Tag Archive: Feminism


Last week, I, in the company of a friend, went to the movies. While we were patiently waiting for the movie to start, I was chocked to see not only one, but two, ads where women were completely objectified. One was an advertisement for ice cream, Cornetto Soft I think it was called, in which a man turns into a giant teddy bear after eating the afore mentioned ice cream and then proceeds to go off on a date (with a woman) to various locales (this advertisement was pretty bizarre to watch, even if one ignores the sexism). After going swimming during this date the male as transmogrified giant bear exits the pool and (in animal fashion) shakes water off himself. The water he violently sheds douses the women populated around him and which the ad then uses as a simple-minded opportunity to zoom in on the assorted women breasts, and, naturally, “cutting” off their heads in the zoom-shot.

A similar treatment of women’s bodies was given in a following trailer of a Kitschy horror film called “Piranha 3DD”, where the film promised to double the “D’s” in the film by the creepy lingering embrace of the gaze upon a pair of breast (and once again, while eliminating the head and rest of the body of the woman). These ads purposefully set out to positing women as objects to without humanity by the aggressive image-making truncation of the body to yield women as only the brute matter of the breast. The ads were a pair of pretty depressing things to witness, as they were a reminder of how female bodies are still misused in our culture and society.

The female human body is constantly turned into a object to only please others. Luckily, blogger Caroline Heldman at Ms. Blog has written an excellent series about sexual objectification and how we women can start to navigate the culture of sexual objectification, to re-humanize the female body in our culture.

Part one explains what sexual objectification exactly is.

Part two discusses the harmful effect sexual objectification has on young girls and women.

Part tree gives women tips of what habits to kick in order to defeat sexual objectification, like competing with other women.

Part four gives women tips of what daily routines to start to defeat sexual objectification, like focusing on personal development that isn’t on beauty culture.

A short yet richly detailed novel, “Women Without Men” starts out by telling stories about five different Iranian women, who in time all meet and work together in a unique garden. The novel was an inspiration for artist Shirin Neshats video series that bared the identical name.

Left to right: author Ms. Shahrnush Parsipur and director Ms. Shirin Neshat

Shahrnush Parsipur has been a highly productive writer since her debut in the late 1970’s. She was born in 1946 in Iran, but after being arrested for her political opinions in 1974, she fled the country in 1976. After living and studying philosophy and Chinese in France, she returned to Iran in the 1980’s where she was once again imprisoned. Her most famous and controversial novel “Women Without Men” was written in 1974 and ultimately published in 1989. Ms. Parsipur currently lives in the United States.

The five main characters are lively, captivating women. Their stories are distressing but hopeful. As heroines they are strong and eager to discover what the world has to offer, but first they have to overcome their traditional backgrounds. Parsipur graciously blends surrealistic life tales with down-to-earth heroines. Even if the women face serious obstacles that many women deal with in real life, the surrealism featured in the novel opens up new possibilities of authorial potential and grants unorthodox directions and opportunities for these women towards developing independence and find a ground for fulfilling their dreams.

For instance one of the women through the surrealistic telling is given a chance to stand up to her extremely abusive brother, while another woman is able to start her own career after years of being trapped in an unhappy marriage. A third finds love after a sorrowful life in a brothel. While not overly optimistic, “Women without men” illustrates both the oppression of women as well as female empowerment. The oppression is shown as the existent fact of the social, and unfortunately existing situation for women, whilst the surrealistic elements are played through in the combination of stories as the portrayal of desire and hope for transcendence from the operations of suppression through empowerment.

Picture from Ms. Neshat’s film series “Women Without Men”

Parsipur paints up a world where women can discover their strength and self-worth through her colorful and elegant language. She highlights troubles of women, but also inspires to work against these confluences and impositions of gender imposed troubles. The freedom that women have may be limited, but “Women without men’s” inspirational tales make the future of all women seem much more bright and promising.

