thoughts with the Only Son, who happens to be an uncommunicative, sullen little shit. All I could think was, OK, creep, howzabout we give one of your sisters a crack at the mayoralty, since you obviously have better things to do?

    I couldn’t STAND it. I basically shut my mind off for the rest of the movie … Dad Struggles, Son Has an Epiphany, Mom stands around Being Understanding, Sisters Obligingly Disappear, yadda yadda yadda, who cares?

    My daughters liked the movie fine. I would have at their age, too — at that point I wouldn’t have equated scenes in a movie with anything to do with my real life. But they asked me if I liked it too, and I told them no, because I thought one of the sisters should have saved the universe. They allowed as how that would have been nice.

  16. MC
    April 3, 2008 at 9:13 pm

    student_b: Man, I have the same problem when it comes to books. I LOVE books and used to read just about anything, but now I’m finding myself becoming pickier and pickier.

    I take the bus to and from work, and yesterday I found myself without a book to read. OH NOES! On my way home, I stopped off at the grocery store to browse their meager selection. I knew there’d be a ton of cheesy thrillers, but JEEZ, I didn’t realize just how bad it was. It was so fucking annoying. I finally settled on Reservation Road which I guess has been made into a movie. It is a rather depressing book, which is not what I wanted, but I couldn’t bring myself to pick up any of the others I saw.

    Though, I must bring up a few weeks ago, when I was again desperate for a book and stopped off at that same grocery store, and walked out with Wildwood Road by Christopher Golden. It definitely fits into “cheesy thriller/horror” but it was a LOT better than I expected. It had a heterosexual married couple, but the woman was very strong and they were equal. So that was refreshing.

  17. harlemjd
    April 3, 2008 at 9:20 pm

    Lisa – please stop pretending to be a stupid as you sound right now. No one is saying that any single instance of cinematic world-saving by a man is unfair. What we’re complaining about is the near universal trend in movies of boys saving the world and girls either looking pretty or nagging. (or both)

    If the mayor had 96 sons and 1 world-saving daughter, we’d be able to come up with a whopping 3 movies in which women save the world. Not exactly a lot, considering we’re roughly half of the people on the damn planet.

  18. sunburned counsel
    April 3, 2008 at 9:35 pm

    Plus, to add to what harlemjd said, the additional subplot essentially implies that 96 daughters are not worth one son. There is not a single nod to them being individuals- just the one son who the mayor of Whoville spends all his energy on.
    Peter Sagal hit this one out of the ballpark.

  19. April 3, 2008 at 10:14 pm

    Well, what characteristic should been used to distinguish one child about 96 siblings? Maybe it could be the youngest, or the only red head, or something.

    I haven’t seen the movie, but I sort of love the book a lot, and in the book there isn’t a distinguishing characteristic, really–it’s just that one person in Whoville had not been shouting with everyone else, and once that one joined in, the Whos were audible. I think it was a boy, too (Dr. Seuss isn’t totally free of his own gender-bias–the Sour Kangaroo is a female in the book, though her equally-sour offspring is male, and in Horton Hatches the Egg the lazy bird is a girl–though I guess a dude bird wouldn’t have been sitting on an egg anyway), but the gender wasn’t emphasized at all. I guess maybe people thought it would make a more compelling screen story, but I for one like the moral that we all have our part to play–no matter how small, or how seemingly insignificant, or how nameless and anonymous. There was nothing special at all about the Who who saved them, which I really liked.

  20. Rebecca
    April 3, 2008 at 11:08 pm

    Joss Whedon does a pretty good job of having strong female characters, or as he puts it, teenage girls who kick butt. Buffy, obviously, but also Willow, Cordelia and Fred. Also, River, Zoe and Inara (go female sexuality) on Firefly/Serenity.

    One of my pet peeves with the last HP book was how all the interesting female characters – Fleur, Ginny, Tonks – turned into the stereotypical ‘little woman’. Blech. Same with the last StarWars movie. WTF happened with Padme? She went from strong and independent to a weenie.

