I'm in the process of writing an essay on the growing prominence of the feminist/equal women's rights movement in pop culture, primarily media with children as the target audience. I've already identified a few books and movies. Although I am aware that it is not necessarily an academic subject, are there any examples of television shows that include this that someone could give me? For example, the Cartoon Network show 'Steven Universe' has been mentioned to me as a possibility, but I have not seen it and thus am not quite sure whether it would fit under this category.
I love the question. As for it not being an academic subject, I also disagree, since I teach a media studies course.
I agree with your statement that there is a growing representation of empowered females in popular culture media; however, women's representations still lag far behind men's representations. There are much fewer women portrayed in the media than men. Additionally, women may be shown as empowered, but they are still being held to a ridiculous beauty myth at the same time. For example, the female might be a strong woman of character, but she is almost always very attractive with costume sets that sexualize her body.
Your question seems to indicate that you need examples of empowered women in popular culture media. You also mentioned that you have a list started, but the question doesn't include that list. I might end up listing a few that you already have.
- "Arrow." The TV show "Arrow" has quite a few empowered female characters. Sarah Lance and Laurel Lance both fight as vigilantes in an effort to save Starling City. They may need rescuing from time to time, but they are capable of handling themselves most of the time. Laurel especially is indicative of a feminist empowered female, because she not only protects the city with her fists, but she is also an accomplished lawyer.
- "Orphan Black." The entire lead cast is female. It is not aimed at children, so I'll leave it at that.
- "Care Bears" and/or "My Little Pony." Both are available on Netflix via the kids section. Gone are the days when their character sets were entirely female. Now there is a balance of males and females, but each character, regardless of sex, is a fully realized and capable character.
- "Sophia the First" is about a young, strong princess.
- "Doc McStuffins." The lead character is a young girl that helps heal hurt "living" stuffed animals.
- "Dora the Explorer." She's basically a little kid, female, Indiana Jones.
Movies and/or characters from movies.
- Bella Swan (Twilight). I would argue against her being a "strong" character, but she is frequently heralded as a female hero.
- Divergent. Female lead. Female hero. Young female. Target audience is teens.
- The Hunger Games. Same as Divergent. Seriously, it's the same.
- Black Widow from The Avengers.
- Storm, Jean Grey, Rogue, and Mystique from X-Men.
- Lara Croft from Tomb Raider. This one is a video game tie in as well.
- Jade from Beyond Good and Evil.
- Anya Stroud from Gears of War (games and books). She doesn't need rescuing. She's in charge of most Gears ground ops.
- Assassin's Creed: Syndicate. For the first time in the series, a female is a lead character in a AAA title. Her name is Evie, and she is by far the more interesting lead character. Much more dynamic than her brother, and not overly sexualized.
- Nilin from Remember Me. Female lead character. She's uses her brains as much as she uses her fists. Not overly sexualized either.
Hope it helps!