Women in cartoons: The smurfette principle

Even now, female characters still exist primarily to serve the guys' plots

Topics: Children, Broadsheet,

“Sometimes I feel like the creators of these shows didn’t much like children,” snarks Lindsay Ellis, the “Nostalgia Chick” for That Guy With the Glasses, in this video exploring the sorry state of female characters in kids’s programming since the ’70s. Or at least, they didn’t much like girls. The tokenized females are usually love interests (e.g., “Pepe Le Pew’s poster child for sexual assault”) or the “vagina versions” of male characters, and all too often, Ellis growls, “They’re piiiiiiiiiink!” The video’s 12 minutes long but well worth a watch both because it’s funny (in a “laugh so you don’t cry” sort of way) and because, as Sociological Images put it, “damn does she marshal the evidence!”

Kate Harding is the co-author of "Lessons From the Fatosphere: Quit Dieting and Declare a Truce With Your Body" and has been a regular contributor to Salon's Broadsheet.

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