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What is most compelling about the Smurfette Principle?

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The most compelling thing about the Smurfette Principle is that it rings true in many ways.  We can think of all sorts of examples that seem to show us that the argument advanced by the principle is in fact true.

The Smurfette Principle was first given that name in 1991 by Katha Pollitt, writing in the New York Times.  She argued that essentially all children’s stories that are told in our culture, whether they be in movies, on TV, or in books, are male-dominated.  Maleness is the norm while femaleness is the exception.  Female characters only exist as adjuncts to the male characters who have very little in the way of individuality or personality.  The principle has been extended since then to include shows and movies that are not made for children.

What is most compelling about this is that we can think of many examples that prove the point that Pollitt and others like her make.  Pollitt herself points to shows like Sesame Street where all of the muppets are male.  We can go to the other end of the spectrum and look at a show like The Sopranos, which was hugely popular some years ago or Breaking Bad which is a hit today.  These shows are essentially about men.  Women who have major roles in them are either the wives and girlfriends (often portrayed as obstacles to what the men want to do) or in some way existing only to show us more about the men (like Dr. Melfi in The Sopranos).

The fact that it is so easy to think of examples that bear out the Smurfette Principle make that theory compelling


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