Thanks to Netflix, my husband and I recently rewatched all 65 episodes of season one of
He-Man and the Masters of the Universe
I know I watched this show in my youth. Interestingly, there are strong female characters... sort of.
For the biggest example of all: Teela.
She's the Captain of the Guard. Not only should she be able to defend herself, it's her job to defend other people. When Prince Adam is around, she gives him crap about not being a skilled enough fighter.
But then, when He-Man is around, she gets all gooey drooling over him, and then ends up in need of rescue. Seriously, it's like every episode she's in includes the phrase, "Help me, He-Man." Instead of fighting beside him as an equal, showing him a challenge, and making herself worthy, instead she just falls apart and waits to be rescued. No wonder they never hook up!
*spoiler from the 1980's*
Both of her parents know that Adam and He-Man are the same guy, but neither of them call her out on this behavior. Do you not want your daughter to have a shot with a guy who is both a prince and the most powerful man in the universe? I don't think she's gonna do better.
Man at Arms could be like, "Teela, we're both in the guard, but He-Man shows up and you forget all your skills. Knock that off. It's boring and a bad example." The Sorceress could be all, "You don't know I'm your mom, but since I am, listen when I tell you that the dude knows the real you and sees you being all helpless when he holds aloft his mighty sword and says the magic words. And that's why you're a joke. He can't tell you the truth because then you'd realize you two can never hook up because he is aware of your helpless damsel routine and has been secretly eye-rolling at you all this time. Fortify, Teela! Prove your equality. Quit being two-faced. We already have a character for that."
Maybe it's just me. Maybe it's because I figured out that this was not a great example for my childhood self. (Be able to fight for yourself, unless there's a guy to do it for you, in which case act helpless.)