At the site “Nerve” they have made a list of the most to the least feminist Disney Princesses. I was overjoyed seeing Tiana From “the Princess and the Frog” and Fa Mulan from “Mulan” being at the very top, i.e. considered highly feminist – those two are aweseome animated characters! As a added plus, Belle from “Beauty and the Beast” was criticized for making Stockholm Syndrome look like true love. Glad to see that pointed out.
Here’s the link.

The Disney Princesses, in all their glory, from left to Right: Jasmine, Snow White, Mulan, Aurora, Cinderella, Pocahontas, Tiana, Belle, Ariel and Rapunzel

Yesterday was International Women’s Day. Last year I did a post on extraordinary living women, so this year I’ll make links to articles on important historic women. This post is written after a long work day, so it there might be some spelling mistakes. If so, I apologize.

At Bitch Media, a feminist blog, they have a series called “Adeventures in Feministory”. Below you’ll find the links to the articles!

Here’s the most recent post in the series on Ada Lovelace, the first computer programmer.

An article on Jeannette Rankin, the first woman elected to U.S congress.

Here’s a article on Annie Oakley.

Ella Baker, a underrated civil rights activist.

For those interested in cultural history:

An essay on the writer Gloria Anzaldúa.

For fans of blues, here’s an article on Gladys Bentley.

For people interested in the Dancing arts, Rachel Tobach did a great essay on Isadora Duncan.

Essay on Charlotte Perkins Gilman.

And finally an article on Phoolan Devi, “The Bandit Queen Of India”.

Happy (late) international women’s day, sisters!

I’m a little late in posting my article on the newest Sherlock Holmes adaptions, sorry. Will be coming up soon enough! Until then, here’s a link to an interview with Louise Brealey. She plays Molly Hooper, a pathologist with a crush on Sherlock Holmes, on BBC’s “Sherlock”.

My two favorite parts in the interview where she explains why her character has suddenly become so popular:

“Molly works because, while Watson is “the audience”, Molly is every woman of a certain age sitting at home on the settee fantasizing about running their hands through Benedict Cumberbatch’s hair. Which is basically what I’d have been doing if I wasn’t in the show… Also, I think most people have experienced the agony and the ignominy of unrequited love.”

And when she talked about Feminism!:

“Seriously, though, I’d like every man who doesn’t call himself a feminist to explain to the women in his life why he doesn’t believe in equality for women. I think Page 3, Nuts and Zoo are bullshit. I don’t wax my pubic hair off. I don’t think working in a titty bar getting fivers shoved up your bum is empowering. And I’m bored of pictures of women in their smalls on buses with fuck-me mouths”

Right on, Ms. Brealey!

The whole interview is interesting. Worth checking out!

From Left To Right: Constable Crabtree, Dr. Ogden, Murdoch and Inspector Brackenreid

“Murdoch Mysteries” is a Canadian Television show, based on the Detective Murdoch series of novels by Maureen Jennings. Ms. Jennings is also the creator of the TV-series adaption, which centers on William Murdoch (Yannick Bisson), an eccentric, enlightenment inclined detective, who solves murders in the late 19th Century Toronto. This mystery series features detailed portrayals of the ideologies, scientific developments as well as harsh injustices of the time area. The characters are colorful, strongly three-dimensional people in addition of being very likeable. Murdoch himself is a man of science and logic yet still a devoted catholic, with a big heart and passion for justice despite his sometimes rigid opinions. Constable George Crabtree (Jonny Harris) is a faithful, eager helper with a fondness for flights of fancy (which often predict inventions and the nomenclature of our times) and, at times, supernatural explanations. He also tends towards the rambling, sliding from silly to brilliant ideas. Inspector Brackenreid, Murdoch’s superior, is a Yorkshire man who’s a bit rough around the edges while simultaneously being a lover of high culture. Beginning with a bit of skepticism to Murdoch’s methods at first Brackenreid slowly comes to subtly recognize Murdoch’s gift in crime solving. And then there’s Dr. Julia Ogden (Helene Joy), the one responsible for post mortem examination of the dead (coroner and forensic examiner combined) as well as being the shows voice of reason. Dr. Ogden’s character is one of the most extraordinary female characters featured a long time on Television. She’s not only strong, tolerant and smart, but also is one of the few characters who address the subject of Abortion on Television in a remarkable fresh and frank way.

