Happy International Women's Day! Celebrating Five Under-recognised Trailblazers From The World Of Popculture

Happy International Women's Day.

Happy International Women's Day! Celebrating Five Under-recognised Trailblazers From The World Of Popculture
The Rugrats Mom's were ahead of their Time. Credit: Nickelodeon

Happy International Women's Day! 2020 is going to be a great year for fans of strong women in fandom, with a number of strong female heroes hitting both the big and small screen.

While heroes and action stars are great, we would not have so many of them now without other female characters expanding the landscape for portrayals of women on screen in smaller ways over the years.

Here are few under-recognised trailblazing women in popculture.

1. Kaylee Frye (Firefly)

Jewel Staite as Kaylee Frye. Credit: Fox.

The Firefly fandom is full of badass women to admire: Zoe, Inara, River. While ship's mechanic Kaylee Frye is loved just as much to the show's fan-base, newer fans may fail to realise exactly how unique Kaylee was for her time.

Kaylee is a gifted mechanic, dearly loved by all the members of her crew, but that is not what makes her character special. While she performs a what would often be deemed a 'male' job aboard the Serenity, Kaylee is not a tomboy. She loves working on the ship, but she loves teddy bears, pretty dresses, and the colour pink just as much. The character completely avoids the usual stereotypes, putting her a little ahead of her time. Kaylee also manages the relatively rare feat of being rewarded, rather than penalised, for having a healthy appetite for sex. in a flashback, Mal is seen hiring Kaylee after she proves herself to be more skilled than the Serenity's previous mechanic, who had brought her on board for a booty call.

2. Didi Pickles (Rugrats)

Rugrats, the beloved cartoon of the 90s following young Tommy Pickles and his friends, was always a little ahead of it's time. One of the biggest examples of this is the portrayal of the babies parents, particularly Tommy and Dil's Mother, Didi.

While it is never stated outright, Didi, not Stu, is the main breadwinner of the Pickles Household. We can work this out easily from the fact that Didi is shown to hold a steady job as a school teacher, while Stu works on his inventions from home, not finding any real success until much later in the series. When Stu does finally make it big, Didi seizes the opportunity to return to college, following a passion for early childhood education. This storyline provided a subtle message to children that it is never too late to follow your dreams.

3. Martha Jones (Doctor Who)

Of all the companions in NuWho, Martha Jones is easily the most under-appreciated. It's often only on repeat viewings of series three that fans come to truly appreciate her story.

Martha had it tough right from the beginning, struggling to step out of the shadow of her predecessor Rose Tyler, a fan favourite with a near god-like reputation among certain branches of the Doctor Who fan base. Martha eventually proves herself Rose's equal when she manages to save the world, with little help from The Doctor until the plan is nearly complete. And unlike Rose who received a significant boost from the heart of the Tardis, Martha did this on her own steam. Realising that she deserves better than a life of forever being The Doctor's second best, Martha decides to end her travels in the Tardis.

Even now, nine series after departure, Martha remains the only NuWho companion to have chosen to leave The Doctor of her own volition, rather than meeting with some sort of tragedy.

4. Maria (Sesame Street)

While Maria, played by Sonia Manzano, was a much loved member of the Sesame Street family for 45 years, it's easy to forget just how special a character she was in her early days.

Arriving on the show as a teenager in 1971, Maria was intended as a positive role-model for Latina children, but that was just the beginning. Maria originally took a job in the street's Library, and was rehired sometime after the Library was converted into the Fix-It Shop. She proves just as handy as her boss and later Husband, Luis, who eventually makes her a full partner in the shop. At no point was Maria's skill in fixing things portrayed as unusual for a woman.

Maria spent a significant amount of time as one of the youngest adults on Sesame Street, and as such, she was often seen relating to the childlike Muppets on a level the others couldn't quite manage. One of the biggest examples of this is Maria choosing to believe Big Bird about the existence of Snuffleupagus long after the other grown-ups had become frustrated with his 'lies'. The show felt it was important that Big Bird had at least one adult who would always believe him. Maria continued taking part in many of Sesame Street's biggest storylines until Sonia Manzano retired from the role in 2015. The character still remains a deeply loved figure in the show's history.

5. Tara Maclay (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)

Tara Maclay, played by Amber Benson, is probably best known for joining Buffy favourite Willow Rosenberg as half of one of the first long-term lesbian couples on network Television. However, that's far from the only thing her character deserves to be recognised for.

While it is never outright stated, apart from a brief moment when her brother threatens to beat her, it is heavily implied that Tara experienced some form of abuse at her family's hands. The biggest of these is Tara's Father lying that she will become a demon when she comes of age, probably just to keep her under his control. With the support of her new 'family', the Scooby Gang, Tara finds the courage to step away from her abusive relatives. She later temporarily breaks up with Willow after learning Willow modified her memory with a spell. This shows great character development and inner strength on Tara's part. She knows, and more importantly believes, that she deserves better.

Tara's character had such an impact that even now, fans are still angry about her sudden, tragic death in season six, eighteen years after it occurred on-screen.

Happy International Women's Day! Let the special women in your life know just how much you appreciate them.

pop culture
Kristy Anderson
Kristy Anderson
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Kristy Anderson

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