Brave Girls Want Dolls That Do Not Originate In or Reflect Porn Culture – NSFW

A guest post by Charlotte Kugler

*Editor’s Note: Given a contentious facebook discussion this morning, I want to make it clear that myself, Charlotte, and much of the PPBB community understands there are boys and men who enjoy MLP and are great, non-pervy guys. This post isn’t about them.

As a student at Mount Holyoke, a women’s liberal arts college in western Massachusetts, I’ve done a lot of thinking in recent years about feminism and the evolving role of women and girls in American society. A lot of my friends are involved in geek subculture, which is made up of people who are passionate about a variety of hobbies and interests such as anime, books, comics, cosplaying, tabletop roleplaying, and fantasy and science fiction franchises. The term for the fans of any particular fictional work is  “fandom,” and as happens in mainstream culture as well, girls and women in fandom subcultures are often marginalized.

A popular television show among college-aged geeks these days is My Little Pony, which was initially marketed towards young girls with positive messages about friendship and kindness. People my age sometimes re-watch favorite TV series from their childhoods (or other children’s shows that they haven’t seen before) as a way to relax or because they find it fun. However, the adult fandom for My Little Pony is largely composed of men who call themselves “bronies” and who watch the show to mock it, or in worse cases, to actively oppose its female-centric messages and to corrupt its wholesomeness. Some bronies make pornographic art of the characters, called fan art, and write pornographic stories featuring them, called fan fiction. Not all fan art and fan fiction is necessarily pornographic in nature; in fact, much of it isn’t, especially within the fandoms of children’s shows. But when adults deliberately pornify children’s products and media for their own consumption, not only does this severely detract from the purpose of the show— in the case of My Little Pony, to teach young girls about how to be good people—but it also sets up an inappropriate and sometimes dangerous situation on the Internet. How many mothers know that if their daughters or sons do a Google search for the character names in My Little Pony, they may inadvertently stumble upon pornographic pictures? Yes, there is Pinkie Pie porn, in keeping with Rule 34.

What does this porn look like? Take a guess! The recently-launched line of toys called Equestria Girls feature humanized versions of the pony characters. These figures are highly sexualized and are designed to appeal to the media-engendered desire of many girls these days to look and act more grown up than they are. These dolls bear a striking resemblance to some of the pornography drawn by male adult fans of My Little Pony in which the ponies are humanized in order to be able to perform sexually. Little girls are playing with dolls that through coincidence or design now look like actual pornography on the Internet, with clothing and attitudes that may later turn up on the Internet as well, in Facebook selfies. These dots bear connecting. Toy companies succeed in increasingly blurring the line between childhood and adulthood, and contribute to the overall mainstreaming of porn culture.

Girls deserve to grow up free from the stereotyped and sexualized versions of girlhood and female gender roles marketed by corporations like the one behind Equestria Girls…and Monster High, and Winx Club, et cetera. They deserve to be encouraged to explore all of the interests and opportunities that boys are able to investigate as children without limitation based on their gender. They also deserve to enter adolescence not suffering already from low self-esteem, poor body image and eating disorders, and unhealthy views of sexuality, which can all result when society pushes young girls to define themselves according to what boys and men expect of them.

I’m so happy to see that my mother (Lori Day) and Melissa Wardy and so many other adults care about this issue and have even formed an organization to directly address it called Brave Girls Alliance (www.bravegirlswant.com). I know what brave girls want. They want dolls that do not originate in or reflect porn culture!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Charlotte Kugler

Charlotte Kugler is a 21-year-old senior at Mount Holyoke College in western Massachusetts. She is double-majoring in English and Anthropology and will be applying to graduate schools this fall in pursuit of a Master’s degree in Communications. Charlotte is the contributing author to the upcoming book Her Next Chapter: How Mother-Daughter Book Clubs Can Help Girls Navigate Malicious Media, Risky Relationships, Girl Gossip, and So Much More, written with her mother, Lori Day.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Melissa’s notes:

The parallels that Charlotte draws in her post from porn culture to children’s media is something that greatly concerns me as a parent. I want you to view these images and look for similarities in apparel, shoes, posts, hair, facial expressions, body shape, etc. The line between porn and childhood is very blurred indeed.

Here is a fun game to play: Put Hugh Hefner in the line up of any of these “toys” ensembles. Does he look out of place? Does that sentence alone make your head explode? If Hugh Hefner doesn’t look out of place standing in line with children’s toys, what does that say about children’s toys?