The first episode where Dr. Ogden shows her strong belief in tolerance is in the episode “Till Death Do US Part”, season one of the series. In this episode a murdered man who was about to get married is reveled to be homosexual. Murdoch reacts to this fact in disgust and starts on how immoral and wrong such a personal trait is. Dr. Ogden is quick to scold Murdoch for this un-thought through prejudice and through solid arguments gets Murdoch to reconsider his judgment. Dr. Ogden’s self-sufficiency is made most clear in season two in the episode “Snakes and Ladders” where Dr. Ogden saves herself from a serial killer, showing she doesn’t need a man to rescue her. She is also later in the episode shown to be a little shaken by the incident, giving a great realistic twist to her strong persona: She’s strong, but still human. Being attacked by a murderer does shake her up a little and haunts her thoughts making the heroic also the human. “Murdoch Mysteries” builds Dr. Ogden as a fighter, but not stereotypically the tough, breaking the trope that strong women are emotionless and cold. The subtlety of Dr.Ogden´s shock from the meant-to-be-fatal attack also averts the additional stereotype of a woman who can’t control her emotions properly.

In the episode “Hangman” from season three, Dr. Ogden expresses difficulty to accept the Death Penalty as something good, stating to Murdoch that she finds it difficult to understand why it is a necessary punishment. All of these personality traits in Dr. Ogden are interesting. However the most fascinating aspect of Dr. Ogden’s character is her past, and how she relates to it.

The below discussion (related to the issue of abortion) will follow the episode “Shades Of Grey” from season two, and will contain major spoilers for this episode.

“Shades Of Grey” begins with Murdoch investigating a possible murder prompted by the discovery of young nude woman’s body in a ditch. The Case accumulates in Murdoch discovering that the young victim is a working girl by the name of Lily Dunn, who had been impregnated by her sexually predatory boss and fired for it. Desperate to get rid of her child, she had ingested a poison in hopes it would make her abort. The process instead leads to her death. It is made clear in the episode that Lily died mostly because she couldn’t have a legal abortion. (Abortions were outlawed in Canada in 1869 and would remain completely illegal there until mild legalization in 1973. Fully legalized Abortion did not become law in Canada until the late 80’s.) It is then later revealed that Julia Ogden herself, when younger, had an illegal abortion. She explains to Murdoch, who dislikes the idea of abortion, that she did it in order to continue her studies towards becoming a doctor. Having the baby would have made it difficult, if not impossible, to do so. Murdoch is shocked, and since he has recently started a relationship with Dr. Ogden, he is torn in whether he should stay committed to her or not. He asks then if she regrets her actions. Her answer is a calm “No”.

It is unusual for a fictional television series to feature a female character that has had an abortion and not regret her decision. Even in films the topic is quite taboo, especially in non-European films. That Dr. Ogden states clearly she doesn’t regret her decision, the episode portrays an honest truth about choosing to not keep a child: it is sometimes the right thing for the person making the decision to do. In Dr. Ogden’s case, she knows she couldn’t handle a child right then, nor would the society surrounding her allow this in the context of her medical schooling (to say the least!). So she chooses not to continue the pregnancy, which obviously turns to her favor, since she was then able complete her studies and become a highly competent doctor.

The episode also highlights the dangers of making abortions illegal. Dr. Ogden, who had to make an illegal and therefore an unsafe abortion, nearly died in the process. This was a major problem for the out of wedlock (and especially those who were not part of the upper class) women who found themselves pregnant during the 19th and 20th century in Canada and continued as a horror until the changes within the law occurred.

