In the past, society has always worked to show us that men are stronger than women, and by default are the real heroes, badasses, etc. But recently, we’ve seen women disprove that theory on the big screen with characters like Princess Leia and Black Widow.
The big deal with women, like these two who are on the big screen and kicking major butt, is that they work to break down a stereotype, and in the process they become role models to women both young and old. That is why it’s so frustrating that there is a lack of female action figures standing alongside their male companions.
I like to think that in this day and age the idea that girls can’t play with action figures, and boys can’t play with dolls, is a thought of the past—although I know that’s not entirely accurate. In fact, I’m sure this unnecessary stereotype is one of the bigger reasons we’re seeing a lack of female action figures lining the shelves. If only boys play with action figures and only males can be heroes, then why make women action figures? Unless of course you’re at Toys “R” Us, which does carry one Princess Leia figure—Slave Leia.
What does that say to younger generations? It imposes that stereotype that women cannot be as strong as men. If the only Leia figure that lines the shelves is her in shackles, chains and a bikini, it is not only demeaning to her character, but to women everywhere. It completely disregards the instances where she saved Han Solo, killed Jabba the Hut, and so on. Rather, the idea of sex selling is being imposed on kids and furthering the message that women can’t be heroes. We don’t see male heroes shackled in chains; we see them in their uniforms, being heroic.
Recently, Black Widow has grabbed the attention of the big screen. She may not be a god, have anger issues, or have millions of dollars to build a suit of armor, but she is a trained assassin and, most importantly, she’s an Avenger. Which is why it is so incredibly frustrating that she does as much on-screen heroic fighting as her male counterparts, yet her action figures still appear to be sparse.
In fact, Disney even went as far as to completely remove her from a set that included all Avenger action figures and had the audacity to cover the box with a scene she owned, replacing her with Captain America. I guess since she’s not a princess, Disney doesn’t have time to put her on the shelves. Could you stoop any lower?
Characters like Princess Leia and Black Widow are essential to today’s society. They make huge statements on the big screen. They break down the stereotype that women can’t be as strong, as powerful, and as heroic as men. The fact that they’re being snubbed of the opportunity to be mass produced action figures, like the men, is extremely disappointing, especially to the young girls and boys who want to take her home. And I mean the action figure version, not the slave-princess version.
C’mon Disney, let’s fix this issue.