Typical boy. All boy. Boys will be boys. I cringe every time I hear those phrases — whether used to praise, admonish, excuse, or label a boy; especially when it’s my boy. And especially when it’s me saying it about my boy.
Stereotypes are convenient, yet entirely dismissive of a child’s ability (and need) to experience beyond what society expects of them. As his father, I strive to fill my son’s eyes, ears, and mind with all the richness and diversity the world has to offer. And as he’s got two dads, making sure he’s surrounded by strong females is at the top of that list.
In addition to the real women in our lives, superheroes have been a way to introduce Girl Power to my son. From the books we read, to the notes I put in his lunch, and of course the TV shows and movies we watch — he’s never lacking for examples of strong, wondrous women.
Below are 10 of the best examples of Girl Power shows for boys* currently on Netflix, all “Boy Approved” by my “all boy” boy.
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Powerful Girl: STEALTH ELF
Show: Skylanders Academy
When I first read the words, I was sick to my stomach. It worsened as the coverage expanded, as I watched and re-watched the video and awaited the eventual (faux) apology. Nausea then gave way to disgust as I witnessed a serial assaulter attempt to shame his female opponent by exploiting the assaults of even more women.
Yet as this insanity unfolded, my greatest anxiety came from the question on repeat in my head:
How do I raise my son in the age of Donald Trump and rape culture?
At long last… the Top 10. As with much of the list, this final batch is a mix of expected crowd-pleasers and personal favorites. I toiled long and hard on it, so if you take issue with some of my rankings, please be gentle.
Without further fanfare, the final installment of the 50 GREATEST SUPERHERO TV THEME SONGS OF ALL TIME!
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10. TEEN TITANS / TEEN TITANS GO!
2003-2006 / 2013-present
Anime-inspired Teen Titans balanced fun and sophistication, as did its retro-cool theme song. Cancelled after its fifth season, the show was reborn in 2013 as Teen Titans Go! Though the spin-off features the same heroes voiced by the same actors, that’s where the similarities end. As an appeal to a younger audience, everything was shortened: the length of the episodes, the characters’ stature, even the theme song. The Teen Titans theme was chopped and remixed, now buzzing with frantic layers of electronica — a perfect fit for this over-the-top send-up of young superhero life.
Earlier this month I shared the story of 11-year-old Amaya, featured in the most recent issue of American Girl magazine, chosen from among thousands of submissions because of her inspiring story. Part of her story is that she and her brothers were adopted from the foster care system by two loving parents, both of whom are men.
This ruffled the right-wing feathers of One Million Moms, who called for a boycott of American Girl Doll and parent company Mattel over this supposed furthering of the Gay Agenda. From One Million Moms’ web site:
“The magazine… could have chosen another child to write about and remained neutral in the culture war.”
Yet One Million Moms were fighting a one-sided war, as their boycott all but backfired. Due to the group’s homophobia, the story gained momentum and went viral. Amaya, her family, and American Girl were discussed, interviewed, and featured in an endless number of publications and news outlets, among them local Fox and NBC affiliates, The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, Yahoo, ABC News, Good Housekeeping, Upworthy, Slate, Perez Hilton, and The View. Even Ellen DeGeneres posted in support of the family on her show’s Facebook page.
The other part of Amaya’s story is Comfort Cases — the charity co-founded by one of her dads — and its work supporting foster kids. As a result of the boycott and the related coverage, Comfort Cases is ending 2015 on a very, very good note.
THE BACKFIRED BOYCOTT, BY THE NUMBERS:
• Comfort Cases held its annual Holiday Packing Party on November 21, assembling 500 more cases than the previous year, a 70% increase.
• The total number of cases collected and distributed in 2015 topped 10,000 — 4,000 more than 2014, and an increase of 65%.
• With contributions coming in from all over the world, monetary donations to Comfort Cases will triple what they were in 2014. That’s 300%, folks.
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As National Adoption Month comes to a close and we enter the holiday season, please consider making a contribution to Comfort Cases or a similar organization in your area. Let’s keep showing those that boycott, fear or hate, that family, respect and love always win.
