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Mom Blasts through Gender Stereotypes with Superhero Drawings

The Short of It

It all started when Swedish illustrator and cartoonist Linnéa Johansson's 3-year-old son said he was going to stop crying. "Superheroes don't cry," he said. Johansson decided to change her son's perception of gender roles with her own superhero coloring book.

The Lowdown

What resulted is a really awesome book that, to me, captures modern family life. In it, the usual crime-fighters—Batman, Superman, Spider-man and more—do things many of us see our men do: bake cookies, dance ballet (wearing a baby carrier no less!), use the potty with their kids and play dress-up.

It's a great lesson for boys that what it means to be a guy isn't just the rough-and-tumble stuff. And it's also a beautiful tribute to dads.

"Boys learn from their role models to act tough and aggressive and that showing vulnerability or emotion is equivalent to being weak or 'being a girl' (which is considered an insult in today's society)," Johansson wrote on her blog. "They are taught through these role models to 'man up' and that 'boys don't cry.' Girls on the other hand learn early on that their greatest asset is to be beautiful....I had to take action."

Johansson is reportedly working on a series of "powerful princess" drawings that combat stereotypes for girls, too.

The Upshot

As a mom of two boys, I know exactly where Johansson is coming from. While gender roles have changed in our society over the last 50 years or so, a lot of the media our boys see—especially as they get older—doesn't reflect that. Our boys are sweet and caring and have diverse interests. Of course, they should know that's okay!

I'm downloading and printing my copy of Johannson's superhero book! You can, too.

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