If some gender stereotypes seem cartoonish by today’s standards, is there a better way to discuss them than in animated video?
That exactly what our own Whit Honea, a Los Angeles City Dads Group member, does in a recent piece for The Atlantic online magazine.
Honea narrates “Outdated Gender Stereotypes Are ‘Very Much Alive,’” a three-minute essay on his family’s experience with the assigning of old-fashioned gender roles in the modern world.
The video is part of Home School, an animated series about parenting produced by The Atlantic. Previous episodes tackled issues such as discussing racism with your children and whether parents should argue in front of their kids.
“I was contacted by the producer, Elyse Kelly, in the spring. I don’t know how she found me — I suppose I was afraid to ask too many questions, lest she decide I wasn’t the right fit — but I’ve been writing about parenting and social issues for well over a decade, and my work tends to show up in your better search results,” Honea, a frequent contributor to the City Dads Group website, told us recently in an interview about the collaboration. “We initially had a series of meetings in which we discussed modern fatherhood, masculinity and other issues, and then we had one more with me in a recording studio. I never knew which parts of the session she was going to use, nor did I see the animation until it was complete.”
The final video depicts Honea, a work-at-home freelance writer, and his family and how they try to defy what others define as “male” and “female” work and items. It uses a real-life experience with gender stereotypes when Honea’s two boys wanting what a fast-food restaurant defined as a “girl” toy as a prize in one of its children’s meals.
“By no means do I want to imply that it’s wrong for kids to embrace things that they enjoy just because it falls on one [gender] or the other—just that it shouldn’t be mandated by us,” Honea says in the clip.
“I loved it,” Honea told us in an interveiw. “I didn’t know what to expect, but I kind of figured it would a more generic representation, maybe an anthropomorphic flamingo or something. Seeing myself (the hat, beard, pants), portrayed that accurately was a wonderful surprise. Honestly, the whole experience of being animated, let alone narrating the video, was the stuff of bucket lists. It was an honor, and should you have the opportunity, I highly recommend it.”