A group of big broadcasters in France have teamed up on educational series Chouette, pas chouette! (Owl, not owl) as part of a shared mission to teach preschoolers about combatting sexism.
French broadcasters Disney Channel and Disney Junior, Nick Jr., TF1, France Télévisions, Piwi+, Gulli and edutainment app Bayam will premiere the 16 x two-minute short series from Gaumont Animation and 2 Minutes starting in January 2021.
Chouette, pas chouette! centers on a group of animal friends who confront negative gender-based stereotypes head on, such as the idea that boys can’t cry or dance, or that girls can’t be airplane pilots. The series is accompanied by an educational booklet to help teachers and parents explain gender equality and sexist stereotypes to kids.
Created and designed by directors Franck Salomé, Fernando Worcel and Nicolas Sedel, and illustrator Sandrine Acquistapace, production was overseen by former TF1 youth programs director Dominique Poussier. Chouette, pas chouette! is part of the “Stop violence against women” campaign that was launched in 2017, inspired by citizen feedback regarding the importance of teaching kids about gender and respect.
The industry has been making moves towards more inclusive programming lately, but sexist stereotypes are still common in kids TV, and they can have a serious impact on how kids view gender. Depictions of toxic masculinity remain prevalent, with 62.5% of violent actions on TV shows that target boys committed by male characters, according to a 2020 study by The Geena Davis Institute. Looking at the top kids shows that appeal to both genders, the Institute found that boy characters are also 16.2% more likely to be shown as violent, and twice as likely to be shown as criminals. Meanwhile, female characters are seven times more likely to be shown in revealing clothing, and less likely to be seen as funny.