Sexism in kids’ films

I’ve been meaning to blog about this for a while – in fact, I’m pretty sure I’ve started to blog about it more than once, but then decided not to. Because I picture people reading it and rolling their eyes and, you know, I don’t like to picture that. (I prefer to imagine them punching the air with joy, laughing with delight, shouting “She’s right!” Just me?)

But two things: 1) It’s important. It’s not nothing that I notice sexism in every single film I take my children to see and 2) If I made anything like a New Year’s Resolution it was to care less about what people think about me. If people think I take things too seriously, if they think I bang on about feminism too much, if they roll their eyes and say, “Jeez, lighten up, it’s just a film” well… so? I’m 41. Fuck it.

Hotel-Transylvania-PosterSo this morning we went to see Hotel Transylvania. We all really enjoyed it. I laughed out loud quite a few times, it was entertaining enough that I didn’t keep checking the time and it was well-written. But. Look at the poster: eight characters, only two of them female. And that little wolf girl on the right? Barely in the movie at all.

Now there’ll probably be spoilers here, so don’t read on if you don’t want to know. Oh and I’m assuming if you’re reading you’ll understand why these things are a problem and I don’t need to explain male gaze, objectification, gender stereotypes, etc., these posts are just a way of acknowledging/noting these issues within kids’ films. And also that if you do want to leave a comment saying I’m taking it too seriously, I should get a life/sense of humour/hobby, etc., I’m just gonna go ahead and ignore you.


The story is fairly typical – Dracula wants to protect his daughter, Mavis, by keeping her away from the world entirely. Like Marvin with Nemo. I can identify with this, presumably most parents can. But Dracula is happy to release her once he’s approved a boy for her to leave with (this also seems to be a theme in the forthcoming movie, The Croods*) and Mavis argues for her freedom by saying, “You know I’m going to get married one day…”

There’s also a scene with a few zombie builders – on a site, with hardhats – all male, of course, and a female zombie shuffles past and the males all stop to letch. Later, a zombie looks shifty as he tries to take a female mannequin from a shop window, Dracula tells him to leave it, he doesn’t need it.

The main boy in the film, Johnny, thinks a female skeleton is a person in a costume and puts his hand through her ribcage, a male skeleton immediately threatens him, saying “Don’t put your hand in my wife.” Later, Dracula and Johnny open a door onto the female skeleton in the shower and again the husband bursts out to threaten them and defend her honour.

Frankenstein’s wife is a stereotypical nagging wife (voiced by Fran Drescher, so I’m sure you can imagine).

The little girl wolf on the poster? She comes forward when her dozens of brothers are too wild to be of any help and basically saves the day. Dracula dismisses her with “Thank you, cutie.”

* The trailer for The Croods features the love interest boy making a pair of shoes for the girl who immediately freaks right out, screaming “OH MY GOD, I LOVE THEM!” Yawn.

If you want to read more about this (not from me, I mean) then Gender Diary wrote a brilliant post for Bea and Sally Whittle wrote an excellent post about Playboy bunnies in Hop.

4 thoughts on “Sexism in kids’ films

  1. Can’t really comment about kids’ films, but I’m seeing more sexism–or maybe I’m just more aware of it? Either way, over it & calling it out more. Also, love your resolution!

  2. Huh. My friend and I went to go see this movie back in the fall, and sad enough, I never noticed any of this. But you’re absolutely right, and it sucks. Thanks for bring this to my attention. I need to look at movies more closely now…

    1. I only started noticing fairly recently too. And the most annoying thing is the more you notice… the more you notice 😦

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