Visual Media and Communication: A Conundrum of Gender Disparity in
Magotra B and Kaur SP*
School of Languages and Literature, SMVD University, Katra, Jammu and Kashmir, India
- *Corresponding Author:
- Kaur SP
Assistant Professor, School of Languages and Literature
SMVD University, Katra, Jammu and Kashmir, India
Received Date: Apr 27, 2018; Accepted Date: May 02, 2018; Published Date: May 14, 2018
Citation: Magotra B, Kaur SP. Visual Media and Communication: A Conundrum of Gender Disparity in Animated World. Global Media Journal
Copyright: © 2018 Magotra B, et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
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The verbal and visual mediums play a cardinal role in internalization of gender stereotypes in children. Being an influential form of communication, the media has an indispensable impact on the child's psyche. Besides being a mode of a method of entertainment only for youngsters, it has scholastic and socializing perspectives. Cartoon series as one such visual have provided youngsters with characters displaying behaviors and individual traits that they imbibe and internalize, thereby promoting stereotypical expectations. Gender bias in the cartoons is formulated by the stereotypes which are associated with the roles expected to be performed by a girl or boy. Gender disparity in cartoons reflects women characters as weak or inferior, bound to the household chores and male as strong or superior. Keeping in cue with the aforesaid, the research examines gender disparity prevalent in animated world and to reveal its adverse impact. The research analyzes two contemporary Indian cartoon series from the perspective of the character’s physical appearance, male/female roles in problem-solving, social roles and behavior.
Gender; Stereotype; Animation; Children;
Visual narration being an important mode of
communication has been rapidly spreading all over the
country and is “the most pervasive and one of the most
powerful” . Children start watching television at the very
early stage of their life. They become eager watchers as soon
as they reach 2 to 4 years of age. In light of this fact, an
excessive number of youngsters are watching television
excessively and the cartoons that they watch have turned out
to be an addiction. Children distinguish promptly with cartoon
characters, such characters can be sure good examples that empower good conduct among children. Krish, for instance,
always helps people of his surroundings. On the other side,
there can be bad character that provides no moral lesson to
children like Kidmara. Cartoons play an essential part in
framing children’s perception about male and female. They
observe the behavior and action of the characters and try to
copy them. Being susceptible to gender stereotypes that are
portrayed on television, particularly in cartoon series, they
reinforce those accepted behavior shown through media, in
their lives. Likewise, in an article by Arma , “The effect of
cartoon movies on children's gender development”, the focus
is on pros and cons of animated series and the roles that are
ascribed to cartoons. The paper claims that the cartoon
movies are not limited to entertainment purposes but they
involve socializing aspects, gender stereotyping being one of
them. Further, Arma also highlights that characters in the
movies can be both human and non-human or living or nonliving
objects. Non-living and non-human characters show
human highlights, for example, they can talk and walk simply
like people. These types of characters are important in the
movies because of their human like features. In some
cartoons, lifeless and animal characters play stereotypical
female or male roles. In some cartoon movies, sex
reassignment takes place wherein a female character disguises
as male or vice-a-versa intrigued with magical realism.
Likewise, in cartoon movies sex transformation also takes
place which often creates uneasiness or nervousness among
children. Children have no sense of understanding; they don’t
realize that there exists a remarkable gap between reality and
fantasy. Such kind of transformations in cartoon series affects
the psyche of the child and its development. So, gender
disparity is clearly reflected through the characters roles. In
cue with this, the research paper not only reveals inequity
prevailing in animated world but also seeks for a solution to
Television and Its Impact on
In television the characters communicate with one another
and children often adopt their way of communication. The way these cartoon characters communicate with each other
influences the behavior of children. They try to copy their
manners and behavior. In the similar vein, a report on “What
media teach kids about gender” by Caroline Knorr 
highlights how children start imbibing specific traits of being
strong or fearful, as she avers, “‘strong and brave’ superhero
becomes aggressive and hostile. That ‘fearful and meek’
princess becomes submissive and weak”. In the light of the
above argument, one can trace such reflections in research
done previously, like Hassan and Daniyal  in “Cartoon
network and its impact on behaviour of school going children:
a case study of Bahawalpur, Pakistan” focuses upon the effect
of cartoon on the behavior and manners of the youngsters.