It is also a problem in today’s world. In 2009, a study done by The Guttmacher Institute calculated that 70, 000 women a year die from illegal abortions. Women who take illegal abortions also face the danger of becoming maimed or sterilized. This is also mentioned in “Murdoch Mysteries”; Dr. Ogden survives her illegal abortion, but becomes sterile from it. The show clearly states that giving women the right to choose is important, and illegalizing abortion is a problem for everyone. This episode of Murdoch Mysteries makes no bones about being on the side of women in this catastrophe.

While watching “Shades of Grey”, I couldn’t help but think of the Pro-life movement in the US (and other countries too). At the moment there seems to be resurgence in a vocal part of the communities of the world for reinstating the illegality of abortion (and maybe even conception!)- entirely and without qualm. In counties such as Nicaragua, this is already the case, putting many women’s lives at risk, from such diverse complications as obstructed labor to cancer. A study done by Amnesty International in 2010 even showed that this complete ban abortion has a harsh and dangerous impact on young girls. “Shades Of Grey” made makes us think of the actual cost that the anti-abortion movements call for – to send us back to days where women die or are put in high risk for their lives? In reality this is merely to control the “species of human” called women and to circumvent them moving freely in society (as Ogden is able to do in becoming a Doctor).

Dr. Julia Ogden as a character is a moral conscience of the show “Murdoch Mysteries”. She is a modern woman, whose ideals make her a good role model for both women and men. But her message of being proud of her decision over her body and standing up for women’s reproductive rights is the most outstanding part of her character. Her character has an important message that one should take seriously.

Maureen Jennings, creator of “Murdoch Mysteries”

For an article on how Abortion is depicted in Hollywood, read Katherine Butler’s excellent column from “ecosalon”.

For a recommendation on a film depicting an illegal abortion, I highly recommend Cristian Mungiu’s superb “4 moths three weeks and 2 days”.

For a few causes of women who died do to illegal and unsafe abortions, go here.

Note: “Murdoch Mysteries” is one of the few Canadian shows with a major international following, with fifth season in production. Alas, the fifth season has been announced to be the last one, which has disappointed many fans.
Update to the note: There has also been a promise of a sixth season, yay! Read about it here and on Maureen Jennings homepage here.

Cartoons used to be just for kids, but in wake of Matt Groening’s landmark creation of “The Simpsons”, cartoons took an interesting twist: some cartoons came to be made solely for the adult audience. Since the popular recognition of the Simpsons cartoons as broadcast series have gone thought the gambit of issues from raunchy political incorrectness to slice-of-life portrayals of “the common people” and their families.

Yet what is of most intriguing issue to me, is when these series tackle the questions of gender, the place and oppressions of women, or just begun to look at the issues or questions of rights which circulate around the feminist complex.

In this post I will discuss some of my favorite cartoons episodes that (may) be feminist.

“Lisa Vs. Malibu Stacy” from “The Simpsons” (aired 1994) – Let’s start with a real classic, shall we? This is one of the very, very few episodes from “The Simpsons” which deals with gender, as well as one of the few which actually raises feminist issues. It starts with Lisa, the 8 year old daughter in the Simpson family, buying the newest talking Malibu Stacy doll (a fictional satirical doll based on “Barbie”). Excited, the young girl “gathers” all her other dolls to hear the astonishing first words of the talking Malibu Stacy… only to hear the doll say, “I wish they taught shopping in school”, followed by the doll claiming one should not ask her anything, she’s “just a girl”.

Lisa, disgusted at the sexist and demeaning message of her new doll, devotes herself to stop the production of such dolls. She visits the company to express her feelings, explicitly states to her friends that the things Malibu Stacy says are sexist, and tracks down the inventor of the original doll, Stacy Lowell (Voiced by the great Kathleen Turner). Together with Stacy, Lisa starts to make her own talking doll, hoping to make a more feminist toy for girls. The episode was a direct critic of Mattel’s Teen Talk Barbie, a toy that appeared in the 90’s, which was criticized for enforcing shameful stereotypes of women. However, “Lisa vs. Malibu Stacy” can also be seen as an attack on dolls that are marketed to little girls on a whole. As Lisa points out in the episode, girls learn through such toys to be shallow and center their lives around looking pretty and landing a man. Lisa bravely fights for change, demanding a better role model for girls, advocating for women’s right and hoping to teach young girls to be more than empty vessels.

