Come on Down to South Park and Watch Some Feminist Episodes!

The Girls of South Park take Home Ec.Now that The Simpsons has sold feminism the fuck out, I'd like to give props to one cartoon I can still count on. I'm talking about South Park, which, after 14 seasons, still offers up some of the finest social satire ever to grace American airwaves.

Okay, so maybe it's not perfect. The main characters, Stan and Kyle, are baby bros who use words like "gay" and "pussy" as derogatory slurs, and Cartman's bigotry would make Archie Bunker blush. But as the boys navigate their world, they encounter a lot of hypocrisy—including sexist behavior. And when the writers bring their social scalpel to these situations, the results can be hilarious, heart-breaking, (potty-mouthed), and yes...feminist.

Don't tell Trey Parker and Matt Stone I love their pro-woman work, because they try hard to make sure every group gets ruthlessly ridiculed (it's how they avoid hypocrisy). So until they animate Susan B. Anthony sniffing glue, let's celebrate some episodes well done. Enjoy!

 

Bebe's Boobs Destroy Society

When Bebe is the first girl in her class to develop, the boys suddenly revere her as smart, funny, talented, and all-around awesome. When she realizes it's only her boobs that are getting attention, she tries to get a breast reduction, but of course the plastic surgeon will only perform breast enhancement. It's a refreshing take on body image, and the focus on Bebe's experience as the reluctant busty girl is rare and unnervingly sensitive.

 

Breast Cancer Show Ever

Wendy gets involved in Breast Cancer Awareness Week and has to endure relentless teasing from class chauvinist Cartman about "killer titties." She threatens to fight him, but Cartman tattles to her parents, even while he continues to taunt her at school. After some surprising encouragement from the school principal, Wendy decides to literally fight for what she believes in. It's a visceral but satisfying moment for any girl who ever had to deal with schoolyard sexism.

 

Eat, Pray, Queef

A Canadian TV show called Queef Sisters catches on, and queef jokes take South Park by storm. All the men are deeply offended, and join together to ban queefing (while maintaining that farts are hilarious). I'm not sure if this specific double-standard has been experienced by many women, but the situation makes a great metaphor for society's discomfort with female bodies, and even the suppression of female-centric humor.

 

 

Comments

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I am SO glad to see that

I am SO glad to see that South Park is being recognized as the smart, feminist-friendly show it is. I'm a big fan, and I've always appreciated the depiction of female characters (especially when compared with the supposedly similar Family Guy). But I don't think the writers are using the main character's slurs flippantly; it's meant as a reflection of how ignorant kids can be, and actually are. I know a lot of the audience tunes in because of the graphic humor, but that's not the show's true selling point: it's intelligent, it mocks the unattractive realities of American life, and it doesn't compromise.

except for the abortion stuff

I loved this show for many years, up until about season six, and I do think it's important to notice that Wendy is pretty clearly the smartest kid in the group. However, after the sixth season I couldn't take the show's anti-abortion rhetoric (and that's an arguable point for sure; this is just how I see it), and the fact that they'd go out of their way to portray abortion and the women who have them as selfish and callous. So there are my two cents.

WTF

We're more upset about Marge Simpson being on the cover of Playboy than that monstrously transphobic episode (where Mrs. Garrison came out as trans) which concluded that trans women can't be "real women" any more than Stan's dad could be a dolphin? That's not to even mention the one in which going vegetarian literally turned you into a giant pussy, which was far less offensive, by the way ... but christ. South Park has certainly had funny moments, no doubt about it, but to proclaim it more feminist than, well, just about anything, is pretty shocking.

I'm far from happy about the Playboy bullshit. I'm incredibly annoyed, even though I haven't watched the Simpsons in many years. But I will take a little bit of objectification over attempting to invalidate the gender identities of women who are at risk of violence precisely because so many people invalidate their gender identities, any day.

Yup.

Cosigned.

I enjoy South Park (I enjoy a lot of things which are not feminist and which I find offensive), but they are most definitely not feminist. At all.

