Bart Simpson’s Feminine Side

Written by Lady T 

Bart Simpson appreciating some gay culture

In my umpteenth viewing of episodes from season four of The Simpsons, I noticed something that never occurred to me in my first viewings of the show: Bart Simpson has a feminine side.
This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. An episode in the eighth season, “Homer’s Phobia,” shows Bart becoming appreciative of gay culture (much to Homer’s dismay) after the family befriends a delightful gay man named John. The episode has an important lesson where Homer learns a lesson about acceptance, but Bart’s development isn’t explored in detail, as his appreciation of gay culture is just a catalyst for Homer’s (temporary) growth as a person.
Earlier (and later) episodes, though, show that Bart’s feminine side is more than just a passing trend. It’s a trait that appears sporadically during the series, and is amusing every time.
In “Lisa the Beauty Queen,” Bart shows his little sister how to walk in heels for the competition. When Lisa asks Bart if he really thinks she could win, he strikes a pose and says, “Hey, I’m starting to think I could win!”

Heel, toe, heel, toe…
In “Marge in Chains,” Bart shares his plan to break his mother out of prison: “Don’t worry, Mom. I’ll bust you out of there as soon as I get a cocktail dress and a crowbar.” Then we see Bart’s dream sequence of dancing with the warden, who says, “Oh, Bartina — before I met you, I was a lonely man.”
[True story: I watched that episode with my roommate when she was resting on the couch with a sprained ankle, and she laughed so hard that she almost fell off the couch and sprained it again.]

Two seasons later, Bart reluctantly signs up for ballet class when there are no other P.E. electives available. He’s not happy about wearing tights or being in a sport “for girls,” but he soon realizes that he has a talent for ballet — and loves it!

“Put on this fuschiatard! You are a fairy.”

Several seasons afterwards, Bart and Milhouse raid his parents’ closet when they have nothing else to do, and when Milhouse suggests they “dress like ladies,” Bart quickly notices that his mother’s dress hides his thighs, and soon they’re jumping on his parents’ bed.

“Sisters doin’ it for themselves!”
Clearly, Bart’s feminine side is more than just a one-episode gag or a prompt for Homer to get over his phobia. It’s a recurring character trait. But what does it mean?
Probably not much when considering the writers’ intents. The writers of The Simpsons are fond of having characters act in unexpected ways, where the punchline is simply the character acting out of character (Nelson loving Andy Williams, Jimbo being a fan of The Joy Luck Club, Ned Flanders having lax beatnik parents). Bart knowing the “ancient art of padding” is funny because we wouldn’t expect him to know about it.
Still, writer intent aside, I love the moments where Bart slips on a pair of heels, dons a dress, or fantasizes about seducing a warden to get Marge out of jail. Even a character who prides himself on being America’s bad boy has a girly side.

Lady T is an a writer and aspiring comedian with two novels, a play, and a collection of comedy sketches in progress. She hopes to one day be published and finish one of her projects (not in that order). You can find more of her writing at The Funny Feminist, where she picks apart entertainment and reviews movies she hasn’t seen.