“Breast Cancer Show Ever” from “South Park” (aired 2008) – This episode is entirely about female empowerment, pure and simple. The plot centers 9-year old Wendy, who attempts to raise awareness of Breast Cancer by doing a presentation on the subject in class. She is rudely mocked and interrupted by her classmate Eric Cartman’s* sexist and taunting remarks. Wendy enraged by the callousness of Cartman to the plight of this disease (and its victims) challenges him to fight. This episode is a remarkable depiction of a strong girl standing up against, and calling out, sexism. Cartman is portrayed in this episode as a typical sexist bully: he acts tough and is a loud-mouth, but in actuality is a coward. Wendy is also shown to be quite alone in her battle against Cartman, with little sympathy from her parents (mostly due to Cartmans manipulation). But near the end, there is one adult woman who encourages Wendy to fight the “cancer”, giving a rarely shown positive portrayal of women supporting each other. Even in the fictional world of South Park, Sisterhood is powerful!

“The Story of Catcher Freeman” from “The Boondocks” (aired 2008) – I’ll be honest, this show wasn’t always positive in its portrayal of women. But this episode is one of the most critical attacks against male centrism and patriarchy that has been seen in recent years in Adult animations. The episode is a recounting of a tale from the family-tree about a “slave who struggles and fights” for Freedom. The story of Catcher Freeman takes place during 19 century, when slavery was in full play below the Mason-Dixon line and the protagonist of the tale is attempting to slip the bonds of slavery (or not?). While the tales spun by the ancestors to the “hero” describe Catcher as a strong, avenger of the wronged who is determined to the task of freeing all of his brothers-in- bondage (and who is recounted, at times, as being a animalistic hunter with super powers) the truth turns out to be that Thelma, the famous love interest of Catcher, was the real hero.
Thelma all by herself found the strength to fight back against the white slave owners after trying to escape. She kills two men who attempted to rape her, and in a final leap of courage and honor, returns to the plantation (she originally escaped from) to organize a rebellion among her brethrens to oppose the oppressors and she, ultimately, leads them in battle to freedom. Thelma is strong, smart and a highly skilled fighter. Yet even if she is the true hero, the male centric world, where men are the ones who dominate the dialogue of history, choose to portray Catcher as the hero, which is far from the truth and it unfairly excludes the women from history as well as the present day and the contemporary context.
I have written a longer post on the depiction of women in “The Boondocks”, which you can read here.

Cathcher Freeman, the fictional version

“Stupid Spoiled Whore Video Playset” from “South Park” (aired 2008) – This episode was produced when Paris Hilton was constantly in headlines and was a new idol to some young women. In this episode, Paris Hilton arrives in South Park, causing all the girls to become crazed with the idea of mindless shopping and pointless partying. Wendy is at first appalled at the girl’s behavior, believing they’re purposely killing their brains, but due to peer pressure goes to the notoriously masochistic gay man, as well as her teachers lover, Mr. Slave for advice. “Stupid Spoiled Whore Video Playset” has a bit of a nasty title, but the episode is an interesting critic of how society favors mean-spirited and shallow women, ignoring the intellectuals, as Wendy in the episode articulates. The writers of the episode show a concern that young women are given terrible role models who do nothing but party and rely on men to “buy them things”, while actually ambitious women are viewed as strange. Parker and Stone made clear in the episode that accomplishment, struggling with thought and self-awareness are to be considered the important, something which is ultimately devalued in our commodity and idol driven culture.

