Were you aware that on top of Tim Hortons, hockey and free health-care, Canada also has an abundant supply of thoughtful radio talk shows where people don’t yell at one another and accuse opponents of treason? Who knew such a thing was possible?
Heroic Girls founder John Marcotte was interviewed on Calgary’s News 770 AM, on the lack of Black Widow superhero merchandise in the toy aisle. We talked about why this is happening, what the negative effects of this type of gendered marketing might be and potential solutions on the horizon.
It was a pleasant and illuminating conversation, and I encourage people to take a listen.
Natasha Romanov, the Black Widow, is the world’s deadliest assassin and spy, and essential part of the Avengers movie franchise. But with Avengers: Age of Ultron hitting theaters the Friday, Marvel and Disney continue to treat Natasha as the “invisible woman” when it comes to toys, clothing and other merchandise.
Of the 60 products that Marvel and Disney released for Avengers: Age of Ultron, only three featured Black Widow. That’s five percent. There were no Black Widow action figures, costumes or clothing for girls. The three Black Widow items available from Marvel are a tote bag, a men’s t-shirt, and a figure that is part of a large LEGO set.
Marvel’s licensing partners do not fare much better. Black Widow is consistently left out of toy lines, the fail to even try to market her to girls and she is excluded from team shots on merchandise aimed at boys.
Last summer, we all were asking #WheresGamora? We hoped that the outcry would lead to changes in marketing this time around. It did not.
Fight the Power
There are two ways you can help Marvel and Disney see the error of their way. The first is to find examples of how Black Widow is excluded from merchandise, take a photo and then share it on Twitter with the hashtag #WheresNatasha.
We’ve partnered with our friends over at Legion of Leia to get the word out, but we need your help, too. Every hashtag, signature and share puts more pressure on the decision-makers who have decided that girls don’t need heroic toys and that boys can never look up to a woman as a hero.