This will be a less „scientific“ approach and more of a personal thing so I won’t go into theories and what not.
It’s just that since I took a look into MLP (yeah I know its not magical girl genre, bear with me for a moment) and I realized there are a lot of feminist mothers who love to take any girl-oriented show and tell why it is an embaressment for any sophisticated woman and that girls will only learn how to be cute and obedient…
And thouh some aspects might be true I started thinking about it.
Now comes the personally part:
My neices (4 and 6 years old) are classical girls. They want everything in pink, love princesses, play with Barbies wear cute dresses,… and their favourite show is Winx Club.
For all who don’t know it a picture and you will I think understand the shows basics…
In the course of the Show (basically every season) the girls get new cute companions like Pixies, Pets or little mermaids. Also they get new transformations with new cute outfits.
And now I managed to draw the circle to the title: Magical girls!
Although Winx is an Italian Show and the concept came from Japan it is still very much comparable to older Magical girl Shows like Sailor Moon to which I will come later.
These shows are heavily criticised and I must say I wasn’t actually happy to hear my nieces loved Winx of all shows, the best. It is pink, they look way too thin, its all about looking cute and having make up…
Than I realised I loved Sailor Moon with 6 and it puzzeled me: Why did I like Sailor Moon?
And not only Sailor Moon, Kamikaze Kaito Jeanne, Card Captor Sakura, when it first came out even Wedding peach!
Most readers might say „well its a show for girl, you were a girl… that’s what they like right?“
But those who know me know I NEVER was a typical girl. Till this day I hate pink, I never wanted to be a princess, in Kindergarten I played with the boys Power Rangers (though I always insisted on not being the pink ranger) for Karneval I dressed up a a Squa or Pirate…
So why did I become so interested in such a girl show, one that is so much criticised at that. My mother still tells me how she hated that show, because of the short skirts the needy attitude of the protagonist and the shrill voices. But still, although I was a tomboy, a girl any feminist mother could wish for, I fell for magical girls.
So after thinking about it and watching the whole Winx series, which I like to call the new Sailor Moon, I came to an answer:
They are not at all that anti feminist.
Yes you can criticise the dresses and length of skirts and personality aspects of characters and probably bring MANY points against Magical girl series.
But I claim there are many points that can be highlighted that show a good gender approach for small girls!
I liked Sailor Moon because she kicked ass! Yes she was a cry baby and a glutton and naive but that made her all the more appealing because it actually is a realistic character. Maybe not the type of character feminist mothers want to have their child to look up to, but still a realistic one. I would cry for help if I saw some monsters attack someone and than turning towards me! What’s so wrong about that?
Sailor Moon just like Winx and many other magical girl series give normal girls a special feature, they are not passive, but they have to act, be it defeating enemies as in Sailor Moon or Winx, or be it breasking a witches curse, as in DoReMi or collecting magical cards, like Sakura.
And the best is: They can remain girls doing this! They don’t have to become some kind of boy, or even dress like a boy. Even as a girl, wearing a cute dress, maybe even heels, you can kick ass!
Now what’s so wrong about that?
Also since usually these shows have very different characters. It’s not like they say „you have to be a dumb Blonde like Usagi to be happy“ but they show different characters, usually one more sportif and less girly in between (for example tecna in Winx or Haruka in Sailor m
Moon, hell they even say it’s Ok to be homosexual, how much more open can you get?)
So to all hard core feminist mothers: it is easy to spot the mistakes producers did, considering you point of view and surely there are some things that just shouldn’t be, but also try to see what some show and movies actually do right.
You can talk with you kids about the shows to strengthen their understanding on it and the depiction of women to prevent a band influence. 😉