The following quote is from an interview I did with KITSCH-SLAPPED, a feminist pop culture blog on the The She-Ra Collector’s Inventory a few years ago. The article, which was otherwise about collecting, was posted with the title She-Ra: Princess of Power, Feminist Icon because, during the interview, I said this:
I actually have been talking about She-Ra a good deal lately in the cultural context as I watch my younger cousins grow up. I find it really interesting that my generation grew up with this super powered female hero with She-Ra and then got Xena and Buffy when we moved into middle and high school. To me it isn’t surprising that now that we are all in our 30s there are a record number of females in high business positions, starting small businesses and breaking down barriers. We were raised on all this butt kicking, girl power entertainment our whole lives so it makes perfect sense to me that we are out there kicking butt in our own way.
The reason this came up recently in conversation is because the pattern I see with today’s teens scares me. My cousin’s generation was raised on the Disney Princess mania, and while I love Disney myself, it does sort of reinforce a very different message about waiting to be rescued by a man and being helpless. I think I would be willing to poopoo the influence of the Princess mania had it not lead directly into this whole twisted Twilight obsession. Their generation went from, “I need to be rescued, I’m a helpless Princess” to their romantic ideal being this abusive, dangerous, controlling figure that is the lead in books like Twilight, House of Night, etc where women are victimized. Now, I read and enjoyed the Twilight books (well, most of them, the 4th book is pretty terrible) but when you step back and look at the pattern, it’s scary.
If my generation grew up on powerful, butt kicking women and we took that and became professionally butt kicking, I worry about a generation raised on being helpless and victimized. Of course, we won’t know the real effect of this for many years but it is still interesting to consider.
I didn’t specifically talk about feminism but I think I was making the case for it without trying. The question of how She-Ra fits into the feminist world is up for discussion which many for or against.
One such discussion is on Womanist Musings where there is an article called, The Problem With She-Ra as a Feminist Text which goes on to dispute that the Princess of Power has any place in that discussion.
Then KITSCH-SLAPPED did a reaction to the Womanist Musings article citing another part of my original interview. I’ll spare you the quote since it’s reprinted in the article which is entitled, The Sexual Segregation Of She-Ra; Or, Why I Love Thundarr. That article almost implies that She-Ra made the situation worse by segregating out all the women from the male story of He-Man.
I think both articles have some interesting points which is why I’m pointing you in their direction but I personally think it all comes down to this:
In an ideal world, is She-Ra the perfect feminist icon? Of course not. But at the time she came out, she was absolutely one of the best things out there. It’s easy to go back and look with modern eyes and decide that She-Ra could have been better but, speaking as a child who lived through that time period and not a scholar looking back it it with my own prejudices, She-Ra was an important image for me then in an entertainment landscape where I, as a little girl, felt otherwise excluded.
Anyway, what do you think?