Created by The Misbehaving Hand of Man? Or Virtuous Hand of Woman?
By Linda Anselmi on March 27, 2013
I've been entertaining myself with a little game. I was working on A Thank You To Women Writers in honor of Women's History Month, when I coincidentally spotted this fun little post on Suzie Ivy's facebook page:
Even as I was chuckling and nodding at the fun antics of those iconic characters, a part of me was thinking -- I see the misbehaving hand of man behind those characters... So I googled, and sure enough every single one of those characters - from Tarzan to Scooby (Cinderella and Snow White too) - were created by men.
Ah, ha, I thought, I'll have a little fun and post a virtuous hand of woman list of iconic media characters. Then I started googling and realized that, outside of characters that originated in books, it is darn hard to find iconic characters from visual media entertainment (movies, tv, cartoons and comics), that my generation grew up seeing (1960's -70's), which were in fact created by women - forget the virtuous (or not) part.
Now I realize that by making a distinction between women creators who were the concept originators of a character and women who were writers or artists contributing to a preexisting character concept I am narrowing the field considerably. But I think the influence levels of the two are vastly different.
After days of research for my Thank You To Women Writers post and most of yesterday spent in searches and distracted readings (following interesting but not always relevant links) for this post, this was as far as I got on making a Created By The Virtuous Hand of Woman list --
I, virtuous? Of course! I grew up seeing Mary Poppins tidy a room with magic, Wonder Woman compel obedience with a gold lasso, Kewpie march for women's rights, Lucy try everything to be employed, ...
Pretty sad. Especially when you consider Wonder Woman and I Love Lucy were only co-created by women and Kewpie was more popular during my grandmother's generation. Two of my favorite shows - That Girl and Bewitched bit the dust under the misbehaving hand of man, as did Hazel and Angie.
Maybe my generation was more limited ... I think there were more women in media in the '80 - '90's.
Maybe I'm too book oriented ... I grew up reading women's fiction. With books you know the author (creator) by name and even with psuedonyms, usually, their gender as well. With tv and movies we connect the characters to the actors that portray them or even the director/producer's "vision," rarely do we know the original concept artist/writer.
Maybe I'm burned out on research... Okay, I know I'm burned out on research.
Still, for me at least, it came as a shock (and more than a little depressing) to realize that during my formative years SOOO much of what I grew up seeing depicted about women and men through mass media entertainment (movies, tv, cartoons and comics) had been created by men.
There has got to be more women creators in visual media than I've found. So I'm hoping for a little help coming up with a list. And I've made my search into a fun little fill-in-the-blanks game that goes like this...
I think _________________ (name an iconic media character -- male or female)
must have been created by ____________________ (choose "the misbehaving hand of a man" or "the virtuous hand of a woman")
because, I grew up seeing him/her do ______________________ (come up a wacky "misbehaving" or "virtuous" behavior in support your selection of gender creator).
Now google the character to see who created it.
Were you right?
Hint - unless the character originated in a book the odds are extremely high that the misbehaving hand of man is behind it. So double points for finding a non-book originated iconic female character created by the virtuous hand of a woman and triple points for finding a non-book originated iconic male character created by the virtuous hand of a woman.
I hope you have fun with my little character search game and come up with some wacky behaviors. And don't forget to share your results. I'd love to learn which characters you grew up with and whether they were -- Created By The Misbehaving Hand of Man Or The Virtuous Hand of Woman?