    And to confirm how geeky I am, Robert Jordan’s Eye of the World series has many strong female characters. David Edding’s has a strong, mother goddess type character in Polgara and there is always Anne Bishop and Jacqueline Carey for rocking female characters.

  21. Jasmine
    April 3, 2008 at 11:57 pm

    Dora the Explorer is a breath of fresh air. As someone who works with kids I’m starting to get so sick of seeing disney princesses crap every which way and don’t get me started on the Bratz dolls.
    Yeah we all grew up with Disney, but what really makes these princesses so great. The only ones that really stand out for me are Belle (she was smart, focused on books and rejected that sexist asshat Gaston) and Princess Jasmine (she didn’t want to marry just for the sake of getting married) Sleeping Beauty and Snow White feel into spell induced comas and had to be saved by a prince whom they proceed to marry after barely knoing them and what the hell Snow White had to keep house for the seven dwarves? Are you telling my seven men that live together can’t split a few chores, but yet expect ONE woman to do them all?

  22. Jasmine
    April 3, 2008 at 11:57 pm

    Dora the Explorer is a breath of fresh air. As someone who works with kids I’m starting to get so sick of seeing disney princesses crap every which way and don’t get me started on the Bratz dolls.
    Yeah we all grew up with Disney, but what really makes these princesses so great. The only ones that really stand out for me are Belle (she was smart, focused on books and rejected that sexist asshat Gaston) and Princess Jasmine (she didn’t want to marry just for the sake of getting married) Sleeping Beauty and Snow White feel into spell induced comas and had to be saved by a prince whom they proceed to marry after barely knoing them and what the hell Snow White had to keep house for the seven dwarves? Are you telling my seven men that live together can’t split a few chores, but yet expect ONE woman to do them all?

  23. VGC
    April 4, 2008 at 12:06 am

    I saw this movie, and I think it would have been a good movie, but there were too many things that they didn’t need to put in there. I thought that freaky little fuzzy kid was unnecessary. The stupid pseudo-Japanese anime ninja scene went on waaaaay to long (and I’m sick of how Asians are the object of humor and ridicule in Hollywood, but that’s another rant altogether). And of course, the subplot of 96 daughters and 1 son.

    Seriously, I’m sick of females being nothing in fiction. Even fantasy books (which I like to read) with strong female main characters disappointment me greatly. These books start with the character doing or being someone great (a girl disguised as a boy so she can become a knight or a powerful archpriestess for example). Then she loses her virginity to the first prince (it’s always a prince) who shows even the slightest interest in her and well…you can guess where it goes from there. And the authors of these books are women. What’s up with that?!?

  24. Lizzie (greeneyed fem)
    April 4, 2008 at 12:36 am

    For another awesome sci-fi female, check out Angela Bassett as Mace in Strange Days.

  25. Emburii
    April 4, 2008 at 1:45 am


    There’s a fair amount of Disney Princess stuff where I work, and I daily have to hold down my rage when I see someone buying Cinderella crap for their kid, or telling me that it’s their favorite movie. It’s also depressing that Cinderella is the ‘default’ princess, included in every single group shot and usually posed front and center. She’s the worst of the lot; she lets her stesisters abuse her, meekly doing the housework and letting her stepmother ruin her life. Instead of fixing her own situation, she dresses up all pretty to encourage a man to ride in and save her.
    And this is who Disney wants to market as the ‘perfect’ princess. This is the story and value set they want little girls to absorb. It’s infuriating.

  26. michael
    April 4, 2008 at 1:47 am

    A lot of the fantasy examples show just how bad the status quo is. The characters from the wheel of time are often painfully stereotyped by gender, as are most of Eddings characters. And these are books that are comparatively favorable. On the other hand, Yes to Sarah Connor in T2, Yes to Ripley, and a thousand times Yes to Mace in Strange Days.

