Digivolve to Bechdelmon!!!

Are there any “Digimon” geeks out here? It’s me Toongrrl. I was (and still am) a Digimon fan, I even created my own digimon: Pigletmon. Like many fans, especially a few female fans, we had a like for Digimon but even gave it some feminist commentary. One female fan commented that the show can be a bit sexist (loads of ditzy moms in Stepford Wife garb and overexcited girls and the virgin/whore archetype…remember Angewomon and LadyDevimon?).

But one has to admit that the show (at least sometimes) has pretty 3D female characters: Sora, a team mom and tomboy who erases her self doubt and resolves issues with her mom ; Mimi, the dizzy valley girl who grows out of her sheltered upbringing and rises up to help save the Digital World and Earth; Biyomon, a hyper and very strong bird with a fierce sense of loyalty and a flaming mouth; Palmon, who is spunky and green just as she goes into modes of womanhood (Togemon=Butch, Lilymon=Ballerina); Kari, a girl who is willing to look evil in the face despite some health issues; and Gatomon, the femme fatale-ish feline who emerges from a villaness to a sympathetic character that grapples with her memories of being abused, is shown early on to be very multi-faceted, and is reformed not by the love of a man, but by an 8 year old girl who is to be her partner in Digivolving.

In the second season, Yolei emerges, she’s very excited, tough,
headstrong, girly, and will not quiet down. The show had some very
multi-faceted characters, the girls seemed to be like they were written
by Joss Whedon and Amy Heckerling. Girly and tough, strong and delicate,
brave and scared, and also that by the end of the 1st season Sora and
Mimi grow from personifying society’s set goals for girls (be a mom or
be a teenybopper) to realizing their full potential as women they will
grow up to become.

Also noticeable that the girls as per the Bechdel Test, talk about
more than men and that there’s more than one female in the first two
seasons!! This is amazing, since “Digimon” was aimed at young boys, but
seems as though some young girls steered away from the weirdly
repititive and simplistic “Pokemon” (what the hell is up with the
Officer Jennys and Nurse Joys? Why do they all wear miniskirts? Isn’t
that impractical?) and discovered an awesome show with fleshed out
female characters, that do more than fight over boys and giggle over how
cute they are.

This also happens to be a show where each and every person and
digimon has their own unique personality, no one is more or less the
same. In this show, boys seem to find enlightenment in embracing their
sensitive sides, realizing that they themselves have their say in how
their futures will be conducted, how to think seriously about how their
actions affect everybody, talk openly about their feelings and
insecurities. A vision of manhood here is one that is both strong and
vulnerable, feeling and logical, that crying is good for the soul and is
a whole lot better than just duking it out in the snow. It seems that
the 3rd season of “Digimon” seems to be like we took 4 steps forward and
took 3.5 steps back: Jerri was a study in female victimhood that made
Daphne Blake look like Heracules and me and my BFF couldn’t figure what
in hell was with Rika. In the 4th season, there was one girl in the
bunch as a main character, and she was that stereotype of a feminist
hero that Nostalgia Chick said “held her ovaries up high” (sure she was
the Smurfette, but seriously do the writers have no clue?).

Pardon my frankness, but Sora, Mimi, Biyomon, Palmon, Gatomon, Kari,
and Yolei are a picture of badass-edness. What’s your experiences with
“Digimon”? What do you like about the show? What could’ve been improved,
at all? I leave you with this cool-ass video of
female solidarity:

Enjoy!!!!

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2 Comments

  1. maidensnowflake
    Posted May 24, 2010 at 11:45 pm | Permalink

    Oh mahhhh gawd, I loved kari, and still do to this day! She was always the most brave one in my opinion and even the times she doubted herself, she seemed to rise above the doubt using her own rationalization and trust in her abilities. And you know it’s interesting you point out the angewoman and ladydevimon thing. I always kind of hoped that maybe one day ladydevimon would become good cause I thought she was kind of cool and that the two of them would make the most kick-ass, unstopable team >.> haha. The episodes when kari is revealed to be the 8th child are truly the best ones :)
    p.s. i miss wizardmon :(

  2. Toongrrl
    Posted May 25, 2010 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

    I agree too!!! Me and my BFF love Kari! When I learned about the Virgin/Whore dichtomy, I thought about many things at first: Betty and Veronica, Angewoman and LadyDevimon (she is a Card). I miss Wizardmon too. Also a big confession here is that I had a crush on Sora for a long time as a kid. I did weep a little when she got domesticated (honestly wasn’t the point of the 1st season that she realizes she doesn’t have to fill society’s role for her as a Perfect Girl, Starving Daughter? That’s a whole other post). What’s neat is that although the moms and dads either seem to be out of it or quavering in their Stepford garb or absent (Joe’s parents and Sora’s father), is that a few relatives (Izzy’s, Matt and T.K.’s, Sora’s mother, and Joe’s older brother)back up the kids and don’t fall into that stereotypical role of over-coddling and worrywart parents (one that I mostly see media moms inhabit). Fantastic show.

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