Wonder women lead television

Times can be tough for teen girls around the country. As they are constantly bombarded with advertisements telling them that they’re not good enough, it can be hard to be confident and strong. Singer Lady Gaga’s wacky, revealing outfits make some call her “the new face of feminism,” but Gaga has alienated herself from feminism, saying, “I’m not a feminist — I, I hail men, I love men. I celebrate American male culture, and beer, and bars and muscle cars.” However, Gaga showed the misconception that feminism is anti-male, when most women view it as a celebration and push for equality between genders. The world doesn’t expect all well-known females to be feminists, but what’s the point of hating on equality?

Julia Kennedy is a college senior majoring in French at Barnard College in New York City. She started “The Wonder Women Project” as an intern for the NYC-based Athena Film Festival. She started the website as her Athena Scholars project, found at http://thewonderwomenproject.tumblr.com. “I wanted to start this project because I was working on the Athena Film Festival, which is a celebration of women and leadership on screen, and I realized that there was some attention paid to female characters on television, but not necessarily as to how female characters interacted with leadership positions and actions,” Kennedy said. Her website focuses on the qualities and strengths of female leaders on TV.

Luckily, pop culture isn’t devoid of strong female characters. Headstrong women have been appearing on television, both in the past and present, but sometimes it’s hard to flip through the channels and find them. To make it a little easier, here’s a list of some multifaceted characters.

NBC’s comedy “Parks and Recreation” focuses Pawnee, Ind., Deputy Parks Director Leslie Knope, an ambitious and over-excited optimist. Her job forces her to interact with the morbidly obese townspeople of Pawnee and deal with raccoon infestations. A die-hard workaholic, Knope’s enthusiasm mixes with the deadpan humor of her fiance, Ben Wyatt. She works hard to cultivate female friendships, like celebrating “Galentine’s Day,” a yearly breakfast tradition, which is, according to Knope, “Lilith Fair minus the angst and plus frittatas.” Knope’s girl-power attitude makes her a must watch character on television. As she said, “Uteruses before duderuses. Ovaries before brovaries.”

Fellow NBC comedy “30 Rock” recently wrapped up, ending its sixth and final season. The show focused on Liz Lemon, a nerdy comedy writer dealing with childlike stars on her show, TGS. Lemon can seem hopeless at times, but that makes her such a great character. “30 Rock” never seemed preachy or created impossibly high expectations for a woman. It showcased Lemon’s talents and faults, making her a down to earth, lovable character, even in her most unlovable of times. By using stereotypical laughs — “OH MY PERIOD! You’re all fired!” — her character showed the ridiculous gender roles sometimes portrayed on television.

To the naked eye, teenager Buffy Summers seems to live a normal life, until you see that she’s actually the “chosen one” — the one and only vampire slayer. “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” aired from 1997 to 2003, focused on Summers’ struggle to balance a normal life and the life of vampire slaying bestowed upon her. She’s got extreme strength, a strong heart and a great circle of friends with her every step of the way. Summers manages to function with the weight of the world on her shoulders, doing everything she can to live a normal life. She’s enough to make any girl want to go out and kick some vampire butt, stake in hand.

Veronica Mars is a teenage private detective in sunny California. Sounds cliche, but Mars pulls it off seamlessly. She’s tough, but seems like the kind of girl that you’d want to be friends with. Well, maybe not be friends with, but at least admire. “Veronica Mars” aired from 2004 to 2007, drawing Emmy buzz but never winning. After her best friend is murdered, Mars struggled with a breakup and being kicked out of the popular crowd. Instead of wallowing in self pity, Mars jumped into detective work, searching for her friend’s murderer. Mars’ father was also a private investigator, but was often overshadowed by her top notch investigative work.

This is a shout-out to all the strong women out there: there are role models for you — whether geeky, overly optimistic or supernatural — even on television.

Class of 2014

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