10 Times Leslie Knope Was A Total Feminist Badass

by Holly Trantham

With heavy hearts, tomorrow we say goodbye to one of our all-time favorite television series. Parks and Recreation ends, and we’ll greet our favorite Pawneeans armed with waffles, Snake Juice, NutriYum bars, and the cheapest red wine we can find because we can’t tell the difference…And, of course, plenty of tissues.

The show’s real magnum opus, of course, was the creation of character Leslie Knope, one of the funniest and most feminist characters in TV history. After an iffy first season, the show kept Leslie’s earnestness and ambition, but softened her caricature-like qualities and allowed her space to grow. Among many other lessons, she learned that while she would never gain the respect of her Paunch Burger-loving townspeople, she would do what was best for Pawnee no matter what. That’s how, after six seasons, she went from struggling to fill in an abandoned pit to becoming the Deputy Director of the Midwest National Parks Service. (Are you crying yet?)

As a final love letter to this fabulous show and character, we have compiled a list of our favorite feminist moments from the show. Enjoy!

  1. Leslie takes the fall for her friend’s (we won’t name names) accidental shooting of Ron. Her ironic responses to the chauvinistic park ranger’s investigation are nothing short of amazing:

  2. Galentine’s Day: it’s safe to say we can credit this show for founding an unofficial national holiday.
    galentines 1

  3. Leslie and Ben’s relationship: Okay, we know romantic love isn’t the frontrunner of Parks (or our lives), but Ben and Leslie fall for each other precisely because of their mutual love of politics and respect and understanding of one another. Ben would be thrilled to be First Husband to Leslie’s President. Also, “I love you and I like you.” Tears. Not to mention, they really bring out the best in each other while drunk, which is key:

  4. This show is all about relationships, and Leslie and Ann’s is one of our favorite portrayals of a realistic female friendship. They are both beautiful tropical fishes and noble land mermaids.

  5. Jerry’s fabulous painting of Leslie as [fictitious] Greek goddess Diaphena (and Tom as a cherub). That is all.

  6. Leslie’s kickass debate—responsible for winning her a City Council seat—was also Amy Poehler’s directorial debut:

  7. April and Leslie stick it to sexist Pawnee government employees by showing that, yes, women are fully capable of completing a garbage route. Also, April loves garbage.

  8. Leslie founds the Pawnee Goddesses and, unlike their male counterpart the Rangers, starts accepting members of the opposite sex. Enemies of fairness and equality…

  9. Leslie gives a big middle finger to Pawnee’s abstinence-only sex ed law by teaching a crowd of particularly sexually active and STD-ridden senior citizens about safe sex (and later throws condoms to them when she gets reprimanded). 

  10. Finally, that time Leslie drops this truth bomb on a particularly ridiculous group of activists (which, in Pawnee, really says something).

Of course, there are way more than 10 moments of Leslie Knope’s badassery, but this is a good start. We will miss her terribly and look forward to the fabulous, flawed feminist characters that will arise in her wake.

Images c/o NBC Universal, Tumblr, Giphy, Parks and Recreation Wiki, Redbubble.com


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Founded in 1993, BUST is the inclusive feminist lifestyle trailblazer offering a unique mix of humor, female-focused entertainment, uncensored personal stories, and candid reporting that tells the truth about women’s lives.

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