These images are from the Playboy Mansion, Monster High, Esquestria Girls, strip club billboards in Los Angeles and London, Winx Club, and a Halloween costume superstore website. The fact they could all be layered on top of each other and not look dissimilar should have you thinking critically about the media and products being sold to our children, and the overall message being given about the value and worth of the female body.

Want to be part of making change? Support the fundraising campaign of the Brave Girls Alliance, where we are taking these messages about healthier media and products for girls to the heart of Times Square: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/brave-girls-invade-times-square/x/3977451

We are nearly 70% funded and have only a week left! We want to take YOUR voices to the billboards of Times Square and work together to say ENOUGH!

 

 

Comments

  1. That’s. Just. Nuts.
    That picture of The Winx Club?? Are you kidding me??!
    Thanks for a GREAT post Charlotte and Melissa!
    Gonna share it!!

    • That is a picture of the original incarnation of the Winx Club, launched nearly a decade ago. They are no longer marketed dressed like this.

      • Ginger -
        You are absolutely incorrect. http://www.nick.com/shows/winx-club/

        • Er, where on that page are they shown wearing their season 1 transformation outfits?
          If you’re talking about the header for the page, then you’re incorrect. They’re wearing what are basically heavily stylised and sparkly wetsuits from season 5, which has a focus on going underwater.
          Also, there are far politer ways of saying that you disagree with my statement.

  2. I second Marci’s stance – this was a great post. Charlotte, you did an excellent job of covering the problematic side of brony fandom and the co-opting of MLP in ways that suck for non-creepy adult fans and kids alike. And the Hugh Hefner game at the end is pretty mind-boggling. We might think about these things when we see the designs in stores, but it’s quite a wake-up call to see it laid out like that!

  3. Rule 34 applies. If you want to find this perversion or that perversion, you will find it. Try Googling Dora or frikking Team Umizoomi with the same intent and I bet you’ll find it. The internet will forever be “a wretched hive of scum and villainy” as Obi-wan would say.

    Your statement that “the adult fandom for My Little Pony is largely composed of men who call themselves “bronies” and who watch the show to mock it, or in worse cases, to actively oppose its female-centric messages and to corrupt its wholesomeness.” is way, way off base. I think you’re confusing it with the perverted fringe mentioned above. The brony fanbase, by and large, would actually be ALLIES to your fight. They actively promote the female-centric and wholesome messages of the show. Even the article you linked to to define bronies mentions how the fandom was ticked off that Hasbro would corrupt “their” show in a blatant marketing ploy. The crap part, as you correctly point out, is that Hasbro would take their cues off either the perverted fringe (not likely) or the other unfortunately successful sexist and sexualized toys (much more likely) and think they need to take an otherwise great show and perform this horrible mutation to it so it will sell to already brainwashed tweens.

  4. Yes, thank you for this post. It’s disgusting what’s happening, but even worse is how easy it is to dismiss as “trendy”. It is so true, you don’t really give it too much thought until its right next to those other pictures… Although, the Monster High and Winx have always disturbed me. Thank you, again. I will be sharing this all over the place!

  5. While you’re article means well I feel you paint the “brony” fandom with far too wide a brush. Porn is an issue period be it with MLP, Futurama, or The Simpsons rule 34 applies. While I don’t personally classify myself as “brony” (I’ve never watched the show). I know a LOT of people who do. None of them are nearly the monster you painted in your article. You state that “bronies” watch the show to mock it. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Friends of mine who watch the who and identify as “brony” do nothing but praise the show. If they make fun of it in any way it’s the same way they make fun of any other cartoon they make fun of, usually light hearted at “what were the creators thinking”.

    • Hi James -
      I would love for some of your brony friends to help me find articles from within the decent side of their community that speak out against the sexualization of the Equestria Girls and the porny side of their subgroup. Because I cannot find any. Not a single one.

      As the caveat said at the very beginning of the post — this is about the darker side of the group, not the nice guys and boys who enjoy the show.

      • The problem I have is while you did at the beginning say this “wasn’t against the boys or men who like MLP”. You didn’t refer to them as bronies. You say and I quote.

        “However, the adult fandom for My Little Pony is largely composed of men who call themselves “bronies” and who watch the show to mock it, or in worse cases, to actively oppose its female-centric messages and to corrupt its wholesomeness.”

