My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is special in how it strives to go beyond the commonly accepted boundaries of girls’ entertainment, providing a wide diversity of role models and conflict-driven story lines that do not only encourage cooperation but also celebrate individuality. When “girly” is too commonly used as a pejorative, FiM rejects many attributes associated with girls’ animation not to be closer to gender neutrality but to use overt girliness to embrace the many facets of femininity.
It is no secret that this show has garnered a large adult following of both female and male fans, and that the existence of the latter has often sparked strong reactions—much stronger than against women watching a boys’ cartoon. While it is indeed important to claim the right of both men and women to pursue their interests regardless of gender roles, we must fight the core reason behind such a backlash—the internalized preconception that femininity is weaker than masculinity, that girl things are inherently lesser than boy things, and that a work targeted toward girls cannot possibly have value. In fact, this is another testament to the necessity of such works as FiM, and how important it is for us to not downplay but embrace its girliness and champion the show’s core message of empowerment for young girls and women.
Today is International Women’s Day, this year’s theme being “Inspiring Change.” We would like to encourage all of you to reflect on not only femininity and gender roles as they pertain to this show but also take advantage of this opportunity to research women’s issues and gender equality, to discuss it with your peers both within and outside of this fandom, to try and inspire change. It is true that many people and groups tend to be hostile to feminist discourse, to react defensively to any discussion on the issues women may face, as if it was an attack on the integrity of an entire group that it needs to be defended from above all things, and this may be intimidating. However, we firmly believe that discussing any problems we may have as a group is healthy regardless of how widespread or uncommon it may be, not as an accusatory debate on who should be blamed but as an attempt to fix issues that arise. To inspire change is to refrain from claiming not to be part of the problem but instead work actively to be part of the solution.
To encourage reflection and discussion, for the next few days we will be posting regularly on @BroniesForGood and our dusty Facebook page various resources and opinion pieces relevant to women’s issues both in the context of all things ponies and the world at large, as well as host a podcast as a platform for various educated individuals tuned to the fandom to discuss and express their opinions on the matter.
To kick this off, we encourage you to check out A Step Forward Too Late: The Impact of Femininity and Pony, a piece and testament to the importance of representation in girls’ media by Rarietty on The Round Stable!
With much love and solidarity,
Bronies for Good