Man, it didn’t even occur to me that one couldn’t create a male avatar in Disney’s Pixie Hollow site. But apparently, kids have been finding a way around this problem for a while. From Salon:
The open secret around the Hollow has long been that if you make your fairy tall, with short hair, and give her an ambiguous name like Jamie, she can pretty quickly establish a reputation as a he. Hey, Mom and Dad, we’ve got your rigid gender roles right here.
Yup, I’m sure some of my transgendered friends can tell you similar stories from the “real world.”
I suppose we shouldn’t find it surprising that the male faeries aren’t called faeries at all: They’re “Sparrow Men.” I don’t even know where to start here. Should we begin with a reference to the undeniably-fey Jack Sparrow, or with musings over the fact that somehow they seem to young to be called men?
And why does this even matter? Well, Salon’s got a few good words here too:
It’s pretty clear that [the male faerie avatar] will serve mainly as somebody else for little girls to dress up, a token boy in a flower-festooned pixie land. But his mere presence gives every kid the option of deciding for herself – and himself – their roles in that world. The fact that when young visitors create characters now they’re presented with both a female and a male avatar and prompted to “please pick one” is a big deal for a generation that’s going to grow up spending a portion of its life online. It says that there are choices.
Hat tip: BoingBoing.