They talk about impact of Cartoon Network which standouts
among the most loved cartoon channel; it runs 24 hours and
children invest the greater part of their relaxation time before
it. Cartoons do not only pull children towards them through its
substance rather they teach positive as well as negative
propensities. The authors lay emphasis on the fundamental
grounds that have adverse impact on children who watch
cartoons which reflect the themes of violence or brutality. The
paper explores the adverse effect of harsh content presented
in cartoon on the behavior of children and how children not
only mimic or copy their favorite cartoons but also compel
their parents to get them cartoon costumes, accessories and
toys. Cartoons have an iron hold on the psyche of children,
both mentally and physically. They identify themselves with
their favorite characters. They behave as a cartoon, their
choices, likes, dislikes, way of dressing, everything is influenced
by cartoon. The paper impinges upon how the language used
by children is a result of watching cartoons. There are many
harsh and bad words used in cartoons which are quickly picked
up by children. Hassan and Daniyal say that children mostly
prefer watching comedy cartoons as compared to action.
Ostensibly, violence and brutality are prominent traits in kids’
shows. In comic cartoon shows, the battle between celluloid
characters is enjoyed by children. This can be clearly evidenced
through the popularity of worldwide famous cartoon Tom and
Jerry. Further, a lifetime of viewing stereotypical media
becomes so ingrained, it can ultimately affect kids' career
choices, self-worth, relationships, and ability to achieve their
full potential . Further, critics like Nathanson  in
Counteracting the Effects of Female Stereotypes on Television
via Active Mediation, Huntemann and Morgan in “Mass Media
and Identity Development” have also claimed how children
modify their attitude by watching such cartoon series.
Permanent and consistent exposure to such shows not only
cultivates in children a set of “values, beliefs, dreams and
expectations, which shape the adult identity a child, will carry
and modify throughout his/her life” but also assists in
reinforcement of gender stereotypes.
Having taken a cognizance of this, children literature
became a vibrant area of research. Fairytales considered as
‘classics’ were re-read to expose the gender ideology that was
perpetuated through them. Patricia Mathew and Jonathan
Greenberg  in “The Ideology of the Mermaid: Children’s
Literature in the Intro to Theory Course” also emphasize upon
reinforcement of stereotypes through continuous watching as they highlight, “students encounter these children’s texts
during the very time of life when they are unconsciously
absorbing ideological codes, their emotional investment in the
ideological legitimacy of such texts is so high that these texts
appear, ironically to be uniquely free of ideology.” Thus the
embedded gender ideology remained invisible for quite some
time. Children animation produced largely by Disney was
mostly based on these fairytales and fared no better when
analyzed for the biased representation of gender.
Review of Literature
The book titled “Encyclopedia of gender in media” exposes
the impact of the media in shaping gender. Since the
mid-1960s, enlivened cartoon shows have been a prevailing
kind of visual programming on television. With regards to
more extensive worries about the media focusing on
youngsters, scholars working on media and gender have
concentrated on fierce and violence substance and
advancement of consumerism in cartoon shows. The historical
backdrop of broad communications both behind the scene and
before camera has been a history marked by avoidance of
women. In terms of media, females have exercised restricted
roles especially in television and “are often stereotyped and
sexualized when they are depicted in popular content” .
Media as an operator of socialization, enormously affects how
we understand the world around us as “Gender roles… exist
solely because society as a whole chooses to accept them, but
they are perpetuated by the media” . Media whether as
content or innovation mediate our connection to social
organization that structures our lives, including education and
health care. Media content additionally shapes our gender
identity and self-character. Gender is outlined as a socially
built arrangement of characterization that relies on the
parallel classes of femininity and masculinity. Media
representations contain veiled and explicit scripts pertaining to
gender. The stories shown on television encourages gathering
of people with respect to social roles and individual
characteristics that are approved for male and female. For
instance women probably appear in television and film as
mother and guardian in contrast to male. Despite the fact that
this is organic truth that females give birth to children; this
gendered television content replicates the thought that
women are naturally better at raising babies. It is clearly
evident in two principle cartoon channels namely Nickelodeon
and Cartoon Network, that paying little heed to whether male
or female as lead, savagery stays predominant in children.