“A Leela Of Her Own” from “Futurama” (aired 2002) – Honestly, it’s hard to tell whether this episode is feminist or not. So I’ll just explain why I think it’s feminist.
The episode centers Leela, who after being spotted by a sports agent gets signed on to play Blurnsball, a fictional future sport similar to baseball. Leela is excited about being the first woman to play Blurnsball on a professional team, ignoring how she obviously got the job mostly for her utter lack of talent in the sport. She is used to make people laugh, since she always hits a person in the head with her bat instead of hitting the ball. As Leela grows in popularity, she comes to believe that she’s pioneer for women in sports, but Jackie Andersson, a female star in a college Blernsball team, approaches Leela to tell her she’s actually making it harder for female athletes, since Leela’s incompetence causes more sexism in the sports community. Leela is crushed by Jackie’s words and goes about, with a sudden insight into her position in the sport, trying to approve her skills. “A Leela of Her Own” deals with the fact that there are still a lot of communities where women are seen as inferior to men and it is considered a triumph if a woman, any woman, rises to the top of a field where men hold dominance.
However, it is not always that simple: what if that woman actually makes it even harder for women to join the overly male centric clubs?
Even if it is unfair that people group all women into one category – like people do with Leela and other female blurnsball players – it’s important to discuss whether some women actually reinforce certain stereotypes of women, such as them being dumb or weak, in fields where they are already highly discriminated against. (By the way- the episodes title is a reference to Penny Marshall’s awesome movie “A League of Their Own”, which centered the first professional Baseball League in the US. Worth checking out!)

Here where my personal favorite episodes with feminist themes. Hope you enjoyed my post!

*Eric Cartman often is the embodiment of the “incorrect”, mean-spirited, capitalistic (in the pure-greed sense), immoral, prejudiced, and un-self reflective person in the South Park meta-narrative (through all of the whole series)

A legendary musical, loved by nearly everyone, the film “The Wizard of Oz” (1939) was directed by Victor Fleming and starred Judy Garland. It was based on the novel with the same title by L. Frank Baum. The novel “Wizard of Oz” was followed by thirteen more books, all about the Land of Oz.

Dorothy is a young girl who lives in Kansas with her aunt Emily (nicknamed “Aunty Em”) and her uncle Henry, who own their own farm. After Dorothy’s dog, Toto, has caused a stir with the mean but powerful townswoman Miss Glutch Dorothy is at risk of losing her beloved pet. To protect Toto from being put down, Dorothy runs away from home. However, she quickly decides to return home since she worries that her aunt might become sick with worry. Unfortunately, as Dorothy heads home, a tornado heads towards her home. Dorothy’s aunt and uncle must go into their storm shelter without knowledge of Dorothy’s return. Dorothy arrives to the home to the farm, runs into the house just as the tornado reaches the farm. After getting a hit on the head, Dorothy passes out for a short while. When she wakes up she realizes that her house has been lifted into the air by the tornado. It lands, and when Dorothy steps outside of her house, she discovers that she is in a whole new world, Oz. Much to her bad luck, her house also landed on an evil witch, killing her. This causes Dorothy to make a dangerous enemy, The Wicked Witch of the West, who was sisters with the dead witch. But Dorothy also is promised protection from Glinda, the Good witch of the North. Glinda is also the one who advices Dorothy to go and see the Wizard of Oz if she wants to get back home to Kansas. Dorothy sets out on a grand adventure, finding loyal friends in a talking scarecrow looking for a brain, a tin man looking for a heart and a lion hoping to gain courage.

Oz, as any fictional fantasy land, has a lot of interesting political and social issues that could be analyzed and interoperated in different ways. Especially regarding the witches in Oz. Glinda as well as the Wicked Witch of the West seems to be matriarchal leaders. The same goes for the other witch that never shows up in the film. The witches seem to be the most powerful beings in Oz and most followed and worshipped than any of the males in Oz.

