Women in cartoons: The smurfette principle

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

By Kate Harding
March 2, 2010 10:41PM (UTC)
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"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

Kate Harding is the author of Asking For It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture--and What We Can Do About It, available from Da Capo Press in August 2015. Previously, she collaborated with Anna Holmes, Amanda Hess, and a cast of thousands on The Book of Jezebel, and with Marianne Kirby on Lessons from the Fat-o-Sphere. You might also remember her as the founding editor of Shapely Prose (2007-2010). Kate's essays have appeared in the anthologies Madonna & Me, Yes Means Yes, Feed Me, and Airmail: Women of Letters. She holds an M.F.A. in fiction from Vermont College of Fine Arts and a B.A. in English from University of Toronto, and is currently at work on a Ph.D. in creative writing from Bath Spa University

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