        The context of this sentence conveys a message that all “bronies” are anti women. It’s imo poorly written. I linked the article on FB if my friends want to post they will.

        • James -
          You are quoting my guest blogger, Charlotte, who is a part of geek culture and has attended conferences and exists in a social world where this is her opinion and her voice on the matter. What I’m hearing is a lot of people screaming about what is/isn’t a brony, who is/isn’t a brony, and no one is stopping to wonder why several young women from my page are saying their experiences leave them with a very disturbed feeling about the way the bronies they have encountered behave.

          My disclaimer at the top acknowledged that we know there are bronies who are nice guys, who are allies to us. We see that. But let’s not pretend the other side doesn’t exist. Let’s not pretend the experiences of these young women I have spoken to don’t matter.

  6. As soon as I saw the Equestria Girls, I said to my husband, “This is not for kids, this is for the bronies.” Glad I’m not the only one who saw that.

  7. Then you have obviously done no real research. Finding the Brony fan site http://www.equestriadaily.com/ isn’t that diifficult.

    The main site has no porn on it. This characterization is insulting to female friends of bronies as well as the community at large. I found MLP through a Brony who was insulted by just this insinuation.

    Related: you may also want to look up the military patch based on MLP that has nothing to do with porn.

    This over characterization of men as nothing but sex fiends and the implication that the non-sexual aspect of the Brony community is really the minority insults both women and men.

    • No Karen, I did find that site. What I didn’t find *on it* were posts or something that let me know the majority of bronies are upset with the porny minority. NO one seems to be able to provide me with that info.

  8. Hi Melissa,

    I’m an avid reader of your blog and many others like it, a woman, an attorney, and a brony. I discovered MLP a few years back when I was in law school and I absolutely fell in love with the show- it has SIX main characters, all of whom are female, all of whom have their own personalities, adventures, quests, and all of whom are wonderful friends and supportive of the others. In my opinion, shows like that don’t really come along much anymore, and the fact that it is funny and entertaining with beautiful artwork doesn’t hurt either. As a fan of the show, I quickly discovered and became a part of the brony community and I was a bit confused about your description of bronies- it seemed pretty misinformed and a lot like the descriptions you see of bronies from say, Fox News when they did their “oooooh isn’t this super creepy and weird that adults like a kids show?!” bit a couple years back. However, in my experience, which certainly may differ from that of your source, bronies, by-and-large, really are just adults (of ALL genders- not just men, that annoys us when people take ‘brony’ to be just “bros”) who genuinely find something fun and worthwhile in the MLP show. As for the “pornization” of MLP that is Equestria Girls, I would absolutely diagree that that movie and merchandise was made for bronies- QUITE the opposite. Those toys and that movie were made BECAUSE of the trash toys out there like Monster High and Bratz that apparently sell to young girls like hotcakes- when the movie was announced the brony community was up in arms, and although many have come to accept it, bronies at large were really pissed at Hasbro when they took things in the Equestria Girls direction- we felt it made a mockery of what we feel is high-quality animation and was such an obvious “we want to sell dolls to kids” ploy. You should definitely read the comments on any post in a brony forum about Equestria Girls- you’ll find enough upset bronies to span the continent on there- equestriadaily.com is a good place to start. Keep up the good work otherwise!

    • Hi KMB -
      I really appreciate you sharing your points of view, thank you! It is good to hear from members of the brony community that they do not approve of the new sexualized line of Equestria Girls.

  9. I found this article very interesting. It reminds me a great deal of the discussions I had at university during my Children’s Literature Studies, when we discussed the sexualisation of the Bratz dolls and the first foray into children’s lingerie. There is still an endemic issue of sexualistation in children’s media and dolls, especially that marketed towards girls, and it seems like that door was especially flung open by those early “fashion” dolls. This is no longer a case of Barbie’s impossible body type, this is more a case of teaching girls that it is okay to be fetishised.

    And that is not okay.

    I completely agree that the brony community makes me, as a woman, extremely uncomfortable. Anecdotes of them stalking and harassing teen girls, handing pornography to voice-actors, and the general bullying that occurs at conventions has made me adamant that I never want to meet one in person. I have several female cousins who are of the MLP age, and as a collector of the original 80s line, I wanted to share my memories with them. But I find myself avoiding buying MLP and doll merchandise in person, these days, for fear of encountering one of these men. Or, worse, being associated with them. I have encountered enough of them, as they bull their way into the collector communities, to feel that I would not be safe in a one-on-one confrontation. Heavens know what would happen if I were holding a toy they wanted.

