Smurfette Principle

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The Smurfette Principle is a term coined by Katha Pollitt in 1991 in an article for The New York Times.[1] It refers to a trope, found in many TV series and movies, where there is only one female in an all-male ensemble.[2] In Pollitt's words:

"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 establishes a male-dominated narrative, where the female is the exception, and exists only in reference to males. This signifies an underrepresentation of women, since they are half the world's population.[3][4]

Examples

Such is the case of Smurfette in The Smurfs and of other characters like:

Female representation in media

Another tool to measure the representation of women in TV and film is the Bechdel Test. Various initiatives are trying to make TV and film more inclusive such as the Miss Representation Project, Bitch Flicks, Feminist Frequency and the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media.

References