To Bronies: Just liking ponies doesn’t mean you understand them, or what you claim to fight for when you say you want equality in media.
This is kind of about, and to bronies.
OK. It’s great that you like this show that was created for girls! Thanks for taking the time to watch it and brave abuse from your peers that constantly police your masculinity. That’s great, well done, yay.
But have you watched any other shows syndicated for girls? Ones that dismiss us, perhaps are of poorer quality? No? You won’t even take the time out to try them? OK. That’s fine; half of us wish that they weren’t aimed at us, too.
Have you tried to do anything in your life other than watch ponies that is aimed at girls? Watch movies aimed at women? Shop in the women’s departments? take up flower arranging? Consider being a stylist, an editor for a fashion magazine, a dress designer or a nurse as a long term career? How about being a stay-at-home dad someday? Do you wear pink that’s not on your pony merc? How about beads, or bows in your hair or something? Got any jewelry? Would you feel adverse to trying makeup, even if it’s just a little guyliner?
Yes? Did you give up eventually? No? Why not? If you never considered it, would you be willing to brave abuse from your peers to do those things, just like you brave the man-police to watch and like My Little Pony?
You see, just because you watch pony, it doesn’t mean that your stigma against ‘girly things’ is cured. You’re trained from when you were very young to dislike girl things, because whenever you showed any curiosity about them you got shamed about it by everyone you know, probably even the figures you trusted most. If you watch pony, but wouldn’t consider carrying a handbag or wearing a ring because it would be too girly, you’re not ’fighting to end male shaming and for equality of traditionally female media and ideas.’ You’re reinforcing the system, but then demanding to be included in a space that wasn’t designed or meant for you.
Oh, remember what I said about some of those careers up there? About designers and magazine editors? Many of those are men. The upper management is already men, telling women what to buy, wear, and think. The CEOs of clothes and fashion labels are men. The people who control womens’ media are already men.
And you think your inclusion in the space is novel? You’re already involved in it from the very top. Lauren Faust isn’t the top. She’s the contracted employee. The person who makes the IP, they aren’t the top. You’re at the top.
And the people at the top practically throw crumbs down at girls on the bottom. “Consume this, buy that, get THIS merchandise, use THIS product, etc.” in hopes of taking advantage of that conditioned insecurity in us: that we need to do something or else we’re ugly, lonely, fat, badly-dressed, unpleasing, or otherwise not good enough for our society.
And now you want our crumbs? Or do you pick just one crumb, and disdain the rest, because obviously these crumbs aren’t good enough for you?
My Little Pony is a fairly good cartoon and even toy line, at the moment (and in the past, actually, despite quality issues in some seasons and different expectations by decade for what young children would be able to understand and like) because it stresses that you can be many things and still be a great girl, you can’t ‘fail’ at being a girl, you just don’t have the same special talent as everybody else. From the uniqueness of the designs of the characters, to the lack of stigma based on pony type, to the fact that all ponies are actually individual and are judged on their talents, preferences, and ability rather than, say, how well they can get a man or how non-trashy they look, that’s great. That’s a wonderful message to girls. An unrealistic one, yes. But a great one; to strive to be individual in a world that wants you to be the same.
The show probably doesn’t have that kind of significance for you. Actually, this is probably why the show is popular among socially questionable males; the whole ‘people judge me on what’s INSIDE!!’ thing plays right into the complex of WHY DON’T PEOPLE AUTOMATICALLY LIKE ME, I AM A MALE I OUGHT TO BE LIKED MY ENTIRE WORLD TELLS ME SO that’s common in so many creeps. Not all male pony fans are creeps, of course. But why are so many? This is probably the reason; they feel outraged and outcast by a society that should welcome them.
Guess what. That’s the default state for women; more or less so depending on where your race, age, social class, and sexuality intersects. Our acceptance is conditional, in many ways. The show’s message of love and tolerance is a fantasy for many little girls, in a world where they really don’t feel the love, and unless they look, act, and be a certain way, they really aren’t tolerated by even their peers.
Why do people draw black!Rarity when they human-ify ponies so much? Because she represents, in that form, a protest against pretty much everything society tells you about black women. Rarity is loud, dramatic, and passionate: all things that society tells you are negative traits or aggressive traits in black women. But that’s what makes her great; everyone loves her for it. She has a very successful career and is amazingly good at what she does: two things that are often either dismissed as unlikely or outright ignored when black women achieve them: that’s why Tiana’s success in the Princess and the Frog in her restaurant was so important to many people. She’s constantly told she’s beautiful, one of the most beautiful ponies in Equestria. The media constantly excludes black women, lightens them, demands they change their hair, and other things, in order for them to be considered ‘beautiful.’ Black!Rarity is a really powerful image. And one that most white male bronies* probably don’t connect with or understand, at all. They can’t relate on that level, they can’t know what it feels like to be dismissed institutionally, to want to manifest as this great character everybody loves.
You want to stand up for women in culture, push for better quality in womens television and media? You listen, and understand why you don’t like the things you have been told not to like, listen to the women who have liked My Little Pony all along. Don’t kick them out of your fandom after you invade it, just like everything else they like, and then tell them that they don’t ‘get’ why Pony means so much.
You put ‘girly’ things in your own media. If it’s not less, where are our action heroes who wear makeup? Where are our spy movies that revolve around a salon? Why aren’t you slugging any person, on screen or otherwise, who uses masculinity shaming (“You’re GAY if you like that, bro!”) to police what someone else likes? Why do you stand idly by and not include things you profess to accept and even like into your own media and culture?
When the cultures of what is ‘OK’ for men and women to like and watch on TV are the same, I know we’ll have a little progress made.
But until then? You’re part of the problem. If you want to stop being part of the problem, you work your ass off to solve it. Because you’re in power. And you have that privilege To push us down and take our toys, or to let us share them with you, as equals.
* There are also black male bronies, and other male bronies of color. But that only makes you qualified in the race area. I am only qualified, as a white female, to speak in the gender area; I can only report what has been explained and taught to me by the people (and people of infinite patience and valor for taking the time out of their day to post about it at all!) I am talking about, and tell you here to go talk to them about it, for I am not the primary experience, only a reporter.
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