Studies have shown that girls as young as six are influenced by gender stereotypes, and that role models from the entertainment they choose can have a lasting effect.

Crushing Gender Stereotypes - Strong Female Characters

Author Bio – Lauren Ruby is a senior at Bloomfield Hills High School. She’s an aspiring writer and is excited to be attending Vanderbilt University in the fall.

As people grow older, sometimes it seems as though all they want to do is grow back down. In today’s society, it is all too common to crave to be young again with little worries and few problems. However, there is one problem that is inevitable at any age: gender stereotyping. As much as I, a teenage girl in the home stretch of her high school career, sometimes wish I could go back to my preschool days when I lived a life without worry, I know I can never fully escape the unique challenges that come with being female.

When I was four years old, I remember joining a boy in my class who was playing with blocks. As soon as I sat down, the boy began to cry and told me I couldn’t play with him. When I asked him why, he responded, “Because you’re a girl!”. The four year old boy had already stereotyped me as someone unfit to construct things because I was female, and I was only a child. This is gender stereotyping, and this is what strong females across the globe are fighting against.

Of course, not all of us can inspire the entire world like Amelia Earhart, Rosa Parks, or Michelle Obama. Sometimes, all it takes is a strong female character in our lives to show us that people can do great things, regardless of gender. Though this strong female character can be anyone, it is often a TV show character in this day and age with the convenience of Netflix allowing people, young and old, to stream endless shows to their homes. Through Netflix TV shows, females of all ages are inspired to be anything but a damsel in distress.

If you live on planet Earth, I’m sure you’ve heard of the Netflix original series “Orange Is the New Black.”  Putting aside the underlying “incarceration” portion of the show – the sheer nature of this show is inspiring in itself for it focuses entirely on women. Not only does it focus only on women, it focuses on diverse women, proving to females of all races, shapes, sizes, and backgrounds that they are important, and they are strong. With the wide variety of female characters, women around the world are sure to find someone they can relate to in this show (just hopefully not the part about them being in jail).

Danielle Brooks, Megan Gogerty, Samira Wiley in a room

In addition to “Orange Is the New Black”, Netflix recently released a new series called “The Crown” that focuses on the reign of Queen Elizabeth II. Viewers of this show watch as the queen struggles with the responsibilities of being both royalty and a woman, in a time when it was rare to see women in any type of power postion. With this interesting plot, women see the strength of the strong female lead and know that they, too, can be as powerful as a queen.

The Crown on Netflix

Netflix does not solely inspire adult women. “Degrassi: The Next Class” touches upon every high school issue a girl could ever encounter in her teenage years. In this show, there are many respectable characters trying to find their way but viewers can truly look up to the character of Goldi. Goldi is an activist and a feminist who is unafraid to voice her beliefs, no matter the consequences. Goldi’s passion for fighting for her values inspires teenage girls to stand up for what they believe is right, as well. As much as we try to deny it, TV does have a strong impact on teenagers these days. However, Goldi in “Degrassi” empowers teenage girls rather than putting them down.

TV also impacts younger children’s’ development into adulthood. Touching young girls, Netflix has TV shows for kids not quite ready for high school drama just yet like “A Series of Unfortunate Events” that positively impacts young girls’ transition into becoming capable, independent women. In this series, the parents are killed in a fire, and the oldest sibling, Violet, is tasked with taking care of her family. This is an overwhelming amount of responsibility for a girl her age but Violet inspires viewers by showing them what girls are capable of, even at a young age. From watching Violet show such responsibility, young girls are shown that they can take on large amounts of responsibility, as well, and do not need a “Prince Charming” to help them take care of themselves.

A young boy standing next to a building

For little, innocent girls who still love cartoons, Netflix streams the original series “Dragons: Race to the Edge”. In this original show, the main character is a girl, Astrid, who is a young Viking who is as determined as the boys around her. She is very smart, tough, and beautiful and works hard to restore her family’s honor. The people around Astrid can’t help but be drawn to her, showing viewers the attractiveness of confidence and strength. From observing Astrid’s courage, young girls are inspired to develop into strong women as Astrid demonstrates to little girls that they, too, can be powerful young women and that no task is too big for a girl, even training a dragon.

A little girl that is standing in the grass

A personal favorite character of mine is Fiona from Showtime’s “Shameless”. Fiona is a young woman in her twenties who takes care of her five younger siblings in a low income neighborhood while trying to deal with her absent, bipolar mother and drunk father. Every time I watch this show, I am inspired by Fiona’s strength, independence, and dedication to her family, and it’s nice to watch a show that focuses on a strong, female lead rather than a male.

Shameless on Netflix

However, many shows I watch focus around a male main character but even shows like “Arrow”, which is based about a male superhero, have strong female characters, as well. In “Arrow”, the character Laurel decides to take up boxing and self defense after her sister is murdered. Many of her male friends try to convince her out of this idea, telling her that fighting back is too dangerous. However, Laurel disregards this advice and defies every stereotype by becoming an outstanding fighter. Laurel, and characters alike, inspire females of all ages that they can do anything they set their minds to.

A woman standing in front of a mirror posing for the camera

Studies have shown that girls as young as six are influenced by gender stereotypes, and that role models from the entertainment they choose can have a lasting effect. TV sometimes gets a bad reputation but “Netflixing” can be truly inspiring to women of all ages. Strong female TV show characters are role models to girls and women across the globe, and Netflix TV shows have no shortage of these empowering women.

Even though we can’t avoid gender stereotypes, it’s comforting to have TV shows with outstanding female leads readily available to us whenever we need to escape reality for an hour (or seven). And strong female characters aren’t just important for girls. Boys are growing up with Eleven saving the crew and Tip showing that true friendship knows no bounds.

Now, women are no longer only portrayed as damsel in distresses; they are superheros, queens, moms, fighters, or just a relatable woman who can do anything a man can do and more.

Author Bio – Lauren Ruby is a senior at Bloomfield Hills High School. She’s an aspiring writer and is excited to be attending Vanderbilt University in the fall.


I am very excited to be a member of the Netflix Stream Team! That’s right – I am a lucky girl – Netflix provides me with their amazing streaming services and I get to tell my kids “sorry, I can’t help you right now, I am working”, while watching The Crown!! (check out every month what to watch on Netflix!) #STREAMTEAM

A close up of a sign

Disclosure – This post is part of a sponsorship partnership with Netflix – all opinions are 100% my own.

strong female characters on Netflix - crushing gender stereotypes

 

Jennifer Fishkind

About Jenn

Jenn is a mom to three beautiful boys, wife to an amazing husband, social influencer and blogger. I love all things easy recipes, easy crafts, all things hacks, traveling EVERYWHERE and feeding my Pinterest addiction!

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