How Disney’s Zootropolis (aka Zootopia) Tackles Race and Gender Inequality

Do you want to have an age appropriate talk with your child about prejudice, discrimination, and identity politics – but don’t know where to begin? Well, show them Zootropolis (aka Zootopia in the US) and talk about that. Continue reading How Disney’s Zootropolis (aka Zootopia) Tackles Race and Gender Inequality

Ponies, Princesses, and Finding a Place in the Pack

This is a crucial year for our daughter. She turned 4 in January, and that means she will be starting school in September.

For her birthday this year, one of the presents I chose for her was the anime Wolf Children. From director Mamoru Hosoda (who also made Summer Wars, The Girl Who Lept Through Time, and the forthcoming The Boy and the Beast), it’s a wonderful fantastical coming of age tale, that has become one of our daughter’s favourite films.

Thematically, it has much in common with our Studio Ghibli favourite, My Neighbour Totoro. But the tone is skewed older as the plot progresses into more challenging areas.

One of them is the way the children of the title – a pair of half wolf/human siblings – find their place in the world, making choices based on their background of mixed heritage. For the sister, she becomes focussed on the need to fit in with her female peers.

Her struggle is whether to adopt more traditionally ‘girly’ interests, in order to fit it – because she has a fundamental instinct driven desire to find her own ‘pack’.

As regular readers of this blog will know, I’m troubled by the marketing directed towards girls. That it focuses on appearance over achievement, that topics become gendered at a very young age so the likes of STEM are seen as masculine pursuits before they even start school. That passive princesses rather than active adventure heroes are seen by everyone from parents to retailers as default role models for girls.

But most of our daughter’s female peers engage with these brands, compared to the handful of girls we have encountered who like Star Wars or superheroes.

While I advocate for non-traditionally ‘girly’ media and merchandise, I also don’t want to overly restrict my daughter’s ability to socialise with other children. She needs to feel confident in her choices, to give her the ability to find her own way in the mass of messaging directed at her. To find her own pack.

We’re currently on a big trip, involving multiple long haul flights, and we’ve relied on the vast library of inflight entertainment available for a 4-year-old to watch on 12 hour flights.

Browsing the kids section, our daughter chose the Disney cartoon Sofia the First. She had never seen it before. I took some heart in this choice. I had read that the creators were looking to make a show with a more progressive princess.

This is true to a certain extent, but it still has the same sparkles, colours, and royalism – as well as frequent guest stars of familiar (to her) Disney Princesses – such as Ariel, Merida, and Cinderella. She quickly became a bit obsessed, and watched dozens of shows on flights & 2am jet lag induced Netflix sessions. I have since characterised it as a bit of a Disney Princess gateway drug.

Ever since she has been much more interested in looking ‘pretty’. This used to be countered by saying whatever she was wearing was pretty – while also stressing that being pretty isn’t important. Well, that’s not working as well anymore, as she has a clear idea that a) it is important, and b) of what she thinks is pretty – and it generally doesn’t involves leggings and a t-shirt.

So in the spirit of letting her choose what she wants to wear, I just had to suck it up. As we’re travelling, the options were limited, and it seems to be wearing off a little. We’ll see how that develops when we return home.

On one of the flights, I was happily surprised to find The Force Awakens available, and I admit I was slightly  disappointed that she had no interest in watching it. Despite my thinking that perhaps a 5th viewing (for me) might be excessive, I simply couldn’t resist, while my daughter continued on with her viewing.

Part way through, my daughter tapped on my arm. “Daddy, I want to watch The Force Awakens like you”. Yes, there was a geek dad surge of joy in my heart, so I put the movie on for her.

As we’d started the movie at different times, our viewing was out of sync with each other. At the same moment I was watching THE scene between Han and Kylo Ren, while on my daughter’s screen Han’s ship was being piloted in spectacular fashion by the new young female hero, Rey. Out with the old, in with the new.

I can’t force my daughter to like Star Wars, nor do I wish to. I know she loves it for now, but that could easily change and I have to be ok with that. I’ve done my best to offer up alternatives to the usual content directed at girls, but by the time she gets to school she needs to find her own way. I have to be ok if she chooses Princesses and ponies over Jedi and superheroes.

Actually, I have no issue with ponies any more. After many followers recommendations, we have just started watching My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic on Netflix – and I agree, it’s really good.

On this trip, she has met her slightly older cousin for the first time (well, since she was a baby). They have got on great, and our daughter looks up to her already. Her cousin is very into princesses, and my daughter is already asking for a pink tiara like she has. However, they have also bonded over a shared interested in My Little Pony.  But we’ve also introduced lightsabers into her playtime repertoire. Pony Princesses with lightsabers sounds pretty cool to me.

So in conclusion, here’s Star Wars reenacted by MLP 🙂


Main picture by “rainbowdashjedi’ by roguedarkjedi

Get Your Cape On! The DC Super Hero Girls Are Here

As a superhero loving geek-dad of a daughter, I couldn’t be happier about the launch of DC Super Hero Girls.

