In finding positive television shows for our children, I find myself wondering whether Dora the Explorer is a feminist? I imagine the fictional animated character being interviewed for a mainstream news publication and being asked the question that all female celebrities must answer now, the ridiculous inquiry of whether or not she is a feminist. Dora, the spunky, independent, bilingual, Latina girl who has captured the hearts of children (and adults) everywhere through her show, Dora The Explorer, might be confused by the question. After all, she’s a girl who thinks she can do anything and doesn’t let her gender hold her back. The fact that she’s a girl is just one thing about her.
And sure, like most children’s televisions shows, I’m sure we could make the argument about why Dora is problematic. But the truth of the matter is that Dora holds up quite well against the majority of children’s TV shows. Despite her recent makeover, which we can all pretend didn’t happen, the original Dora is still one of the most positive representations of little girls on TV, particularly little girls of color. So instead of spending time looking for all the ways that Dora is not the pinnacle of feminist TV for kids, I’m instead going to point out all the reasons that Dora is feminist AF.
1. She Headlines Her Own Show
The show is called Dora The Explorer, after all. She’s a girl with her very own TV show, so that makes her a pioneer.
2. She Goes On Adventures
Dora is not limited by her location. She likes to go new places and explore new things. And, since Gloria Steinem just wrote an entire book about her nomadic life as a traveler, I think it’s safe to say that this is a feminist lifestyle.
3. She Proudly Speaks Her Native Language
Dora is Latina and she speaks Spanish. She doesn’t apologize for it, nor does she try to hide it. In fact, she helps teach you Spanish, too. Because of this, Dora can help bilingual kids take pride in their ability to speak multiple languages, and she can demystify other languages for English-speaking American kids.
4. She Presents A Positive Image To All Kids
Even though Dora is a girl, she’s not just for girls. Young girls, boys, and gender-expansive kids can watch Dora and be inspired by her. Her brother Diego is a great sidekick, too.
5. She’s A Role Model To Latina (And Non-Latina) Girls
It’s not often that young girls of color get to see someone who looks like them on TV. And to not only have a Latina girl on TV, but to have her headlining the show, is a very big deal. She lets young girls of color know that they matter, that their heritage matters, and that they are seen. She also shows non-Latina girls that Latina girls can do anything, too. Plus, in a world where stereotypes of Latinas as hypersexualized dominate the airwaves, Dora is a breath of fresh air that doesn’t buy into those tired tropes.
6. She Can Take Care of Herself
Dora doesn’t need anyone to coddle her. She’s smart, she’s resourceful, and she’s great at working with other people to find solutions to her problems. At the end of the day, she always triumphs, with a little help from her friends. She’s an independent lady, in a world that often shows us images of helpless damsels in distress.
7. She Believes In Helping People Who Need It
As Nicole Guidotti-Hernández writes for Ms. Magazine, “In Dora’s world, the ethos of helping those in need or less fortunate is part of what makes her a self-sufficient girl-child, negotiating power inequalities by standing up for what is good and right.” Basically, Dora is a social justice warrior.
Images: Nickelodeon Studios (8)