01 November 2012
" all of history must be re-written in terms of oppression of women. We must go back to ancient female religions like witchcraft." - the declaration of feminism, 1971
"men rule the world, and they do it by opressing women and forcing us into shoes that create permanent foot problems" - sabrina the teenage witch, 1997
it was halloween last night and i went to see kate nash and emmy the great perform the songs from the musical episode of buffy the vampire slayer tonight. it was amazing. so i kind of had a buffy themed halloween, but i've written about buffy on here a lot before, so i thought i'd write something about my other favourite spooky feminist icon, sabrina the teenage witch? pah, sabrina the teenage W.I.T.C.H. more like. except that doesn't really work because she's not a socialist politico feminist, but still, she does live in a matriarchal household with her two aunts, who are a respected scientist and a concert violinist, where the only male character has been turned into a cat for trying to take over the world. she is way cleverer than her boyfriend harvey, but never feels like she has to act dumb for him. she is a powerful, independent, academic and unapologetically intelligent third wave feminist, who points at things.
sabrina the teenage witch isn't just an accidental feminist icon either. this isn't something that's just been read into the show. it was always pushing its own explicit feminist message. in one episode of season two, inna gadda sabrina,salem eats a time ball and westbridge is transported back in time to the sixties. the episode is all about what happens when a girl who has grown up taking feminism for granted is transported back in time to a time when the second wave was still fighting for very basic rights. when she goes to the sixties time warp version of her school career fair, her friend jenny isn't the editor of the school paper like she usually is in the series, and when sabrina presents her with an article she's written for it and reminds her that she's the editor, she replies confused, "me? i'm a girl. i'm the secretary of the future homemakers of america club chapter seven thirty two."
then, when sabrina is told that girls aren't allowed into the college that she was going to apply to, her maths teacher replies by quoting gloria steinem and suggesting they burn their underwear in defiance of the misogynistic patriarchy.
the episode ends with sabrina telling harvey about what happened at the college fair, and complaining about the limitations on her future career. sixties harvey tells her, "you don’t need a career, you’re my lady. we’ll grow our own food, you’ll have my children and some day, if it’s not too much of a hassle, i might even marry you." to which sabrina replies "i’m sorry. i stopped listening after ‘my lady’!"
boom. and all this before lunchtime on a saturday.