Subtle Sexism 101: Not Turtley Awesome, Dude

Spousal Unit love the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Not like.

Not really like.

Loves.  With a capital L.

And so we talk about TMNT a lot.  Not that I actually know jack about the show, so don’t ask me.  I mean, I watched it growing up because EVERYONE watched it growing up.  I’m pretty sure I played April on the playground in epic TMNT battles in kindergarten.  But I don’t really know much about the show.  I wasn’t a Turtle girl.  Ask me about Inspector Gadget, and I can go on for hours, but that is a whole other sandbox of crazy.

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Point being, somewhere in between the Spousal Unit stealthily moving his Michelangelo action figure around the house and buying himself a Donatello outfit for running 5Ks in, the topic of Venus De Milo came up.  Look, if you really want to know all the geekery about which iteration she appeared in and how long she lasted and where her story arch went, go troll the forums.  Or breeze through the wiki page.   I really can’t invest much time in getting to know the character, but my dislike has nothing to do with a long standing grudge because she was the 5th turtle, she had poor dialogue, crappy jokes or anything else that fans of TMNT seem to hate about her.  Nope, I’m so totally turned off by her name, I don’t even care to know any more.

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Lookin’ good, fellas.

For those sad sad souls who grew up under a rock (or who are just the wrong age for the whole Turtle brewhaha to matter) the four Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are named Michelangelo, Donatello, Raphael and Leonardo, all great Renaissance artists, all famous in their own day as well as being widely known now.  Not bad name sakes for mutated reptiles living in a sewer, sustained on pizza.

Boyz Rewl!

And then a girl shows up.  What is that you say?  She is a cool shinobi who has mad numchuck skills?  Oh, nifty neato, she can be an awesome empowering character for all the girls who got tired of being April and always having to get saved!

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Utter and total fail.

Wait, what?  They named her after a statue?  An ARMLESS statue?

How about Sofonisba Anguissola, an apprentice of Bernardino Gatti who corresponded with Michelangelo?  Or Lavinia Fontana, daughter of Prospero Fontana, or Fede Galizia, daughter of Nunzio Galizia, both of whom were lucky enough to have famous artist fathers who trained them?  Maybe Artemisia Gentileschi, who endured a seven month trial against her rapist, won and went on to marry and still have a successful career- which was no small feat in 17th century Europe.  Elisabetta SiraniPlautilla NelliBarbara LonghiMarietta Robusti…  and those are just a few of the Italian artists.  But no, instead we will name her after an inanimate object created by an unknown artist.  Because what better way to reinforce that men are active players in the world and women are passive pawns then to start early and subtle with that message?  She is, in the most literal sense possible here, objectified.

Spousal Unit hadn’t really thought about all this before.

Yeah, screw you Turtles.  This is why I will stick with Inspector Gadget and his kick ass niece Penny.  That show knew what was up.

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Seriously, Penny is a great female role model. She loves to read, is hella smart, and she has managed to bridge the human/canine communication barrier. And look at that sweet jacket!

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