Who is Smurfette? As most people know, Smurfette is the lone female Smurf in Smurfville originally created by the evil Gargamel in order to sow discord and jealousy among the other Smurfs.
In 1991, writer and cultural critic Katha Pollitt coined the term “Smurfette principle” to describe the trend of narratives in media overwhelmingly male focused but with one female character. As she describes it,
“Contemporary shows are either essentially all-male, like “Garfield,” or are organized on what I call the Smurfette principle: a group of male buddies will be accented by a lone female, stereotypically defined… The message is clear. Boys are the norm, girls the variation; boys are central, girls peripheral; boys are individuals, girls types. Boys define the group, its story and its code of values. Girls exist only in relation to boys.”
The Smurfette principle is based on the main theory of Simone de Beauvoir’s analysis of women’s subservient role in society in her seminal work The Second Sex, but applied to our media. The two videos below provide an even more comprehensive analysis of how this has played out.
In the two and a half decades since Pollitt coined this term, I’m pretty sure most people with a least a minor understanding of media theory are aware of this trope and why it’s an issue. But I bring up the Smurfette principle in order to bring up a similar issue that I think a large chunk of our current-day #staywoke political landscape still has a blind spot to.