Five years ago today, a young girl named Amaya was legally adopted by her foster parents.
Two weeks ago, Amaya was featured in American Girl magazine. In her own words she shared the story of coming from the foster care system, becoming part of her permanent family, as well as the charity work she and her parents do in support of other foster kids.
Not long after the magazine was published, right-wing watchdogs One Million Moms called for a boycott of American Girl Doll and their magazine, warning parents against exposing their daughters to such a family.
And such a family it is.
Actress Yvonne Craig passed away Wednesday at the age of 78. She was most well-known for portraying Batgirl on the über-campy Batman TV show… and she was my first* favorite superhero.
Like many superhero-loving adults of a certain age, Batman was my favorite show growing up (just to be clear, it was already in reruns). I didn’t get most of the jokes or recognize the rogues gallery of guest stars, but it was awesome because it was “real people” (not cartoons), and oh so bright and colorful.
I had the honor of participating in Listen To Your Mother – a curated show of readings about moms and motherhood. I was the only male in our cast, and I shared a bit of my journey regarding Jon’s birthmother.
I’ve not written much about this topic, for the sake of my son’s privacy as well as that of his birthmom. However, the events encapsulated in my 6-minute reading took several years in real time, and included a slew of emotions ranging from fear and resentment, to disappointment and anger.
Many adoptive parents struggle silently with guilt and confusion over how they think they should feel about their child’s biological parents, versus how they actually feel. I’m sharing this for those parents — so they won’t feel alone like I did so much of the time. So they’ll know there are no right or wrong ways to think and feel about these complicated relationships.
I may write about this more in time — particularly as it relates to being a gay dad. But for now, thank you for watching (or reading). And if you have one to share, I’d love to listen to your story, too.
As part of what is often labeled a “non-traditional family,” (or NTF*) I strive to fill our son’s life with people, experiences, and stories that reinforce that there’s a place in the world for everyone, regardless of their age, gender, skin color, or how their family is made — including an adopted boy with two gay dads.
While our family may be atypical in it’s makeup, we are extremely typical (boringly so) in that we have the same worries as so many other parents.
“How will our son do well in school?” “Will he ever eat his vegetables?” “Who will his friends be?”
Yet add to that list “Will he be treated differently for having two dads and being adopted?” and we’re back in non-traditional territory. And as any NTF parent can attest, finding books, toys, TV shows, and movies that represent your family can be challenging.
One great resource I’ve found is something we already had — our Netflix subscription. As a long-time Netflixer (?), I consider myself an expert at finding the perfect show to appease or distract my energetic 5-year-old – or even provide some occasional downtime for his two dads.
Below is a list of nine great Netflix titles that provide just the right mix of entertainment, encouragement and empowerment for our little NTF.
Sugar and spice and everything nice? Not always. Sometimes little girls are made of sports and science and everything nerdy. Sometimes they’re not enchanted by princesses and sparkles and fairy wings. Sometimes they don’t think pink.
More (girl) power to them! But when it comes to buying clothes for such independently-minded young ladies, what are progressive, supportive parents to do?
One way to encourage and empower your kids is to check out Svaha, an awesome and awe-inspiring new clothing company. A designer friend turned me on to them, and I was instantly charmed by their cute-as-pie/out-of-the-box designs for little girls. Watch this video to learn more…
Ever since I started putting notes in my son’s lunches, I’ve tried to ensure a good representation of female characters. The same goes for educating him about superheroes outside the context of lunch, and about life in general. Yet any parent that has attempted to teach gender equality to their kids knows it’s an uphill battle. As much as you try to debunk stereotypes, model acceptance, and expose them to what’s fair, you’re regularly thwarted by a toy company, or the aisles of a retail store, or that boy at preschool who convinced your kid that “Frozen is boring…because it’s for girls.”
Then last week, the trailer for the upcoming Supergirl TV show debuted, and I saw a glimmer of hope on the horizon…