Monster High: A Feminist Analysis
Yeah so I decided to pop this baby out since everyone seems to have such a problem with race discussions — why not discussions about gender too? I mean why the fuck not?
Anyway, let’s get this show on the road.
So, for all you followers out there who don’t know, sometimes there is this thing I like to do which is collect Monster High dolls.
I’m not going to go into detail about why I started, but whenever I bring it up there is always that one person who likes to point and exclaim “But Alex! You’re a Feminist!” because somehow the fact that I am a feminist means that I am automatically supposed to hate everything that isn’t 100% misogynist free. And I’m not going to lie and say that Monster High isn’t problematic because it is; You will find many of the same tried and true sexist and racist tropes that we see everywhere in the media today.
The girls, particularly Draculaura, do all of the stereotypical things society expects girls to be interested in. They go shopping all the time, put on make-up, wear 12-inch heels everyday even to class, and have perfect bodies. White/light-skinned characters also outnumber POC/dark-skinned characters as everyone should know if they have been listening to the race discussions currently happening on the Monster High tag. Howleen, one such POC/dark-skinned character, hates her curly hair and I’m going to just stop there because I’m sure everyone knows where I’m going with this. The unofficial leaders of the transfer students from Belfry Prep (the very rich and very white Bram Devein & Gory Fangtell) hate the transfer students from Crescent Moon High (lead by Romulus and Dougey who are implied to be considerably less rich and definitely not white). Cleo and Deuce’s relationship is particularly troublesome, because it paints women as not only domineering (gold-digger much?), but also as the main cause of the emasculation of men (because that’s all us women-folk like to do right? Suck a man’s wallet dry and then make them hold the stuff that they bought for us lol, amiright?).
However, despite all of these faults, I would have to say that Monster High has a lot of things going for it.
Can I just say that I love that they based the dolls on horror movie monsters? And how the Monster High line pretty much just shoves the fact that girls can like genres usually marketed toward boys, it’s just no one has really put much effort into doing so in everybody’s faces? I’m not going to lie and say that the whole dark side of the monster angle isn’t watered down — because it is — but the fact that the dolls/show use monsters as an example to encourage and support young girls to be themselves despite whatever flaws they might have is something that will never stop being a thing that needs to be said.
Also, I can’t not point out that I think the most groundbreaking thing that the Monster High line has done is it’s varied and mature portrayals of relationships. In fact, I would have to say that Cleo and Deuce’s relationship aside, the show has the most realistic and healthy representation of what real relationships are supposed to be like I have ever seen in any show directed toward young girls. Frankie’s decision to distance herself from Jackson and Holt because she personally felt that she couldn’t deal with a relationship with either/both of them at the moment? Lagoona trying to educate Gil about the privilege that is allotted to him, despite his supposedly liberal mindset toward their relationship? Clawd and Draculaura trying to overcome race/class issues while also trying to find time for each other, etc.? Fucking flawless — because relationships are hard to deal with and definitely take time and effort to maintain and young girls need to understand this so they can make mature, healthy decisions when they are finally old enough to create their own. Honestly, I am surprised no one has given Monster High the credit it deserves in this area.
Again, I must admit that other than their “passion for fashion” all of the characters have their own individual identities, personalities, and other interests that don’t include shopping, shopping, shopping (something that you can’t say about other doll lines, such as Barbie). Ghoulia is intelligent and is applauded for it instead of shamed, Lagoona as well as Clawdeen and Howleen play sports and have been outright stated to be better than their male counterparts, Abbey takes none of the shit none of the time, etc. Despite what everyone has said, race/class issues ARE addressed in the show (vampires vs werewolves, centaurs vs minotaurs, river monsters vs sea monsters, etc.), and I love that the creators haven’t chosen to overlook them. I have also stated in a previous post that despite Gorey and Bram’s whiteness there are background POC vampires, and there are white background werewolves as well, so at least the Monster High crew are attempting to add some sort of racial diversity (obviously we should not just settle for this but it is a step in the right direction).
So, in short, Monster High may be problematic in certain areas, but you can’t say that it isn’t an improvement over previous, outdated doll lines marketed toward young girls. I definitely approve of the steps that they are taking to make the Monster High line more accessible to everyone, and like I said before that certainly doesn’t mean we should overlook the bad — but that also doesn’t mean we should overlook the good either.
Overall, I give the Monster High line 3.8 out 5 Feminist Stars.
Now bring on the trolls!
tagged as: monster high. monster high race. monster high feminist analysis. troll what troll. haters gonna hate. feminism. sexism. media. racism.
posted on July 13, 2012