Brutal, violent and harsh content which is shown in media has
a potential impact on youth and this subject matter has been a
focal point of the media. Numerous courageous women are
presently set apart as a major aspect of “Disney Princess
Franchise”, which incorporates champions from contemporary
and classical movies; Ariel, Belle, Snow White, Jasmine,
Cinderella, Princess Aurora, Mulan and Tiana among them. In
traditional Disney movies, Disney princesses were projected as
delightful, youthful, fragile, beautiful damsels and they shared
with each other an innocent, nurturing and caring bond as a
key similarity which maintains their balance with their
stepmother, malevolent rulers and different villainess who try to wreck them. In this way, Disney World projects parallel
resistance constructing women as innocent and fragile
damsels in distress innocent, beautiful, loving, caring, fragile
and great or vain, evil, wicked, ugly and old.
A succinct overview of literature survey highlights that
research on gender as a theme has received wide attention “in
the work of linguists, sociolinguists, historians, women studies
experts, and social scientists” . However very less research
has been done on the prevalence of gender inequity in Indian
cartoon series. Keeping in cue with the aforesaid, two cartoon
series, Chhota Bheem and Kumbh Karan, have been
considered as a case study for the analysis in this research
paper. These cartoon series selected appear at a few times
amid the day, and are extremely available to a youthful
gathering of people. They have people as the hero rather
talking objects or animals, for example, PCs, autos, robots and
other such manifestations. Further, from the perspective of its
impact upon spectators and the behavioral pattern of
spectator cultivation and social learning theory have been
taken for theoretical analysis.
There are many theories regarding the media’s influence on
individual psyche which talk about the impact of the media like
cultivation theory and social learning theory. Critics like
Gerbner have highlighted that television is “an integral aspect
of a dynamic process” that reestablishes beliefs and opinion”
and likewise “become a powerful and influential common
source for learning, for teaching children about norms and
values in society, and constructing a social reality”. The media
exorcises the mindset of the general public through its dual
nature; which can be either positive or negative. The media is
credited with the ability to create culture and new trends and
it is often referred as “Mediated culture” by many sociologists
such as Andre Jansson and Thomas de Zengotita. Among
various forms of the mass media, television is the most
influential medium which reveals social reality and its
internalization has an impact on our psyche. Having a
systematic approach of telling stories; it brings all the trends
and happenings of the world at one place. Television has
become an efficient medium of information and it holds an
important place in the socialization of children. Children are
innocent beings who have little sense of understanding and
television, being a significant part of their life, disrupts the
distinction between reality and fiction making them believe
what is shown in the television is social reality. Television
differs from other forms of media on the basis of its visual and
imagery representation. Visual media holds a long-lasting
impact on the psyche of the people as compared to verbal
media. Likewise, critics like George Gerbner have also
examined the long-lasting effect of television on people in his
“cultivation theory”. Gerbner claims that the additional time
individuals spend sitting in front of the TV, the more they have
confidence in the truth which is shown on the television.
People perceive it as the social reality unaware of the fact that
it is merely fictional. The visual representation of objects and
characters is disseminated through television which influences the acuity of true world. Gerbner suggest that television
viewed at young age can alter the social reality beliefs. He
avers that television internalizes those values which are
already bestowed in culture. It is distinguished between two
by cultivation theorists: ‘first order’ effect and ‘second order’
effects. First order effects include views, faith, and truth like
rife of violence about the world whereas second order effects
include attitude towards judiciary, law, rules or orders. He has
also divided viewers in two groups: heavy viewers and light
viewers. Heavy viewers are those people who are more into
television and witness world according to the ways in which it
is depicted on television.
Social learning theory suggests that children are prone to
quickly imitate and inculcate the behavioral pattern that they
observe in their ambience and similarly the one they observe
on television. The most influential psychologist Albert Bandura
gave the notion of social cognitive theory (SCT) and was also
responsible for putting forth Bobo doll experiment. Albert
Bandura has discussed in his cognitive theory that children
watch and copy activities of the general population around
them in his theory. A fundamental assertion of SCT is that
individuals learn through their own particular encounters, as
well as by watching the activities of others and the aftereffects
of those activities is seen in the behavior of children.
