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Girls Rule!: Gender, Feminism, and Nickelodeon
Unformatted Document Text:  Girls Rule! : Gender, Feminism, and Nickelodeon In June 2000, The Museum of Television and Radio in both New York and Los Angeles presented a three-month retrospective that honored the children’s cable network Nickelodeon. The retrospective, “A Kid’s Got To Do What A Kid’s Got To Do: Celebrating 20 years of Nickelodeon” featured screenings of past and current programming, hands-on workshops, an interactive gallery exhibit, and seminars for families. One of the seminars, titled “Girl Power! Creating Positive Role Models for Girls,” lauded Nickelodeon’s efforts over the past 20 years to challenge traditional gender stereotypes on children’s television by featuring girls as primary lead characters. A “girl power” seminar had a particular cultural resonance in 2000: the connection between these two concepts—“girl” and “power”—once thought to be completely absent from the world of children’s popular culture, had become normalized within the discourses of consumer culture. In the contemporary cultural climate, in other words, the empowerment of girls is now something that is more or less taken for granted by both children and parents, and has certainly been incorporated into commodity culture. Indeed, the rhetoric of “girl power” has found currency in almost every realm of contemporary children’s popular culture. In the mid 1990s, The Spice Girls, a manufactured, pop-music girl-group, adopted “Girl Power!” as their motto. And, at the same time, the alternative Internet community the Riot Grrrls incorporated girl power ideology in their efforts to construct a new kind of feminist politics (see, e.g., Douglas, 1999; Shugart, Waggoner, & Hallstein, 2001; Driscoll, 2002; Kearney, 1998; and Baumgardner & Richards, 1999). T-shirts emblazoned with “Girls Kick Ass!” and “Girls

Authors: Banet-Weiser, Sarah.
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Girls Rule! : Gender, Feminism, and Nickelodeon
In June 2000, The Museum of Television and Radio in both New York and Los Angeles
presented a three-month retrospective that honored the children’s cable network
Nickelodeon. The retrospective, “A Kid’s Got To Do What A Kid’s Got To Do:
Celebrating 20 years of Nickelodeon” featured screenings of past and current
programming, hands-on workshops, an interactive gallery exhibit, and seminars for
families. One of the seminars, titled “Girl Power! Creating Positive Role Models for
Girls,” lauded Nickelodeon’s efforts over the past 20 years to challenge traditional gender
stereotypes on children’s television by featuring girls as primary lead characters. A “girl
power” seminar had a particular cultural resonance in 2000: the connection between these
two concepts—“girl” and “power”—once thought to be completely absent from the
world of children’s popular culture, had become normalized within the discourses of
consumer culture. In the contemporary cultural climate, in other words, the
empowerment of girls is now something that is more or less taken for granted by both
children and parents, and has certainly been incorporated into commodity culture.
Indeed, the rhetoric of “girl power” has found currency in almost every realm of
contemporary children’s popular culture. In the mid 1990s, The Spice Girls, a
manufactured, pop-music girl-group, adopted “Girl Power!” as their motto. And, at the
same time, the alternative Internet community the Riot Grrrls incorporated girl power
ideology in their efforts to construct a new kind of feminist politics (see, e.g., Douglas,
1999; Shugart, Waggoner, & Hallstein, 2001; Driscoll, 2002; Kearney, 1998; and
Baumgardner & Richards, 1999). T-shirts emblazoned with “Girls Kick Ass!” and “Girls


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