A few days ago, Beth and I were trying to think of female characters from the classic Hanna-Barbera cartoons, and all we could come up with was Cindy Bear.
Then we got to thinking about how animation in general is, in Beth’s words “a total sausage fest.” Warner Bros. had Petunia Pig, Granny, and that cat Penelope that Pepe le Pew was in love with; and that’s about it.
Disney was a little better on this front, but characters like Minnie Mouse and Daisy Duck were basically just counterparts to and love interests for the male characters, and I’m not sure they ever had starring roles. Things became a little more balanced with shows featuring families and ensemble casts. Fred and Barney might have been the main players on The Flintstones, but Wilma and Betty were still quite significant.
Scooby-Doo had a regular cast of two guys and two girls (plus Scooby himself, of course).
And Josie and the Pussycats put female characters in the title of the show. And when I was growing up in the eighties and pretty much every toy made was spun off into a cheaply animated program, shows geared toward girls usually gave us female leads. Most of them weren’t just counterparts to male characters either, except for She-Ra, who was He-Man’s twin sister rather than his girlfriend. She DID have her own show, though, so she wasn’t exactly on the same lines as Cindy and Petunia.
Still, though, as far as classic cartoon stars go, you’re looking at a very male-dominated profession, with one of the few exceptions being Betty Boop.
The Nostalgia Chick actually addressed this same basic subject in one of her videos, so I might as well include that in this post. It also has Nellie McKay as background music, which nets Lindsay some extra cool points.