  27. Psychobunny
    April 4, 2008 at 4:35 am

    Hmm . . . I don’t want to get on my issues-with-Whedon bandwagon, so I will say that Babylon 5 is pretty good for its stroppy, non-stereotypical females, Deep Space Nine wasn’t bad, but for the truest, most kickass females with personality AND character development AND important roles to play, nothing beats Blake’s 7. 1980s BBC sci fi? YES PLEASE.

    @Lisa: See “The Little Mermaid”. What set Ariel apart? Youngest AND red-headed AND wasn’t happy with what she already had. You mean, characters might be defined by their personalities or ideologies? NO WAI.

  28. jamesPi
    April 4, 2008 at 9:29 am

    OT: The jezebel thread was great, good job in there SarahMC. I do wonder though, people kept referencing the wage gap. Do y’all use that argument often? What number do you attach to it? 59 cents? 73? 80? Do you understand where the number comes from? Have you personally read the studies on the wage gap? How do you account for the wage gap forming in urban centers for young professioanals right now?

    Gotta say I’m excited to see what happens to starbuck in this last least of Battlestar Galactica, almost seems like she could be their profit, that combined with the rest of her character might make her one of the greats in my eyes, go kara.

  29. FashionablyEvil
    April 4, 2008 at 9:36 am

    Well, you know, SarahMC, you have to take down the idiots when you see them.

  30. student_b
    April 4, 2008 at 10:52 am

    Looks like I’ll have to checkout strange days. To all, thanks for the suggestions. :)

    These books start with the character doing or being someone great (a girl disguised as a boy so she can become a knight or a powerful archpriestess for example). Then she loses her virginity to the first prince (it’s always a prince) who shows even the slightest interest in her and well…you can guess where it goes from there.

    Oh yeah, I absolutely loathe those types of books. They always start so promising and then get ruined so fast. :(

  31. April 4, 2008 at 11:06 am

    The Alanna series by Tamora Pierce was an excellent exception, IIRC (it’s been a loooong time. No one but me seemed to know about her in the early 90’s when I was reading YA fic. I think I need to pick them up again). Yes, there is a Prince, but it becomes clear that he can’t love Alanna the person. He treats her like just another knight when she isn’t all dressed up in frilly girl clothes. And as prince he’s too invested in upholding the status quo. And the best part is, she notices and doesn’t accept it. She ends up with the theif who loves her for herself. She continues to kick ass as a knight even after she’s married, and enables other girls to become knights.

  32. Rika
    April 4, 2008 at 12:03 pm

    Astraea, my little sister likes Pierce’s books. I read some of them when I was bored, though they’re below my reading level.

    Cinderella has to be one of the lamest Disney princesses, along with Sleeping Beauty and Snow White. Plus, apparently the only thing the sets Cinderella apart is her tiny feet.

    What also irritates me in TV or movies is whenever there are some gorgeous identical twins. And they’re always wearing the exact same clothes. It’s hard to say why it bothers me so much, but I think its because its like their personalities are so unimportant, they don’t even bother to put them in different outfits. The only important thing is that instead of one beautiful woman, you’ve got TWO!

  33. Beth
    April 4, 2008 at 2:00 pm

    Ya know, feminist complain about disney movies because they’re so stereotypical. Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty are not good role models. And no, giving up your voice for a man,like Ariel, is not good. But they forget that the reason girls are SO INSANELY attracted to “Princess Movies” is because they’re the only movies where the girl is front and center. She gets all the screen time and all the attention. Stories with healthier and more realistic stories/lessons always star a boy: Finding Nemo, Winnie the Pooh, etc.

    As for Joss Whedon’s stories. As much as I love them, they are JUST as flawed if not more so because they hide under a cloak of feminism. Why is Inara the prostitute and not Mal? Why isn’t Zoe the captain? Why is River the psychotic and Simon the doctor? These are traditional roles where the woman is always #2. There are similar problems inherent in Whedon’s Angel and even in Buffy.

