But ultimately my main goal was to document my experiences as a "geek dad" who is raising a young girl and trying to share with her the things I'm so passionate about while also trying to encourage her to have her own sense of self and develop a passion for things that she likes.
|A new Wonder Woman Dress for Joy|
For her party this year, Joy originally announced that she wanted a small tea party, with only three or four friends, and her mom and I were very much on board with this, because ultimately it meant less work for us! However, over time, the party theme changed - first to Superheroes, and then to Star Wars, and then briefly to "Star Wars Superheroes" at which point her mom and I put our collective feet down and said, "Star Wars it is!"
(Note that there are some spoilers below if you've never seen the original three Star Wars films, but I'm not sure why you'd be reading my blog if you haven't seen them).
|Some of the home-made wrapping I did |
because we couldn't find Star Wars
We then began searching for decorations for the party, and that actually leads to the main purpose of this post, other than to wish my daughter a very happy birthday.
|My kitchen chalkboard decoration |
and a REBEL Rouser Double IPA.
Get it? REBEL!?
Next my wife bought Joy a really cool Princess Leia costume dress (the classic one from Episode IV) to wear at the party, but thinking ahead, I knew it would be hot outside and after awhile the dress would not be comfortable, so I decided to get my daughter a Princess Leia t-shirt.
|Jedi Joy's Force-Push in her new Princess Leia t-shirt|
Maybe it has something to do with the new movie coming out, but seeing as how there were plenty of young boy-sized t-shirts with all of the other characters on them, I don't think that's the case. There's been a lot of stories in the press lately about how entertainment companies are doing a horrible job marketing "geek" culture like superheroes and comics to young girls, but I always felt like Star Wars was one of those "exceptions that proves the rule" type of properties. But as I searched for a Princess Leia t-shirt for Joy, I began to realize that the corporate mentality that "girls don't like that stuff" coupled with "boys won't wear a shirt with a girl on it" and "boys won't play with a girl action figure" has permeated even my favorite childhood fantasy, Star Wars.
As my wife and I were working on trying to figure out decorations and accessories for Joy's party, I began to really take notice of the almost total lack of female superhero, fantasy, and science-fiction characters. And interestingly, my daughter also took notice - in fact, she began to call it out to me before I had really paid attention.
"Daddy, how come the Avengers t-shirt doesn't have Black Widow on it?"
|This is from directly in front - |
you can see that Wonder Woman is cut-off
"Flash. Green Lantern. Batman. Superman..."
She paused for a minute, which I thought was odd, because the last remaining character is her absolute favorite."
"Daddy? Why is Wonder Woman off on the side? Is it because she's not as important as the boys?"
As I looked at the bounce-house through the eyes of my daughter, I saw what she must have been seeing every day and yet I'd never really paid that much attention. Wonder Woman was off to the side - in fact, so much so that she was nearly wrapped around the corner so that only about 2/3 of her are visible. All of the "boy" characters are shown nearly full-figured. And then there's Wonder Woman, pushed off to the side so she nearly falls off.
|I guess Black Widow doesn't get cavities|
"Look, Joy! They have an Avengers rinse! You should get that one!"
Joy looked at it for less than two seconds and then announced, "No... Black Window isn't on it. How come she's not on the bottle, Daddy?"
About a week or so later, we went to Disneyland for the 4th of July to see the fireworks. While there, we decided to let Joy get a pin or two for the lanyard she wears with her annual pass. For those not in the know, Disney has literally hundreds, if not thousands, of these pin designs depicting everything from the attractions at the theme parks to the restaurants to characters from the history of Disney and of course the other entertainment properties it has acquired, including Marvel Comics and Star Wars. So as we went through the pins, Joy searched and searched but we could find no Black Widow or Princess Leia pins. There were plenty of Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, Spider-Man and Doc Ock pins. There were also plenty of Boba Fett, Darth Vader, Stormtrooper, R2D2, C-3PO, and Chewbacca pins. And yet two main characters from their respective franchises were ignored.
By this time, Joy had gotten very quiet and was no longer interested in getting a new pin. And I, at this point, was getting as frustrated as I'd ever been. I grew up with Star Wars and superhero comics, and I've been sharing my love for them with Joy ever since she was a newborn. I take her with me to the comic book shop every Wednesday to get our comics, I play the Star Wars score for Joy in the car while we're driving, we wear superhero and Star Wars t-shirts together, draw pictures together, read the stories, and are planning to see the new Star Wars film when it comes out in theaters later this year. And yet at this point, none of that mattered. I was ready to give up and try to find something else fun to share with Joy that's more inclusive.
|Things look better when you have cake|
While telling my frustrating story today at work, one of my clients said, "I think your daughter is going to grow up to be a big force of change for the that kind of stuff and fight for girls' rights for superheroes."
That's a nice compliment, but ultimately I'd rather that by the time Joy is old enough to do that, that things have changed enough so that she no longer has to do that.
Any parents out there want to share your experiences? Please drop me a comment below.
Hanging: Home office (laptop)
Drinking: sparkling water
Listening: "Circles" by Soul Coughing