SCT is the basis of the movement which is against brutality and
violence in the media. Albert Bandura has also talked about
observational theory which is a part of social learning where
an individual learns by observing the behaviors and actions of
others. This theory requires a model, for example kin,
companion, parent, friend, or instructor with environment.
During the phrase of childhood, the model plays an important
role and holds a higher authority. Infant tries to copy the
model and acts in the ways and manners of the model. In
social cognitive theory of personality, Bandura incorporated
the idea of observational learning as one of the prime focus.
Walter Mischel, a personality researcher, has given a
noteworthy gift to the development of SLT. Mischel has built
up a definite program for the investigation of individual
factors, while supporting an extensive variety of SLT ideas. The
Indian scenario, however, is quite different. The children’s
literature in general and animation in particular has not been
able to attract the attention of the scholars. Hence the present
endeavors. Moreover, we do not claim to represent the Indian
scenario as we analyze only the cartoons and children in the
Hindi language. The method here applied is that of data
interpretation where in male female characters in the specific
cartoon movies were analyzed in cue with what Berger 
highlights as “a research technique that is based on measuring
the amount of something in a representative sampling of
some mass-mediated popular art form”.
• The research hinges on the following research questions
and seeks to develop an understanding of the following:
• How are the social roles and behavior pattern influential in
promoting gender studies?
• Is gender disparity visible in cartoon series or not?
• How can communication play a key role in neutralizing
• How is physical appearance gendered?
Discussed here is the gender inequity and the Animated
World: A Reflection into Chhota Bheem and Kumbh Karan.
A survey of the children’s magazines in Hindi crops up
names like Chandamama, Champak, Nandan and Parag which
are all widely reputed. However, an analysis of their contents
and conceptual framework reveals the deeply embedded
gender stereotypes in Chandamama and Champak borrowed
from the Panchtantra and Jatak stories. Nandan has a potful of
stories about fairies and other characters from the realm of
Parag has secular stories, which nevertheless, are deeply
embedded in the Indian social ethos. Needless to say that due
to their basic conceptualization, they cannot escape the
gender bias inherent in the Indian ethos and culture which
dictates their representations of gender and re-inscription of
gender stereotypes as sanctioned by the society at large.
If we come to children’s animation in India, it is heartening
to see that in the recent years many indigenous cartoon series
have been launched prior to this we have a whole generation
fed by He-man, Spiderman, Superman and the other series
which were exclusively produced in the West.
However, a review of the indigenous cartoon series reveals
that most of them are mythological in their character like Bal- Hanuman, Bal-Ganesha, Krishna Aur Balram, Roll No. 21
(based on the modernization of the Krishna-Kans story) and
the list is endless. We do not deny that these cartoons are an
effective way of acquainting our children with our mythology.
But what about the gender stereotyping inherent in the
The representation of women in these series does not in
any way deviate from the norm. As explicated by Signorelli in
his cultivation theory, the continuous exposure to such
traditional roles in animated world modifies the perception of
children thereby, contributing in the conception of social
reality. The only secular cartoon series on the Indian television
are Chhota Bheem and Kumbh aur Karan, the former being a
current rage with children. An analysis of the representation of
female characters in these two would reveal the current
pattern of gender representation in children’s animation.
Researchers like Kelly have put forth four different types of
cartoon characters; the hegemonic male, the submissive or the
inadequate male, the fragile female and the modern female.
The stereotypically robust males are generally the protagonist
and are also the conflict resolvers. Bheem, Kumbh and Karan
can easily be recognized as fitting in this category. Masculine
man is one who attributes manly traits who fits in the culture’s
cliché. Man with good looks muscles and moderate attire and
hairstyle. Conversely, the insufficient and submissive male has
an inadequate bodily structure, contrary to the hegemonic one
who is physically strong.
The inadequate male is represented as frail, frightful, weak,
cowardly and consequently is the reason for conflict.
