Hello, whoever you are! Welcome to A Reader’s Guide to Queer Theory on Cartoon Network!
This site serves as a guide through the ways in which gender and several feminist theories are observed in children’s animation. The editor’s introduction provides a basis for the types of sources compiled in the source list. The sources range from feminist theorists alluding to the importance of gender representation to articles on Cartoon Network’s portrayal of women in their animated series.
The topic encompasses aspects of many different feminisms, focusing mainly on postmodern and queer theories. Analyzing children’s animation may seem like a trivial endeavor, but actually has many serious implications. Children are intensely influenced by what they watch, and research shows they can internalize stereotypes and learned behavior beginning at the age of three. Children understand and mimic the gender portrayals they see in television, movies, and magazines. Representation of queer presenting, androgynous, or gender non-conforming characters in children’s animation tends to be sparse if present at all, but it seems that may be starting to change. With the introduction of shows like Cartoon Network’s Adventure Time and Steven Universe, children are becoming exposed to a more loosely defined concept of gender. This reader’s guide looks at several sources’ take on Cartoon Network’s approach to gender, as well as gender theory as a whole and the important role media plays in conveying appropriate behaviors.
The purpose of this reader’s guide is to provide a peak into the ever changing portrayal of gender roles in children’s animation. The sources chosen reflect the importance of paying attention to what children are expected to see as “normal” and how that may effect their development and identity as adults. Though representation has certainly improved over the years, animation is still overwhelmingly heteronormative and riddled with gender norms. Exploring this reader’s guide is a first step in joining the conversation on what we really should be watching.