Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Trouble with Dora

Today's post is not a book review. It's a rant at how sexist stereotypes still persist. As any preschooler knows, Dora the Explorer is an intrepid pint-sized adventurer with a purple backpack and a boot-wearing monkey for a sidekick. A show featuring her exploits took off in 2000. Five years later, Dora's cousin Diego was given his own series.

When my nephew was younger, he loved Dora and wore her backpack with pride. It didn't matter to him one wit that Dora was a girl. And yet, fourteen years after the show's debut, Dora has been sold out, a victim of merchandising. The above photo was snapped in my doctor's waiting room. Sexism is so insidious that it took me a while to realize what was wrong with the decals stuck to the wall. But look closely. The toons' body language says it all. Dora stands with her arms folded, legs crossed, while Diego is running full speed. The message is clear: Girls = Passive; Boys = Active. (I won't even go into the butterflies surrounding Dora versus the menacing paw prints near Diego.)

Not to be hasty, I checked to see if there are more active wall decals of Dora on Amazon. Not really. There's one showing her holding a bunch of flowers and another, the best of the bunch, in which she's on tippy toes, arms wide open.

Now imagine a preschool boy seeing the two figures on the wall. Would he choose Dora as his model? Not likely. A preschool girl would, though. And with her choice comes the implicit message that boys do all the running.  

Dora the Explorer and Go, Diego, Go generally get high marks from the media for setting nonstereotypical examples for its young viewers. Unfortunately, its licensing department has a long way to go.

Okay, today's rant is over.


  1. That is really irritating. My four year old loves Dora. I don't like the idea of her seeing marketing images like that. Sigh.

  2. Plus it looks like he has a backpack and she doesn't, implying she's not the explorer anymore.

    I love the rant. I think it should be a weekly post.

  3. Terrible. I was just thinking about Dpra the other day, for some reason--the Dora I remember--and what a great role model she was for girls and boys--brave, strong, smart, adventurous, and compassionate.

    This is sickening. I agree with Tracy. Great rant, do it weekly.

  4. The backpack is gone - plus Dora used to look much more toddler-like with a pink tee and orange shorts. Sometimes her belly peeked out! Now she has been "teenified" in other versions with long hair, leggings and jewelry. Ick.