Little Feminists is back! For all of you out there who wonder what the hell they can show their kids without completely embedding unhealthy gender roles into them, there is Little Feminists. But hey – they need more than Pepper Ann and The Paper Bag Princess. What about their pre-teen years? Enter Sabrina.
Sabrina the Teenage Witch ran from 1996 – 2003 and focused on a girl who had to balance being a normal teenage and being a witch. Pretty simple, right? But this show sets a great example because all of the main characters were female. Not only that, but they were strong, powerful women. Though this might seem like it’s barely enough to qualify a show as being feminist, just take a look at all the other shows and movies out there. Though they exist there just aren’t that many that focus solely on women and women’s lives. While all of the other characters on Sabrina (especially the men) are kind of hapless and innocent, Sabrina and her Aunts Hilda and Zelda use their powers unapologetically. The control and direct their own lives, as well as the lives of those around them. They see no problem in using their powers to take control of any situation.
Throughout the series Sabrina dates a couple of different men, who are admittedly important to the storyline. But what’s often more important is what she is doing in her life. In high school, she actually breaks up with her boyfriend in order to focus more on her studies. We watch as she goes to college and even enters the working world. Funnily enough, Sabrina’s life is pretty realistic, other than the magic of course. She learns who she is, grows a lot as a character, and sees many people come and go through her life. Her life isn’t over the top glamourous – it’s actually pretty much what you’d expect from the average middle-class teenager.
Why else is this show a good example? Check out that non-traditional family unit. Sabrina’s two aunts serve as her parents, and they frequently refer to themselves as co-parents. The three women form a family that seems stronger than most, and the bond between the two sisters is extremely strong. Though they often clash, the show emphasizes that Hilda and Zelda have lived together for 600 years. It’s implied that theirs is the true partnership; while both date a series of men, the relationship between Hilda and Zelda is the primary one for each. Sabrina becomes a part of this bond, and she is able to learn from both women. And by the way, Zelda is an extremely gifted scientist while Hilda becomes a successful business owner.
And you know what else? The show never gives Sabrina an eating disorder episode or anything like that. It’s just unnecessary – sometimes I think those ‘very special episodes’ only normalize and feed those feelings. But Sabrina stays confident about her looks throughout the show, even as they change. In fact, Melissa Joan Hart rocks a hot normal body throughout the entire series.
So when your pre-teens feel they’ve grown out of Pepper-Ann (though, really, who would?) give them Sabrina! She’s actually a pretty awesome role model.