Disney’s online role-playing game Pixie Hollow is based on its DVD series about Tinker Bell and her friends. It gives children a chance to select a (female) fairy avatar and interact with other fairies. Salon’s Mary Elizabeth Williams reports that Pixie Hollow has its first boy avatar, called a “sparrow man.”
But children are pretty resourceful little gender warriors. The open secret around the Hollow has long been that if you make your fairy tall, with short hair, and give her an ambiguous name like Jamie, she can pretty quickly establish a reputation as a he.
It may be that little boys want to play. Or, it may be that little girls want to have boy characters to dress up and interact with. It may be that today’s children are comfortable exploring the meaning of gender boundaries.
The fact that when young visitors create characters now they’re presented with both a female and a male avatar and prompted to “please pick one” is a big deal for a generation that’s going to grow up spending a portion of its life online. It says that there are choices.