Wardy points out that while our boys have no prince toys, clothing lines, or other merchandise to purchase, they have plenty of examples of violence to follow. Why be taught to be strong, brave, kind, and smart when you have things to blow up and villains to stab? Sure, some of the Disney princes commit murder as well, but it’s usually in the name of justice—and it’s often much less violent than superhero battles.
The thing is, marketers for Disney, while insisting that they’re just giving girls what they want, have also maintained that their princesses teach girls valuable lessons about friendship, loyalty, kindness, yadda yadda yadda. I even have a set of Disney princess books that was gifted to us based on princess values or whatever to prove it. So if the princesses are such great role models (note that most don’t even have female friends, but male animals whom they are kind, loyal, and friendly to), why not offer a counterpart for boys to emulate as well?
Could you ever see a Disney boy who was kind and loyal to his talking female seagull and talking female crab and talking female flounder fish friends? Yeah, me either. It’s not that farfetched, of course; it’s just not part of Disney’s modus operandi. How about a brave but sweet Disney boy with friends who are mice, or talking furniture, or a frog, alligator, and firefly trio who are all female? Nope. I can’t think of a single example of a Disney film where the majority of the characters are girls—and yet it’s girls being marketed to with all of this princess stuff.
Where is the sweet music-playing gator in the boy’s toy section? The fun-loving frog or talking candelabra, or the smart clock and clever mice? You can find these things in the “girls” squinkies sets right now, but in the boy aisle. Instead, the boys are sold weapons, superheroes, monsters, and such. Sure, there’s a bit of Disney—from Toy Story and Cars, for example—but none of it is sold with a kindness/friendship/loyalty/etc. stance like the girls’ toys. Instead, they are explicitly sold as ACTION!toys, AKA those which promote violence. Cooperative toys virtually do not exist in the world of male toys, at least in the mainstream markets.
Perhaps we should be worried as much about our boys and what’s being sold to them as much as we should about what’s being sold to—and demanded of—our girls.