I may be the last person to find out that Kermit had a potential new girlfriend. Frankly, I never cared much for The Muppet Show, so only pay attention now when someone brings it up. Tonight, my husband did, via text.
Sweet Jesus. People are mad about Kermit’s new girlfriend because she is “thinner and younger”. They are talking about how a strong woman Miss Piggy is, completely ignoring the fact that she was egotistical and abusive.
We had a bit of a chat, and really, not much bothers him. He’s rather mild and mellow. But this is something he couldn’t let go of. So I felt compelled to look into it, and I’m pretty shocked.
Kermit’s potential girlfriend is Denise, and she’s a career-pig who is an advertising executive.
No, Denise actually is not yet his official girlfriend (according to the Muppets’ Twitter page, they’re “seeing” each other, but according to Kermit’s page, they aren’t at the exclusive level yet), but she’s certainly got some people raging mad.
She’s younger and thinner, though still chubby. Because she’s isn’t older than Miss Piggy, and at least as large, the character of Denise has been called everything from anti-feminist to bland (without anyone having a chance to get to know her) to a homewrecker, since somehow dating after a breakup, even potentially, means the new girlfriend (or maybe-girlfriend) is wrecking a home. Of course the woman is to blame. Men can’t control themselves, you know. Women are the ones who have to control men’s lust, and so this means Denise is somehow oh so bad. Well, that in addition to the aforementioned size of her body and her age.
Now I know theses are puppets with people’s hands up their butts to control them, but they reveal something sad about society. Denise is bad because being thinner is bad because it’s only okay to be fat these days (any message about how any body size is bad is very harmful, and having been as high as 400 pounds and as low as 113 pounds myself, I personally know how damaging it is to hear shame on either end), and because she’s younger. These are all that people have to use against her. She’s rotten for them, and should go away. She can’t hold a candle to Miss Piggy! Miss Piggy is perfect, and if you don’t agree, you should get punched!
Wow. Advocating violence as a show of strength.
Okay, a lot of people hold Miss Piggy up as a feminist icon. She’s even won an award. No, I’m not kidding. Miss Piggy, a puppet, has literally won a really real actual real-world award for feminism at the ackler Center First Award from the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum. Sandra Day O’Connor and Toni Morrison and Connie Chung were among the fifteen co-recipients in 2012.
Miss Piggy alone won in 2015.
Now I’m not saying her confidence and unwillingness to be held back and her acceptance of her body are bad things. They’re good. They’re very good. But why is no one addressing her domestic abuse and anger issues? See how far you can watch into this video before you’re too disgusted and have to stop. I can’t make it all the way through. These are highlights from just the first season:
Could you get through all eleven minutes? Congrats. Your stomach is stronger than mine. As unsettling as it is, you might have noticed that the humor is both on Kermit getting hit and in Miss Piggy not getting hit. Why are those funny?
If the genders were reversed, the abuse would be clearer. Why, plenty of people today have a problem with Ralph Kramden’s signature like of, “One of these days… POW!!! Right in the kisser!”
Mere empty threats by a man who is really rather spineless (Alice but rolls her eyes before telling her husband to “shaddup”) gets ire, but Miss Piggy actually beating on Kermit doesn’t!
Now I’m not trying to turn this into a debate over who has it worse. Women who are abused are more likely to be murdered by their abusers than men who are abused. But there is a problem that such a feminist icon is a long-time abuser, and her victim’s rumored new girlfriend is shamed for being thinner and younger, and torn down for not being the same way an abuser was.
Is this what we want? When we feminists are fighting against the romanticization and acceptance of violence against women, do we really want to hold up as an icon a woman-er, pig, who hits, especially without provocation? “Oh, uh, Piggy, have you met Lydia?” “No. Have you met my left fist?” Follow that with Miss Piggy punching him off his feet and blowing on her knuckles. Is this really, really what we want?
Self-esteem should never EVER come from mistaking a willingness to abuse as strength. It’s weak. Abusers are weak and insecure. Someone who is secure and strong doesn’t need to show it through karate-chopping and punching and stomping on someone the way Miss Piggy does. She lifted herself by tearing someone else down, and she was praised for being “strong” enough to do that.
I am extremely disappointed in those who choose to ignore Miss Piggy’s background and instead praise her as a role model. I’m equally disappointed in the supposedly-enlightened and supposedly-progressive people who think a proper way to behave to Kermit’s new friend is to insult her body size and age, and use those to make prejudgements about her personality. That’s not feminism. It’s misogyny. How dare Denise be thinner than someone. How dare she be younger. She’s bad. BAD. All because of her body size and age. And Miss Piggy is awesome for being “strong” enough to abuse.
Even though these characters are puppets, they are capable of making it abundantly clear that feminism has a much further way to go than many of us realized.
If you were on the bandwagon of un unrestrained praise for Miss Piggy, do you still feel that way when faced with her abuse history? If you jumped on the train of anger over Denise’s body size or age, how can you defend it as anything other than misogyny and body-shame and age-shame? I genuinely don’t understand how these things are good, and why they represent feminism when they’s abhorrent things.
Please, someone help me understand. Why is Miss Piggy good and Denise bad? How does Miss Piggy define feminism and Denise is everything wrong with feminism? Why should being strong mean taking pride in hitting?