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Sexist PAW Patrol Is on a Roll!

Welcome to the boys' club. Photograph: Nickelodeon

The multibillion-dollar business of PAW Patrol may seem like harmless fun, but it’s not.

I have nothing against its repetitive, illogical content or the complete absence of any social services. But I have everything against the sexist, misogynistic world it portrays to an impressionable audience.

If you’ve never watched an episode, PAW Patrol is an action show for toddlers. It follows the adventures of a 10-year-old boy named Ryder and his team of six talking rescue puppies, who come to the rescue whenever the citizens of Adventure Bay need any kind of help.

Keith Chapman conceived the show in 2010 for the Canadian global children’s entertainment company Spin Master. It first aired on Nickelodeon in August 2013, and the response was unprecedented. Toys and merchandise hit the shelves in June 2014, earning over $8 billion in global retail sales since. It is now the leading brand for children up to six years old and globally airs in more than 170 countries, reaching 350 million households.

I’ve watched PAW Patrol because my three-year-old daughter enjoys watching it. She loves the adventures, puppies, and, of course, the vehicles and gadgets. She doesn’t recognize the sexist content, yet.

But I do.

The main cast of PAW Patrol features roughly a kajillion male pups and exactly one female pup named Skye. Skye is a Cocker Spaniel and Poodle crossbreed. She is the tiniest pup of the six pups. She dresses entirely in pink, flies a pink helicopter, and is rarely given priority on rescue missions.

The only female pup, Skye. Photograph: Nickelodeon

The male pups, on the other hand, are Chase, the german shepherd lead police dog; Marshall, the dalmatian firefighter; Zuma, the labrador water rescuer; Rubble, the bulldog construction pup; and Rocky, a mixed breed eco/recycling pup. (All very manly.)

In Season 2, they added a second female pup named Everest. Everest is a Siberian husky pup. She’s larger in size, dresses in green, and drives a snowmobile. But Everest is not an official member of the PAW Patrol. She helps when there’s an emergency relating to snow, is rarely featured on the show, and doesn’t live with Ryder and his team of six pups.

Aside from Skye and the occasional Everest, there’s minimal presence of female characters in the show. The most prominent is Mayor Goodway, a dark-skinned woman who gives the show a progressive air. But don’t be fooled by Mayor Gooday; she is the antithesis of a strong independent woman. She is weak, unreliable, foolish, emotional, and incompetent. She can’t solve the simplest hiccup and spends most of her time panicking over losing her pet chicken, Chickaletta, which she named Deputy Mayor.

And the last female character is a pink-clad blonde girl named Katie with no discernable role in the show. She spends most of her time in a pet salon bathing and grooming cats.

I was never a fan of the disproportionate and minimal presence of female characters in PAW Patrol. And I hated how it reinforces the gender stereotypes, but it was Episode 16 of Season 6 that pushed me over the edge.

In this episode, the PAW Patrol needs to fly to save Captain Turbot and Francois from a giant spider web. The logical choice would have been to have Skye fly and free Captain Turbot and Francois from the massive web. Instead, Ryder selected Rocky, Rubble, Chase, and himself to carry out the mission.

To my shock, they all could fly now with their new jetpacks and drone-like gadgets. Meanwhile, Skye waited patiently with her seatbelt on while Robo Dog operated Ryder’s aircraft. She had zero input and no longer had anything special. They all had flying capabilities, and she was just on the sidelines.

Having one female pup was bad enough, but then you had to take away her specialty? WHY?

Why the sexism? Why the gender stereotyping? Why the misrepresentation?

Why are we pushing pink on girls? My daughter never picked pink over any color. She’d rather wear black, yellow, blue … “boy” colors.

And why are women portrayed as weak and emotional, needing the help of a 10-year-old boy?

PAW Patrol, you can still make this right. I’m asking for a fair, equal representation of women, girls, and pups. Is it too much to ask? Rest assured, it won’t hurt your sales one bit. We might forgive you for the years of sexism, and you make a few billion.

Make this right.

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