Only the good (role models) die young.

Who remembers Buffy the Vampire Slayer?

Of course, you all do (And let’s talk the TV Series Buffy, as opposed to the ‘Clueless’ movie, Buffy.)  She was powerful, she was genuine, and her character and the show have had whole feminist discussions circulating around them.  And, as you would expect, the show is considered by many to be a ‘Must watch’, especially among third-wave feminists.  But, sadly, the show ended after seven seasons and nothing came around quite like it to replace it.  As a result, it’s been overlooked by much of the newer generation coming in and growing up since 2005 — the same year that the infamous Twilight books became a phenomenon.

…Ahem… that’s a rant for another day, don’t you think?

What catches my attention is that girls who are going through puberty today don’t really have the same role models WE had at about the same time in our lives.  Let’s face it, there is NOT a good supply of role models for young girls today in popular culture.  The best I can think of is the main character of Suzanne Collins’ ‘The Hunger Games': Katniss Everdeen.  I can’t think of any television shows aimed at pre-teen and young adolescent girls that have decent role models, and in terms of movies, there seems to have grown a gap between the child-adult demographic wherein something is either intended for young children or straight up adults with a ‘Parental Discretion Advised’ sub genre that really is aiming at the adults — just with less cursing.

Ultimately, I end up looking at the books and shows and movies I watched growing up for something I can show to my pre-teen sister and use as a segue into the deeper stuff.  It kind of makes me sad — I know there are better role models out there than this, but it seems that our culture is going through a dumbing down of our characters (Feel free to prove me wrong if there are recent examples of television, movies, or books appropriate for teens with decent characters)  So, as a quick guide for anyone looking for a good nostalgic trip and some awesome girls, the top ten popular culture feminist role models

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  • Jessica

    I agree. All movies and TV shows aimed at women and girls all are misogynistic in some sort of way. The boy, or man, is the hero, while the girl or woman is this weak, dependent person who depends on the man to protect her. It is really bad.

    And of course we have a lot of TV shows aimed at pre-teen and teenage girls that give them the message that in order to be accepted, you have to be this hyper-sexually active person who only cares about your looks. Smarts is not cool for a girl. This makes me remember the JCPenny shirt, “I’m too pretty to do homework so my brother has to do it for me.” So infuriating! We really have to counter these messages our girls are getting and try to get Hollywood to promote shows that help with female empowerment.

    • Jacqueline Hentzen

      Oops… um, I meant to keep this saved as just a draft until I’d also compiled a list of at least ten fictional characters that were good role models. That’s why it kind of ends (And I’d forgotten to put the period on the last sentence.)

      Anyone want to see the actual countdown, or have suggestions for good feminist role models from your childhoods/adolescences?

  • toongrrl

    I’ve been noticing that. That said, why “Two and a Half Men” instead of “The Wild Thornberries” or “Pelswick”?

    • Jade

      Buffy was not a role model of mine. Now Xena, there was a woman I believed in! Perhaps a bit violent for some, but with her seedy past, reinvention as a vigilante, what wasn’t there to love!

      I think we aren’t looking hard enough for role models. We might be suffering from the, “back in my day” syndrome. Instead of looking for mythical characters or cartoons, can we introduce real life feminist to our pre-teen sisters? I don’t think anyone is too young to start knowing about internationally recognized feminist and history’s plethora of kick ass ladies.