We’ve seen female characters and superheroes do masculine things for ages, but can you think of a single narrative in pop culture where it’s the other way around? Finally, we have one, and I’m really hoping this cartoon sticks around. It’s a kid’s show on The Hub called “SheZow,” featuring a boy who dresses like a girl and kicks ass.
From the Daily News:
The catch is that SheZow’s alter-ego is actually a 12-year-old boy named Guy, who transforms into a female costumed crime-fighter by uttering the phrase “You Go Girl!” and using a power ring inherited from his dead aunt.
“When I first heard about the show, my reaction was ‘Are you out of your minds?’” Hub CEO Margaret Loesch told the Los Angeles Times of the series created by “Julius & Friends’” Obie Scott Wade. “Then I looked at it, and I thought ‘This is just funny.’”
And the intro video is funny. But I don’t think it’s mocking “girly” things or transgender people, as some might believe. My take is that it’s just normalizing stereotypically female behavior for boys — pink, makeup, glitter, high heels. This is a huge leap for feminism, in my opinion, because encouraging little girls to pursue “male” activities is only half the battle. This show may help to fill in the gap by making it cool for boys to do girly things, too.
Of course, I can already hear the uproar from right-wingers. “SheZow will turn our sons gay! It’s an abomination!” But honestly, who doesn’t know a little boy or two who is attracted to the color pink or who enjoyed trying on his mom’s heels? And how many of these boys actually turned out to be gay? I’d be willing to wager that most boys, especially toddler-aged ones, have done feminine things at some point, but parents don’t discuss it because they’re ashamed or weirded out.
Maybe if this cartoon character was running around forcing all boys to dress like girls I might understand a protest from traditional parents. Although I don’t agree with it, I can understand why “SheZow” might make conservative parents uncomfortable. But from what I can see in the intro video, there’s nothing inherently sexual about this series, and anyone who reads into it that way is just projecting their own prejudices.
Normalizing something that already exists (boys playing dress up) by offering a new cartoon character isn’t a problem in itself. For the families like mine who are excited about this show, their children may really find joy in seeing a superhero who isn’t hyper-masculine. For those who thing it’s vulgar, hey, no one’s making you watch it.