Cartoon characters who brought out our inner-feminists

Rainbow Brite, which ran from 1984 up until 1986, is getting a reboot. Feeln, a video-on-demand service, is bringing back the rainbows and horses and characters of fluffy consistency, and you can start watching the show on November 6th. Best of all, Emily Osment will be voicing our leading rainbow hero, Rainbow Brite, while Molly Ringwald will be taking on The Dark Princess, Rainbow Brite’s arch nemesis.

If you haven’t seen the show in awhile, here’s a little refresher: Rainbow Brite is about a girl with magical powers who will do anything in her power to protect Rainbow land from dark, or negative energy. Our new Rainbow Brite is all grown up, and from the looks of it, she’s going to be facing some cray dark forces.

What was cool about Rainbow Brite was that she a good and righteous ladyboss. She was the leader of a group of kids (both boys and girls), whom she rescued like the heroine she was, and basically served as CEO of all the colors in the rainbow. If you were a cartoon-loving girl in the ’80s, it was refreshing to see a girl hero riding in on her white horse (yes she had one) to save the boys, and the land. So while the franchise isn’t perfect—don’t even get us started on the weird makeover RB got a few years back—it served as proof that a female cartoon hero was a viable character that girls wanted and deserved. In light of all that, we decided to take a closer look at some of the other cartoons from our childhood who empowered us, even if we didn’t know it at the time.

1. Charlotte Pickles from Rugrats

Honestly, every female character on Rugrats was a feminist. That series was seriously progressive for being about talking babies, and it should be a mandatory watching experience for every kid. Anyway, Angelica’s mom was the powerhouse of all powerhouses. She was the the Beyonce of the kid cartoon world. Charlotte knew what she was doing when she was raising Angelica; sure, her daughter could be bratty and a bit manipulative. But so what? She raised her daughter to be strong, independent, and outspoken. A girl with undeniable flaws, but a girl who could stand up for herself and love what makes her unique (even if it’s just her love for cookies).

2. Daria and Jane from Daria

Daria and Jane, our favorite ’90s babes, were masters of pointing out and challenging society’s self-imposed constructs.. When asked if Daria is a feminist, the creator of the show, Glenn Eichler, stated, “I would say so, yeah. She thinks she’s as good as anyone else and should be treated as well as anyone else. And she doesn’t think she should be subservient to anyone.”

3. Lisa Simpson from The Simpsons

The most mature and wise Simpson is the eight year-old Lisa, who takes no crap from anyone, ever. Aside from her incredibly high intelligence and logic, Lisa taught us all the right things. She believes in brains over beauty, the importance of loving your family even though they may be kinda nuts, and that sexism must be eradicated once and for all. She’s also a bookworm just like us, and once tried to start a feminist newsletter (season 3, episode 14).

4. Reggie Rocket from Rocket Power

When I was a kid, I loved Reggie, because all Reggie wanted to do was skate with her brothers, write, and read. Oh, and did I mention that she’s a total computer geek? She launched The Zine, Ocean City’s finest magazine which featured everything surf and turf. Reggie wasn’t perfect. In one episode, she criticizes her cousin Clio for her hyper-girliness, but later realizes this wasn’t okay. Clio and Reggie make up and become really good friends. Feminism isn’t about judging others for being different, it’s about equal rights for everyone. I have a feeling, after making up with Clio, Reggie got that.

5. Francine Frensky from Arthur

The opinionated Francine was never afraid of speaking her mind, even if this bugged her classmates (it did, but she didn’t really care). She also challenged the rigid gender norm (at the time) with her interests in sports, proving girls were just as adept at kicking a ball around as boys.

6. Eliza Thornberry from The Wild Thornberries

Eliza, a girl whose best friend is a Chimpanzee named Darwin, was courageous, smart, and fearless. Her ability to communicate with wildlife suggested she’s respectful of other creatures—even if they’re different. She was also a great role model for any girl with an interest in science.

7. All of the Powerpuff Girls

These gals were my one of my favorite superheroes when I was a kid because they were extremely true to themselves. Bubbles loved all things cute, but she was also unforgiving and tough. Blossom liked bows, but she knew how to stand her ground with dangerous villains. Buttercup had major attitude, but ultimately has a tenderness she’s not ashamed of. Best of all, these girls depended and loved one another, respecting each other’s individuality and always working together as a team to fight crime. They proved that girls were equals in the crime-fighting world, and that it takes all types to make up a female power trio.

8. Jem from Jem and the Holograms

Jem and the Holograms, a show allegedly about all that is glamorous and gold, is actually a truly feminist venture which encouraged girls to pursue careers in technology, music, and business. It was also a show that encouraged girls to work with each other instead of against each other. Jem, who is in control of her own career, is a complete badass challenging the male-dominated music industry by running her own record company. Did we mention her company Starlight Records supports an orphanage for young girls? Yeah, she was good people.

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