Moreover, if they resolve any solution, they do it in a comical
manner. Kalia, Kichak, Dholu and Molu easily fit under this
bracket. Likewise, the fragile and innocent females are similar
to the inadequate males. Their attire is in such a way that it
restricts them from performing any male task. Chutki,
Indumati and Tara easily fit the description modern females as
they are delicate and conversely yield more in resolving
complicated matters than the delicate females. The only
character who fits in this category is Chutkhi.
According to Calvert,  the villains in the cartoon
characters are also most-often than not males. Mostly in
cartoons, the dynamics between hero and anti-hero dominate
the whole plot; delimiting the females to side roles or
supporting ones. Women in cartoons are not given an equal
platform as compared to men. Their roles remain passive in
this process where they are often portrayed as conventional
heroines. Mostly they are depicted as damsels in distress
where they are always in some kind of conflict and their
misery is resolved by the hero.
One of the most consistent issues is that the rise to conflict
is highlighted through the kidnapping of the heroine which
further leads to a battle between the protagonist and
antagonist. The fight focuses on the hero and villain who
overshadow the role or involvement of the heroine. By the
end, the heroine is rescued by the hero and it shows women
as incapable of protecting themselves and their dependency
upon man. The hero wins over villain as in Chhota Bheem
where Indumati and Chutki are often saved by Bheem.
An analysis of the characters of Indumati, Chutki and Tara
reveals that the ratio of the male to the female characters is
3:1 in Chhota Bheem and 2:1 in Kumbh and Karan. In each
episode it is witnessed that the number of male members are
more than females. The average percentage of male is 70%
and female is 30% only.
Thompson and Zerbinos in “Gender roles in animated
cartoons: Has the picture changed in 20 years?” examined that
in cartoon series “the number of males among protagonists is
more than females by one third while the numbers of other
male characters are nearly one fifth more than females” .
The unequal ratio of both the sexes in cartoons series denotes
how women are given less importance and prominence as
compared to men. Throughout the series there is not even a
single episode where female ratio exceeds male.
In all the episodes it is clearly visible that the presence of
male characters always overshadows the female character.
Therefore, it is mostly boy’s world that children view in these
cartoon series. Streicher’s  study is one of the earliest
references used by the researcher to review the literature on
representation of gender in children’s television programming.
She conducted a 9-week study in 1972 and reported that male
characters outnumbered female characters in an overwhelming manner across all genres of programming
(Figure 1 and Table 1).
Figure 1: Male female ratio in the Cartoon Series Chhota Bheem and Kumbh Karan.
||No. of Males
||No. of Females
Table 1: Projection of male female ratio in Chhota Bheem and Kumbh Karan
Chhota Bheem is one of the most popular cartoons in India
and is telecasted repeatedly. The story revolves around a
young boy depicting the tales and experiences of the
eponymous character. The setting of this series is rural in its
context and the village where all the tales of Bheem take place
is a fictional kingdom named Dholakpur. The main characters
in the series are Bheem, Raju, Indumati, Chhota Bheem,
Chutki, Jaggu, Dholu, Kalia and Bholu. It is always the
protagonist in cartoon series who is very powerful and saves
his friends and his village from the problems. Bheem has a big
heart who always helps other and is known for his strength. He
is often called up by the king for seeking suggestions. The
character Bheem is taken from the epic Mahabharata and the
name itself suggests power, strength, and masculinity whereas
the leading female character is Chutki whose name suggests
something which is very timid and small. The names given to
the characters themselves show the gender disparity in the
cartoon series. Chutki is a seven year old girl who is a close
friend of Bheem. She often assists him in all his adventures but
her role always remains passive. She always feels happy on the
victories of Bheem. Chutki is a stereotypical girl who looks
after her household chores in the absence of her mother. She
is seen as a conventional girl who gets possessive about her
boyfriend. In many episodes she gets jealous whenever Bheem
gets close to other girls. Her jealousy reveals the fact that she
has a soft corner for Bheem. She is like normal girls who want
their Mr. Perfect and she considers Bheem as her Mr. Right.