    But all I can do, personally, is steer my future children toward better stories. And, as a writer, try and write my own stories with female heroes that don’t fall into the same old tropes and stereotypes. I hope that other feminist writers do the same.

  34. Poetry
    April 4, 2008 at 2:57 pm

    Tamora Pierce I recommend enthusiastically! The Alanna books aren’t the only ones. All of her books have kick-ass heroines who don’t get caught up in traditional roles by the end of the book. They become mothers but continue to do the work that’s important to them with the support of their husbands/lovers. One of her fantasy series even has a lesbian in it (Daja.)

  35. Roxie
    April 4, 2008 at 4:59 pm

    I heard this on the radio the other day and I kept yelling “Buffy!” Which, of course, isn’t perfect and could definitely have some improvements and expansions, but she does get to save the world a few times.. But then I also thought of “mists of avalon”

  36. VGC
    April 4, 2008 at 5:24 pm

    Astraea, the Songs of the Lioness quartet was exactly what I was talking about! Alanna was quite interesting until she hit puberty. She falls in love with the prince. Then after that she sleeps with every guy that shows the slightest of interest in her. Ok, so that number is only three (the prince, the thief, and the Shang Dragon warrior), but it was annoying reading about her inner turmoil about which guy to be with. I really felt that for being an ass kicking knight, see acted WAY too emotional when it came to romantic interests.

  37. April 4, 2008 at 6:25 pm

    I haven’t read it in a long time, I admit, so I don’t remember the details. I was too young at the time to have a very sophisticated feminist analysis. I definitely don’t have a problem with female characters who have however much sex they want, especially when it’s portrayed as being just another facet of her life, not taking away from her other accomplishments.

    I do highly recommend The Fairy Godmother by Mercedes Lackey, especially for a more feminist twist on the whole Cinderella thing. Sunshine by Robin McKinley is another excellent fantasy/horror novel with a very strong lead female character.

  38. April 4, 2008 at 9:22 pm

    I just got done watching Buffy and Angel on DVD, and they are far from perfect from both the viewpoints of sexism and racism.

    Yeah, there’s a lot of kick-ass women on those series, but every one of them is stereotypically femme. I’ve got nothing against feminine women – I’m one myself – but, geez, Joss, how about some presenting some women with other gender (or non-gendered) expressions? And, dammit, stop making Fred wear a miniskirt all the time (especially in Season 5)!

    And in Angel, there’s just too much Knight In Shining Armor Saves The Damsel In Distress going on, and just too much Teh Womenz Are Krazy Bitches going on (Kate Lockley, Jasmine, Illyria).

    But also, racism was pervasive in both of the series (and, believe me, I’m pretty clueless – most shit has to be pointed out to me.) On Buffy, non-white cultures were almost uniformly fetishized and diminished; Kendra seemed like a total mockery of Caribbean culture, all for the sake of making her look like an airhead and introducing an “exotic” character. Towards the end of the 7th season, as they were gathering the Potentials, they had Chao-Ahn, who they made out to be an idiot, and Rona was cast as the stereotypical Angry Black Woman. Just ick.

    The scene that drove me nearly to throw up, though, was in Season 5, in the Episode “Lineage”, where a bad guy, a black man name Emil (ni-i-i-ce, change one letter…) is killed by one of those ninja robots when the robot wraps a chain around Emil’s neck and yanks on the chain, breaking Emil’s neck. MY FUCKING GODDESS!! Did NO-ONE see how much that looked like a lynching?!?!?

  39. Zan
    April 5, 2008 at 7:55 pm

    Nobody’s mentioned the Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C Wrede yet?!

    I’m dissapointed.

