Take a moment to reminisce on your favorite childhood cartoons – almost every single show is led by a solitary male character with one or two females designated as side characters.
The feminist in me recently took issue with this, and I reminisced on some of my own personal favorite animated leads.
I dedicate the following list to the best cartoon girl gangs that embody feminist ideals and inspire their young female viewers to take charge.
Yes, the Kanker Sisters. They are bullies, but they are also lovable to a fault.
They literally kick butt, and it’s cool to see such a strong female presence in a cartoon. Even though they may get into fights concerning overlapping romantic interests, the Kankers always end up reconciling.
Their recurring terror-filled appearances throughout the show prove that they are not only powerful but also undefeatable. The girls are relentless, even if they seem to “lose” to the Eds at the end of an episode.
Also known as the “Loyal Sisterhood of the Fireside Girls,” this Tri-State Area version of Girl Scouts proves again and again that girls can get stuff done and get it done well.
Although Phineas and Ferb are innovative in their own right, several of their projects would still be a heap of bolts in the backyard if the Fireside Girls hadn’t stepped in to assist. The best part of the Fireside Girls is their accomplishment patch categories, which range from “Wrestling an Alligator in a Sewer,” to “I Just Saw a Cute Boy,” to “Overcoming Claustrophobia.” The Fireside Girls prove women can support each other and their friends, a rare feat in contemporary media.
Who didn’t want to be a Hex Girl? They’re mysterious, they have fangs, and they’re in a totally jamming rock band.
The first time they’re introduced, the gang suspects the girls to be actual witches who are behind the mystery at hand, but it turns out that Thorn, the leader of the Hex Girls, is actually a Wiccan who uses her powers to help save the day.
What’s more, the Hex Girls coined the term “eco-goth” which is now a Tumblr aesthetic and lifestyle.
This show is basically the millennial version of Charlie’s Angels. Sam, Alex and Clover are three BFFs in Beverly Hills and are profoundly materialistic.
But that’s not a bad thing. In fact, their love of fashion, makeup and boys actually helps them out of most of their sticky situations. I can totally get behind spy weapons disguised as beauty products: laser lipstick, much?
When Reggie’s surfing skills are overlooked by a surfing magazine simply because of her gender, the Power Girl surfers are born.
Angered by the patriarchy, Reggie recruits the best female surfers in the area including the famed Trish. When the press arrives to shoot Otto for a spread, the Power Girl surfers put on a totally rad show that proves girls can surf just as well as boys. Instead of accepting an offer to be featured in the magazine, Reggie and the girls create their own zine, asserting their independence from male-dominated media.
The Kyoshi warriors are an elite, skilled all-female militia that protects Kyoshi Island. Their warpaint is fierce, but their personalities are fiercer. In a world where element-benders have a distinct advantage, the Kyoshi warriors, who use weapons instead of bending, are more than capable of holding their own. Suki, a Kyoshi warrior and a friend of Aang’s, is fundamental in the defeat of the main villain, Fire Lord Ozai even without any bending skills.
Sugar, spice, and everything nice doesn’t even come close to covering the multifaceted Powerpuff Girls.
Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup are five years old, yet spend their days saving Townsville from wacky monkeys with exposed brains and gangs of giant amoebas. They argue like all sisters do, but they protect each other as well as Professor Utonium, above all else.
They’re all flawed in their own ways but their distinct personalities (the strategist, the sensitive one, the tough one, respectively) balance each other out to form an unbeatable team.
1. Sailor Scouts (Sailor Moon)
How could anyone beat the Sailor Scouts?
The reason for their entire existence is to protect their friendship along with the universe. It’s in the theme song! A job that can only be safely left in the hands of five teenage girls.
There is nothing more important to the Scouts than their friendship – except maybe boys and ice cream (just kidding – even the dreamy Darien Shields can’t come between them). The Sailor Scouts are heroes with the responsibility of defending the universe thrust upon them but that doesn’t mean they won’t oversleep or spend hours at the arcade.
Even with their occasionally conflicting personalities, the Sailor Scouts manage to use the power of their friendship to save the universe time and time again.
Hanna Greenblott is a sophomore English language and literature major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.