Another pertinent observation is that in Chhota Bheem, none
of the male characters are given any parental figures to
exercise patriarchal control over them. Neither Bheem, Kalia or
Dholu-Molu are given a set of parents. Raju’s father is hinted
once but he is a soldier who is always away on wars or
missions for the king. Chutkhi and Indumati, however, are not
left free. Chutkhi is given a mother who looms large over her
and makes the ladoos that Chutkhi feeds Bheem (fulfilling the
traditional role of Annapurna) that are a source of his strength.
Indumati is the daughter of the king of Dholakpur. A princess, she is typically portrayed as the delicate female. Both Chutkhi
and Indumati are dressed in skirts and blouses which are
mostly pink or lavender in shade. Both have long hair typically
tied in a single are two ponies. Both these characters do not in
any pronounced way deviate from the qualities that are
claimed to be feminine.
‘Just as’ consistent with cultural views of gender are
depictions of women as sex objects who are usually young,
thin beautiful, passive, dependent, and often incompetent and
dumb” . Indumati as a princess represents royalty, however
she is relegated as a complete embodiment of these qualities.
She is very delicate, soft spoken, always by her father’s side,
obedient and to a large extent passive. She might be a part of
the conflict, but never of conflict-resolution.
Chutki cannot escape the connotation of ‘Annapurna’, she is
not delicate as Indumati. She is an integral member of Bheem’s
gang and participates in all the adventures undertaken by the
group. She is not passive like Indumati. She also gives inputs
that help in conflict resolution. However, she is never the
direct cause of conflict-resolution-the responsibility being that
of Bheem solely. Moreover, her place is firmly secured as being
secondary to Bheem. More importantly when Bheem goes for
any activities like archery competition or wrestling, which are
essentially considered as male domains, Chutkhi is relegated to
the periphery and it is Raju who becomes a befitting
companion to Bheem. The qualities that Chutkhi is mostly
praised for by the group are mostly kind-heartedness and
generosity and sometimes even intelligence but never valor
that is exclusively the domain of men. Moreover, the fact that
Chutkhi is not given a proper name. Even the monkey in the
series is named Jaggu but Chutkhi is just Chutkhi. Gender
disparity is mostly shown in many of the episodes, one of
them is named as “Mother’s Day Special” where Chutki wants
to do something special for her mother. She brings flowers for
her mother like a sweet daughter and decides that on
Mother’s Day she will give full rest to her mother and will take
care of everything by herself. Bheem and her other friends also
assist her which often shows her incapability of doing
everything by herself. She cleans the entire house and makes
ladoos for her mother’s sweet stall. Though she does the
entire household and kitchen work, yet she has to depend on
others for others tasks which require physical strength such as
milking the cow, electrical work and going to the market for
selling ladoos. The females in the cartoons are shown as
unskilled who are engaged in unnecessarily activities like who
Chutki loves playing with dolls whereas Bheem is always into
some kind of trouble solving mission. In most of the episodes,
the role of Chutki is limited to feel happy and pay applauds for
the achievements and victories of Bheem. She is not given any
prominent importance in the series. Her representation in
cartoons show how children perceive the role of women as
less efficient and passive and men as efficient and active. Boys
often identify themselves as Chota Bheem and girls as Chutki.
Further, Tara in Kumbh Karan is more allied to Indumati than
Chutkhi. Flanked by two male characters, there is no room for
her to be actively self-spoken, delicate and kind hearted. She
most often acts as a harmonizer and pacifier between Kumbh and Karan. She does accompany the boys in their adventures,
but as Indumati is a cause of conflict, but never conflict
resolver. If at all she gives any input towards the resolution, it
is negligible. Being a girl she also lends a hand to dadi
(Grandmother) in cooking.
Thus the analysis of the female characters in the children’s
animation on the Indian silver screen reveals that all of them
are drawn within the firm bounds of the patriarchal set up.
Stereotypically, they cannot escape their gender roles. Chutkhi
does represent the modern female but strictly within the
norms of patriarchy. Moreover, she is not the princess. In the
similar vein, critics like Cohen highlight that characters in
media and cartoon shows identify themselves with the
characters and start imbibing their values and behavior. For
instance, girls pretend to be princess, wear such attires
whereas boys pretend to be action heroes safeguarding the
damsels in distress. The plight of Indumati is even worse.
