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Girl Cartoons : A Playful Transgression on Popular Culture's Compulsory Gender Coding

Click to view the dissertation via Digital dissertation consortium
Author Perea, Katia.
ISBN/ISSN 9781124700779
Broad Subject History
Politics & Public administration
Summary This dissertation evaluates television girl cartoons to understand their transgressive and counter-hegemonic properties to the compulsive gender coding in popular culture products. My original hypothesis was that cartoon girls are represented in ways that counter the themes historically used to construct "little girls'" identity, such as romance, peer rivalry, and gendered self-deprecation. However, I found that though they indeed do subvert normative gender codes, there exists constructed boundaries presented in the form of secondary characters, identified here as feminine foils, traditionally gendered girl character, and anti-feminine foils, traditionally gendered boy characters. Both foils are used as a representation of gender normativity for which the lead girl character can be comparatively identified as other.

A theory chapter of this dissertation reviews the sociological and feminist theories on popular culture production and girl power media culture. This dissertation provides an analysis of how gender is approached in each of cartoons' three main epochs, theatrical, televisual and digital, by textually analyzing selected television girl cartoon programming from the first girl cartoon in 1956 through 2008. Though young girl bodies can indeed be sexualized, this research references cartoon girls under the age of twelve. This study shows how cartoon girl bodies under twelve are portrayed without any overt sexualization such as breasts, curves, sexually suggestive clothingor, for the most part, heteronormative romantic interest. Cartoon girls under twelve are not tweens, pre-teens or teenagers, they are little girls. A related and second focus of this dissertation is the influence of the women purveyors who have been instrumental in the development of cartoons throughout each epoch of animation.

I argue that as an unconventional and marginal view to the social construct, girl cartoons present an alternative form to the restrictions of popular culture's compulsory gender coding.

Language English
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