Many Indian cartoons project girls as the weaker sex, when compared to boys. This needs to change and girls especially need to be projected differently.
I have a naughty, frisky and annoying neighbour, yet I love spending time with her. As I say it, I hear her climbing down the stairs. The sound from her shoes say it all, about her mood.
If the pounding is slow, that is, the latter sound is more prolonged than the prior, it is evident she is being forced by her mother to climb down the stairs to play. If the sound is rhythmical then she is excited to go outside.
The other day, I complimented her, “You have lovely shoes, Riya”. I was corrected with an adorable and agile answer, “Aunty, it’s chandel, not choes”. Yes, you guessed it right, she is a toddler and she meant sandal and shoes in her lurched language.
She came running at my door, climbed the front iron door and rung the calling bell. She performs miracles with her tiny legs that sometimes get to me. I lazily opened the door, and she rushed in complaining, “Aunty, next time if you delay opening the door, I will not come to play with you.”
Yes, it was our play time, and I forced myself to look petrified at her answer. I tell her stories and we play with Barbies. We cook and serve our imaginary guests. And a few times, the imaginary guests complain to Riya about the partially cooked food. It is fun, reviving my childhood with her. But today I was in no mood to play with her, yet I could not ask her to go back, so I volunteered to watch television.
She was not very happy with the proposition, but finally agreed with a frown on her face and after I offered her an ice-cream. I turned on the television and asked her what she wanted to watch. To my surprise, she said, “dichcovry kid”. I put on the channel and decided to complete my pending work quickly. In the meantime, our question and answer session continued. Soon she got bored and started running around.
I inquired if she wanted to watch a cartoon. She replied, “Which cartoon?”, I said, “Chota bheem”. I thought she would love to watch this, as this cartoon is known to be popular with kids. But I was corrected with her answer, “No, I do not like cartoons”. Did I hear right? A toddler and no cartoons! I was curious now. I demanded and asked her the reason. “There is no girl in it”. I told her then, there is ‘Chutki’ and ‘Raj Kumari.’ But her answer to this reasoning was, “Chi does not fight with bad people. Chi claps when Bheem dhishoom them. ”
It sounded childish while talking to her at that time. She went home early, as she found me boring that particular day. She rushed off hurriedly, and she reached her home within seconds. The next day she went to her aunt’s place with her mother, so I was left alone for a change. I decided to surf the cartoon channels and verify the truth in her statement. It took me an hour to find one show, where three girls were the super characters. I was distressed.
We have started building the invisible line of discrimination since childhood. Riya’s tiny brain can observe it too. It is time to rethink about strengthening our children’s minds. Do these cartoons encourage boys to think, that they are the strongest? It is only boys who can fight against bad or evil and can save the weak, that is, girls.
If it is, then we are certainly receiving a wrong message here. Are today’s cartoons placing girls in the back seat, forcing them to think that they are lesser as compared to boys? If this idea has crossed their mind, then it is time to make them realize, that they are equal to boys in every way. Girls can fight evil too.
I wish to share my thoughts with those magicians, who have coloured our tender minds with their beautiful brushes.
Thank you for filling our days of infancy, with your fancy color brushes. Thank you for the imaginary wings you gave us. Thank you for all the beautiful dreams of flying on Aladdin’s magical carpet, priceless gifts of Tooth fairies and Jungle adventures of Mowgli. But for once let us think like Riya. It is high time. It is not the age to seed favoritism, gender biases, and gender inequality in their budding minds. Why not use this humongous source of edutainment to bring a change.
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