Feminism & Peppa Pig
Yes. You read that right. I am in fact, talking about the little pink girl-pig with the annoyingly cute voice. As any mother of a pre-schooler will tell you, Peppa is to this generation of munchkins, what er… wait, I’m trying to think of a similar female protagonist I was exposed to as a child… nope, can’t remember a single one. I do remember watching an orphan boy run around the jungle with male wild animals. Or that much-battered story of the perfect prince who ditches the perfect princess because a random dude abducted her and kept her prisoner for a while.
But Peppa is simply Peppa. A little girl-pig who goes to playschool, plays with her friends and causes little Indian boys and girls to talk with a British accent in the process. Nothing remarkable there.
Every episode of this entertaining series strikes a big blow for feminism. FOR feminism, you guys.
Take the bit where the family visits the fair and someone tells Mummy Rabbit that she wouldn’t be able to win a game. She wins it, of course, like any, ha, pig-headed woman would when patronised. She proceeds to win all the games.
Or take Miss Rabbit. The most hardworking character in the series. So hardworking she even gets a prize from the Queen for all her hard work. Because Miss Rabbit has many, many jobs. She works at the supermarket, drives the school bus, sells ice cream, is a museum attendant, runs the helicopter rescue service and does about fifty other things. DOES, mind you, not JUGGLES. When she falls ill one day, the other characters find themselves utterly incapable of doing even one of her jobs. Why does she have so many jobs? Because she likes working, presumably. It’s never discussed. She works. And works. And doesn’t seem harrowed working. End of story.
Her twin, Mummy Rabbit, on the other hand, raises two children, keeps house, gives birth to more children – she is a rabbit after all – and nobody bats a lid. No judgment, no proclamation hidden or otherwise that one is better than the other.
Then there are Peppa’s friends. They all play all games. Football, house-house, hopscotch, bicycling, doll-house, kite-flying, dressing up as pirates – the message is clear. There are no boy-games or girl-games. There are just games kids love playing.
The examples are endless. How the fire engine service is manned, haha, by women. How Daddy Pig soothes Baby Alexander when nobody else can. How Rebecca Rabbit dresses up as a carrot every time because, hey, she wants to. But what stays with me every time I see Pookie giggling at Peppa’s antics, is how effortlessly and subtly Neville Astley and Mark Baker weave in themes of feminism in what is, essentially, a children’s TV show. And it gives me hope that the kids watching this show will grow up into adults who don’t think their gender has anything to do with their ability to calm a fussy baby or drive a helicopter.