Fear not feminists of all ages! Even if you weren’t raised at the teat of pop culture in the 90s you can still learn a thing or two from its fictional female role models. RESPECTFULLY CONSENSUALLY (METAPHORICALLY?) EMBRACE THE TEAT!
Clarissa Darling, Clarissa Explains It All
Clarissa broke the fourth wall and the glass ceiling at Nickelodeon being the first female lead show for the still relatively new network. She was our big sister who had it all: the awesome clothes, the rad platonic dude friend and amazing shade throwing powers against the forces of younger siblings. If you think about it, she’s like the first confessional youtube girl.
Daria Morgendorffer and Jane Lane, Daria
Daria is a complex character, sarcastic yet deeply moralistic she struggles with being advanced intellectually but socially inept. All this with a soft nougaty center of caring despite herself. Jane on the other hand is an extrovert who never feels cornered by being different and sees that every cloud has a smoky grey lining that is probably in the shape of a passed out hobo. They’d also probably hate this write-up (I don’t blame them).
Harriet, Harriet The Spy
Though I wouldn’t want to be Harriet’s significant other, her voracious need to explore and chronicle the mysteries around her is a good example for brainy gals everywhere.
Buffy Summers and Willow Rosenberg, Buffy The Vampire Slayer
Buffy isn’t a role model because she is the chosen one, she’s a role model because she struggles with being the chosen one in a world that either doesn’t care or wants her dead for being who she is. Willow on the other hand starts the show an ordinary often ignored person who throughout the course of the show, constantly embraces knowledge and experiences to become a powerful (and at one point nearly unstoppable) force. I’m trying to shoehorn a joke here but Buffy takes a Mr. Pointy straight to my heart it does.
Lisa Simpson, The Simpsons
Lisa Simpson - badass bitch from day one: an intellectual, a vegetarian, a Buddhist, a music aficionado, a cartoon lover, an avid reader, a romantic, and an environmentalist. Sure, her episodes get preachy and she can be a bit of a killjoy, but she’s the best little killjoy this side of the Kwik-E-Mart.
Probably the most realistic fictional character on this list, Moesha exemplified what it was like being a young woman in 90s America. The melodrama was high but it was a clever show with a lot of heart. Also if you got past that picture of Brandy without getting, "The Boy Is Mine" stuck in your head you are made of stronger stuff than I.
The Powerpuff Girls
Sure, when the Powerpuff Girls are made by accident, it’s all, "sugar and spice and everything whoopass". But when I was made by accident I had to live in the basement and eat pancakes and whatever fit under the door until I learned how to not scare the neighborhood kids with my face.
Shelby Woo, The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo
Years before Veronica Mars and the many forensic sleuths of CSI, there was Shelby Woo. While only an intern, Woo’s preternatural reasoning skills made all the adult cops look like damn fools. Not that surprising when since Mr. Miyagi himself Pat Morita played her grandfather. Wax on wax off popo.
Tank Girl, Tank Girl
If you’ve ever yearned for a role model out there with the self-esteem, the snot, the style, the weaponry, the owned sexuality, the wit, the puke, the bloodlust and an unhinged grasp on reality, have I got a gal for you! Yes, Tank Girl! The wonder from an apocalyptic down under is the punk rock daughter of Bugs Bunny and Mad Max. And she’s just the girl, the girl you want.
Wednesday Addams, Addams Family Series
Wednesday is the patron, let’s go with saint, of gloomy girls who don’t give a sh$%&. While others around her are satisfied to be vapid sheep, Wednesday would rather suffer a dram of poison than suffer a damn fool. At the end of the day though it’s family first, off the cliff.
The Sailor Senshi, Sailor Moon
The Sailor Scouts are more than just a visually appealing Halloween costume for adorable girls and the pervy older men who love them. They’re also a team of complicated personalities trying to work together in high-pressure situations. And while American audiences got a sadly more censored version, the show featured a teen girl romance that predated Glee by more than a decade.
Xena, Xena Warrior Princess
Speaking of progressive shows that used subtext to tackle sex and gender in an innovative and titillating setting, Xena! Originally meant to be the female answer to Hercules, Xena outshined its predecessor by being more than just camp.
Honorable Mentions: Hermione Granger, Sydney Bristow (Alias), Angela Chase ( My So Called Life), PepperAnn, Enid (Ghost World), Lara Croft, Leeloo Dallas Multipass (Fifth Element), Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Judy Funnie, Alex Mack (The Secret World of Alex Mack).
Wait, hold that teat, I know full well I missed a metric teat-ton of amazing women. Who would be on your list? Let me know in the comments!
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