As someone who lives in a large city and does a lot of driving I have the pleasure of seeing myriad bumper stickers, magnets, and other car flair. For the most part I accept that people are strange and will put strange things on their cars. You want to tell me you love your Puggle? Fine. You want to be witty about your political beliefs? No Problem.
But there is one car ornament I can no longer abide and that is: the stick figure family. The various assortment of stick figure fathers, (a stick figure with a tie, or pants, or other hegemonic indicators of maleness) mothers, (in a dress or skirt, because duh) tiny children and pets has gone too far. I am done.
But Liz, you may say, those are just people proclaiming their love and devotion for their family you can’t be angry at that. Oh yes, yes I can and I have a good reason for it.
Those stickers are sly enforcers of compulsory heterosexuality. How many times have you seen a stick figure family with no children- one that is just a pair of adults? I have seen only one. The vast majority of people displaying stick figures are people with conventional family units: mom, dad, buddy, sis, puppy, and cat. The specifics on number of children and pets vary, but for the most part those stickers are couples and kids. Most of the stick figure sticker sets come with a father, mother, two kids, a baby, and two pets. While a person can order a variety of sets to suit their personal needs, there is a clear formula in place for the manufacturing of acceptable sticker families.
As I mentioned before, the stick figure family stickers rely on cheap stereotypes to indicate the sex of each family member. Men often have short hair and pants, while women have long ponytails and some kind of skirt, even the Zombie family has a blonde haired, dress wearing mother for fuck’s sake! Also, most stick figure families are arranged in descending order of height which almost always means the father stick figure is first (even when the father and mother stickers appear to be the same height). I don’t want to make any assumptions about WHY the father stick figure seems to usually be first in line, maybe everyone’s father/husband is simply the tallest member of their family.
I know some people will think I am taking this too far and I should get off my gender studies horse and get over it. But I will not. I think really examining even the most seemingly mundane aspects of popular culture, ie. stick figure families, can yield some fascinating insights. So I will continue to “knit pick” and “over-analyze.” And I will continue to resist the lure of the stick figure family.