As matriarchs, just like with any leaders, the witches can be good or bad leaders. The witch who gets killed in the beginning, The Wicked Witch of the East, is told to have ruled mercilessly over Munchkin land. When Dorothy accidently kills her, the Munchkins (little people dressed in bright colors) celebrate by singing and dancing and making sure “she’s really, sincerely dead”. This could be seen as an oppressed nation celebrating the death of a cruel dictator. The Wicked Witch of the East was clearly a powerful ruler, which is illustrated by the major party which is thrown by the Munchkins after they are finally freed from her reign of terror. The Munchkins however never really tell Dorothy of what the witch did that was so terrible, which makes their celebration of a person’s death seems a little bit strange and creepy. But if we consider that the Wicked Witch of the East was a malevolent dictator and that the munchkins had live in fear, their behavior becomes somewhat understandable. The Wicked witch of the East was clearly the matriarch of Munchkin Land. The ones in charge of Munchkin land after the Witch, however, are all men. So when the evil matriarch is overthrown, patriarchs take over. This raises the question if the Munchkins were just unhappy a woman was in charged or not. It is a possibility, even if unlikely, since the male leaders of Munchkin land has no problems listening to Glindas advice.

As for The Wicked Witch of the West, she controls a whole army of flying monkeys and green men. It is revealed at the end of the film, after the Wicked Witch of the West is accidently killed by Dorothy. The men serving under the Wicked Witch are overjoyed by her death, just like the Munchkins. The matriarch they were under is gone, so they automatically hail the person who overthrew their previous leader: Dorothy. Dorothy would become the next matriarch if she wished, but prefers to go home to Kansas. Unlike with the munchkins, the audience can easily understand why the men are happy that the Wicked Witch is dead. The audience sees the Witch order them around, trying to kill other people, and threatening innocent people. Considering the fact that the men had to serve under her, it is understandable why they would be happy she’s gone. The fact that they “hail” Dorothy, meaning that they see her as a possible leader, erases the idea that they wanted a male leader instead. These men don’t care if the leader is a man or a woman, they just don’t want to be bossed around to do crummy jobs.

Glinda the good witch is an absolute matriarch. She is the first to talk to Dorothy in Munchkin Land, showing political power over the mayor of Munchkin Land. When she appears in Emerald City, everyone bows down to her as if she were a god. While the Wizard as admired and respected, when he was in public no one in Emerald City bowed to him. But as soon as Glinda arrives, the people of Emerald City become completely silent and drop to their knees. Glinda is worshipped, while the Wizard was just strongly admired and respected. Glinda is the true leader of Emerald City, even if she rarely makes an appearance.

The last interesting thing about Oz, in the terms whether it is a matriarchal land or not, is the Wizard. As it turns out in the end, the Wizard does not poses any real magic powers, but by visual effects fools the people of Emerald City that he does. The three witches of Oz, though, all have real powers, which makes them the most powerful rulers of Oz. So the people with the most power in Oz are the witches, and therefore run the show, are women. The men in Oz may have political power to a certain degree, but in the end it is the witches that are the all powerful ones.

The ending of “The Wizard of Oz” suggests that Oz was all just a dream that Dorothy had after getting a hit on the head. This is an interesting aspect regarding how Dorothy sees the world. It is shown at the beginning of the film that Aunty Em seems to be the one giving orders at the farm, advicing the men working there what to do. When Miss Glutch appears, she mostly talks to Dorothy’s aunt. The two women are obviously used to making the important decisions. This translates into Dorothy’s dream as one good, powerful witch and one bad, powerful witch. Dorothy is accustomed to a matriarchal life, so she dreams of a matriarchal land.

My theory of Oz would be that it is a matriarchal society. What do you guys think?

Anita Sarkeesian is a young feminist who specializes on popular culture. Her site, Feminist Frequency, is filled with her videos where she analyzes movies, music, advertisements and other cultural phenomenon. In this video, “Women’s stories, movies and the Oscars”, she talks about how movies centered around men are more valued than female-centered films. She also points out that female-centered films are unfortunately very sexist as well, since they portray women one-dimensionally and shallow. I couldn’t agree more! Marvelous video and commentary, worth a watch!

