Monday, June 29, 2009

Girls Can Do Anything: Thanks Emily Yeung

I am constantly looking for images of girls defying the gender binary to teach my boys about equality.  I have recently started to talk to them about Emily Yeung.  In the above segment she is learning how to snowboard.  In many of the episodes she is learning all about the world and never do they focus on what she is able to do or what she should like based on gender.  Though these are just small spots shown in between cartoons, they send a powerful message.

The video I wanted to post is about her learning to play soccer but unfortunately it is not up on youtube.  She clearly states in the video that “sporting equipment should be made for boys or girls because girls can do the same things as boys can”.  Hearing her say that just made me want to cheer..

The Emily Yeung spots are a clear example of the ways in which the media can disturb social constructions, if the images are created by a progressive voice.  There are not enough examples of this, and instead our sons and daughters are over ridden with terrible female role models like the bratz dolls.  Even finding a cartoon or a youth geared program in which a girl is not obsessed with boys, make up, or looking pretty, is a rare phenomenon. 

I am further impressed with the fact that Emily is a bi racial child.  Race has never been a subject that the mini episodes have focused on, thereby allowing her visibility to speak for itself.  She is presented as a beautiful, precocious child who is interested in the world around her.  The high visibility of a bi racial child is also very uncommon in media where images are mostly reflective of the white supremacist state in which we live.

As Emily learns about snowboarding, farming and science etc., the audience learns right along side her.  What makes these small spots so beautiful is everything that is not said.  In a an equal world a young child like Emily Yeung would not be a special that is aired that teaches diversity; it would simply stand for a young girl learning about the world.