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These are the cartoon women that Lisa Simpson looks up to

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Elena Chabo
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Lisa Simpson and Marge Simpson watching a film

In a new episode of The Simpsons, we get to see the women that have inspired Lisa throughout cartoon history.

At eight years old, Lisa Simpson is the fearless champion of women we all need. So it’s only fitting that in a new episode of The Simpsons, her choice of decor pays homage to the cartoon women who came before her – and those who have followed in her footsteps. No boyband posters here: instead, Lisa adorns her wall with a poster showing the history of women in cartoons.

The episode, titled ‘Bart vs. Itchy & Scratchy’ (season 30 episode 18), centres on the reveal of a new all-female Itchy and Scratchy reboot. While Lisa is delighted to hear that her favourite murderous cat and mouse cartoon is getting a feminist makeover, Bart and the boys of Springfield are outraged and boycott the show, declaring that girls aren’t funny.

The episode offers a distinctly Simpsons take on modern gender issues, as we see Milhouse lead the boys to form a Boys Right Association (BRA). Fierce sixth grade feminist gang, Bossy Riot, is also introduced, a tribute to Russian protest band Pussy Riot.

But while we applaud Lisa’s determination to face down sexism (and love the fact that The Simpsons is poking fun at the toxic misogyny sparked by all-female remakes), it’s the artwork on her bedroom wall that has really captured our imagination. Because if she thinks a cartoon woman is inspiring, that’s good enough for us.

Below, we take an in-depth look at the figures hailed by Lisa Simpson as icons of cartoon women’s history.

  • Betty Boop, 1930

    Vintage Betty Boop poster

    Jazz era flapper Betty Boop was created  in 1930.  Originally appearing in the Talkartoon and Betty Boop film series, she’s hailed as the first cartoon sex symbol. Despite being toned down later in the Thirties, she paved the way for cartoon vixens to come.  One of the most successful cartoon characters of all time who enjoyed a nostalgic return in the Eighties, her image remains one of the most recognisable in pop culture.

  • Miss Grundy (Geraldine Grundy), 1941

    From the Archie comic series, Miss Grundy is a no-nonsense homeroom teacher at Riverdale High. Her name comes from ‘Mrs Grundy’, an old-fashioned slang term used to refer to prudish women. She was introduced as an old spinster character but over time she developed into a strict but fair teacher who pushed her pupils to be the best they could be. She also served in the Women’s Army Corps during World War 2.

  • Daria, 1997

    Originally a character on Beavis and Butthead, Daria Morgendorffer got her own spinoff show in 1997. Its satire of American high school offered a sharp take on pop culture and the American class system – and Daria herself was a refreshingly acerbic antidote to cliquey cheerleaders. The smart, cynical suburban teen is now a cult idol.

  • The Powerpuff Girls, 1998

    The Powerpuff Girls got their superpowers after their dad spilt Chemical X into sugar and spice and all things nice. That says it all. These pint-size kindergarten superheroes showed that you could be girly and cute and still kick butt. Whether you identified with fierce Buttercup, quick-thinking Blossom or kind-hearted Bubbles, they showed that there was no one mould for a strong woman.

  • Louise Belcher, 2011

    The youngest of the Belcher family in Bob’s Burgers, Louise is a smart and reckless nine year old. With an appetite for conflict, an unusual sense of humour and manipulative tendencies, she’s no angel, but she’s always there with a plan to help the ones she holds close. She’s a truly three-dimensional female character – even if she is 2D.

Images: Getty

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