"There is difference and there is power. And who holds the power decides the meaning of the difference." --June Jordan

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Feminists on TV

This past week, Jezebel came up with a list of 20 Feminist TV Characters. Unfortunately, there are some drawbacks to the list:
Almost all of them are middle class. Many of them are educated and somewhat socially awkward. A lot of them are either nerdy, or have nerdy pasts, and can be annoying. But unfortunately, all of them — including the animated ones — are Caucasian. Worse still, only three of the females listed below are characters on shows currently on air.
Not to mention that a lot of the characters are portrayed in problematic ways, like being depicted as man-hating or as comic foils to more important chauvanist male characters.

But the list is still fun to read. It warmed my heart to see Roseanne and Elyce Keaton from Family Ties on the list. And the best part about the post is the comments thread, which is bursting with more suggestions for feminist characters. If you take away the (somewhat rigid) requirement that they actually talk about feminism or identify as feminist, television somehow becomes a lot more promising. Also, see Aviva's additions to the list at Fourth Wave. She comes up with five more TV feminists, three of which who are women of color.

UPDATE: Melissa Silverstein at Women & Hollywood has more.


plumpdumpling said...

What about Miss Piggy? Does she count as a woman of color? Or even a woman?

I know that she was always fawning over Kermit to make him marry her, but she was also bold and unafraid of men, right?

Tracey said...

I could see Miss Piggy counting as a feminist. I doubt she ever uttered the word "feminism" on The Muppet Show, but she sure embodied some of its ideals.

The fact that she was voiced by a white man probably keeps her from being thought of as a woman of color. But if someone wants to male a case for it, I'm all for it.

plumpdumpling said...

"male a case"!

I guess I should've known she was voiced by a dude, but that still took me by surprise.

Tracey said...

Ack. Stupid typos.

Yeah, she's voiced by Frank Oz, who also did the voice for Yoda from Star Wars and Aughra from The Dark Crystal.

But since Bart Simpson and the kid from King of the Hill are both voiced by women, I'm not too bothered by it.

Aviva DV said...

Hey, I've been traveling so I'm a little behind, but I just wanted to say thanks for the link! And for pointing out Melissa's fantastic additions, which I'd missed.