Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

Sofia the First, Princes Things, and #FedWikiHappening

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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.

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