She’s Got Game

As young girls, we are constantly told to “act like a lady and to play with our dolls,” however should we be socialized and taught to do this? In Keywords for Children’s Literature, Erica Hateley discusses the term “gender” and how children’s literature “presented boys in fiction as movers, adventurers, [and] creatures of action…it presented girls as relatively docile, passive, emotional, and unimaginative native (87).” In the episode of “She’s Got Game,” the television show The Proud Family,  counteracts these traditional roles and demonstrates to young audience members that girls can be more adventurous and do activities that are typically seen as “masculine.” In the beginning, the show starts with Penny playing football with a group of her guy friends and them joking about their femininity. Sticky, one of her male friends, even states, “When they lose, they [girls] would’ve wished that they stayed home and made cupcakes (5:16).” As a society, girls are brought up within these traditional, stereotypical, gendered roles, which at a young age shapes their perspective and reality impacting their girlhood. These socialization messages come though media, children’s literature, schools, as well as family. In this episode, “She’s Got Game,” the producer does a great job on going against the traditional norms of what is to be expected from a girl.


Also, girls and women in this episode are not represented as docile and passive. They were portrayed as independent, confident, and strong. Many of the women, such as Penny’s mom, Trudy, and Zoey’s mom, the lawyer demonstrated that women can be just as bold and “doers” as men can. Even though Penny ends up losing the game for her team, as her mom said, “She won so much more.” She challenged the notion that girls could not play football because it was “too rough” or “a male’s sport.” As a society, girlhood consists of dresses, Barbies, the color pink, and cooking items. On the other hand, playing with action figures, being rough, and playing sports are looked upon as behaviors of a boy. In order to challenge traditional roles, as Hateley said, “all behaviors should be seen as available to all young people, regardless of their sex (89).” As our society becomes more modern, traditional gendered roles will continue to be challenged.

9 thoughts on “She’s Got Game”

  1. This post made me think a lot about that one women’s football league that plays in lingerie. I think it is so unfortunate that when women do participate in traditionally “masculine” activities they are often over-sexualized while doing it. It’s so great that this episode refrained from doing that and instead portrayed an empowered, athletic, and independent woman.

  2. This post reminded me of an occurrence with my high school’s football team. One of my female peers decided to go out for football and play on the team for a year. Just like in the show, this seemed very strange and her decision really stuck out to all of the boys. I believe that this situation definitely challenged the typical gender roles of life today and I agree that there are more situations like this to come as our society keeps changing.

  3. I agree with you, I really love the message this episode puts out. It’s so important to give young girls the impression that they can do anything they want, and since the demographic for this show was mainly younger children, it definitely did the right thing in framing girls in this particular way. Hopefully, as time goes by, more and more movies and TV shows can begin to do this as well.

  4. As I read this post, I could not help but think about the movie “She the Man.” For anyone who has not seen the movie, it is about a girl in high school that is not allowed to play soccer because the girl’s team got cut. This does not stop Viola, the main character in the movie. She instead goes to the guys team and asks if she would be allowed to play with them. Not surprisingly, they all say no. However, Viola does not stop there. Instead, she takes her brother’s place at a private school, dressed like a guy, and works her butt off to play on the team. To me, the movie is very inspirational, but also so sad that it takes this much effort, and actually dressing like a guy to be able to play the sport she loves. And yes, even though at the end everyone finds out she is a girl and still is allowed to play, there is no way she would have been able if she had not done what she had to do.

  5. This post reminds me of my brother. He played football starting in 4th grade with my dad and uncle as his coaches, because that is what boys are “supposed to do” in my family. He has always been a smaller kid, made fun of by teammates for being short and slim – not the “typical” football player, masculine body type. He is also a very gentle and shy person, so hitting people on the field is not what he enjoys doing. He is now a junior in high school, and with the support of my sister and I, this was the first year he did not play football. Because we helped him have a voice, he felt comfortable enough to stick up for himself to my dad and to society’s expectations for him, and quit doing something that was supposed to define his manliness.

  6. This is a very good example of gender roles portrayed in media. It reminded me of my high school football team. While I was in high school, our varsity team had 2 female players, both of whom were only kickers, but they practiced with the boys and were very successful nonetheless. It was obvious that it took a lot of people, especially the other boys on the team, quite a while to accept that they were playing with a girl, but one of the girls ended up winning several games with her field goal kicks. She easily gained the respect and support of the entire community and it became the norm for the Lake Mills L-Cats. I think this just goes to show that while a lot of people may need some time getting used to it, girls are starting to get a lot more of the same opportunities as men sports-wise.

  7. What came to my mind reading your post is how old is Penny? She looks younger, still a “girl”. Also who is the audience of this show? That brings up an interesting idea. Are young girls watching this show? Are they trying to let young girls know that it’s okay not to do what all the other girls do? Also another idea that comes to my head…many children shows have the gender roles very noticeable in the show. This goes against the norm.

  8. In my own high school experience I played on the all boys golf team because my school did not offer a girls team. While golf is both a sport for girls and guys alike, playing with boys all the time definitely allowed me to see the sterotypical view that “girls cannot do what boys can do”. I am glad to see that both girls in real life, and girls depicted in the media, are challenging this norm.

  9. Thanks for sharing. I liked how you addressed the idea of girls being more than just cupcake bakers. The proud family was one of my favorite TV shows as a kid so I just had to comment. In this episode, you said Penny didn’t win but she was portrayed as independent, confident, and strong. Can you not be engaged in “masculine activities” and still have these traits? I feel that as girls we are always trying to prove ourselves to boys. Why is that? I don’t think boys realize how independent we are as girls when we are able to cook, clean, and work. We also gain confidence in doing these things. We are strong because we can multi-task way better than boys can and we have a lot of patience. Those are just a few examples of us portraying strength. It is very belittling when a boy questions a girl’s strength. All in all, GIRL’S RULE!

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