Virginia García BeaudouxBy the age of two, most children use gender pronouns in their speech and proactively identify people as men and women. And by the time they turn seven, little boys and little girls have already learnt a lot about what is expected of them within our – binary – gender system.Much of this learning is unintentional, communicated via pop culture.A few years ago, researchers from Granada University analysed 621 characters of both sexes from 163 cartoon series, including Monster High and Shin Chan. They found that women are largely relegated to secondary roles: girlfriends, mothers or companions to the animated heroes and villains.Not only are cartoon women rarely leading characters, they’re also awash in stereotypes. The Spanish researchers reported that most animated women are materialistic, jealous and superficial, obsessed with their bodies and keen to please other people.How do princesses lead?Even when women do play the lead, they often reify tired adages about women.With Pocahontas (1995), for example, Disney showed that not even cartoon women can “have it all”. The Indian princess must choose between success in the public sphere and a happy romantic life.Indeed, studies have found that in all of the princess films produced by Disney… Read full this story
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