Sarkeesian has also made a video where she criticizes Kanye West newest video, which is also very good and sharp. Watch it here.

Anyone familiar with the Riot  Grrl movement? For those that answer no, here’s a short summary: it was a feminist movement that took place during the 90’s. The movement was most known in the music branch, with bands like Bikini Kill, Bratmobil and L7. Typical themes addressed in songs made by these groups where rape, domestic abuse, female sexuality and empowerment. Feminism, the Riot grrl movement, and Girl Power were a big and totally hip set of phenomena which ran rampaged in the wonderful 90’s. Not only in the world of adults, but also in the world for children.

Enter “Powerpuff Girls”. Created by Craig McCracken in 1998, this cartoon broadcasted on Cartoon Network ran for six full seasons. It centered on three Kindergarden aged girl who had superpowers and use their abilities to protect the town they live in, “Townsville”. Each of the girls had all a specific character trait: Blossom, the leader of the group, is the smart one who loves books and math, and yet is overly obsessed with her looks. Buttercup is the tough one, always ready to fight anything in her way. Bubbles is naïve and sweet, yet at times wanting to prove she is tough as well. The writers of this show used common prototypes of female characteristics while also breaking major stereotypes: Blossom for instance is unusual in the way that even if she puts a lot of effort into her looks, she’s still intellectual and totally into reading. This broke with the typical stereotype of women as either beautiful or smart, but never both. Bubbles’ character was shown in a number of episodes as reasonable and brave, something not often associated with overly sweet girls. Buttercup, while obviously being our stereotypical tomboy, is always wearing a dress with matching shoes, clothing not often associated with tomboys.

Bubbles (to the left), Blossom (center) and Buttercup (to the right)

This show was obviously inspired by the Riot Grrl and feminist movement which took place during the same ten years. Sure, the show obviously couldn’t address domestic abuse etc. but had a strong theme of female empowerment, which the Riot Grrl movement adhered to and strongly spread. And to this day there are few children’s shows that deliver the message “Girl power is cool” as strongly as this one does.

The best thing about this show is how “girly” it is (and purposely meant to exaggerate), yet how tough and unapologetically kick-ass these girls are. They are often surrounded by golden stars, pink hearts and flowers and dress up in cute clothes with bright colors. However, this doesn’t stop them from being wild and strong, beating up all the super evil geniuses which try to destroy their home town. As a child watching this show, I found this message to be extra influential: embracing cute and girly stuff doesn’t mean you can’t be independent and rough. It is possible to combine these two things and they should be combined. Girls don’t have to give up their “femininity” to defend themselves and take stands – it is only natural that they can do both.

The Cartoon was also, beside the strong feminist message, pretty funny and deeply ironic. It had colorful characters, including a dimwitted mayor whose luscious secretary was ten times smarter than this bumbling politician (another smart woman with brains!). The villains were hilarious as well. With the evil and brash super villain HIM being my personal favorite. He was a demon with horns on his head, claws as hands, wearing a tutu and indulging himself with the application of a lot of make-up. His character was most likely male, but neither I nor any viewer could be sure. His outlook was great, but what made him even more fun was his wit and powers: shape shifting and cunning use of manipulation. The animation of the show was very anime influenced and pretty nice.

The show had several clever ways of telling and re-telling classic superhero tales. Some good examples is “Three girls and a monster”, where it is shown that sometimes in order to stop a bad guy you have to talk instead of using violence, “Members only” where the Powerpuff Girls face gender discrimination when trying to join a superhero league and “Him Diddle Riddle” where the girls try to solve riddles HIM sets up in order from saving their father from “paying”.

“The Powerpuff Girls” was a big love of mine in my childhood, and yet today it’s hard to find any form of popular culture that has these memorable female superheroes. After the female members of X-men and Wonder Woman, it is hard to name any strong-spirited women crime fighters.

So, if you have kids, show them a few episodes from this fine series. Or watch some by yourself; either way it’s pretty good entertainment.