When I was in primary school, I have a very distinct memory of what I wanted to do. I was going to become a vet, flying around the world, a hero to the animals. The other little girls in my year either joined me in, frankly, a fantastic choice of a future career or, wanted to become princesses, or simply achieve fame. They weren’t sure how. These are all, of course, absolutely reasonable aims when you’re five years old. Skipping slightly further into the future, a group of us had blatantly changed our developing little minds. We weren’t going to be vets, or princesses, or famous. We were going to be superheroes. Make believe so often included saving the world from some dastardly fiend, our imaginative imaginary powers allowing us to achieve the impossible. I attribute this slightly embarrassing, mainly anecdotal fact to the cartoons my piggy little eyes were glued to. “Kim Possible”, “Totally Spies”, and “AVATAR: The Legend of Aang” were choc-full of ladies who were just as, if not stronger than their male counterparts. Kim, the trio of high school secret agents, and the many girls of AtLA were especially strong influences in my formative years, and I’m exceedingly happy to say that I can see even more inspirational female characters around today.
The adored children’s show of “Adventure Time” provides its audience with aforementioned wonderful ladies. Princess Bubblegum is not only a diplomatic and resourceful ruler, but also a great lover of science. Marceline the Vampire Queen, who, despite her title, doesn’t appear to lead anything, is utterly different. Rather than living in a castle, she prefers her dark caves, playing the base and scaring the living daylights out of anyone who disturbs her. These two, along with many more female characters, provide both representation and inspiration for young girls everywhere. As these children age, they are still able to find their own super heroines in other films, shows, and books. “Agent Carter”, released earlier this year, follows the story of Peggy Carter, a member of the secret service after WW2. Resourceful, intelligent, and entirely capable, Peggy is able to use her talents to SAVE herself, her friends, and the world, ignoring the blatant sexism that is directed towards her by the other agents. Another fictional character who is an inspiration for young girls, and geared towards politics is “Parks and Recreation”’s Leslie Knope. Dedicated to her work, kind to others, and suggested to be President in the final episode, Leslie is undoubtedly an important character present in the media.
It’s not just in the fiction that we are able to find super heroines. Amal Clooney, formally Alamuddin, is known for her stringent battle for human rights in the courtroom. Also, Madeline Albright, for not only becoming the first female Secretary of State, but also for her policies regarding women’s rights in relation to America’s foreign policy. Another American politician, secretary of state, and hopefully soon-to-be Presidential candidate, Hilary Clinton, is also renowned for the importance which she has placed upon the political and social attitude towards women.
So, both fictional and non-fictional women are present in today’s world, who are able to provide inspiration and strength to young girls everywhere. Five year olds can see Princess Bubblegum, and embrace their love of science. Twelve year olds will watch “Agent Carter”, or “Parks and Recreation” determined to one day serve their country however they can. Sixteen year olds will read about Amal, desperate to help as many individuals as possible through the legal system. Representation, both in and out of fiction is exceedingly important, allowing girls to become inspired. This may create an equal amount of women to men in high-powered JOBS, which may, overall, lead to a greater equality of the sexes, benefitting the world. As Hilary Clinton stated in her 1995 speech in Beijing - “Human rights are women’s rights, and women’s rights are human rights.”
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