Most children do not differentiate between reality and fantasy; hence, they are vulnerable to interpretations of gender in televisions, particularly children’s cartoons. Cartoons are mostly viewed by children between the ages of two and thirteen. Thus, most people believe that children can use the portrayals of gender in cartoons arrangement to establish their roles of their gender and to understand their roles in their culture. Boys are usually provided much more importance and are involved more often in cartoons compared with girls’ characters.
Weiten, Dunn and Hammer (338) showed that the numbers of boys who watch cartoons are exceeding the number of girls and boys because male characters lead, but girls are ready to see a male lead.
Most cartoon programs do not put female to lead and the female characters that are seen as prominent are frequently labeled in subtle but in considerable manner (Aksu 13). Female characters are permitted to be superheroes, but are not allowed to be the leading superheroes. They are allowed to use machinery, like vehicles and airplanes, but are usually left out from major decisions.
Boys are, as well, represented in a stereotypical way where they are normally put in positions of authority, like scientists, superheroes, politicians, and police officers. They are not at all shown cooking, cleaning, crying, or doing some chores which are associated with women or girls. In cartoon series named “Jonny Quest: The Real Adventures,” Race Bennett realized that Jessie, her daughter, had passed away. He responded aggressively and punched his friend and he was not shown crying. He did not show any indication of grief except anger.
Men, in most cartoons episodes, label women in different ways. Regardless of showing her skills and knowledge as a computer expert and problem solver, Jessie, in “Jonny Quest: The Real Adventures,” is referred frequently by her father as his little daughter. By her father referring her this way, it weakens everything else which female participants have achieved.
He put her in a position of a child despite her efforts and skills. It is remarkable to point out that, in the same episode, Jonny, who have almost similar age as Jessie, is never called “a little boy” by both his father and any person in the cartoon episode. And, all through the episode, Jonny and Jessie engage in many of similar roles and are usually seen as possessing mutual stand in decision making.
A study by Arnett (31) reported that television commercials intended for girls portray female characters as housekeepers, having dolls, and with products linked with vanity, while commercials designed for boys are associated with cars, construction tools, math and science based toys. Most male characters in commercials are associated with action weapons, which showed males as attackers who are greatly aggressive and independent.
In general, it is established that stereotypic gender are represented in cartoon episodes which are designed for children, even though over the years they have turned out to be difficult to classify and are more subtle.
Male characters carry on to rule the children’s television cartoons since it portrays the roles which girls and boys are supposed to follow in some cultures. Since male characters are placed in power positions, boys who view these cartoon episodes may develop certain characters which are portrayed in these programs, but girls may not do the same because they are often not given authority positions.
Aksu, Bengü. “Barbie Against Superman: Gender Stereotypes and Gender Equity in the Classroom.” Journal of Language and Linguistic Studies 1.1 (2005): 12-21. Print.
Arnett, Jeffrey. Encyclopedia of children, adolescents, and the media. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications, 2007. Print.
Weiten, Wayne, Dana Dunn and Elizabeth Hammer. Psychology Applied to Modern Life: Adjustment in the 21st Century. Belmont CA: Cengage Learning, 2011. Print.