Actress Geena Davis spoke at the National Conference for Media Reform in January, discussing her new foundation, See Jane. This group seeks to reduce gender stereotypes, and encourages an increase of female characters in the media–particularly in children’s media. In her speech, she discussed the history of female cartoon characters. Although her facts may not be completely accurate, she certainly makes a valid point. Her speech was broadcast this morning on public radio’s Democracy Now!.
DAVIS: “Do you remember the kinds of stuff that they made for us, for kids, in the oldie old days? Let’s see, the first animation, of course, was Disney’s Minnie Mouse and… Daisy Duck, who didn’t really do much at all, except ask to go shopping, I think. There were a lot of Hanna-Barbera cartoons — Magilla Gorilla, Wally Gator, George of the Jungle — virtually no female characters. I had a vague recollection that Yogi Bear had a girlfriend, and I searched and searched, and I finally found her, Cindy Bear, as you all remember…”
“…On the Looney Tunes website, they list twelve characters, and only one of them is female, but it’s the great one. It’s the one you all love and remember the best: Granny. She’s the one who owns Tweety, and she has to leave so that the story can happen.”
Geena rips into the Smurfs, Judy Jetson, Winnie The Pooh as well. It’s very entertaining. The whole transcript is posted at the Democracy Now! website, and you can also download a streaming video of the speech.