"Lame" is like every other word. "Retard" is just about as frequent. Let's not forget the episodes where Cartman kills Jews, and hate crimes are dismissed as "reverse racism". Or how most female characters are mothers. Or their consistent ableism (like, all the time, separate from hate language).

It's not a feminist show, and it's not a feminist friendly show. Seriously.

And lest we forget...

...the charming episode in which Hilary Clinton's vagina is rigged with a bomb and one of her staff-member's head is devoured when he attempts to get it out. Hmm, someone could spin it another way I'm sure, but to me it said it screamed that a strong, powerful and stereotypically unfeminine woman is frightful and/or freakish (as represented via a monstrous vagina).

But, I will admit that I'm not good at catching irony all the time. If someone wants to defend or explain that moment to me from a different standpoint (other than an anti-woman one) they are free to do so.

Yah'rly.

What she said. Seriously, South Park is a lot of things, but "feminist" ain't one of 'em. And I tuned out long before the "Mrs. Garrison" (god, really?) episode and a whole bunch of other charmers, looks like.

As noted, it's not like they're never funny, but um. Is there ever a point where we -might- have the bar set higher than what the "ironic" manchildren come up with? I realize they pretty much have cornered the market on the zeitgeist, but, you know.

you cannot be serious.

I was so traumatized by viewing the sex-phobic, virgin-whore disaster that was the episode titled "Stupid Spoiled Whore Action Playset" that reading the words "South Park" and "feminist" together in Bitch's tweet about this post felt like a punch in the stomach.

I found the whole episode on YouTube a few years ago, try searching for it there if you haven't seen it.

Then try and reconcile THAT with calling anything those two dickheads have ever done "feminist."

Trigger warning: if naked hatred and contempt for women is something that upsets you, maybe don't bother looking it up. Maybe ask a trusted friend to check it out for you.

It's horrific.

Re: 3rd Wave Feminism

This is a link to stream the episode.

http://allsp.ch/l.php?id=e123

I think the poster bashing this doesn't have an understanding of the concept of satire.

Clearly the writers are not malicious in this portrayal of the "Slutty = Empowered Woman" concept.

South Park has managed to

South Park has managed to maintain its credibility precisely because it offends absolutely everyone. No sacred cow goes un-ridiculed (oftentimes in the most vulgar, hateful ways).

Honestly, I don't see how anyone could argue that Bebe's Boobs Destroy Society is not a feminist episode.

In what alternate universe

In what alternate universe do "offends absolutely everyone" and "vulgar, hateful" anything constitute support for a feminist reading??

Offense

I can appreciate that and the writers can be very clever in how they point out the flaws, ironies and hypocrisies of all those sacred cows. But even so, nonstop offense is a poor substitute for smart criticism. This is troublesome considering the undying and unquestioning faith that so many people have in the points and messages that the show makes (at least for a chunk of my male friends, who believe that every episode is "genius").

But should I really expect smart criticism from mainstream media at this point? Who knows.

Stupid Spoiled etc.

Also, I think a pretty strong argument could be made that "Stupid Spoiled Whore Action Playset" is a feminist episode, as are pretty much all of the Wendy-centric episodes.

uh huh?

Well, let's hear it.

If you can convincingly redefine stark sex-shaming and virgin-whore misogyny as feminist, you have a superpower.

You saw what you wanted to

You saw what you wanted to see in that episode. The "sex shaming" was shaming sex that is peddled to young girls in the forms of toddler bikinis and mini stripper poles (both readily available at most big box stores). It was about the choice to have sex when you're ready not because society glorifies it and normalizes reckless behavior. As far as the virgin-whore dichotomy, please illustrate where it was painted one way or the other, avoiding being a "whore" does not equate a complete denial of sexuality. Call me Ms. Reasonable , able to withstand knee jerk reactions and blatant overhyping of issues.

-

South Park does not have to be feminist in it's entirety for these examples to be valid.

I can hardly express how

I can hardly express how much I love South Park episodes. Usually I'm laughing more than my bf, I suppose he don't know what to think=) I love Sharon's speech, and that's what I like about the humour of South Park -to add that "moral of the story" with satire and irony. I think the creators realize that women like their show and aren't afraid of making episodes that women will especially enjoy.