The Transformation of Heroines in Mainstream Media

For my Design Discourse 2 Module I have been asked to write an article looking into an area of animation which was studied in this term. I have chosen to write an article examining the archetype of the heroine in animation and how the traits of the heroine have developed and changed to appeal to a gender politicized audience in mainstream animation of the 21st Century.

In order to write the best possible analysis of the heroine I need to put socio-political context in place. The timeline of women’s roles in society has been characterised by the subjugation  of women and the articulation of feminist demands for equal access and opportunity to the workplace. Starting from the emancipation of women in terms of the vote (Emmeline Pankhurst etc), through the displacement of working women in the post-war period, to “The Female Eunuch” (Germaine Greer), the struggle has been reflected in reactionary politics set in a patriarchal context. Male supremacism was maintained through the status quo, but as feminism and feminist politics began to make an impact in society, the path towards equality, opportunity and social recognition was slowly forged in.

The contrast between societies where women are chattels and the property of men and more developed societies was not as evident of dramatic as it is today. Less than a century ago women were defined as being best, “barefoot, pregnant and down on the farm.” Though this attitude can still be found among some, it is no longer respectable to articulate it. However the struggle for women’s rights is far from won.

It is in this context that we must view the development of the modern animated heroine. She is still waging a war for recognition, equality and access in a traditionally male dominated world.


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