To celebrate International Day of the Girl 2018, I took another look at one of the best animation series to ever grace our TV screens. That’s right, it’s Kim Possible hereafter known as KP.
What better way to honour the capabilities and significance of young girls than to look at the young girl who inspired us all. Yes, KP was fun and entertaining but these are generic words which do not really exemplify the role she played in our lives. The show had way more depth than anyone was able to realise when we were younger, eager to put on the TV every Saturday morning with a bowl of cereal in our hands.
International Day of the Girl is about both acknowledging the unique challenges young girls face such as gender inequality, and empowering girls to know that they deserve and are entitled to equal treatment. A very important charity in the UK, Girls Friendly society, is exactly concerned with this issue and are committed to increasing the confidence of young girls. The confidence gap, in particular, is also an issue SEO is tackling in their HerCapital programme 2018/2019, a leadership development programme.
The UN has signposted October 11th as a day to “highlight and address the needs and challenges girls face while promoting girls’ empowerment and the fulfilment of their human rights.” I think KP is a great way to see the important role girls play in the world. If you didn’t know, which is virtually impossible, the show is a classic tale of a basic ‘average girl’ who saves the world on a part-time basis whilst also struggling the pitfalls of teenage life— tests, crushes, and annoying twin brothers. But KP is like us but nothing like us. This reminds me of the political stylings of French legal scholar, Supiot who says, the individual is the same but also unique. Don’t worry if you don’t know of Supiot, apparently my law and political theory module made a bigger impression on me than I thought.
KP shatters stereotypes, and is a beacon of light in a Drakken world. she promotes the imperative idea that being a girl is not a hindrance to her ability to fulfil her potential. Rather that’s where her strength comes from. She, with little effort from Ron Stoppable, thwarts and trivialises the plans of Dr Drakken, an infamous villain hell-bent on global conquest and Shego, the scientist’s mad assistant. I think it’s important that KP battels against Dr Drakken, a man twice, or thrice her age whereas in the real world, there are millions of girls forced into early marriages and motherhood. I mean, how can a nine-year-old have a husband beyond the one she has on the playground? This is a situation that is rampant but not ignored as international organisations like the UN and UNICEF dedicated themselves and their resources to aid adolescent girls in these situations. Nevertheless, as with most social causes, there is still more to be done.
Gender stereotypes thwarted.
KP vehemently stands in opposition to gender stereotypes in the most fantastic way possible, refusing to be confined by the expectation that she is not strong enough to defeat Dr Drakken. Or because she is a cheerleader, she’s not smart. KP uses Dr Drakken’s disbelief in her ability as ammunition to demote his false and misplaced superiority. She represents the underlying message of the This Girl Can Campaign – “a celebration of active women who are doing their thing no matter how well they do it, how they look – or even how red their face gets”. If anything, KP’s intellectual and physical capability outweighs that of Dr Drakken who promises to rule the world but is always at the mercy of KP.
I like the way in which the production of KP swapped gender roles between Ron and KP. I would argue he is the one who embodies the stereotypical tendencies of a teenage girl. The effect of this is to perhaps confirm that being a girl should not stand in the way of accomplishing things. Through the visual of KP, girls “can” defeat obstacles they may face, girls “can” be educated, and girls “can” be tough and still retain their femininity. KP is thus a very feminist animation.
KP showed us through her actions that there is no obstacle big or wide enough to stop us from being and doing our best. That’s what IDG is about, illustrating the disadvantages girls face around the world but also empowering girls not to fear but to be brave and bold in the face of adversity. In the real-world UNICEF and the UN, are committed to alleviating issues a lot of girls face around the world like being pulled from education, forced marriages, sexual assault, and pregnancy.
KP is someone we should continue to embrace, learn from, and be inspired by even today when Disney is less than the fictional refuge it once was.