Sociology - Gender Essay

Submitted By Logi23
Words: 1421
Pages: 6

What is gender? There really is no concise or definitive definition for it, since it will differ from person to person depending on who you ask. The dictionary and medical definition states it as being male or female. The sociology textbook definition refers to it as the physical, behavioral, and personality traits that a group considers to be normal, natural, right and good for its male and female members. Regardless of what view you take gender as, it ultimately leads to relations in the male and female category. One major subject of gender is gender roles, which basically means how males and females should speak, think, dress and act within the context of society and can be linked to gender stereotyping (also a topic of discussion). It is apparent in most if not all cultures, but the “role” itself varies from one culture to another. A major gateway for this is through the media. In the United States, children’s cartoons are a prime example. Of the plethora of cartoons available for discussion, four highly popular ones, current and old, will take priority: Dora the Explorer, Spongebob Squarepants, Rugrats, and the Scooby Doo series. First to be discussed is the extremely popular, Dora the Explorer. The show can be considered a global phenomenon being dubbed in over twenty different languages, so it has a large fan base amongst the varying cultures around the world. Now, on to the topic of gender in regards to the show, the show itself is not necessarily targeted solely towards young females/girls. In fact, the show is highly popular amongst young males/boys as well. This is mainly due to the fact that Dora isn’t your typical “girl” in the sense of gender roles, which she is more or less considered a tomboy. Dora wears a t-shirt, shorts, and tennis shoes and carries a backpack; she also has short hair. Also, the context of the show helps lean interest and popularity to young males/boys, since the plot is about Dora going on various quests and explorations and the outdoors.
One episode in particular, Job Day, shows the break away from gender roles that the show insinuates, well for females anyways. At the start of the episode, Dora and Boots (a male monkey) are drawing pictures of what they want to be when they “grow up” i.e. their occupation/job. Dora chooses to be either a soccer player or astronomer, while Boots chooses to be either a baseball player or teacher. This was used as an example mainly because teachers are usually labeled as females in the sense of gender roles, but Boots, a male, chose it over Dora, a female. The episode also shows Dora’s mother, who is an archaeologist; her mother is wearing shorts, boots, a short sleeve button-up and a hat, which are all brown. The other males in the episode are the gender typical types. Diego and Boot’s father have the normal jobs associated with males, a rescuer and an architect/construction. For the most part, Dora the Explorer, tends to shy away from gender roles/stereotypes and accentuates the “strong, do anything” female. Now, the show Spongebob Squarepants, is fairly strange when doing gender comparisons since most of the characters are sea creatures with the male/female label slapped on. In fact, it is a very hard comparison since there are only a handful of female characters; of the which, only four are considered main characters, and do not represent their gender favorably: Sandy (a squirrel), Pearl (a whale), Misses Puff (a blowfish) and Karen (a computer). Sandy is the typical tomboy; Pearl is the girly girl; Misses Puff is similar to the unhappy old hag; Karen is well a computer. The show bridges more on stereotypes than gender roles, but even with the abnormalities to the show, there is one episode that epitomizes gender roles. In this episode, Patrick and Spongebob find a baby clam and decide to take care of it. They both assume different parental roles; Patrick being the father, and Spongebob being the mother. As the father, Patrick goes to work each