0 thoughts on “Pony Thought of the Day: Fillies for Feminism

  1. One of the things I don't know how MLP manages to “get away with” are bits of what I'll call “Rainbow Dash Feminism”

    To explain what I mean about this, consider various ponies responses to the statement by someone I'll refer to as Mike: “Girls Suck, boys rule!”

    Fluttershy: “Oh, well I suppose that is your opinion, and isn't really less valid than mine, but I think if you dig deeper you might find that girls are pretty cool too”

    Twilight Sparkle: “I've researched this, and the data show that women are no less capable than men”

    Rainbow Dash: “Boys suck, girls rule! And now I'm gonna do a sonic rainboom to show how much I — I mean we — rule”

    The first two are obviously quite inoffensive, but aren't likely to have any effect on Mike, and really it's a response that makes sense and is human.

    Think of the cartoons of the 80s; GI Joe for example. The male characters are named after what they do (Low-light has nightvision goggles, Blowtorch has a flamethrower, Lift-Ticket flies a helicopter). Then you have the females: “Cover-Girl” and “Scarlett” named after their appearance

    The MLP response is:

    Big McIntosh: basically strong, silent, looks like he's either half-asleep or stoned (take your pick)

    Shining Armor: easily the most well-developed male pony in the series, but clearly portrayed as a passionate surfer-dude type who is dedicated and easy-on-the-eyes but not all that bright.

    Finally there's Snips and Snails the lamest ponies on the show, and of course they are “what little boys are made of.”

    All this is fine, but what surprises me is my experience on the internet with 25-35 nerdy males is that any digs at past (and present) inequalities like this is typically met with accusations of “Misandry” and calls for “male equality” etc.

    And my (admittedly limited) experience with MLP fandom hasn't turned up much of this, despite said fandom being, as a whole, in all other regards basically as misogynistic as the larger demographic.

  2. I can't imagine Rainbow Dash saying that. Maybe in response to someone saying “Girls suck,” but I just can't imagine that ever happening in Equestria. Well, okay, Applejack had that “how like a boy” line in “The Ticket Master,” but that was a very early episode by one of the worst writers on the show. Otherwise I haven't seen a trace of gender essentialism in either direction.

    I don't really agree with your characterization of Big Mac and Shining Armor. When Big Mac does speak up, he's usually correct (c.f. “Applebucking Season”), so I see him more as a “still waters run deep” type. Shining Armor doesn't seem unintelligent to me at all. I mean, he's not as smart as Twilight, but he doesn't seem any dumber than any of the rest of the Mane Six.

    As for Snips and Snails, yeah, okay. They kinda suck. On the other hand, do they suck because they're little boys, or because the whole notion of “what little boys are made of” as being distinct from little girls is intellectually bankrupt?

    Anyway, yes, it is rather surprising that male geeks have embraced this show, because (especially young) male geeks tend to be very anxious about their masculinity. (Unsurprisingly, since most male geeks have had their masculinity questioned and attacked since they were in middle school.) What seems to be happening (and there's a decent, but as always too-short, PBS Idea Channel video about this) is that bronies are attempting to redefine masculinity in a way that doesn't require confining gender roles or misogyny to maintain. That's a big part of what I mean about it giving me hope for the future.

  3. Also, I've seen very little to suggest to me that bronies are as misogynistic as most other fandoms I belong to. Especially compared to fandoms that are similarly male-dominated, like video games and comics. Even anime fandom, which is close to a 50-50 split of men and women, still has (in my experience, YMMV) a lot more issues with sexism, such as cosplayer harrassment, moe, rampant Nice Guy Syndrome, etc.

  4. “I've seen very little to suggest to me that bronies are as misogynistic as most other fandoms I belong to.”

    I'll defer to your much greater experience with bronies for this.

    And on further thought, you're right that RD wouldn't say “boys suck” even in response to “girls suck”. She is, however, both confrontational and the most all-or-nothing thinker of the Mane six, particularly in the first season.

  5. She is definitely confrontational and all-or-nothing, though as you suggest she mellows out a lot as the series goes on, especially post-“Mysterious Mare-Do-Well.” I've mentioned before that I see “Wonderbolt Academy” as an exercise in putting Season 3 Rainbow Dash and Season 1 Rainbow Dash together to see what happens.

  6. For all that most of those points seem propped up to me, I don't think there's any mitigating factors on Snips and Snails and it's disingenuous to say there are. The writers needed two very stupid characters to advance the plot, with fanboyism (a stereotypically male trait) being a bonus and being sympathetic being optional. They decided to go with what, at worst, could even be read as a caricature of the target audience's male classmates. At the very least, they decided that the natural choice for the stupid fanboy character was a pair of little boys named after a rhyme about little boys. That these are the ONLY male children you see in the entirety of Ponyville (at least in the first season) makes it even worse.

    But I forgive them, because this is sixth episode of a show now planning its fourth season. They were still finding their legs. And to my memory, the only later appearance in which Snips and Snails actually did anything (Gabby Gums) had them still
    dim-witted but good-natured and good sports about the newspaper; all the plot called for was someone who wouldn't get upset at looking silly, while here the plot called for someone who'd DO something stupid.

  7. Well, I think there's one huge mitigating factor to Snips and Snails, which is that you can wait for the next show to come on, or flip to any other channel, and find as many positive depictions of male characters as you like. Context matters.

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