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UN and Smurfette to fight for women’s rights in Atomium

Gender equality is, according to the organisers of the event, important to the Smurfs, and more particularly to the Smurfette. Credit: Belga

An exhibit on gender inequality in films, TV series and comics based on Smurfette, the only female Smurf in the Belgian comic franchise ‘The Smurfs’, will open in the Atomium, on International Women’s Day, 8 March.

Gender equality is, according to the organisers of the exhibition, important to the Smurfs, and more particularly to the Smurfette, because of ‘The Smurfette Principle‘. The term was first used by New York Times reporter Katha Pollitt to describe the inferior representation of women in movies and TV series.

The Smurfette principle, according to Pollitt, is a practice in media to include only one woman, who is usually stereotypically defined, in an otherwise entirely male ensemble, establishing a male-dominated narrative, where the woman is the exception and exists only in reference to the men.

“Through panels installed on the ground floor of the Atomium, various examples of the Smurfette Principle are shown through films and contemporary series such as Stranger Things and Marvel, as well as by panels from the Smurfs comics, where the Smurfette is often underestimated and excluded by her male friends,” the organisation stated.

Efforts have been made in recent years to re-establish the image of the Smurfette in the saga. “If she is an ambassador for gender equality, it is clear that she had to come out of her shell to bring some credibility to her fight,” said Julie Almau, deputy director of the Atomium, to the Belga press agency.

The exhibit shows scenarios that playfully tackle deeper and real problems, such as the gender pay gap.

IMPS, the company that manages the Smurfs’ work, has been working on this for some time, notably with the release of “La Grande Schtroumpfette” (The Great Smurfette) in 2010 and the spin-off “Les Schtroumpffs et le village des filles” (The Smurfs and the Girls’ Village) launched in 2017.

The installation is part of a UN campaign regarding the 17 development goals. The 193 countries of the United Nations concluded an agreement in 2015 on the Sustainable Development Goals for a better world, which included fighting gender equality.

The exhibit will stay on the ground floor (level 0) and Central Sphere (level 5) of the Atomium until next autumn.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times