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The erasure of older female characters

Older women rarely get to be protagonists, or otherwise portray as complex and interesting characters. That's a reason why there was a moderate amount of buzz around Harry Connelly's A Key, An Egg, An Unfortunate Remark. Its aging protagonist had adult nephews, and a long career in her past. It's sad that's worthy of remark.

Worse than not being the star of a tale is the opposite: being entirely erased from the narrative.

So last week we took Grouting to Peppa Pig World. It was vaguely en route to where we were spending most of the week, and other parents whose judgement I trust had told me it was worth going. It was, indeed, a decent day out and we didn't run out of things to do, Grouting crashing before we made it through all seven toddler-friendly rides plus other things and people to browse and meet respectively. She played in the small water park and was hugged by Susie Sheep. The weather wasn't too bad.

What was increasingly obvious to me, however, was that Granny Pig was nowhere to be seen. Peppa is a young anthropomorphized pig, with a younger brother George, parents, and grandparents on her mother's side, all of whom play major roles in the television series. Her grandmother has a pet parrot, raises chickens, has an orchard, cooks, and creates games for her grandchild. She is, following entrenched gender norms, nurturing. Her grandfather takes them on adventures in their boat and on his miniature train. He is, to be clichéd, a man of action. He also tends the garden.

In the themepark, right next to the entrance, is "Grandpa Pig's House", with Grandpa standing outside. There's "Grandpa Pig's Train" to ride on and "Grandpa Pig's Boats" to ride in. In the dinosaur ride, there's Grandpa Pig again, looking after the garden and telling the riders about seed packets. Two of the seven rides are named after, and sculpturally manned by him, and he appears in a third.

There is not a single Granny Pig to be found outside of the gift shop. She's even been erased from her own house.

In this version of Peppa's world, has Granny died? Was Grandpa divorced much earlier? Is Granny lurking inside house, her name not on the deed to the property?

Or, mostly likely, is it that Granny is categorized as so much background noise, nurturing and supporting, but not leading adventures?

Except for that, I had an unexpectedly decent time there.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 18th, 2015 03:11 pm (UTC)
I wanted to know what had happened to Peppa's grandmother after reading this - it's practically a genealogical mystery! According to peppapedia (!) she is alive and well aged 74, having come back from the dead in the episode "Priscilla Pig" (I would be intrigued to see this). There has obviously been some kind of fallout. Maybe she ran off with Granddad Dog?
Aug. 18th, 2015 05:41 pm (UTC)

Write in to complain. And get one of the Guardian columnists on the case.

Aug. 19th, 2015 01:21 pm (UTC)
Is it possible she is in the pork products in the cafe?
Aug. 24th, 2015 06:58 pm (UTC)
Ah the joys of PPW. I took my niece and sister-in-law as my Christmas present to the former, finally delivered at the beginning of August. We had a two day ticket as it was a bit more of a journey for all of us (they came from Yorkshire) which meant we could spread out the rides and go back to favorite ones (well, they could, most things are off-limits to pregnant women). It was surprisingly good fun, niece probably enjoyed the main theme park slightly more than PPW, but is about 20 months older than Grouting and didn't really distinguish between the two.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )