Monday, March 1, 2010

On cartoons, gender roles and the Smurfette Principle

Ever wonder why gender roles are so prevalent in children's television programming? Nostalgia Chick did, and waxes on just this subject in a video entitled "The Smurfette Principle."

Of course, this isn't news to most of us; clearly we're all aware that male characters tend to play the role in most programming, including for children. But what is particularly striking about NC's analysis is what she points out about audiences--most of the [recent] cartoons are not gender specific, and, in fact, only geared towards an age group, not a gender. But still, somehow, it seems that the male character is "more relate-able," while the female is the different-from-the-norm, deviant perspective.

NC goes on to discuss how this secondary, deviant status of women has existed long before cartoons--Eve in the Bible, Pandora's box of Greek mythology, etc. This message gets reinforced daily through the media not only to boys and men, but to young girls, who are being taught that the "correct" place of female characters is appropriately second the the male lead. And, of course, most likely dressed in pink.

Fun fact: Did you know that of the 33 Nicktoons Nickelodeon has created, only three featured a female lead?

Check further discussion on the video at the Sociological Contexts blog.

Posted by: Melissa

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