International Woman of the Day – Lisa Simpson
Today’s International Woman of the Day is Lisa Simpson, as chosen by Maria Moore.
I may not have realised it back when 6pm meant Simpsons-time, but Lisa Simpson was a brilliant role model. A friend and I were talking about it the other day – how lucky we were to grow up with her. I don’t think we knew at the time what an important influence this particular vegetarian feminist activist would be in our lives. As someone who spent most of my childhood reading, I obviously identified with her bookish ways and loved her for it, but there is so much more to her than just books… It is her thirst for knowledge, determination, and her all-important conviction that there is more to being a girl than sitting quietly and looking pretty that make her such a significant figure.
[Image from http://lisasimpsonbookclub.tumblr.com]
There are so many examples of Lisa’s wisdom but my favourite is the episode when she gets the new talking Malibu Stacy doll and is disappointed to find it only says sexist phrases like, “Don’t ask me, I’m just a girl” and “I wish they taught shopping in school.” Enraged, she snaps at her brother:
“It’s not funny, Bart. Millions of girls will grow up thinking that this is the right way to act! That they can never be anything more than vacuous ninnies whose only goal is to look pretty, land a rich husband, and spend all day on the phone with their equally vacuous friends talking about how damned terrific it is to look pretty and have a rich husband!”
Lisa tracks down Malibu Stacy’s creator, Stacy Lovell, and they decide to create a new talking doll, Lisa Lionheart, who is independent and empowering. The episode is filled with comments on misogyny – at one point the other girls laugh at Lisa when she claims the doll is sexist for using a “dirty word”, which reminds me of a lot of times when I’m spoken out against sexism. Unfortunately the doll’s success is scuppered by the release of a brand new Malibu Stacy doll (this time she has a hat), but Lisa does manage to get through to at least one girl, and she definitely had an impact on me.
Things are often hard for Lisa – she is misunderstood by her family, she gets lonely, she suffers the taunts of other school kids – but these struggles only make her more ambitious to become the first female president. She is full of goodness, integrity, and the kind of drive that I can only dream of as I lie on the sofa watching her fight for animal rights, environmental issues and, of course, a woman’s right to keep her last name if she decides to get married.
Lisa is a wonderful character, she taught me to stand up for what I believe in, that it’s okay to enjoy studying, and that everyone gets blue sometimes…
It’s not always easy but she knows what she wants and she goes after it, and carries it off with grace and dignity. What more could you want in an 8-year-old feminist icon?