Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 18 seconds

Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

Sofia the First, Princes Things, and #FedWikiHappening

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Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 18 seconds

Reading Time: 3 minutes

I’ve been wanting go blog about this episode of Sofia the First ever since I first saw it (a year ago?) – it’s my favorite one. It’s the one where Sofia decides to try out for the flying derby team, but everyone tells her it was an “only boys” thing. Here’s a song that sums up how both male and female characters in the cartoon discouraged her:


I love these lines Sofia says in the song:

But who knows what I could bring,
Flying high upon a wing?
I believe that anything
Can be…a…princess…thing

Of course, she had to go pick a not-so-good horse with low self-esteem (ok she didn’t pick him, he was the only one left), then live through a lot of taunts. And she almost pulls out. But then she gets pep talks from clover and her mom, and sings this wonderful “I can do anything” song.

Here are some of the lyrics:

But the only way to win
Is to try and try again
They wanna count me out
But I’ll make them count me in

I can be anything
I can see anything
You can teach anything
I can reach anything
I can do anything
So can you
Anything that you try
Look and see
You can be anything

…..

And whatever it takes
I’ll learn from my mistakes
I’ll get up when I fall
And never stop giving it my all

I would’ve loved the episode much more if Sofia didn’t win in the end. There’s another prince who cheats to try to beat Sofia and her stepbrother, but in the end they beat him. What would have made more sense is the cheater wins, then gets discounted when his cheating is discovered (it’s cool that Amber who was his fan, and dismissing Sofia as a derby racer, noticed the cheating and booed him then cheered Sofia).

The other issue with the episode is that even though it emphasizes women’s empowerment (which i love), it also puts the male standards of achievement as ones girls could/should strive towards. It actually makes no sense that boys who’d been training for ages would get beaten by anyone (boy or girl, or horse for that matter) who was totally new.

The episode is on TV right now. How appropriate. Since I was just doing this to myself today. There was a thing going on fedwiki where ppl started changing their gradient square favicon into an avatar with their own images. The post explaining how said that it was only for programmers. I was like, I used to be a programmer, i should be able to figure this out. Meanwhile, many men on the happening started changing their squares. I read the instructions (for Mac but i have a Windows machine) and they seemed straightforward and with a teeny bit more detail, would have been clear to non-programmers (i now realize that’s probably me coz i didn’t get all of it).

Then Mike did something wonderful. He decided to change all our avatars. So now I got what I wanted without having to do programming. Just enough nagging/advocacy.

I am not saying a girl couldn’t do it. 10 years ago I probably could. I was frustrated this morning that I couldn’t, but now I realize I was frustrating myself over the wrong thing. First, coz it’s not a gender thing really, it just happens that we don’t have many female programmers on the team. I am sure if one was there she’d have managed. And second, why waste my time on something Mike could do for me (thanks Mike) just to be “like them”? Now everyone’s got it, which is better for everyone than if i had done it for myself 🙂

But seriously, that’s a good Sofia the First episode 🙂 It just ended now. Off to put my kid to bed.

8 Comments

  1. It’s not a gender thing, it’s a Windows thing 😉

    I was hoping to figure out a way to explain it; that curl command he used wont work unless you are on a unix command line. I thought there would be a way via your cpanel and a virtual terminal but its not there. Then I went with friends to a party. That was more fun than unix commands.

    And I just erased a paragraph. I do not feel I can enter a discussion about the gender thing because of my gender. Everything sounds like I am talking from a side of the fence when I do not even see the fence. And not seeing the fence becomes a gender thing. Ergo ipso lorem sum ergo.

    But we all have icons, watch ’em spin.

    • Alan, you’re one of the most sensitive men I know (I think!) but I totally understand why you don’t get it. It’s partly justified and partly exaggerated gendered discourse. This post was sort of trying to explain why I felt compelled to try it, got frustrated, but ultimately realized it shouldn’t have been my goal anyway since I could get what I really wanted (the icons of ppl for everyone) rather than what i thought i should want (to prove i remembered programming ; windows and unix issues aside). Kind of 🙂 Thanks for commenting here 😉

  2. In many ways I feel like this is the reason Disney cracked the “princess code” in Frozen. Boys everywhere are singing Let It Go and gathering for the “The Ball.” Elsa and her sister didn’t win in spite of being female, they did not win by striving for the male standard.

    They overcame the conflict in their own way, and the love and empathy they showed with was authentic. This made the story ring true for boys and girls everywhere.

    In terms of a Sofia the First Story…Ben, my son, was watching Sleeping Beauty (the original) the other day and shouted at the screen, “Hey its Sofia’s Fairy Godmother.”

    • Hey Greg, you’re right about Frozen. I love that it showed sisterly love wins, rather than depending on men and romantic love. I did not know that boys were also singing Let it Go. I need to write a post about that song!

  3. @Bali_Maha What is this #FedWikiHappening I already have installed mediawiki on my server? Looks like folks are using the same wiki tool

  4. @jgmac1106 it’s a small event to test out this new approach to wiki/web. @_daveh70 has it installed separately if u wanna try it?

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