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Peanuts: 9 Ways Peppermint Patty has been defying gender norms for 50 years

Shanee Edwards is a screenwriter who earned her master's degree at UCLA Film School. She recently won the Next MacGyver television writing competition to create a TV show about a female engineer. Her TV pilot, Ada and the Machine, is cur...

Peanuts' Peppermint Patty defied gender norms and we never knew it

We grew up loving the entire Peanuts gang, but it may surprise you to learn that comic strip creator, Charles M. Schulz, added the character Peppermint Patty in response to the women's lib movement in the 1960s. Here are nine ways she's been inspiring young women for nearly half a century.

Peanuts' Peppermint Patty defied gender norms and we never knew it
Image: 20th Century Fox

1. Peppermint Patty encourages girls to play sports

Though today we just think of Peppermint Patty as a rough-and-tumble tomboy who loves sports, the character was added in 1966, a time in which girls didn't really play team sports. Creator Charles M. Schulz thought it would be helpful to create a girl character who excelled in sports to serve as an example to children who read his comic strip and show that girls can be just as athletic as boys.

2. She wears a shirt and shorts, not a dress

All the female Peanuts characters wear dresses except Peppermint Patty, who seems not to worry about girly things. Her real name is Patricia Reichardt, and she seems to prefer shorts because they allow her more freedom to move around, kick a ball, or run and jump, as she often does.

3. Star baseball player

Peppermint Patty is not only an excellent baseball player but the manager of her team. She's been known to pitch no-hitter games and hit multiple home runs.

4. Excellent hockey player

In the new Peanuts Movie, Peppermint Patty plays hockey with as much prowess as she does baseball.

5. Plays football in the rain

To show her toughness, Peppermint Patty has no trouble playing football in her sandals in any weather, including rain, snow or sunshine because she simply loves the sport.

More: Suffragette: 11 Reasons your daughter absolutely needs to see this film

Peanuts' Peppermint Patty defied gender norms and we never knew it
Image: 20th Century Fox

6. Fights against having to wear a dress

When the school's dress code changes in 1972, requiring Peppermint Patty to wear a dress, she hires Snoopy as her lawyer to help fight for her rights to dress as she pleases.

7. Puts candy cigarettes in her sleeve

Of course, Peppermint Patty doesn't have candy cigarettes in the new Peanuts Movie, but for a time in the comic strip, she would roll up her bubblegum smokes in her sleeve, something typically more common for men to do.

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8. Daughter of a single parent

In the comic strip, Peppermint Patty lives with her father, who often has to work late. Though it's not explained, it's assumed her mother has died. Afraid to go to sleep while her father's not home, she often waits up for him, causing her to be tired and sometimes fall asleep at school. Once in the comic strip, she even tried to hire Snoopy to be her watchdog, but the effort turned out badly.

9. Tolerates being called "sir"

Though it's unclear exactly why Marcie calls Peppermint Patty "sir," it may have started as a reaction to Peppermint Patty's strong, sometimes bossy personality or due to Marcie's poor eyesight. Though the nickname did seem to irritate her for a while, Peppermint Patty seems OK with it in the new movie.

More: How will Miss Piggy and Kermit's breakup affect The Muppets moving forward?

The Peanuts Movie opens in theaters on Friday, Nov. 6.

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