    In the first book of the series, Cimorene (main character) goes and gets herself kidnapped by a dragon to escape a betrothal. Her parents, the king and queen, have decided this is how to straighten out her “strong-minded ways”. Y’ see, she’s tired of her boring princess classes, and, instead of taking her classes she harasses the castle staff into teaching her more interesting things than dancing and etiquette (like fencing or magic!).

    Of course it isn’t without problems, for a portion of the first part of the series Cimorene is pretty much the dragon’s housekeeper/cook (though the dragon is female too), there are probably a few other things I don’t remember along those lines.

    Though it is entertaining to read about Kazul, the dragon, and Cimorene chasing away would-be princely saviours. It’s a geat series for younger to mid-teen girls, and smart enough fun to keep re-reading it when you’re older . I think that this was my first fantasy book with a pro-female perspective (my dad gave it to me when I was 12 or so after I complained about all the books I was reading were about guys) and began weaning me off formulaic, male centered writers like David Eddings and Raymond E Fiest.

    (Sorry to Rebecca, I can barely stand him now that I’ve grown up and have many more books under my belt. And, I don’t really think Pol’s presence in the Belgariad (and Malloreon? I can’t quite remember) justifies the painfully predictable way he writes.)

    Also of note in my bookshelf:

    Joan D Vinge’s the Snow Queen/The Summer Queen (though a little soap-y)
    Issac Asimov’s Nemisis
    Alan Moore’s V for Vendetta (not the movie for thor’s sake!)

  40. Gina
    April 5, 2008 at 9:40 pm

    I grew up on Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar books–from what I remember, there were a lot of strong female characters.

  41. enlightened
    April 6, 2008 at 12:18 am

    I wonder if Mr. Segal’s daughters had ever paused to think how rotten it must be to be the only boy in a family with 97 children; how isolated and alone he might feel. For a quite awhile we have been exhaulting girls over boys. If the dad in this case gave some extra attention to his son it might be because there was no other male there to give him the attention that a child wants, needs and deserves. Any one of those 96 girls can look to her 95 other sisters for love and support, but who does the boy turn to. And I hardly think that a good father, as this mayor seems to be, ignores his girls as Mr. Segal seems to imply. Sorry I have no pity for those 96 girls.

  42. Morganna
    April 6, 2008 at 12:45 pm

    For books I’d say the Sons og the Lioness quartet, and the Wild Magic books by the same author. Also the Protector of the Small and Trickster Choice books.
    I don’t understand why Alanna isn’t allowed to have sex with people she happens to be in love with. I see this as more of a woman expressing her sexuality without shame, She also leaves the Prince when he’s an ass, further showing her empowerment, and has relationships with two other men-both of which she loves.
    Also, the “too emotional” complaint doesn’t quite fit-she isn’t only emotional about her lovers, she feels emotion about everything like a normal human being. The other characters don’t have as much emotional expression because the story is told from her point of view-which doesn’t allow us into the other charachters minds.

  43. Emburii
    April 6, 2008 at 10:00 pm


    I never got ‘strength’ from that character. I was interested in the world, but the main character was a little too twee and /entirely/ too hapless. Even to the end, she gets dragged along by the male vampire, just sort of shoved in the direction of where to go. She never knows what exactly she’s doing, except for when the power derived from her father’s bloodline shoves some new plot device into the narrative.

  44. Emburii
    April 6, 2008 at 10:01 pm

    Gah. The comment above was in reference to ‘Sunshine’, by Robin McKinley.

  45. Cecily
    April 12, 2008 at 9:08 pm

    I’m a little late to this party, but I wanted to throw in some points:

    I haven’t read Robin McKinley’s Sunshine but her Hero and the Crown and The Blue Sword are excellent. Both have female protagonists whose personalities and skills don’t mesh well with their societies, and who kick much ass.