Though a princess, her father does not even consider her as
the inheritor of the crown. He firmly convinced that after him,
it is Bheem who shall inherit the throne. The any hint of
female character assuming a position of power is firmly rooted
Gender bias is prevalent in every sphere of society. The roles
performed by the characters are assigned accordingly to the
prescribed societal standards which are considered
appropriate for both the genders. Gender roles are in certainty
doled out by society, prompting attributed social
generalizations. Gender roles are dictated by the social
convictions about what the gender roles ought to be. Coon
and Mitterer define gender role stereotypes as ‘oversimplified
and widely held beliefs about the basic characteristics of men
and women’. It starts with the process of socialization itself
where prejudice is seen on the basis of gender. Girls are
expected to be angels of the house and boys are free to do
things according to their freewill. The gender disparity is even
seen in the selection of toys for both the sexes. The different
treatment of both the sexes by the family is the initial point
from where this gender disparity starts and children identify
that they are different. By 24 months of age, a child recognizes
their gender and constructs a world of male and female.
Commenting upon the impact of such unrealistic
representations on children, Anaba  in “Children’s
perceptions of gender roles as portrayed in Disney films”
claims that such “representations of the ideal male and female
figure are portrayed and young children often identify with
these beloved characters, there by affecting the way that they
conceive beliefs regarding their future roles in society”. Family
is the primary source from where gender biasness start.
Secondary sources are schools, friends, media; media being
the most influential one. In many animated movies, one sex is
shown as dominant i.e. man is dominant and another as
submissive i.e. woman. Children assimilate and internalize
these roles that show large discrepancies between
prominence and portrayal of male and female characters.
Further, if female characters are involved in jobs, they are dominated by males or are projected as dumb characters, as
‘beauty without brains’. Such stereotypical connotations assist
in performing gender stereotyping. Males are shown as strong,
skilled, powerful, intelligent whereas women as fragile, weak,
non-intellectual and submissive.
Parental control plays a vital role in child’s mental and
physical growth through the medium of their guidance,
behavior and the sources they provide to them like toys,
television, video games etc. Child learns about the male
dominance over female when they witness their father’s
dominance over their mother. The same culture of dominance
of male over female gets validated when children witness the
same in cartoon series. In most episodes of Chhota Bheem and Kumbh Karan, it is shown that male members always
overshadow the female with respect to their sex ratio, physical
characteristics i.e. men are shown as powerful and strong
whereas women as weak, fragile and their ability in problem
solving. This problem persists in most of the cartoon series.
Since children are more tempted to watch cartoon than doing
any other activity, parents uses cartoons as a tool to keep their
kids busy and to free themselves to do others tasks. Hence
they encourage their children to watch cartoons frequently.
Parents fail to give their children the required attention and
guidance due to increasing demands from their professional
life. Therefore, this situation results in lack of communication
between parent and children. Children do not require
attention of their parents and they end up spending more of
their time watching cartoons. Children build perceptions about
real life watching animations which often promote gender
Numerous television programs screen daily gender
experiences, communicating gender discrimination which is a
social issue. A child begins to recognize differences of sex from
seven months onwards. But this sensitization regarding one’s
own gender with ensuring gender-roles and gender
appropriate behavior comes by the age of seven. During this
time everything from the behavior of the parents, to school
environment, to peers, to toys, to the socio-cultural set up
mould the child’s gender perception, with the media being
most powerful of all. Everything about the world and society is
communicated to the child by his/her parents but now days;
media too plays a prominent role in the socialization process.
Even reality shows project gender biasness where females are
treated as an object of ridicule. As Amitabh V. Dwivedi in
“Rape in the Metropolis” highlights how reality show like Big
Boss 7 is an example of female abuse where one of the
participant “abused every single woman in the house” ,
gender bias being a prominent issue is exclusively found in the
entire media where male characters hold the centre and
females are at the periphery. But when one delves into its root
cause, it starts from infancy, when the child is at the growing
phase of his/her life. Gender bias in children's shows is dismal
since it is unavoidable for children, who are unaware of the demarcation that exists between fantasy and reality.
Therefore, the aim should be to neutralize gender roles so that
a child grows as an individual, as a human being rather than as
male or female, “making themselves as an emblem of both the
set of emotions” .
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