    Bronies have turned what should have been an empowering message for young women, into something that is immediately associated with shady and perverted dealings. MLP has become something you are ashamed to admit enjoying – and that is disappointing considering what the shows aim to portray. And while these “bad bronies” might be merely the vocal minority, I have yet to see a “real brony” actually step up and say that this is not okay. I’ve seen many collectors raise their voice and say that this atmosphere is not alright and that it makes them uncomfortable, but never a “real brony”. In fact, I’ve seen many dedicated collectors walk away from online communities, because of the overwhelming negativity the bronies have brought into these forums and discussion boards.

    As you so rightly said, “What I’m hearing is a lot of people screaming about what is/isn’t a brony, who is/isn’t a brony, and no one is stopping to wonder why several young women from my page are saying their experiences leave them with a very disturbed feeling about the way the bronies they have encountered behave.” If no one speaks out against them, what are we to assume the silence means? It is just as easy to ascribe silence as approval, as it is to ascribe it to disapproval. Unless there is a concerted, visible effort to speak out against this kind of over-sexualisation in the brony community, I will continue to feel unsafe as a fan, a woman and a collector.

    Thank you for presenting a very interesting article. Continuing on from what I studied and saw during my years as a Children’s Lit. student, the Bratz line seems to have opened the doors to a new way of teaching girls that being sexual is the only important aspect of their development. It has only snowballed, disturbingly, from there.

  10. The reason a doll line will typically share the same body type is due to the production costs involved with using multiple sculpts and that clothes may not be swapped between them as freely.
    Also, as *fashion* dolls, their bodies are highly idealized in order for the clothing to look good on them.
    Secondly, one of the doll lines you have pictured above is Lollipop Girls, which were specifically intended to be ADULT collector’s dolls.
    Thirdly, 90% of the dolls pictured do not even represent humans. The Winx Club girls aren’t even human, they’re basically aliens, Monster High dolls are, well, monsters, and Equestria Girls are humanoid ponies, which had been done LONG before the brony community ever existed. Bronies are not the only fans of My Little Pony, there has been a fan community ever since the brand’s beginning in the 80s.

    • Ginger -
      1. You are correct about the production costs thus companies only use one body frame. I think the question we should be asking is, should that one body frame be a healthy representation for children who do gather information about the world from toys. So we should then ask the same question about your comment on the dolls representing the fashion industry. Is it healthy for our children to be indoctrinated to an industry that needs its women to look like coat hangers?
      2. Lollipop Dolls have been marketed to children.
      3. This statement is ridiculous. They are clearly representations of the human form.

      • 1. Many collectors feel the same way about the variety of body types not being represented in dolls, though the big toy companies seldom listen, as their first priority is profit.
        2. From what I have read, they were only available in ‘specialty’ stores in limited numbers.
        3. Though not realistic ones that that; how many people have blue skin or fangs, or completely blank white eyes?

  11. The reason a doll line will typically share the same body type is due to the production costs involved with using multiple sculpts and that clothes may not be swapped between them as freely.
    Also, as *fashion* dolls, their bodies are highly idealized in order for the clothing to look good on them.
    Secondly, one of the doll lines you have pictured above is Lollipop Girls, which were specifically intended to be ADULT collector’s dolls.
    Thirdly, 90% of the dolls pictured do not even represent humans. The Winx Club girls aren’t even human, they’re basically aliens, Monster High dolls are, well, monsters, and Equestria Girls are humanoid ponies, which had been done LONG before the brony community ever existed. Bronies are not the only fans of My Little Pony, there has been a fan community ever since the brand’s beginning in the 80s…

Trackbacks

  1. [...] * Brave Girls Want Dolls That Do Not Originate In or Reflect Porn Culture. (Link may be NSFW.) [...]

  2. [...] Size You are here: Home / Representation and Identity / Girls / Brave Girls Want Dolls That Do Not Originate In or Reflect Porn Culture – NSFWBrave Girls Want Dolls That Do Not Originate In or Reflect Porn Culture – NSFW September 5, 2013 By pia Leave a Comment A guest post by Charlotte Kugler, originally posted at Pigtail Pals and Ballcap Buddies [...]

Speak Your Mind

*