Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor is on Sesame Street, thus combining my two favorite things in the entire world: politics and TV shows I am a decade and a half too old for. Thus, despite it having very little relation to the stated topic of my blog, I decided to post about it anyway. Besides, I am pretty sure if you don’t dawwww at this then you are no longer human.

I really think that Sotomayor’s visit to Sesame Street is a great step for young girls, particularly girls of color. The wage gap between women of color and white men is huge: on average, Latina women make 60% of what white men earn. Having a Latina role model for girls of color matters, particularly one like Sotomayor, the first Hispanic and third female justice on the Supreme Court. Equally important, I think, is the way they presented it. A lot of people, when encouraging girls to dream high, tend to adopt this “girl power! Rah-rah! Women can do anything men can do!” perspective. Don’t get me wrong, that’s important, especially in the early days when “women can do anything men can do” was a radical concept. However, what I think is even more important is that Sotomayor normalized it. Of course girls have careers. Why wouldn’t they?

I semi-appreciate the dig at princess culture, as well. I contend that there is a very logical reason girls like Disney Princesses: Disney Princess stories are one of the few pieces of kid’s media really good female protagonists. Hard-working Tiana, curious Ariel, bookish Belle, kickass Mulan, Jasmine yearning to escape her parents, Rapunzel the fucking emotional abuse survivor… I mean, the early princesses didn’t  have much personality, but neither did the princes, so that’s a wash. Nevertheless, a lot of the princess culture surrounding the movies is truly terrible and centered around the idea that being a girl means looking pretty and finding a man. Fucking Mulan makeup dolls.  What is this shit? So it’s really nice that there’s a moment of “you don’t just have to be pretty and look for boys” there.

One of the things I find interesting is trying to imagine the comparable sketch for boys. It’s perhaps a sign of how little our culture values traditionally feminine jobs that I can’t think of a time a nurse, teacher, or stay-at-home dad has showed up to tell boys that they can be anything they want to be too.


Sonia Sotomayor: Hi, I’m Sonia Sotomayor.
Abbey Cadabbey: And I’m Abbey Cadabbey.
Sonia Sotomayor: And we’re here to tell you all about the word career.
Abbey Cadabbey: Yeah! Career!
Sonia Sotomayor: A career is a job that you train for and prepare for and plan on doing for a long time.
Abbey Cadabbey: Oh, I know what career I want to have.
Sonia Sotomayor: What’s that, Abbey?
Abbey Cadabbey: I want a career as a princess – career!

(Abbey transforms into a princess)

Sonia Sotomayor: Abbey, pretending to be a princess is fun, but it is definitely not a career.
Abbey Cadabbey: It’s not?
Sonia Sotomayor: No. Remember, a career is a job that you train and prepare for and that you plan to do for a long time.
Abbey Cadabbey: Well, gee, you’re right. I guess a princess really isn’t a job.
Sonia Sotomayor: No, it’s not.
Abbey Cadabbey: Well, then, what kind of career can a girl like me have?
Sonia Sotomayor: Well, you can go to school and train to be a teacher, a lawyer, a doctor, an engineer, and even a scientist.
Abbey Cadabbey: Wow. Do you have a career?
Sonia Sotomayor: Yes I do. I am a United States Supreme Court Justice. I went to school and studied law and then became a judge.
Abbey Cadabbey: Wow. Well, that sounds important.
Sonia Sotomayor: It is.
Abbey Cadabbey: Okay then I know what career that I want to have.
Sonia Sotomayor: What’s that?
Abbey Cadabbey: Career!

(Abbey changes to a judicial robe that matches Sonia Sotomayor)

Abbey Cadabbey: Order in the court!
Sonia Sotomayor: Oh Abbey, I think you’ll make a great, great judge.
Abbey Cadabbey: Oh, thank you.
Together: Career

About ozyfrantz

Ozy Frantz is a student at a well-respected Hippie College in the United States. Zie bases most of zir life decisions on Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, and identifies more closely with Pinkie Pie than is probably necessary. Ozy can be contacted at ozyfrantz@gmail.com or on Twitter as @ozyfrantz. Writing is presently Ozy's primary means of support, so to tip the blogger, click here.


  1. I went on a date with Sonia Sotomayor once. We split the check 5-4.

  2. Who are Muppets #2 and #5?

  3. I loved this video, but regarding your comment about the equivalent for boys—when I was growing up in the eighties, there was a program called Rainbow and on one episode, Bungle (a huge male bear) said when he grew up he wanted to be a nurse, and Zippee (an obnoxious yellow loudmouth) said boys can’t be nurses, and then Geoffrey (the Standard Adult) said yes they could, and they had a whole segment about male nurses.

    Sadly I can’t find the video online …

  4. Mark Sherman says:

    In lauding the appearance of Sonia Sotomayor on Sesame Street, you point out that Hispanic women earn only 60% of what white men make. That is terrible, but perhaps a more appropriate comparison would be with Hispanic men. There the difference is much smaller, with Hispanic women earning 91% of what their male counterparts make (a big improvement over 1980, when it was 71%).

    While any situation where women do not get equal pay for equal work is wrong, it is at least nice to see the gap closing. However, part of the reason for its closing is that young men are not doing as well as young women in terms of education (e.g., 57% of college students are female, and a college degree means much more money over one’s lifetime).

    The fact is that from female Supreme Court justices, Senators, CEOs, physicians, attorneys, and the like, girls and young women are getting the message everywhere that they can reach for the stars. The final paragraph has a very different implication for boys and young men. Ozy writes, “One of the things I find interesting is trying to imagine the comparable sketch for boys. It’s perhaps a sign of how little our culture values traditionally feminine jobs that I can’t think of a time a nurse, teacher, or stay-at-home dad has showed up to tell boys that they can be anything they want to be too.”

    Well, there is something very different about telling a girl she can aspire to be a Supreme Court justice and telling a boy that he can aspire to be a stay-at-home dad. Maybe someday stay-at-home dads (not to mention stay-at-home moms) will have as much prestige as Supreme Court justices, but I think that day is far off into the future. In any case, we’re certainly not encouraging our girls to have stay-at-home-parenthood be their highest aspiration. So why should we do that with our boys?

  5. Great article! 🙂

    Totally with you on the normalisation thing. It’s great to have people outwardly saying ‘girls can do anything boys can!’ but when that sort of message comes up too often it almost seems to encourage the idea that girls in general can’t, if that makes sense? Like all those kids shows where all the boys expect the girls to do badly at sports and are really shocked when they do well – I’m sure many kids would just get the impression that girls can SOMETIMES be good at sports, but it’s really rare and a big deal when it happens. Which clearly isn’t the intended effect! But if kids could now and then just see boys being awesome and girls being awesome and people being awesome without gender always having to come up at all I think that would help out gender equality a lot more.

Speak Your Mind