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 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.