    Also, in case anyone is using this to recommend books to younguns: be a little cautious about Mercedes Lackey. Yes, female protagonists, gay protagonist, lots of good stuff, but I can count the books she’s written without rape or molestation in them on one hand (and she’s written a LOT of books.) I’m not saying this means you shouldn’t read her books, or give ’em to others to read, but consider it when you’re deciding who to give them to, at what age, et cetera. I was almost sick when, as a kid, I had totally bonded with a protagonist for 2.5 books and suddenly she was being gang-raped and tortured.

  46. April 12, 2008 at 11:01 pm

    He might be lonely but he’s still the hero. If it were only one girl with 97 sons, she’d just be lonely.

  47. octopod
    April 13, 2008 at 1:24 pm

    I’ll put another vote in favour of the way Alanna’s sexual relationships are handled in Songs of the Lioness — I didn’t think it was overdone at all, she was just sleeping with whoever she fancied. I didn’t think much of it at the time I first read it, but now I’d heartily support it as pretty reasonable behaviour for an energetic and courageous young bi/het woman in a mainly-male society. (Personal experience supports.)
    Cimorene is awesome too, although I was a bit annoyed at how she and Kazul both drop out for the last book. And “King” and “Queen” being job titles, rather than gender-based variants of the same job? Rock on. As a bizarrely genderblind kid, I latched right onto this.
    Got my little brother reading it too. I try to get him hooked on good stories, but he’s also always had a major predilection for stories with strong warrior women for some reason — he loved Mulan when he was Disney age, and then there’s the Enchanted Forest Chronicles, and now various Pratchett novels — Pratchett totally doesn’t suck when it comes to writing female characters. Try the Tiffany Aching novels, or Monstrous Regiment, or absolutely anything with Granny Weatherwax in it.
    My actual point here, though, was this: You can raise an objection to any one female protagonist’s handling of her love life (Cimorene marries the first man she actually makes friends with; Alanna goes to bed with most of the guys who signal interest in her), but all of them are things that various women actually do, based on their preferences. What’s really unfortunate is that there aren’t enough of them to generalize; no single one plays into the stereotype, because there isn’t enough material to even MAKE a stereotype for female protagonists’ sexual behaviour! And for that, IBTP.

  48. Sonia Chopra
    April 21, 2008 at 6:29 am

    It’s so heartening to read all these comments, because I could not believe what I was watching. Excited to take a break and watch an animated for a change, I could barely sit through Hortons whatever. It was so unabashedly and unapologetically chauvinistic. The theater was packed with little kiddos and their parents, all having a rollicking time with the popcorn and all. But gosh, I am not taking my daughter to another film by these makers. God, a nice Saturday was spoilt watching this tripe. Gripe!

  49. anonymous
    July 4, 2008 at 5:31 am

    There are no female leads that “save the day”?

    Kim Possible
    Kill Bill for your mature audiences.
    The Life and Times of Juniper Lee
    The Powerpuff Girls

    Don’t tell me, people have actually overlooked this shows that are hugely popular?

  50. Sara
    August 4, 2008 at 3:55 pm

    I haven’t seen this show since it went off air, but the old Nick show Pete & Pete, had a lot of cool female main characters, Big Pete’s best friend Ellen, and Little Pete’s best friends are all girls:
    Monica Perling (One of Little Pete’s friends, Monica is the resident Kreb Scout who is ready for anything. She has excellent hearing. Supposedly, this is because one of her ancestors married a bloodhound.)
    Nona F. Mecklenberg (Little Pete’s best friend. Her middle initial “F” stands for Frances, but she wants to change it to Frank, Fahrvergnügen, or Forklift.)

    It was on it the early 90’s and they stopped showing re-runs in ’99 but they have dvds out now. It was my favorite show as a kid, it was a really funny show with good messages and plenty of great characters of both sexes and no stereotypical gender roles (even some of the bullys were girls).

    Though it’s from the nineties it’s aged pretty well, all my younger cousins (boys and girls) love it and always ask to borrow the dvds.

    PS. <3 Peter Sagal.

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