Cartoons and Confusion Over Gender Roles

OrthoDixie, a blog by an Eastern Orthodox priest in the south (with some co-authors), has an article entitled “Lest We Be Gay” that raises questions about the the lack of traditional male role models in the media seen by our children. Specifically, the authors note that most cartoons aimed at young children feature male characters that are “metrosexual” rather than manly. Does this have an affect on perceptions of children about gender roles?

Their observations are worthy of some thought – and caught me somewhat by surprise. Previously, in poking a little fun at Michael Quinn’s credibility-straining effort to find homoerotic elements in the friendships and writings of early LDS leaders, I did a spoof in which I pointed to the much more pervasive homoerotic elements in the Barney show. I don’t think Barney is gay, pink dinosaur suit notwithstanding, but he certainly is not manly. Does the exposure to largely metrosexual wimps in cartoons and the lack of traditional male role models in cartoons or almost anywhere else in the media have a negative effect on our youth? Is part of the dangers of our worldly media not just the trash that they tend to dump on us, but also the lack of wholesome content?

Parents are used to filtering out raunchy content from their children’s media diet, but perhaps we also need to worry about what is missing, particularly the lack of helpful role models when it comes to gender roles. Above all, this is a reminder that we must not rely on TV for the education of our children! The fewer hours, the better.


Author: Jeff Lindsay

3 thoughts on “Cartoons and Confusion Over Gender Roles

  1. The problem here is that many people define ‘manliness’ as being tough, aggressive, violent, and never showing weakness or compassion towards others.
    Jesus’s tendency to cry immediately disqualifies Him from being a true ‘man’ according to some–although, of course, he’s the one true role model for being a Man.
    We have to be careful that any crusades against ‘wimpy’ or ‘gay-like’ attributes in men don’t, in fact, just reinforce the opposite stereotypes of men, which can be just as damaging…

  2. Agreed. Christ, of course, is the ultimate role model for a true man. Not coarse and violent, but compassionate, bold, hard-working, brave, pure, and so forth. “Manly” toughness is seen, for example, in his casting out of the money changers from the temple and his dignity before his accusers, while “manly” kindness mixed with courage is seen, for example, in his healing of the ear of the soldier wounded by Peter.

    We do not see Christ cross-dressing, preening himself for hours, and worrying about the latest in fashion.

  3. Homer Simpson is kinda manly. Samurai Jack is DEFINITELY manly.

    And Barney is purple. (not pink)

    I think you need to watch more cartoons . . .

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