Girl Power! – Cartoon Network & Spice Girl Style

March 12, 2009 at 1:29 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

A Positive message meant to instill confidence, a sense of self and security in every girl.  It is meant to ensure that as women, we remember that we have the power to instill change and overcome difficulties.  It is especially relevant to, women who are, I guess, at the age that they would be refered to as girls (I am guessing elementary, middle and some of high school).  The three cartoons that the book talks about are on Atomic Betty, Powerpuff Girls and Totally Spies, all on the Cartoon Network.

Each of these shows are examples “mass-mediated girl power”, each of the characters have two identities.  Atomic Betty, the Powerpuff Girls (Blossom, Buttercup, Bubbles) and the Spies are all “typical” girls leading “typical” lives.  However, when they are called by the higher powers, they must go and usually need to save the world. 

These girls/cartoons all represent the third wave of feminism.  This third wave emerged in the 1990’s.  Third wave feminism is a more historically and culturally influenced notion of feminism and femininities.  It “contends that the female identity is made complicated through parodic and irreverent representations.” 

I will admit that when I was younger I watched Powerpuff Girls and Totally Spies, however, Atomic Betty was a show that came out when I had surpassed the age that any cartoon that wasn’t lewd was unacceptable.  Therefore the only two shows that I really know much about are the spies and power puffs.  And I know that each of these shows encourages a strong sense of power for your girls.  However, these shows also encourage consumerism among these young impressionable girls. Basically, to be a pro-girl-power type of girl, you have to purchase the goods.  Things such as things that are basically the female version of typical male items.  Things like toy guns, trucks (which come pink, pretty, ie: girly), spy gear, etc.  It is extremely difficult to walk into a toy store without being bombarded by some sort of girl-power targeted merchandise.

My favorite representation of Girl Power were/are the Spice Girls.  They came before Atomic Betty, Totally Spies and Powerpuff Girls, and obviously are not cartoon characters (although they would make an excellent show…which I would have watched….) Anyway, the Spice Grils, for my generation, represented sexy, butt kicking women who were able to take care of themselves.  I was absolutely in love with the girl power group.  For my 8th or 9th birthday (I don’t remember which one) I had a Spice Girl themed party, and even went so far as to have my hair done like baby at my hair dressers.

I loved everything about them, I loved their dancing, their clothes, their attitudes and of course their outrageous “names”.  They were a group of girls for girls, their message of Girl Power appealed to a world of eager young female consumers.  I will also admit that I spent money on the Spice Girls.  I bought their CD’s, their merchandise, I still remember one Easter I opened up a present and found a Baby Spice doll!  (That was a great Easter!)  I can also remember wanting to buy platform shoes, and eventually convinced my mother to purchase a shiny pair of silver ones.  If you can recall (or just look at the picture of them I added) the Spice Girls were always sporting the highest and most trendy of platform footwear.

I definitely agree with the positive message of Girl-Power, and believe that it is an incredibly important part of any young girls life.  However, I do not agree with using this idea as a marketing ploy.  I applaud the brains behind that idea, yet I don’t think that the tools to improve a young girls sense of self should need to be purchased.




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