The lack of content and merchandise featuring female superheroes has been obvious to me ever since I became a dad 4 years ago, and have written about it regularly.

My daughter, while enjoying the likes of Batman and Superman craves content with female heroes such as Wonder Woman and Batgirl, and even villains like Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy – all of whom are part of the DC Super Hero Girls.

The set up is this – the girls (they are all school age characters) attend the exclusive Super Hero High, and we follow their teenage misadventures – with the added complication of super powers.

As well as the aforementioned Wonder Woman, Batgirl, Harley Quinn, and Poison Ivy – there is also  Supergirl, Katana, Bumblebee, Cheetah, Hawkgirl, and Catwoman! There is a character for everyone from the honourable Wonder Woman, studious Batgirl, to the mischievous Harley Quinn.

My daughter doesn’t only want to engage with superheroes fighting each other either – some of her favourite stories involve the relationships between the characters. This is an important aspect of the DC Super Hero Girls cartoon.

I’ve written about this line before. I wasn’t sure about it then, and perhaps my concerns remain just a little. But that is now overshadowed by my enthusiasm for what this. It is a major progression in the kind of content and merchandise created for girls, and specifically the idea that superheroes can be for them too.

For many girls I also believe it will be a gateway into the wider world of superheroes and comic books, as well as an inspiring and empowering line in its own right.

The toys are coming to the UK soon, but in the meantime you can check out the cartoon on the DC Super Hero Girls dedicated YouTube channel:

You can also head over to the website to find out more about the specific characters, play games, download free printables, and more!


DC Super Hero Girls animated series giveaway!

To celebrate the launch of DC Super Hero Girls in the UK, DC Entertainment are offering you the chance to win a £100 VISA Gift Card.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!


This is a sponsored post. However, I am genuinely excited about DC Super Hero Girls!


Two Dads’ Hopes For Their Daughters’ Future

For International Women’s Day, Oxfam approached me with an intriguing proposition. Knowing that I often write about my hopes and aspirations for our daughter, and the potential barriers in her way because of her gender, they put me in touch with another dad of a little girl.

He is Alex Namusokwe (37), who is the father of Ethel (7). They live in rural Zambia, about 200 km from Zambia’s capital Lusaka. Continue reading Two Dads’ Hopes For Their Daughters’ Future

Mother’s Day for Modern Mothers

As a stay-at-home dad, married to a working wife, it’s clear to me that Mother’s Day is not all things to all mothers. In the past, it’s been seen as a ‘day off for mums’. This break is also reflected in the way many businesses theme their Mother’s Day offerings – meals out, spa days – even ready meal supermarket deals!

In rather old fashioned thinking, it’s still assumed mums need time off from their normal domestic routine traditionally associated with mothers – childcare, cooking, cleaning, and general household admin. Well, seeing as I am a stay-at-home dad, those are the things that I usually do!

This is not to say that I feel like a day off from the family, or am even trying to co-opt the day itself. The simple fact that my wife was the one who pushed out a small human (probably not small enough for my wife’s liking) is clearly worth celebrating from both my daughter and I. So she definitely gets her day.

What do modern mothers want for mother’s day?

My wife likes it to be about being indulged, but that takes many forms. She is of course inset expected to do any household chores, but there is also no expectation for the responsibilities of being a parent – such as bath & bedtime, which are her activities as default. My wife likes to have a meal of her choice, whether at home or out – but this could even include a meal made by her, as she loves cooking but rarely gets the chance to do so as I tend to do that while she is taking care of bedtime.

Beyond home responsibilities, my wife would also prefer to not have to work on that weekend. It’s her job that supports us, and she works very hard at it. However, that can often mean her workload spilling over into evenings and weekends – hopefully not on Mother’s Day weekend though. But at its heart, for my wife it’s a day about her being a mother, and that means spending time with her daughter and the other person who did his part to help make her a mother (me!).

In terms of gifts, this can make things trickier than in the past. What do modern mothers really want for mother’s day? Paperchase invited me to check out their range. My wife’s love of cooking could certainly be encouraged with one of their special recipe journals. I know she treasures the time she spends doing crafts with our daughter, and Paperchase have a great range of art & craft supplies. And the right card is important – they have a diverse range to choose from, spanning the traditional to the irreverent.

As it is, we are kind of missing Mother’s Day this year, as we will be in New Zealand on the actual day – for some inexplicable reason their Mother’s (and Father’s) Day fall on a different date than ours. I have already said that she will have her very own Mother’s Day when we return to the UK – just for her. On the actual UK date while we are NZ, we already have arranged to spend tine with old Kiwi friends, so at least that’s a day of fun for her.

And I shall also make sure her day is free of chores, work, and the childcare aspects of parenting – apart from what she wants to do.


This is a collaborative post with Paperchase. To see their suggested range of Mother’s Day gifts, please check out the selection on their website.